Venezuelan food is one of the country's best kept secrets. There are many very unique dishes, particularly in the "fast food" category, that one would think should spread world-wide for their variety. In Caicara, there is easy acces to fresh fruits, cheezes, meats, fish, and many other agricultural products. For me, a perfect breakfast is either a cachapa with grated cheeze or as is shown here, a couple arepas with any number of things stuffed into them: meats, cheezes (typically white, crumbly and salty), onions, and tomatoes. With that, I like a doble maron (double latte) and a tall batido of, ideally parchita juice. If parchita juice isn't available, I'll take fresh mango, papaya, melon, or if nothing else, orange. We found this place along the boulevard in Caicara on our way out of town. Everything was prepared exactly as it should be. This food was very cheap, but a luxury for any American or European.
Favorite Dish: Arepas are made from a special pre-cooked corn meal processed only in Venezuela. The Arapa is reminiscent of polenta, but the corn texture is both finer and firmer. The batido is a blended ice and fresh fruit drink. Parchita is my favorite, although many people don't like it at first. It's an acquired taste, but once acquired, the best fresh orange juice doesn't even compare for sophistication in terms of complex natural acids and sugars.
Unfortunately, I can't remember the name, and I don't have a photo either. But, I recall the place very clearly. The architecture was a simple an open and huge round traditionally palm branch roof. At one side, a Venezuelan Folk band played--a quatro, harp, and maracas. For good music, that's all that's needed, REALLY! I was blown away by the musical skills of these three guys. Then, for dinner, we ate a fresh white meat fish from the Orinoco, slightly breaded and pan fried. I drank a gin and tonic, but I also had a fresh parchita juice drink. It wasn't the cheapest place we ate, but I recall it being quite reasonable given the great food and service.
Favorite Dish: The restaurant was open for dinner, and could well be open for lunch as well. It had a full bar, and ofcourse, the music really makes this place. Fresh fish, Llanero steaks, blood sausage, are the main meats served. Arepas and cachapas are probably also on the menu, and make a great breakfast or lunch. Fresh fried yucca as the starch beats a potatoes for me anytime. Fresh tropical mangos, papaya, and melon are routine here. Fresh juices from mango, parchita, papaya, etc. are also routine and cheap.
Caicara is a center of shipping traffic, particularly produce and cattle sailing down the river. There's regular ferry service across the river to Cabruta, and riverboats do head upstream as far as Puerto Ayacucho. The river is very wide here. The waterfront is the place to learn about what possibilities exist, but travel to Puerto Ayacucho on a freighter will take a long time. It's definitely faster and easier to either take a bus or drive a car over the new highway.
Caicara is about 6 hours from Puerto Ayacucho over what was a new highway in the early 1990's. The traffic is light, and there are very few places to stop along the way. Rain is frequent here, so make sure the wipers are in good shape. The highway is well graded however, and so it shouldn't flood. There are several bridges to cross, but these are similarly well engineered. For most of the way, the landscape is pretty much denuded of trees well away from the highway. In general, the highway has produced the effect that ecologists warn about. As a result of the highway, logging has pushed the rainforest miles from it, and cattle grazing has moved in. One can drive any speed they like, but be careful of animals. Also, don't expect to see the Orinoco, as it cuts inland to save time. However, as said there are several tributary of the Orinoco to cross.