The Takeoff In The Plane
.....from Miami and it did take off and that's
all very thrilling, and I was sitting next to this lady. And
on the plane, they play Bingo on Servivensa.
So it's something to keep people busy and it's $7 to play Bingo
on the plane. And the prize is a round trip ticket from Miami
to Caracas. So my seat companion decded she was going to play
because she likes Miami a lot and she asked me if I were playing,
so I said, “No I'll just support you while you play”.
So she played and lo and behold, she won! She won a round trip
ticket from Miami to Caracas or the other way around, in fact.
So that was quite eventful and then I was expecting the chauffeur
from the Tamanaco to come pick me
up and - Guess What? He didn't. Or she or nobody did. So I asked
someone is there any particular spot in the airport they pick
people up from and they said “Well, you're not the first
person the Tamanaco driver did not
pick up”. So I decided just to go out and get a cab then.
So I went in an old run down cab with a cantakerous
driver and I think I asked him to take me Avenida Las Mercedes
and he didn't want to.
So we drove here (Tamanaco)...
Las Mercedes from Hotel Tamanaco, 1955. We
were stayng there in August, 1955.
view of Avenida Las Mercedes from Tamanaco
in 1998. This was just down from our house.
...and got out and came up to my room and
the room was just fine.
And so after that I decided to go get some
money out of the wall. Forget it, it doesn't like my card or
it doesn't want to do anything. So it just wasn't giving out
money. I'll go see the bank itself tomorrow. We'll see. Anyway
I changed some American money into Bolivares. And after that
I was all set. At least I could go do something. It was about
4:30 quarter to five.
And I decided I wanted to get out and see the
place before it got dark because it gets dark around 7:00.
And so I had this long drawn out conversation
with the doorman and I told him what I wanted to do I wanted
to go take a cab around this area Las Mercedes for about an
hour. And so he talked to another cab driver who came over to
me and went off into great conciliabule of some sort and I don't
know who in the hell he talked to. And finally some other guy
comes over and I say I want to go around for about an hour and
then he goes off and I think he practiacally forgot about he
the whole thing. So here comes a cab dropping somebody else
off so I said, “Would you take me around because this
other guy doesn't seem to be able to make up his mind”.
So at about that time, the first cab driver or the second one,
whichever you bother to pick, comes back and goes “Tut
Tut” and so I walk over to the car, and I said, “Well
how much are you going to charge me?” Well, he says 3
1/2 hours riding around Paris - not Paris, Caracas that will
be 35,000 something or other Bolivares. So I said I don't want
to go for 3 hours, just an hour because the sun's going down
and you can't see anything anyway. So one hour 10,000 whatever
Bolivars. Oh, I said, you've got yourself a deal.
Finding Old Haunts
My Old School and Baseball Diamond
Then I asked him to take me…I said, “Does
Campo Alegre (my old American school
I used to go to at one point) still exist?” Sounds like
someone from outer space and that's just about what I was. And
he says “Yes, it does.” So I say, “would you
drive me up there?” And so he did. We had to get this
special“"permiso oficial” from the door person
who didn't exist in the old days. So we drive up and were very
"oficial" now that we had a badge on and I look at
the entrance hall and the front of the building had changed
dramatically. I think it used to be some sort of colonial-looking
house - you know, with the columns and everything. It was very
small at the time. I'm pretty sure it had columns on it. Anyway
this thing has a very weird structure in the front, but anyway
it, is still called Campo Alegre,
and it's still American. But I didn't go in because it was already
Then what did I spy? Down at the corner was
the baseball diamond! Just guess what: guess who used to play
baseball there? Well, it's me. I used to play baseball there
and, good grief, what do you think I did? I just went over and
took a picture of the baseball diamond and I took a picture
of the school got back into the car and took off with the chauffeur
No Go for Ntra. Señora de Guadalupe
I said I want to go to Nuestra Señora
de Guadalupe in Sabana Grande. Well he didn't really know where
that was so I said, “Well then, forget it because you
don't know where it is and I think it's also a pietón
place or something.” I said I'll just go there some other
time - Friday morning or something.
Stalking Down Casa Dorkaïtz
Dorkaïtz, circa 1951. It was on Avenida Las
Mercedes. We lived in the bottm part.
Dorkaïtz in 1998.
After that I then said, “I want you go
go down Avenida de la Mercedes very, very slowly and I want
you to get on the left so I can see if I can recognize it”
and sure enough, you're not going to believe this, but here
we come up to some houses just like Casa Dorkaïtz,
and that's exactly what it was: Casa Dorkaïtz
dramatically changed, turned into a bank, of all things. (should
have held onto THAT house.)
So who knows, you know in my room they've probably
got the safe and all that stuff. I think tomorrow I'll go back
and see if I can get in there. I'll say see here “I used
to live in your bank”. Oh God, they're going to think
“Who is this nut from nowhere telling us they used to
live in our bank?“ - “The fact is, my room is right
over there where your safe is.” Boy, just get out of my
way, I want to go back to my room. Around the side of that house
it used to have a staircase to get to the second floor because
it used to be 4 different apartments: two on the bottom and
two on the first floor. But there were no more stairs so I walked
around the back and what did I see? Lo and behold, the exit
from our house which is also where we used to wash clothes and
it was also right near Paulina's shower on the way out. Anyway
so there it was, and you're not going to believe this either:
I took a picture of it. I took a picture of the side of it,
the top of it, everything. Then I said to the chofér,
I knew it was right around here because right across the street
they used to play baseball and cricket on the weekends. “Well,”
he said, “It's still a playing field but they're going
to build a great big commercial center.” Yeah but I said
apparently they haven't done that yet so it's still there. I
can see it and seeing is believing. Then I went, where did I
go? I was just jumping up and down and I was all very happy
because I remembered that and I found it. And it's still there
and it's awesome. Anyway my house, the cricket field and baseball
field. And so then I looked down the street and I could see
the Tamanaco where I'm staying and
though, Ha, in the old days it looked farther away and also
I can tell you something, my house looked much bigger to me
in the old days, obviously because I was a smaller kid. And
then what did I do? And by the way, I think Campo
Alegre goes through high school possibly, 'cause
I'm not sure.
Panorama of Caracas
After that I said, I want you to take me up
to The Valle Arriba just to have a quick look and so he did.
Meanwhile they had put up some green canvas on the fence so
you couldn't see through, but I did see through a little bit.
He took me to the front entrance, and I said don't bother stopping
because I'm coming back for lunch on Friday. So he said OK (well
he didn't really say OK because he said something in Spanish).
In the middle of this I just remember the chófer had
said, “You know, Campo Alegre
is a a school for 'gente muy rica' and gringos and all that
stuff and I say “Oh yeah, I know.” Then he says
“'Gente muy rica' play golf in the Valle Arriba
Golf Club.” Then I said, “Yeah, I
Flahie in front of Valle Arriba Golf Club.
He then shows me all this new 'urbanización'
up on the road to Baruta, which used to be a road that went
absolutely nowhere in the old days. Today, it is a very chic
'urbanización' and it's above Valle Arriba,
and when you are driving up there, you can see parts of that
hole, oh what was the name of that hole?
I can't remember the name of that hole but
it's where we'd stop and have drinks with Dad. He and I had
a Coke or something when I was playing and it just seemed like
the end of the earth in those days because I was such a little
kid (12 years old). It took me so long to hit the ball to the
dumb hole. But I can tell you one thing, I was ready for the
cold drinks. In fact I would play very assiduously because I
knew there was the water hole coming up. So we went to see that
and, needless to say, this place is totally built up. I mean,
there is something every two inches. I mean, it's really built
up. The chofér said “I'm going to take you up to
this place that has the most beautiful view”. I said let's
go for it So it keeps winding up the Camino de Baruta where
all these supersonic million dollar apartments are. So he took
me up there and, lo and behold, it was a fantastic, breathtaking
view of Caracas just sitting there lying below our feet; and
there were no more clouds because there were clouds when I first
got here, but this is typical of Caracas. At the end of the
day, there were no more clouds and there was the most fabulous
view you'd ever want to have of Caracas.
Furthermore, he was pointing out stuff such
as the Tamanaco and showing me where
Altamira was. I said, I remember Altamira, I had a friend who
lived there. I said there was an oblelisk there. He said “There
still is one.” Ah, dis-donc, what a memory this girl has.
Anyway he says they've totally rebuilt it and renamed it. I
think they call it Plaza de Fráncia and not Plaza de
Altamira because Mitterand came here a couple of years ago.
Anyway, at that time they renamed it Plaza de Fráncia
on account of Mitterand. To me it will always be Altamira and
I think that's something I want to go see because I had a friend
who used to live there. Plans for tomorrow: Tomorrow, I'm going
to have lunch with Aurita Mazzei and a friend, Raquel Rauch
at Raquel's house. I've got to call them right now and tell
them I'm here, alive and very happy. After the man had taken
me to see this fabulous view, I mean really fabulous, it's not
any old kind of view there. I took many pictures. I just hope
they're all going to come out.