"Sinamaica Lagoon Gave Inspiration for Venezuela" Sinamaica by atufft

Sinamaica Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 30 photos

Sinamaica is a provincial capitol...

of nearly 3,000 residents, most of them indigenous Añu who live in houses on stilts above the lagoon. The tropical lagoon, which is just north of Maracaibo has been inhabited since before the time of Columbus, and was in fact the inspiration for the naming of Venezuela. Explorers saw the homes built on poles over the water and the local preference for gondola like boats for transport and reported it's similarity to the city of Venice. Today, motor driven canoes have not completely replaced pole driven ones, but in any case the streets remain busy with water based traffic. We hired a launch at the entrance point of the lagoon to the larger Lake Maracaibo and headed west into the lagoon. Later, we drank a beer and ate a fish arepa at a restaurant that caters to tourists, but was otherwise not overly busy. As I sat on the balcony of the restaurant, I could easily appreciate the reason why these waters are inhabited in this manner. While Maracaibo is a hot and muggy metropolis, Sinamaica remains air-conditioned by the winds that blow across the water.

Homes on Poles Over Troubled Waters

I view this as perhaps the best activity for those visiting Maracaibo and Estado Zulia in general. Unfortunately, the sloppy management of gasoline and oil, as well as pollution from a coal mine, have dumped many millions of tons of toxic waste into the lagoon, threatening the villagers that live there. A recent chemical report noted that the coal mine on the Guasare River that flows into Sinamaica Lagoon has led to increasingly high concentrations of metals such as mercury and vanadium. The natural brackish state of the lagoon makes for a delicate eco-system, with the Guasare and Limon River pushing fresh water in the rainy season, while Caribbean saltwater invades the lagoon during the dry season. Nevertheless, visitors to the lagoon will not be aware of such complexity or tragic pollutants as the water and landscape of tropical trees remain beautiful to the eye throughout the year.

The Añu: People of the Lagoon

The indigenous group of Añu inhabit Sinamaica, still speaking in places their native language, which is of the Caribbean Arawak language family. These people are also known as the "paraujanos", a term derived from the neighboring tribal Way'u, who referred this way to the inhabitants of the Sinamaica lagoon. The Añu are primarily subsistance fisherman with additional hunting of wild birds like yaguaza, hemp, crow, tijereta. The women are notable for weaving mats and other articles from a fiber of the enea tree. This tree also is used for the construction of homes, for the walls and roof thatch systems that shelter the families of Sinamaica. Because the Añu have managed to be so reclusive within the labyrinth waterways of the lagoon, they remain one of the largest indigenous tribal groups in Venezuela. However, their decline is notable in the declining use of the tribal language and increasing preference for power boats and modern communications.

  • Last visit to Sinamaica: Jul 1994
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (8)

Comments (5)

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    Jul 14, 2007 at 10:23 PM

    Looks as a very pleasant place to visit! Water, water, water everywhere... and those houses on stilt! Lovely Sinamaica Avenue! I could easily find myself there! :)

  • Ekahau's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2007 at 12:07 PM

    indigenous group of Añu did you get to meet them at all I have never heard of them would love to know more. Very nice Page

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Jun 27, 2007 at 9:02 PM

    Nice local details. This part of Venezuela looks like Thailand.

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2007 at 6:22 PM

    Great new Maracaibo and Sinamaica pages. Congratulations. And thank you for endorsing my pages on your home page. Hope you had a good Fathers' Day too.

  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2007 at 11:53 AM

    This looks so idyllic, too bad about the pollution, which must certainly be effecting the safety of their food supply. Again, you have visited one of the lesser known, but interesting, places of the world.


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