Last year I spent Carnival in Trinidad. There were pretty costumes, parades, people winding in the streets, and (my favorite) Joyvert! My friends and I stayed with a wonderful local who introduced us to people and places that the normal tourist wouldn’t get to see. This year I had a much more relaxing four day weekend in Venezuela.
Don’t get me wrong. People here in Venezuela love Carnival! My students leave early to go to their houses in Aruba, Margarita, or maybe escape to enjoy cooler weather in Merida. I went to a little place called Hacienda La Concepcion (ssshhh, it’s a secret).
Here is a little video that they made about the place.
It isn’t anything fancy, but it is a nice retreat from the crazy city life in Venezuela. My friend described it to me as a holistic health spa retreat. There is a pool, a gym, a spa, yoga, VEGETARIAN food (no meat option), and NO ALCOHOL (I may have snuck a bottle of wine in to drink in my room…). Very different from Trinidad!
A couple notes about some info I thought was missing on their website and the little video linked to above:
Food: People come here to detox and lose weight, I get it, but I thought that if I was simply paying for a weekend away that I would be given a choice of what I ate for dinner. Not so. There was always a few bowls of fruit, granola, and yogurt to eat for breakfast. At lunch there was always a set menu. You would sit down and they would bring you a plate with food on it and a bowl of soup when you were about finished. At dinner it was the same routine as lunch. Also you should know that there are only two days that they call “Carb” days so there is no real bread or rice at the meals (the bread here is gluten free). Every meal was served with only water as your beverage option. Meals were served at exactly, 9AM, 12:30 PM, and 7PM.
Drinks: As mentioned above, water was the only thing served at all meals. There was not even coffee for breakfast! There was always fresh fruit infused waters (no sugar added) available at all times at the juice bar at the center of the property.
Schedule: They do not force you to do any activities, but they highly encourage you to join the athletic activities available to all guests. They do this by walking around the property ringing a bell outside of your room. For example, you might consider sleeping in since breakfast is so late, but they want you to join the 7AM workout so they ring a bell at 6:15, 6:30, and 6:45. I usually made it to the end of the stretching class that started daily at 6:30. There was always a 7AM and 5:30PM workout, a couple daily meditation sessions, and thrice weekly there is this free treatment called 4 Elementos (15 min in the sauna, 15 in the steam room, 5 min quick exfoliation, self applied mud (that must dry for 15 min), then someone hoses you off after).
Animals: There are sheep, chickens, and many dogs that sporadically wander through the property. They never bothered me (though it was entertaining to stretch outside while dogs were winding their way through the class), but I can see how this might surprise people or be a concern to those who are allergic.
Overall I plan on using this place as a getaway as much as possible. Since I want to really focus on paying off my student loans and saving for retirement over the next two years, I might stay at the Hacienda instead of going to another country during my short breaks- THAT is a huge endorsement from someone with a bad case of wanderlust like myself!
Here are some other pics I took over the 4 days I spent there:
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