Jay & Nicole's Adventures
Trip to Casa Maria in Venezuela - July 2007

(click any picture to get enlargement)

As our last trip before we move from Venezuela, we decided to visit a place many of our friends recommended, called Casa Maria.  We left at 6am on a Saturday morning with our friends Peter & Gaby.  The trip from Caracas took 3-4 hours, with only a few missed turns.

When we got close, we had to ask some locals where Casa Maria was located, as their sign was barely visible.  The light poles, though, had plenty of signs from the election ... over 6 months ago!
The Owner apologized for the lack of a sign, but she then explained that if they advertise, many 'local looky-loos' stop and ask for a tour of the property ... but they never intend to stay ... as it is pricey.

After entering the property, we were immediately greeted by the dogs!   They were our constant companions over the weekend, as we were the only guests.

It is nice to plan a trip in VE right after a major holiday, as then there are not many other tourists.

We unpacked and then took a quick walk around the 'park-like' property.

Nice room ... but not ours!

All of the concrete work was done by the owners; the tiles were shaped by hand!

The dining area and terrace were very nice; we spent a lot of time in this outdoor area.

The pool area was also very nice, but the cool weather prevented us from using it much.

The elevation of the area was quite high, leading to cooler temps than what we are used to.

Above the pool was the building with our 2 rooms; nice & clean, which is so hard to find in VE!

The star attraction was the parrot.  

During the day it hung around in a tree by the terrace; at night it slept inside, near the Owner's fireplace.

Nicole & the parrot got along from the beginning. Peter decided to make Nicole into a walking fruit salad. The parrot also took to Peter quite nicely. 

Gaby did not have the same luck ... but after some coaxing, they finally became friends.

The Owners also had a cute monkey, but it was new to the property and thus could not be let out of the cage.

We never saw any wild monkeys, but we were told there were some in the general area.

Luckily their big snake was kept in his cage, but the turtle could move around freely.  

During our stay, the turtle decided to go for a swim in the pool; we had to help the staff to get her out when she had trouble.

After a great lunch and a short rest, we decided to go for a walk around the property; they own a good chunk of land!

The variety and colors of the flowers and plants were quite spectacular.

The cocoa plants (above) and bananas (right) grow easily; they were the original crops for many immigrants.

There were many unique fruits & plants, mostly unknown to us ... some made us laugh a bit ... :)

The the nickname of this place is 'Bug Paradise', since the Owners are biologists.  

The screen area to the right becomes a bug magnet when lit in the evening; can you see the big happy spiders?

We came upon various ponds; some had only tadpoles (small frogs) & others had fish in them.  We began to realize how complicated and wonderful this whole place was!


Along the road near the property was a cute little chapel.

Most Venezuelans are somewhat religious and use these chapels when they cannot venture to the bigger churches.

After the walk, Peter opened some hard-to-find German; then Jay sat in the jacuzzi.

Upon completion of a clean-up routine, the group met on the terrace for an excellent outdoor dinner.

After dinner we heard lots of frogs, so we made a tour to find them; note the 'food in mouth' above.

We also visited the 'Bug Factory' and were treated to many interesting looking night bugs and beautiful moths.

We returned to the terrace area & found that the aquarium lights were still on;  yes, in addition to plants, flowers, bugs & animals ... they have lots of fish ... fresh-water and tropical!

After a great nights sleep we had a VERY filling breakfast, with everything home-made.  We then went for a walk up to the local orchard to get panoramic views of the general area.

The orchard was full of oranges & limes ... again showing how easy it is to survive in a warm, tropical climate. 

Maybe that is why most people in warm climates are not used to planning & hard work ... ?? 

The reservoir and mountain scenery were quite nice, but hazy.

We didn't see any animals on our hike, but the bugs and insects were entertaining.

We returned and relaxed a bit before setting off with the owner on a trip to nearby pristine land.
Our 'safari' trip began in the Land Rover but then we got out to hike.  The forest was like a jungle, so we followed a logging road. The dog finds Peter's secret snack stash; too bad! 

We took many pics of nice plants & flowers ... but too many to include here.  If you want to see more flowers, click here to go to a separate page; I will also include the link at the bottom of this page.

On the way back to the lodge, a part-time worker flagged down the Owner to hand off some bugs he found.  The owners taught the locals about conservation and what special bugs they were interested in; this beetle & caterpillars above were very special indeed!

We purchased some carvings made in the local area and then packed the car for the trip home.

We took a last walk through the beautiful garden and had to sadly say goodbye to our new parrot friend... who gave me a nice pose by a beautiful flower.

On the way home we stopped at a trinket store and then visited a tiny town.  We were going to drive back to Caracas via a different route, but we got messed up and decided to return home the way we came.

Overall we all had an excellent weekend.  We took many pictures and have many nice memories.

Thanks Casa Maria!

 Click here to see more pictures of the flowers at Casa Maria

Click here to visit the "Casa Maria homepage"