39 Years Later
Centro Cultural Lea Bermudez
I decided I was going to go out on the town.
Got myself another cab because I had not seen the Centro
Cultural built in the the buildings of the old
Marketplace of Maracaibo. Here comes another negotiation over
the price of the cab ride. He said 8,500 for an hour. I said
“No way, José” (his name could quite possibly
have been José, now that I think of it). I'm offering
6,000 bolivars an hour and if you're not interested, I'll just
move over to the next cab. “O.K., O.K., O.K.”, says
he. I probably could have got him to come down some more, I
don't know. Lea Bermudez, Centro Cultural.
Ye Olde Museum Gifte Shoppe
When I got there, (some people will recognize
this trait in me), I went straight for the olde gifte shoppe.
Hmmm, not very olde. Would be nice to find a Venezuelan gravure.
They had one for 28,000 Bs. How much is that? $60. It doesn't
look worth it to me. I'm not interested in modern art anyway,
There is a lot of stuff made out of “barro”,
which is clay. Thank goodness for dictionaries. They have works
that take up acres of space/footage. All of a sudden I saw this
very interesting sculpture of about 50 arms outstretched sticking
up out of the floor. “Bosque: clamor de la tierra.”
It represents the poor of this world trying to eke out a living.
It's really quite poignant. I asked the museum guard if they
had postcards of this work. He said no they didn't. “Oh
dear, oh dear”, I said.“"Well, would you mind
if I took a picture?” with my trusty little throwaway
camera? He said, “Oh no, go right ahead.” He didn't
have to tell me twice. At least I'll remember this. I really
need to learn how to take good photos. Around the corner, I
found another amazing sculpture. It had sort of emptied out
bodies folded over coathangers. It had feet in shoes at the
bottom; A selection of heads and bodies that looked like you
could just put on and go out with. It is called: “Disfraz
cotidiano”, your daily disguise by Naty Valle, 1998.
These two are Venezuelan artists. Other people might have found
other things interesting: this is what I found interesting and
very expressive. It's something that I could understand. Not
very beautiful but certainly very meaningful. I visited that
pretty fast because I had this $1,000 taxi cab waiting for me.
Back to the Church of La Chinita
After another argument with the chofer, (you
have to remember what you agreed on when you started off or
you won't get it) I told him I wanted to go see the Basílica
of Chiquinquirá that was closed the last
time I went. When we got there the whole plaza was torn up (unlike
on Saturday), so I said I'd really like for him to drop me off
up on the side of the church. He said “I can't go there:
the cars can't get by there.” “Oh yes they can,
I went Saturday and there's no problem whatsoever.” I
said. “Ah bon (mumble, grumble”" so he did
drop me off at the top. I went in and someone was saying the
rosary over the loudspeaker and they had two facing doors on
the side of the basilica open so that makes a draft in the church.
I've never seen anything like it. What a good idea! They have
stained glass windows with palm trees on them. I would have
gladly taken a picture but I said, ”you are not going
to do that. You are already dressed in that lime colored pair
of slacks and stick out like a sore thumb, and that blond hair
and you're overly sunburned today”.
Candles in Cages
I spotted some candles when I got out, there
was a grotto of sorts for La Chinita,
the Patron Virgen. The candles were in a cage that was locked
tighter than a vault. There are no candles available to me in
this country. Take me back around to the Centro Cultural so
I can take a picture from far enough away with a lot of old
cars going by. I'm trying to be discreet about this so I don't
just have monuments but also people. I don't think I'm bold
enough about this. But I don't want to create a riot. I want
to enjoy this country and not get people mad at me. So I'm not
going against the grain.
Arguing with the Cab Driver Again
I wanted to go back to Creole
camp so I could find my Dad's old office. The cab driver disagrees
with me,“Oh no, this is another building.” “Don't
sit there and tell me what this is: I think I know what it is.”
“Don't give me any trouble. Just go back around the corner,
let me get out and take a picture and rebaptize the Creole
Office.” It looks just like what I thought it should look
like. That's good enough for me. Why should the chofer care
anyway? Don't worry, be happy and let me cook up all these memories,
O.K.? Then he wanted to show me the Coromoto Hospital,
the most expensive hospital in Venezuela according to him.
That night, I had a date to go to the Club
Náutico with Elizabeth Mendiri. Wasn't
that nice for her to take me there? Because she knew I had all
these souvenirs and recuerdos and eveything. I went down to
meet her at her office. By that time I was as red as a tomato
from my pool session under the tropical sun, so I wore black
to tone it down. Rudolph the red-faced reindeer. I had to take
something home with me, I guess it'll be a sunburn. I just hope
it won't peel.