Alice Adventure’s in a Venezuelan Wonderland: Pt. 3

Day 7: Well here I am again, back on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches learning Spanish from a local teacher whilst sunning myself, cerveza in hand. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

I can’t believe Alice and I have only been in Venezuela for seven days, it’s feels so much like home now it’s like we’ve been here for a month! I’m sure a lot of that is down to the people we’ve met since being out here and the unexpected comfort and hospitality of the lodge where we’re staying. The  staff are so much fun and because they live, eat and sleep in the lodge they spend a lot of social time with all the guests, making the atmosphere relaxed and friendly. Sat around the table at mealtimes we have British volunteers, Dutch, Aussie and Italian backpackers, a Swedish kayaking instructor, Venezuelan Spanish teachers and the lovely ‘Pina’, the indigionus Woaro adventure guide plucked out of the Orinoco Delta…which makes for a lot of laughs/cross cultural mickey taking! The Leap volunteers who come here next year are in for treat!

I realise I haven’t really described the Jakera Lodge yet, which is weird since it made my jaw drop when I arrived here last week. Must be the jet lag that made me forget! Parked about 100m from the beach the Lodge is a stone’s throw from Playa Colorada’s outstanding range of local amenities (!) including the obligitory caged-in liquor shop, beach-side fish restaurants that lie dormant most days looking like a  corrugated iron shanty town, not forgetting the very random stationers which can see to all you laminating/photocopying needs. Built in the style of a traditional Warao Indian ‘Chawata’ – usually found in the Orinoco Delta – the hub of the Lodge is the huge wooden dining and social area, hung with fairy lights and oft’ swung hammocks. It’s a great place to chill out with other guests as long as you don’t mind your lap being comandeered by ‘Estrella’, Jakera’s overly friendly charity case rescue dog from the village. There are a variety of dorm style bedrooms with wooden beds or hammocks and shared shower and bathroom facilities, most of them open to the elements and fondly referred to as the ‘chicken coop’ due to the wire wrapped walls. There’s also a classroom equipt with white board for Spanish lessons, communal kitchen and bar area, a tv, gym, Kayak store and even a climbing wall if fitness is your thing.

It’s a gorgeous place and I know we’ll be really sad to leave on Sunday. Between now and then though we have important Leap business to do. Later today I’ll be going to check out the Jakera club, a community centre in the village which provides afterschool activities for kids, sports coaching and even the odd yoga and aerobics classes for Playa’s larger female residents! Then tomorrow Alice and I are packing our dry-bags for  a three- day trip to the Orinoco Delta, a swamp like jungle where we’ll be staying in a lodge perched on stilts above the nests of god-knows-what. Apparently we’re in for a feast of mud, mosquitos and mad caiman hunters…I can’t wait, but the jury’s out on the other Alice!

Self proclaimed ‘Queen of the Gap Year’ Alice took her first great leap into the unknown at 18, heading to East Africa to work as a hostess in a remote Kenyan Safari Camp with gap year organisation ‘The Leap’. Six wonderful months and several run-ins with Hungry Hippos later and she was hooked. After graduating in 2006 she high tailed it to South America to ‘shake her jungle coconuts’ once again, joining a team of Leap volunteers in the Amazon Rainforest and working on a mix of conservation and teaching projects with the local indigenous community. Since then her backpack has barely touched the ground! Now she’s living the dream by working for the volunteer organisation that opened her eyes to the world and spends her days planning life-changing adventures for others…and of course road testing gap years in Africa, Asia and Latin America whenever she can. It’s tough, but someone’s gotta do it! Alice manages a daily blog for Leap volunteers.

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