39 Years Later
Life in Maracaibo
Elizabeth's Funny Story
After that, I met with Elizabeth and Elizabeth
is a very charming lady. Obviously she didn't know me from Adam
but I have this charming letter of introduction from Maruja
who is her sister-in-law. So we started talking about Pedro,
Peter to some. She was telling me about the very short but very
fabulous life she had with him. Her honeymoon was all over Europe
and she told me the whole story. How they had gone from here
to London and from London to Paris. From London to Paris, she
was in charge of all the money. So she thought, what a drag
sticking it all into my pocketbook which was very small, so
I'll just stick it in the bag (suitcase). Guess what? They lost
their bags (the airline did) for 5 days. So they had no money,
no clothes, no anything. So she had to go out an buy some bluejeans
which was all that they could afford without money and they
were charging as much as possible to the hotel. Pedro didn't
know that all the money was in the suitcases. He kept encouraging
her to go out and buy some nice clothes for herself. She would
say “Oh I don't need anything, I'm just fine.” That
is a riot story, I think.
She took me to this very cute little restaurant
where we had a salad and a fruit juice. That's a new angle.
Because here the specialty is fruit juice, so there's no point
in ordering something else. We sat there and chatted for a long,
long time. She asked me what I did and I told her and that I
had worked for Unisys at one point and that now I taught technical
Good Tech Writing
I came back to the hotel to find the lady that
wrote the Directório de los Servicios of the
hotel here in Maracaibo. I finally found the lady who actually
wrote it. She said, “Oh it was one heck of a job and it
took us forever.” I said, “I'm not surprised.”
They had done it following a corporate standard for Inter-Continental.
I said that the stuff that she had put together was excellent
and that I was a teacher in technical writing. This is technical
writing. Your product is just slightly different. I haven't
looked for anything in there that I haven't found. It's really
good because it has examples and information, is easy to find.
It is well structured. I said she ought to enter the STC Technical
Publications Competition. She wanted to know what to do so I
said I'd write to her and tell her. It might just be too late
for this year's competition. Maybe I'll see what I can do about
that. What I am thinking of is giving some sort of special mention.
I might just do that. Then I said I'd like to know where I could
find one of these super drawings of Maracaibo houses that is
in there because I'd like to frame it and put it in my house
because it's so typically Venezuelan and lovely. So she took
one out of her copy and gave me one of those. I don't know if
I'll find one at the museum but I sure am glad that I have that
one. All of these souvenirs, souvenirs…
Visiting the Supermercados
I wrote some more postcards, then came back
down and thought I had a date with this cab driver but he never
turned up so I took another one. We went to the supermercado
of all places. I always visit supermarkets in all the countries
I go to out of principle. I want to know what people eat. The
French say “You are what you eat.” So I want some
insight. I went to one and looked at just about everything in
it. I bought myself some mango marmelade, everybody should have
some of that, Venezuelan coffee (Café Imperial),
some cinnamon sticks from Venezuela (smells so yummy: I opened
it up to whif it) and caraotas negras (black beans, the staple
of this nation). I do NOT know how to make caraotas negras but
I'll soon find out. So this is great and supersonic. I had a
real old taxi driver and that's great because these people remember
how things used to be. I said there is a supermarket called
“ Cada” that Aurita told
me about. It used to be named “Todos”.
There is a “Todos” I used
to go to and I don't know where it is but it is very close to
the Campo Creole. I asked him if he knew where that was and
he just took me right there. I think that was it. It has a little
plaza in the middle that you could have a drink in. It's probably
the one I used to go to a thousand years ago. I didn't take
a picture of it. I don't know that anyone will begrudge me the
fact that there's no picture of the beautious supermarket.
What I did take a picture of is some towels
hanging on the wall on the other side of the street with Winnie-the-Pooh
on them (I don't know what in the devil they were, pyjama bags
maybe?). I don't know how close up a picture this camera is
going to take. I hope it doesn't look like it as far away as
the airport. That's about the best I can do without getting
run over if nobody minds. I want to live to tell about it.
Cost of Cabs
Here I am back at the hotel, 9,000 bolivars
lighter. Cabs charge 6,000 bolivars an hour (12 bucks and 12
bucks is 65 FF, I guess that's pretty reasonable) It's really
a good idea to have a guy take you there and wait for you (I
didn't need to spend any more time). I don't think I could get
that price in France. Also he knows where stuff was. Didn't
seem to know the Creole Camp very
well, though. I'm starting to get ravenous - that salad was
pretty light. Since I'm going out tomorrow night, I should have
the pabellón. That's caraotas negras, arroz and I don't
know what all, ground up meat. I should have that.
One thing you need to know is that this is
not about to become a paperless society any time soon. You get
a BIG receipt for everything you buy. You have to sign for most
of it and show your passport most of the time. Security is a
big deal here. But they just use paper all the time. If you
send a few letters here at the hotel, they'll make a big deal
at the Cashier's and they'll write down how many stamps of each
type you bought multiplied by 6 and that makes so much, 3,200
bolivares. Then you have to sign and all this jazz. They were
not too keen on my paying cash for the stamps either. They sure
do get bogged down in this paper business. You know it's ALL
handwritten, all. Except the bills that come out of the hotel.
The rest of it is handwritten. Some companies do use computers
(can't remember which ones) and a couple of my friends work
for companies that have Email. Anyway, it's a big paper place.
Newspaper's Report on Getting Mugged
I just read the newspaper, I have a little
time tonight. They say that people who go down to the center
of town get robbed blind. Mainly people who are carrying packages.
They get those ripped away from them. If you are just walking
aimlessly around malls or have just come out of the bank, you
get it. They just got robbed immediately. And there is usually
not only One thief:, they run around in groups of 2 or 3. And
if they don't have guns, they have knives or broken bottles.
A lady who resisted the other day, who didn't want to be robbed,
they ended up whacking her with a broken bottle and it just
ripped her open. I'd rather not talk about it but they said
it was really bad over this past weekend. Good grief, and where
was I? I was down in the center of Maracaibo but I was just
taking pictures with my thowaway camera and I didn't have any
packages and didn't go to the bank THAT day. The day before
in Caracas I had, but watch out hun, what you are doing? I don'
t think I'll go back downtown or if I do I'll put on my banana.
What do you do with your purse? The other day I put it in the
minibar while I went swimming in the afternoon. You've got to
think of something, haven't you? There are no safes around here
like there were in the hotel in Caracas.
Baking in the Sun
Tuesday June 9th. I don't think I've said anything
for today. This was my last full day here. I had some fruit
for breakfast and went swimming instead of sitting in the dining
room. I went swimming at about 9:30. Supposedly 9:30 here would
make it 8:30 by the sun. So I got into the pool and the water
was cool for once. I found out something so I'll go back tomorrow.
I should have been going swimming in the morning and not in
the afternoon when it's hotter than hell. It was delish. Thought
I'd tan the front of my legs then the back. When it was about
10:30, the surface of the water started getting warm and the
railings of the stepladders to get out were blazing hot. Something
is burning on me somewhere in spite of my 45 Total Screen lotion.
Flan and Iced Tea
I had a flan for dessert, it certainly is unusual.
Not like any flan you'd get in Europe. It is quite sweet. I
also ordered some ice tea that was excellent. It had goma in
it (?) a sugar mixture that they make with sugar cane(?) and
lime. By the way, no fake/diet sugar around here, only the real
The Cleaning Lady's Contest
Afterwards, I filled out a questionnaire for
the cleaning lady because she is trying to win a contest. If
she gets 20 completed and signed questionnaires, then she wins
a sweater (??????). She may have to go into cold storage to
wear it but…right before that, she had left me a whole
plate of cheese in my room maybe so I'd write something nice?
I hope I was not influenced by the cheese plate. It's my last
day here and I've already had lunch, so I doubt if I will.