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Destination Tacarigua

Tacarigua is a good option if your itinerary ends at Caracas with time to spare for the beach but not long enough to justify a flight to Los Roques, Margarita or Paria. Tacarigua is a 90 mile drive from Caracas airport, a journey made faster by a new highway.

Arriving at the little town of Río Chico you cross Tacarigua Lagoon by boat to reach a long strip of pleasant sandy beach facing the Caribbean.

Tacarigua Lagoon is a national park of shallow lakes and mangroves behind the beach. In the late afternoon flocks of herons, storks and ibis gather to roost, including very good numbers of brilliantly coloured scarlet ibis. 5 species of marine turtles lay their eggs on the beaches, and dolphin can be seen offshore.

The fertile lowlands of Barlovento lie inland. Here cacao plantations were worked by large numbers of Africans brought in slavery. Some escaped or bought their freedom, and survivors were set free at age 28 (life expectancy was just 35). In time they made up the core of the populace.

Barlovento takes pride in its African dances and music. An example is the tambores drums. The calendar is peppered with feast days when the tambores are played in the streets. The chief drummer stands at the head of a drum made from a long tree trunk. He sets the beat, while others join in with a variety of rhythms, beaten with stout sticks along the drum’s entire length accompanied by resounding conche shell blasts.

Spanish, Carib and African influences combine in the ‘devil dancing’ ceremony that takes place in San Francisco de Yare at Corpus Christi, dating back to rites established in Europe in the Middle Ages. Devil dancing is a serious matter for all the participants, who dance each year in penance for the sins of their families.

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