There are some vacations that renew the spirit, plain and simple.
For me, this was Carnaval 2015. Last year, I didn’t go anywhere thanks to the guarimbas–political protests–that rippled throughout Venezuela.
This year I had wanted to go to Los Roques, but the plans fell through weeks before Carnaval vacation.
At a travel agent’s suggestion, I ended up booking a posada at Los Cocos (all by my lonesome and in Spanish!). Nestled near my favorite beach in the world (yes, it trumps Australia’s beaches), Los Cocos was a serene getaway. Usually a romantic destination for couples, the posada fed me like my grandma does: for two. Two jugs of fresh juice greeted me every morning and a dessert dish greeted me every night.
Though Los Cayos–a series of cays Venezuela owns–was packed with vacationers, I was at peace. I read, wrote, ate, and meditated. During my last day there I even met up with a new friend’s family and was soon plied with food. While eating fried plantain and cheese, chicken, and whatever else was offered me, one couldn’t have convinced me that I wasn’t somewhere in the South, a willing recipient of Southern hospitality.
I’m not sure if I’ll be back to Los Cayos since I’ll be leaving Venezuela for good in June, but time will tell.
Regardless, Los Cayos has imprinted me with its spirit.
There are places on Earth where I’m able to touch heaven. Places where my overactive brain shuts down and serenity surrounds me. One of those places is in the Venezuelan Cays. An hour plus ride from Valencia, I had the opportunity to go here because of a school-sponsored staff outing. When we arrived it was pouring. Rain droplets bounced off of motorcycles; a teenage boy sat in a lawn chair just outside an awning’s reach as if water was not drenching him; and I smiled with excitement. My co-workers apologized profusely but I was ecstatic to see another part of the country. I could care less about the rain. As a child I always loved rain. I even took pictures of the rain and hung them up in my bedroom.
Now, stepping in a fisherman’s boat in a torrential downpour was another story. As the boats filled up and people steered out into the water, I stood underneath an awning to wait out the weather. I might have fallen in love with nature (thanks to Australia), but I also have a respect for it (thanks to my Grandma). South Carolina summers were spent in silence and the dark during a thunderstorm. No exceptions to the rule.
Once the rain stopped, the sun came out, and the ride began, I was in awe. It was about a thirty minute trip to Cayo Sombrero. I’ve been blessed to scuba dive at The Great Barrier Reef, to walk along the Irish coast, and survive Coney Island during the summer, but this water was surreal. It was jewelry spread across the ocean. The sun didn’t glint off of the water, diamonds did. The richness of the blue water made me feel like royalty just by being in its presence.
There are things in my life that make me feel like I’m praying or meditating. With the boat’s motor rumbling behind me, large birds circling the air above as we passed The Island of the Birds, a fresh breeze massaging my face, and the water jewelry beneath me, this was one such moment. I didn’t take pictures (I was too busy holding onto the bench and a rope), but I did take some special moments back with me…and some earrings I couldn’t resist buying on the beach.