My expectations on the cab ride to Playa El Agua (literal translation: water beach) was extremely low. It would have been really hard for things to get any worse. At this point of the trip I was thinking of finding ways to kill time, because 16 waking hours a day alone to myself in a place where there is not a thing to do is uncomfortably close to solitary confinement. How many hours can you lay out on a beach? That’s something I appreciate here in the U.S.: our beaches have boardwalks, kite stores, fun casinos, gigantic buckets of fries, and mini-golf with erupting volcanoes. Of course it’s not very purposeful but at least it’s something to pass the time with. I’m in paradise but I’m bored to death.
Playa El Agua turns out to be a beautiful beach untouched by commercial development. Only 2 kilometers in length, the beach is filled with vacationing families, little huts that double as bars and restaurants (kioskos), and dozens of vendors selling handmade jewelry, hats, sunglasses, cookies on cardboard box platters, and mens khaki shorts. Fat men in speedos played paddle ball (no Frisbees in sight). Beautiful women sported those little bikini lace covering things. I enjoyed relaxing on the beach with my Coca-Cola beverage in the classic bottle.
When you see this many people on the beach, it’s hard not to get a little excited because of the potential crowds at night, but this is Venezuela we’re talking about. At 9PM there is no one out. Unbelievable. I go to an empty bar and start drinking Polar Ice, the reject version of Miller Ice. Because it’s such a light beer, you have to drink a lot of it and drink it fast if you want a shot of being inebriated. Price of a bottle: 75 cents. Throughout the trip I found that it was much easier to just order two or three at a time.
The friendly waitress and I ‘talk’ for over an hour in Spanish. I have been studying Spanish at home for about four months now and can communicate pretty well with the locals. It’s amazing how much you can say with a knowledge of only a few hundred words. Tip for male travelers: the best conversation opener is “Hablas ingles?” (“Do you speak English?”). It quickly screens for girls who like gringos.
There were other bartenders there and before I knew it, there was a circle of Venezuelan women around me, getting a kick out my crappy Spanish. This kind of scenario turned out to be the rule through the trip: patient natives (i.e. women) willing to sit with you and talk about anything. The girls invite me to a club. Over here if I go to a club I’ll maybe get into a long conversation with one out of every five girls that I bump into. But down there, it’s more like four out of every five. It was such a certainty that a conversation would develop that I was able to be more careful and talk to the hottest girls instead of having to pass time or ‘warm up’ with the mediocre ones like I do here. And something a friend told me a while ago turned out to be very true: “Even if you can’t speak her language, as long as she likes you she will just smile and nod even if she has no idea what you are saying.”
On the beach clubs I had to be a little careful because of the female gringo handlers, whose only goal seems to be extracting as many free drinks from you as possible. You think at 75 cents a pop, you can buy drinks for any girl and it shouldn’t have any real significance, but regardless, I strongly advise against buying drinks for random girls. Drink prices or international boundaries are no excuse for beta male behavior.
Because the beach has a limited supply of water, we are only able to use it during three separate 90 minute periods throughout the day. (That waiter serving you food for dinner probably has not washed his hands for several hours.) A consequence of this rule is that it produces people with sticky hands and bodies. Grinding with the girls at Woody’s Beach Club was more erotic than usual because of that. And anytime you get hot, you walk 20 feet to the beach to cool off in the strong night breeze, surrounded by feral dogs and couples making out. By Venezuelan standards, this was heaven. Though I could have done without the incident involving the Brazilian prostitute working incognito. I wish I packed more Listerine.