Sunday, December 4, 2011

Milkin' it in Lechería

Our couchsurfing hosts in Lechería were Ricardo and his soon to be wife, Suzy.  Ricardo had gone to culinary school in Florida, so his English was perfect and we were pleasantly surprised by his making us gourmet pizza on our first night.  Suzy works for the oil company in town (used to be a few more oil companies in town, now PDVSA is the one...), so has more of a 9-5 type job, and got to practice her English with us (it is a lot better than she thinks it is).  They also have a wonderfully psychotic cat that seems to be in constant motion and were dog sitting for a 2 year old pug that seems to have a knack for always being the center of attention.  The cat hates the dog, so that made it even more fun. 

Luckily for us, Ricardo's work schedule is pretty flexible right now, so we were able to hang out with him quite a bit and he took us around the area.  Lecheria used to be a lazy fishing town, at some point was a milk producing area (hence the name) for the bigger city of Barcelona, but has now developed into a very modern city.  It is attached geographically to three other cities, Barcelona, Puerto la Cruz, and Guanta.  Together they are one of the most important urban areas in Venezuela and have almost a million people.  Barcelona is the oldest city and has a mix of old architecture and new.  Puerto la Cruz was developed more recently, but has the look of South Beach. 

Ricardo took us touring around the cities on our second day there, with our first stop at Cerro Morro, a hill that is apparently sinking, the site of the old fortress.  Many luxory hotels and tourist places were built here, but are not doing so great right now.  It is also a place that teens go to drink and make out.  Ricardo said there has been a rise in crime there in the evenings.  From the top, there is a beautiful view of the ocean on one side, and Lechería on the other.

He also took us to Puerto la Cruz to do some shopping, and there is shopping of all kinds to be done there.  Also, not a place that Ricardo wanted to be with two gringos at night.  We were able to find a few things we needed for the bike (new multimeter to replace one damaged in crash), and Ricardo found some nice knockoff sunglasses.

By the time we left, it was getting dark and was time to pick up Suzy from work.  From there, we went to an awesome local Lebanese outdoor restaurant that seems to be full of people at all times, and for good reason.  We got the platter, which easily fed the four of us, even though Ricardo takes pride in having once won a pizza eating contest in which he ate over 20 slices of pizza.

(Jill, Suzy and Ricardo excited about dinner)

We were sad to again have to leave after only 2 days, but needed to keep moving to stay on our schedule of getting to Suriname by Thanksgiving.  After staying with 3 couchsurfing hosts in a row across Venezuela, we were on our own again through the rest of the country and beyond.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent at  each place, but we were both also ready to be independent again, too.  It takes a lot of energy to ride the long days we were putting in and then be cheerful and entertaining to new hosts all the time.  From now on, we will probably split up our time spent with hosts and time spent by ourselves more equally. 

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