Joe's Quest for wind in Margarita

Copyright 1996 Joe Pasko... No part or pictures may be copied or reproduced with without authors consent.

All pictures linked out of the text are 20-40K jpeg format. Better(bigger) 200K/jpeg images are out of the index at the bottom.
I decided to head to Margarita Island for my next vacation. None of my sailing buds could take the time off, so I packed a suitcase and headed south, seeking the warm and windy. Margarita island is just off the coast of Venezuela and features wind as it's primary attraction. What follows is a day by day report of the trip, with pictures interspersed. If you want to skip to the windsurfing skinny click here.

Saturday April 20-27,1996

April 20: Getting there is half the fun....MY ASS.

7:00am Take off from Tallahassee.

9:25am At Miami International, spot Heineken bottle in ditch on side of tarmac. Feel comforted by the fact that if the pilot/crew is getting drunk, they're doing it with good beer.

9:30am Find out flight from Miami to Porlamar delayed from 12:30pm to 8pm departure. Meet Jim and Dave who turn out to be my traveling buds during the trip.

Bitch about the time of the layover until I find out that Jim and Dave had taken off from Steamboat Colorado at 6pm FRIDAY and slept in the airport. OK, I'll shut up now.

10:00am Find out that although the official exchange rate of B's/dollar is 290, the money exchange in miami will give us 360B's/dollar....yeehaw. I change about $100.

11:00am Go to Bayside and wander around.

11:30am Find another money exchange that will give 400B's/dollar in downtown miami. Exchange another $40....Mild money stoke beginning at thoughts of future island dominating buying power(Insert evil laugh here).

2:00pm Amazed that downtown miami has 1000's of shops of just 4 or 5 types. There were 7 electronics stores that all sold boomboxes/faxes/camras in the same block.

8:00pm Find out plane departure delayed from 8pm to 9pm.

8:30pm Out of control kid spitting on glass and howling. Father taking care of baby, mother useless and smiling at terror/demon kid.

9:09pm As plane is boarded row by row, realize that demon children will be near me.

9:10pm Strong desire for beer/knife as demon kid howls relentlessly while waiting at the terminal. Dave and Jim laugh at me when they realize that the kid that's been torturing the terminal will be near me. Urge to kill, rising...

9:11pm As father of demon child is busy taking care of helpless unhappy baby and useless mother, demon child #2 reaches for jet way controls. I'd be damned if I'd let that kid damage the aircraft after the layover we've just had. Thunder at kid "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" Father turns around, looks at kid with hand just removed from jet way joystick, looks at me and says "Thanks!" Then tells the kid to never touch things like that. Wow, there really is some good parenting going on in the world. (Yes I know that not allowing a kid to fulfill himself by destroying a plane is repression, and that the child will probably turn into a serial killer later in life, but hey, I'm on vacation, and nothing will stop my quest for wind.)

9:40pm Plane takes off, quest for beer begins.

Note: Viasa has these napkin like things that go behind the heads of the passengers. Must be grease control or something, but rather odd.

10:00 Feel better with beer in hand. Demon children behind me go to sleep. Things are looking up.

Sunday April 21 Early in the AM

12:40am Plane arrives, Jim and Dave were smart enough to carry on all their luggage. This turns out to be a GOOD MOVE:

1:30am Get luggage (Jim and Dave are at the hotel by now.)

2:00am Some old fart pushes in front of me in the customs line. Since I didn't completely have my head up the guy's ass in front of me, I'm sure it was just that the C.O.F.(Crusty Old Fart) couldn't tell that I was in line. My mild annoyance at this Florida native increases as he then loads about 5 plastic wrapped bags in front of him with no way of cutting them open. Have to wait for customs guy to cut each package open and look at it.

Want to borrow custom guy's knife briefly.

2:30am Search for taxi begins. There aren't many, and I consider 86'ing the same C.O.F as he tries to push in front of me to get a taxi.(I'm putting my bags in while the old guy grabs the driver and tries to get in...Damn, why didn't they let me bring mace?)

Have conversation with cabbie utilizing those 3 semesters of spanish that I was forced to take in college:

        "Necesito a ir al hotel el Yaque Paradise."
I need to go to the hotel el Yaque Paradise

Him: "En Playa el Yaque ?"

In the el Yaque beach ?

Me: "Si."


Him: "El Hotel Paradise?"

Hotel Paradise ?

Me: "Si."



We get to the Windsurf Paradise and I get out of the cab($10, but it was late and I was desperate) Hotel looks nice from outside, and I grab my bags and head in. There's no one at the desk, and the groundskeeper and I have what passes for a conversation(I can barely speak spanish, and I find that older spanish people speak a fast super-slurred version of spanish that I can't understand. That's ok, because they can't seem to understand my gringo-ized butchering of their language either.) To hit a compromise, I hand him my ticket that says El Yaque Paradise Hotel, and he points down the road and says something.

I don't understand what he's trying to tell me, but at this hour, I'm not exactly in a cheerful mood. He consults with a guy who just came from the airport with huge amounts of gear. After a quick conversation, one of them gets a key and tells me that I need to check-in in the morning.

Ok, head to my room: It's small and smells strongly of bug spray. I can't brush me teeth as no shops are open and I don't have any bottled water. Settle for cranking the AC and passing out.

9:30am Wake and head to front desk. Cheerful girl tells me: "You stayed at the wrong hotel. You're at a different hotel down the street" Surprise !!

I stayed at the WINDSURF PARADISE when I should have been at the EL YAQUE PARADISE (100m down the road). The good news is that the hotels are owned by the same company and that the el Yaque is more expensive than the Windsurf Paradise. I pack up my things and head over. The hotel is nice and I get a ticket for a complimentary breakfast. The rooms are clean, and you can flush the toilet paper. Only a hint of bugspray in the air.

12:01pm Get bad service/lunch at restaurant in Windsurf Paradise while searching for Maria's beach bum bar. (Beach bum bar is downstairs from hotel, and to the left as you head toward the beach). They were re-doing the signs for the first few days I was there, making it a bit more difficult to find.

Renting from Club Mistral which is located in the back of the El Yaque Paradise. New boards/sails. Great policy where I reserved a board in advance(Screamer II) and the entire week, that board was mine. I could use others that weren't claimed, but screamer #12 was mine all the time. The only thing that was unusual is that they'd give you harness lines that were yours for the week. Before using a sail, you'd have to attach your lines as the booms didn't have any on them. Don't think that it took that much more time, but it was a first to me.

1:00pm Go out on a 6.3(Mistral straight) and an explosion(I'm 6' 205lbs). I haven't sailed in months, so the mellow conditions are nice to get re-acquainted with sailing.

5:30 Realize that I may have swallowed some water in the shower. In panic decide best way to combat bacteria is with alcohol. Head to bar at hotel and get polar beer for $.60.

6:30pm I meet Jim and Dave and we head into the old section of Porlamar for dinner. Ate at Punta Crilliolo, Had Beef Pabillion, black beans, rice, fried plantains, 3 beers, cappuccino and after tip the bills was US $4. I'm starting to like Margarita as the happy sail-buzz sets in.

7:30pm Walk around Porlamar. Everything is closed, and I may be paranoid, but it looked like we were drawing some interested looks from the locals.

The poverty in Margarita is real, and as you drive into Porlamar, you head through some really poor neighborhoods. Asking for change for a $100 is a bad idea. At last inspection, the average Venezuelan makes about $300/year, and there is a fair amount of unemployment.

8:50pm Island deserted and we headed for $1 pina coladas at Tequilas(Located at Caribe Winds Bic Center ).

10:00pm Return to hotel and watch old episodes of "Hunter" dubbed in spanish.

Monday April 22

8:30am Wake up early, then wonder why. I've been holding out to hit Maria's beach bum bar for breakfast(Internet info points me in this direction, and all the hotels have continental breakfasts), as I hear that they have great stuff. I didn't feel like paying for the continental breakfast at my hotel, so I wandered up and down the beach with everything being closed.

9:30am Find Maria's BBB. Two girls are cutting fruit and as I say "Ola", look at me like I'd just shot their dog. After asking to see a menu (They didn't have any yet, they were being printed), they call another girl who is nicer and explains that they open at 10am.

Ok, I'm not in a hurry and commence wandering around El Yaque(10-20 minutes to see the whole thing)

10:00am One of the angry girls tells be that they open at 10:30.

10:05am Find Jim and Dave and sit in on Vela's morning clinic. Vela's clinics are informative and well run.

11:00am Hit beach bum bar, get excellent food for cheap. Wonder if I have a tattoo that says "Screw you!" on my forehead that only the locals can see. Although I'm happy to see them, they are NOT HAPPY to see me (This is just about everywhere, not just at the beach bum bar). I'd say "Ola! Como estas?" and they'd reply typically with a snarl and "What do you want?" May have been my somewhat military-style haircut, as Jim and Dave report no local animosity being thrown their way.

(My boss was in Caracas during the same time frame and reports that the Venezuelans weren't friendly to him at all. He's traveled to Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, and Venezuela and said that the V's were the least friendly to gringos.(Costa Rican's were the most.))

This contrasts heavily with Aruba, where we drove into the "bad section" of Orajanested(sp) and some "Seedy" fellows sitting outside a bar whistled to us while laughing "No No....wrong way mon... Es a 1 way street..."

Whoops, those dutch street signs were a bit confusing at first. Mental note, horizontal bar mean's "Do not enter."

They don't get much friendlier than the Arubians, and there isn't as much poverty on Aruba, which could explain the difference.

I wasn't there to see the locals anyway, so this didn't get me down too much....The island had the one thing that I wanted...WIND !

Back to Margarita.

1:30am Grab 6.3 and Screamer. Getting a few port jumps, but keep going over the bars on the landing. Can't figure it out. Starboard jumps are great, port jumps are more retarded than the banjo player in Deliverance.

2:30 Go down to 5.8 and an screamer as wind is picking up.

3:00 Break UJ(Mistral tendon/style) about 2 miles out during biffed gybe. A guy stops, and then heads into beach to let Club Mistral know. Thanks a bunch guy !! His help was appreciated as there were only a few of us out that far.

Retention cord held on UJ, so I took the boom bra off and put it under the mast to keep it from dinging the deck, then sailed the board in with the retention cord holding things in place. BTW: I was the FASTEST SAILOR ON THE WATER with a broken UJ !! ;^)

3:30 Get new UJ, head back out.

4:00 Break 2nd UJ(Mistral tendon/style) about 1 mile out during biffed jump landing(tail first, turned to far into the wind). Retention cord snaps and board begins floating away. I got the board and managed to get back to the sail before it sank. Sat on my board waving at about 15 sailors who whisked by(luv ya!) before 2 nice german guys came to help. 1 went to let Club Mistral know, while the other one threaded the safety cord on the UJ as I held the boards/rigs in place. Thanks guys, it would have been a long/expensive swim. Mucho bonus karma points.

Up and sailing, I'm once again the fastest guy on the water with a broken UJ.

4:30 Guys at Club Mistral laugh, give me a mechanical Mistral UJ. I take this UJ from board to board as I've given up on the Mistral Tendons. Note that I've only broken 2 UJ's in about 7 years sailing including wave sailing. Those UJ's were the cheapest that I could find (Windsurfing Hawaii knockoffs). The incidents that caused these breaks were not hard falls. I've bent/broken booms falling on really heavy crashes before, and these things weren't even close to that level of impact. I was never hooked in during the spills and wouldn't rate the crashes as bone jarring in the least. Switch to electron and 5.8. Stoked.

5:30 Realize that I may have swallowed some water in the shower. In panic decide best way to combat bacteria is with alcohol. Head to bar at hotel and get polar beer for $.60.(I'm seeing a pattern here)

6:30pm I meet Jim and Dave and we head to Fuerza 6, the pollo place(Behind the basketball court) . The power went out during dinner. Food was ok(I got the fish, should have got the chicken.) Dinner was about $8.

8:00pm Got drinks at Hotel California then collapsed at hotel.

Surprise: The government just de-regulated the currency and It's spiked to 470 B's/Dollar. Ouch as I realize that I just got screwed on my miami money exchange deals. (So much for island domination) If you are going, don't bother changing money into B's, as everyone wants US dollars. Just bring SMALL DENOMINATIONS.

Thinking of Small Denominations:

Really got a kick out of a german lady harassing the bartender(He was a nice guy) at my hotel for change for a $100. The part of the conversation that I caught went something like this:

GL(German Lady): "What do you mean you don't have it? The front desk
said that you would ??"

B: "Sometimes we have change, but we don't now."

GL: "Well, when WILL YOU have it ?? 1 hour ? Today ? tomorrow ? when?"

B: "I don't know, it varies."

GL: "What do you mean it varies ?? They said that you would have change ?" Conversation continued, but I left.

I bought $30 worth of clothes at the No Work Team and it took 3 people to cough up enough B's to give me change for $40. The only place that's going to be able to exchange big bills is a bank. Almost no where takes plastic, and most shops won't take TRAVELER'S CHECKS(Couldn't believe that one). Traveler's Checks, as good as cash, but not on Margarita.

Tuesday April 23

10:00am Wake up and catch gybe clinic at vela. Robby was giving it and I liked his instruction style.

11:30 Breakfast at Marias BBB(I've been tipping huge everywhere I go. Now only 1 out of the 3 girls looks like she wants to spit in my food.)

12:00 Take out a 6.3 on a screamer and get killed.

Take out a 5.8 on a screamer and get killed.

Take out a 5.8 on an electron and get killed.

Take out a 5.2 on an electron and rock and roll.

3:00 Take a jump lesson from Robby at Vela. I paid $60 for an hour(Should have been $45, but I paid with my devalued B's...)

Robby was great. I'd sail out ahead of him and try to jump, he'd sail behind and watch. Then he'd pull ahead of me and jump with me watching, then we'd head back to the beach and discuss it. By the end of the lesson, I'd had a great idea of what to do and what not to do. Robby also made some corrections to my sailing stance that made me much faster(Things that I'd do when everything was clicking, but that I wasn't consciously aware of) WELL WORTH THE $60 THAT I PAID !!!

Thinking of Vela:

Vela did have a strict policy on breaking equipment.(You break it, you buy it.), but after seeing what some of the people were doing to the stuff, I understand. I saw some euros consistently slam the boards into the shore at full speed. Mind you that the water is so shallow that upwind you have to get off of the board about 75 feet from the beach and walk. Downwind by vela, you can usually coast in to the shore. I saw at least 4 different people repeatedly slam full speed into the SHORE and get tossed up on the beach. I watched Robby explain vela's policy to some american who sounded like a lawyer, and it was humorous:

Liar: "Let me get this straight, if the UJ snaps and I go through my sail?"

R: "You pay for the sail."

Liar: "What if I get the insurance?"

R: "You pay the $100 deductible on the sail, or the cost to repair the sail, whichever is less."

Liar: "I don't understand ?, if the UJ snaps and I go through the sail??"

R: "You pay for the sail."

Liar: "You mean that if I get the insurance, I'll still have to pay ? I don't understand."

Joe(Couldn't resist it) "It's pretty simple, you break it you buy it. What's so hard about that?"

Liar: "I'm just trying to understand how this works...."

To vela's credit. One guy sailing with Jim at Coche had a mast snap while sailing in a straight line, and Vela didn't charge him for it even though they could have. Robby looked at the equipment breakage and said to the guy "I've seen you sail, this wasn't your fault." I guess it's just to hedge their bets against jerks who abuse their equipment.(They rent better stuff than I own, and it's new and well maintained).

Thinking of morons:

I saw a german guy with a wrapped foot who had injured his ankle in the shallow water by running full speed into the shallows and hopping off the board. In the same wingnut vein, an american lady hurt her knee by hitting the shallows at full speed. Folks, this is just Darwin at work, as there are not really any HIDDEN sandbars, it just gets shallow for the last 75 feet or so. Here's a hint, slow down and prepare to step off the board in a controlled fashion.

Oh yeah, if you need medical care here's the place.

5:30 Realize that I may have swallowed some water in the shower. In panic decide best way to combat bacteria is with alcohol (Ok by now it isn't panic.) Head to bar at hotel and get polar beer for FREE. The bartender explained that 5-7 at the El Yaque hotel is happy hour and it's 2-4-1's. I'd been having my first and leaving. Wow, 2 beers for $.60 HOOrah.

6:30 Dinner at Tequilas. Great food, but I was really hungry and ate 2 dinners. Realized later that I should have had the fajitas as they were HUGE.

7:30 Watch the most talented band that I've ever seen live at the El Yaque Paradise. Cuerdas Y Bongos. Ok the name sucks, but these guys WHALED ! There were 2 flamenco guitarists, a bass player, and a bongo player. Unreal talent ! I was bummed that they didn't have CD's for sale. They had produced a CD in Holland, but didn't have any rights to it...If anyone knows where I could get this CD, let me know.

Couldn't believe the rudeness of some fat Venezuelan who was sitting behind us at the show. Note: We were about 10' feet in front of one of the speaker columns, and this fat man was behind us. The music was in the bar of the hotel on the back deck, and mid-way through a song, this guy gets up, says something to the bass player then turns one of the speakers sideways so that he could sit in the bar and make phone calls from his cellular.(This ruined the sound) During a break Dave called the band over and told them to turn the speaker back. Having had a few beers and been irritated by this idiot, we then began loudly berating this idiot for not getting his ass up and walking somewhere else to make the call. It must of worked, as he didn't complain anymore.(Hello? It's called a cellular for a reason...)

10:00pm Make a 17 minute call back to the states. Find out that it was $60!!! All phone calls are cellulared to Venezuela then up....OUCH !

Wednesday April 24

9:45 Wake and realize that breakfast was included with my hotel.

12:00 Take 6.3 and screamer...get killed Take 5.0 and screamer...not enough

1:00 Lunch at Marias BBB.

1:30 Take 5.7 and screamer...get killed Take 5.2 and screamer then electron...perrrfect !!

4:00 Wind dies, and I collapse.

6:00pm Head into new Porlamar for dinner at Cheers. Steak dinner with all the trimmings for about $12.

8:00pm Wander around Porlamar for a few hrs. See a small restaurant which advertises 1/2 chicken/fries/drink for $2.

10:00pm Checked out Goldfingers...It's an ...Uhhh... adult disco. $4 to get in and $4 drinks, we didn't stay long as the place was empty and the dancers were somewhat uninspired.

11:00pm Checked out Mosquito Coast. Looked like it might be fun on weekends, but was dead now.

My hands are officially shot. I have sunburn on most of my body (Despite SPF 45+ 2-4 times/day) Enjoying myself immensely...

I wasn't the only one who was getting physically beat and loving it... This couple was from New York and having a blast.(Check out the duct tape on her hands)

Thursday April 25

12:00 4.7 Maxed out on the electron.

Getting great jumps both port and starboard. Loving that lesson as I'm getting consistently faster.

MAJOR STOKE POINT. Pulled away from German racer Olliver Schott who was on awesome equipment during a few runs. We chased each other around and I was holding my own until I'd come off a plane. His race equipment and my 205lbs would obliterate me as we'd get going. Note about Olliver: Not only was he a great sailor, but he gets mondo bonus points for picking up a gorgeous local woman while on the trip.

4:30 Biff an inside gybe. Come up and see board floating away. Yes I broke the MECHANICAL UJ (Again not a brutal fall, wasn't hooked in..etc).

Jim and David had gone to coche(Small island 7 miles away with great speed sailing) with Vela for $20. The captain smashed the boat into a sandbar and they went through serious gyrations trying to find a boat to get them back to the island. Turns out that it was a fisherman's holiday and they were having a hard time finding a sober boat captain.

Got a max farmer tan and I purchase a lycra top and it worked great(The burn was on the wall by then and when I got back I peeled like a lizard.)

8:00pm Hit spanish night at the Hotel California. $16 includes food and all you can drink beer/cuba libres. Food was good, but I'm not really into seafood. Drank many cuba libre's(Weak) then many beers(Good). Band was awful, but after about 10 beers got better. Had a blast socializing with the other shred-heads.

Friday April 26

4:00am Stuck in Cuba-libre hell. Wake up as caffeine beats alcohol and I'm hung over and nervous all at the same time as exhausted. Going to stick to beer next time.

Dave has been abstaining more or less from alcohol and it cost him. He spent most of friday in the bathroom. Jim, Dave and I had been eating about the same things. Jim and I were fine the entire trip(I'm telling you it's the beer that was killing that bacteria...)

10:00am Take trip to Coche in a dixie cup. Make friends with Bruce and Karen from florida. Used a 6.3 maxed out at Coche ripping 3 feet from the beach. Bruce and I spent the day chasing each other(Thanks Bruce for taking those pictures!)

The Coche strip is about a mile long half moon shaped section of beach with offshore wind. The island is stark, with a Mistral center and vela there, and not much else in the immediate vicinity.

The only down side to Coche was the jellyfish. Softball sized white jellyfish EVERYWHERE (2+ per cubic yard). Generally, they wouldn't sting unless you brushed against the bottom of them. I had one turn while swimming and sting my leg(I was beach starting)...I then played jelly shotput and chucked the thing... Stings weren't as bad as a bee's, but were annoying. I fell 4 times in 5 hours of sailing and uphauled twice.(Didn't help much, as I sink the screamer to about knee deep and they were floating across the deck of my board..yeech)

You could feel the jellyfish hit your fin as you were getting on a plane. Once you got powered and ripping they weren't much of a factor.

A buddy came in complaining of the mythical "JELLYSPINS" (Induced by crushing a jellyfish while beating hard upwind).

The locals tell me that the jellyfish are not usually there. Forgot money for lunch, so I sailed the entire time(Karen and Bruce offered, but I'd just met them and didn't want to be a mooch)

4:30 Load back into dixie cup and head back to Margarita. This trip was hell. You head slightly downwind to get to Coche, and on the way back you pound into the chop soaking everything on the boat. Keep this in mind when you are packing things for the trip.

5:30 Catch up to Jim and find out that Dave has spent the day in the bathroom while he was using a 4.2 maxed out.

6:30 Go eat at MareMar: Get pizza and a 1/2 chicken for about $6. Great food.

Callouses on hands ripped open, every part of my body hurts. I'm taking ibuprofen like it's pez. Loving every minute of it.

Saturday April 27

6:00am Get in truck that takes me to airport.

6:30am Wait in line to pay 2000 B's departure at viasa counter and give them my luggage(Checked my passport). They give me receipt, printed sheet with passenger/flight info, and a pink sheet that's blank that wants the exact passenger/flight on the printed sheet.

Kind of stoked as I heard that it was about $27 to leave the airport, and I'm down to 3800 B's and traveler's checks. Bum out as I find out that I have to stand in another line to pay $20 US. Tried to pay part B's part traveler's check, no dice. Guy gives me hard time about traveler's check. Makes me sign front and back then makes a big deal of comparing my passport signature to the check. He then gives me the international sign for ehhhh and gives me a receipt.

Find out that I might as well burn my remaining 3800 B's as the exchange rate is gruesome B's/dollars.


Guy 1: Open the carry-on baggage check. Check my passport/airplane ticket

GOTO Guy2:

Guy2: Check my passport and exit papers, takes one of receipts.

GOTO Guy3: Checks Passport and takes another of my receipts.


I wanted to buy some rum, but hadn't had the time earlier. I managed to get two bottles of Aneo Cacique at the snack bar for the inflated price of 3200B's (~$6.75).

Getting on plane. They check my ticket and Passport before letting me on the tarmac.

I now know why the US Airlines don't let the seats recline much as I had a dandruff ridden head in my lap for the flight back. Food was pretty good.

Jim and Daves nightmare:

Jim and Dave were leaving Margarita sunday doing the Porlamar->Caracas->Miami thing.

Here's the excerpt of some email that Jim sent me about the return flight.

"When you go to the Airport on the day you are supposed to leave you are told that the Airport is closed and all National Flights are CANCELLED. In which case you are forced to take a ferry to Porta La Cruz (4 hours) a 300 km taxi ride to Caracas in a pieac of shit cab with 5 other people only to get to the Airport @ 8:00 PM to find out the last plane to the States just left 10 Minutes ago. Get in another Taxi to go to a Hotel to spend the night so you can get up @ 4:30 AM to go back to the Airport to get to the States."


The skinny:

Sailed 6/6 days. I used great equipment at Mistral Center.

Robby at vela gives great lessons(So to the other instructors at vela as I heard many people raving about them)

Food is cheap.

Locals so-so friendly.

Coche awesome speed sailing.

Carry on your luggage. Saves at least an hour.

Carry spare line on your harness to rescue yourself.

You'll be so shot from sailing that you might want to schedule a vacation after your vacation so that you can rest.

Every place had new equipment. Might check on occupancy to ensure availability. Miguel at the Bic center had great stuff and he was a nut !! One advantage to renting at the bic center is that you can sail in the smoother water downwind of the swimming area. The minus is that you have to carry your sail a bit farther(They will carry the board).

Vela seemed to have the best instruction. Club Mistral was pretty good in general, and I'd rent with any of the above next time. I don't think that you could go wrong. Vela had the most stringent policy with regards to broken equipment(See above).

The happy surf center seemed to have a truckload of gear(North).

Didn't get too good a look at the Fanatic center, but at a glance, it seemed to be on par with the other clubs.


From what I've seen: I'd stay at:

Casa Viento (Up the hill 2 blocks from water, awesome view, Rocky's a great guy)

El Yaque Paradise (Mistral center in back).

Not the windsurf Paradise. Couldn't flush the toilet paper.

Hotel California (Across the street from the water, the most modern of the hotels),

Beach Hotel (Dave and Jim stayed there, vela is in back )

For my Hotel requirements:

  • Had to be able to flush the toilet paper.
  • Had to have AC.

  • FOOD

    Best bets:
  • Maria's Beach Bum Bar for breakfast and lunch.
  • Punta Crilliolio in the old section of Porlamar.

  • Good bets:

  • Tequilas (At the bic caribe center). Order the fajitas.
  • Cheers in Porlamar (A bit more $$ than the others but good).
  • Fuerza 6 (Get the chicken).
  • MareMar (Good pizza/chicken/fish).

  • Bad bets:

  • Windsurf Paradise (Bad service.)
  • Beach Hotel (Bad dessert/service)

  • Will I go back ? You bet !! Now that I'm a port-jumping fool, I can't wait to head back. You'll know me if you see me there, I'm the square headed guy with a big dumb grin on my face. 


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