“The Posada Don Carlos guesthouse is a colonial mansion, built in 1876, carefully restored by its owners. Located in the heart of the historic quarter in Ciudad Bolivar, it is only steps away from Bolivar square and 200 meters from the Orinoco River. Combining traditional atmosphere with modern conveniences, the options range from sleeping in a hammock to staying in very elegant rooms.” (quoted from the website)
Having booked our tour to Canaima, Kris and I took a taxi straight to Posada Don Carlos, situated on the corner of Calle Boyacá and Calle Amor Patrio, in the casco histórico (historical part) of town. We stepped up to a large heavy door with an ornate brass door knocker (and a modern doorbell) set into a discreet terracotta-coloured wall. A friendly face appeared at one of the wrought iron windows for a second, disappeared, and then the same smiling lady was at the door.
Stepping into the mansion from the hot streets of the town was like moving into another world. A shadowy hallway opened up onto a dappled central courtyard, with cool green light filtering through the delicate leaves of a tree with outspread branches.
Two big, serene dogs lolled on the cool tiled floor. In places, the ancient red brick walls have been tastefully exposed, and all the doors are tall enough to accommodate the colonial men and woman of old as they entered their home astride their horses (I guess horses were watered and stabled within the walls of the house, in the courtyards).
The owners have put a lot of work into filling the mansion with Venezuelan antiques: not only large pieces of furniture, but little curios like old irons, typewriters, cameras and kitchen utensils pepper the corners of the house the way they must have, back in the day.
Also, many really beautiful old pieces of Pemon basketwork and weaving, together with cow and deer skulls, and a few rustic objets d’art, hang from the walls, or swing gently in mid-air, suspended from the high ceilings.
I love the high, open ceilings of colonial homes…in the tropics, it’s a great way to deal with the incredible heat. The extra wall space means that windows and doors were made much taller than their modern counterparts, letting in more wind and a really marvelous ambient light.
A room with a double bed, our own shower and toilet, and an electric fan (because we don’t like air-conditioning), was $3.00 per night (at the time of writing…prices change very fast, here…it is even cheaper now…$2.85 or something) Incredible.
Breakfast can be requested, but we preferred to eat outside, so I don’t know how good it is. No lunch or dinner, although you can use the kitchen to cook your own food (you may or may not need to have your own dishes, pots, pans…they haven’t got a lot of kitchen gear). There’s always coffee in the morning, two big flasks of it, and it’s good, strong coffee. The atmosphere is very “relaxed” and a bit “rustic”…meaning the staff sit around a lot, and don’t seem particularly eager to get to their feet when you ask them for something. It can be noisy, too…what with the dogs barking at pedestrians from the windows, the car alarms in the street going off now and then, and the owner’s wife spontaneously picking up a cuadro (a small guitar) and, together with some of the staff, bursting into the loud ballads typical of Los Llanos (The Plains). Out of tune. At seven in the morning. Outside your bedroom window.
But, for the excellent price and the beauty of the place, it’s totally worth putting up with the desperate, unrefined singing of The Lady of The House!