Thursday, December 13, 2012

Surf n’ Turf in Choroni

(Trip date: December, 2011-January, 2012)

Through the winding road and over the cloud forest lies a small beach town called Choroni.  It’s a little town where Venezuelan locals like to visit for a nice weekend getaway and not a place where you’ll see many international tourists. A beach town where the main attractions are the beaches, known for crazy waves and rough waters, and the seafood…perhaps a little partying too!
The journey to Choroni is unique. It’s a bit hard to get to, but not because you have to cross rough waters or high altitudes, but because you have to venture high into the cloud forest. The road is VERY narrow and winding, and as you turn each corner you wonder how it’s possible that you did not hit the car coming around the corner and driving straight at you. This is why you trust the locals and hire a car to drive you through the maze of a forest - they do this drive several times a day and know each twist and turn off by heart. After about two hours of winding your way up and up into the lush mountains, through the clouds, and deep into the forest, Choroni is waiting on the other side. You feel like kissing the ground – or your driver – when you make it there alive! And try and forget the fact that you will have to do that drive again on your back in a few days...
There’s one main street full of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. During the day there are several beaches you can visit that are just a short bus ride away, or there is the local beach in Choroni. We stayed in a great little guest house a little off the main strip with a beautiful garden, great staff and two adorable dogs – Brownie and Tequila. One day we visited an island called Cepe, a beautiful strip of beach situated right into the lush mountains.
What was most memorable about visiting Cepe was not the beach itself, but the boat ride there - I have never been more scared for my life on a boat ride before! Getting onto the boat was the most challenging part, the waves were gigantic and the waters were very rough, with all the boats bopping up and down and bumping into each other. Once we were “safely” inside our boat, we then had to conquer the actual boat ride! I’ve been on many bumpy boat rides in my travels, but I’ve never been more terrified than on this one. The waters were so rough and choppy, I was pretty sure I was going to fall over and get swallowed up by the angry waters! And just like the drive into Choroni, once we made it safely to Cepe, all I could think about was the boat ride back! A cocktail (or two) helped me forget about that for a few hours and I was able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful sunny day on this secluded tropical beach.
Thankfully we survived the boat ride back to the mainland and decided to spend our next day at the local beach in Choroni - no boats necessary! It was also very beautiful, a short stretch of ocean nestled into the lush mountains. The waves were very large, giving Choroni its reputation as a surfer’s paradise. Us non-surfers just soaked up the sun and sipped our cheap beer as we watched the surfers conquer the angry waters.

The town of Choroni itself is small and cute. It was packed when we were there as many local Venezuelans were there for the weekend, I loved the vibe and energy as people hustled through the roads getting ready to go to the beach or return from a day of fun in the sun. We found a restaurant we loved and made sure to return several time during our stay – the pina coladas were fresh and delicious and I’m drooling just thinking about the massive pot of seafood paella we shared! It was amazing! After a couple days chilling on the beach, sipping on cheaper-than-water beers and filling up on seafood empanadas, it was finally time to venture back into the deep forest, up into the clouds, through the winding roads, and back to safe land.

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