39 Years Later
Seeing Old Friends
and Making New Ones
My Day with My Caraqueña Friends
To go back to the beginning of my day, I got up early because
my friend Aurita (Humberto's sister) was going to come pick
me up. So I washed my hair and all that, then she called up
to say she'd be half an hour late. So what did I do? I rushed
out to take a picture of el tucan, my favorite bird, then went
into the shops and checked out a few things then came back up.
She called at 9:30 so I went down to meet her and she really
looks swell. She came with a friend called Leonora Paris (whose
parents were from Bordeaux about 5 generations ago, she's Aurita's
prima, cousin). She's kind enough to drive us all over town
and that is just supersonic.
We headed off for Plaza Venezuela, then to the Hilton
Hotel where we parked since it's on the same block
at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo.
There are some really unusual things in there and some things
by Marisol, a famous artist. There was also some Picasso stuff,
some Dubuffet and one of Rodin's versions of "The Thinker"
Money Isn't Everything But It's Hard to Get
After that we decided we would try to find some money for me.
That was something else - forget it. I mean this place has got
a philosophy that says, Hmm, mmm, don't ask us to do…They
have all these supersonic Cash Dispensers, ATMs, and you go
up and you punch all your codes in and ask for the money etc;
etc. Then you get the message "Terribly sorry, we just
are NOT distributing money at this time, all that in Spanish,
O.K., first time I didn't get the message. Then you try the
next day and get the same message in yet another ATM. Then I
finally went inside the bank and I asked the man this Caja doesn't
seem to have any money in it. “Oh well, you can't use
a Cirrus Bank card” (the ATM
is sitting there saying it accepts Cirrus Bank
cards). Don't argue, you are not going to win. He says, “Oh
well you have to have our bank card or you're not going to get
anything.” Well I didn't get anything: I don't know if
they get something. To tell you the truth I honestly don't think
that they do. I didn't see anybody run away from any of those
“Telecajas” with any money in their hands. I didn't
see anybody walking away with money no matter which card they
had. Then they said, “Oh well we can give you a cash advance
from the Amercan Express.” Oh
big deal. Half an hour later, all this stuff on the telephone,
and we get no answer so we just give up and walk away (not without
asking the bank employee to tear up a receipt I had signed,
thank God). Tell you about that later.
Lunch at the Café del Museo
After that, we decided that we were getting very hungry and
would like to have some food. So we go to el café del
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo.
And that is a very swish little café. So we decided on
salmon quiche with salmon eggs and all decide to order that
and it comes from Chile, I think. It also comes with a glass
of white wine. We get hungrier by the minute and they forget
to give us any bread, no big deal, it just makes you fatter.
We didn't have anything to push with on the other hand, oh well.
What shall we say? About that time, here comes the meal we had
ordered, absolutely fabuloso, really delish, it was sort like
a quiche tarte thing and it had the super salmon inside and
the salmon eggs on top. I don't know what else it had but it
was absolutely delicious. Hey we're having some pretty good
meals here, good stuff. (This type of comment is just soooo
French. You can tell where I've been living for the last zillion
years). Here comes Anita to join us. She's an old friend of
Aurita and also of Leonora. She just pulls in and has some lunch
Taking the Metro to the Monuments
After that we decide we're going to go downtown
to see the Cathedral. Aurita says “Why don't we take the
Metro?”. I say “Oh, is it O.K. to take the Metro,
you know it's not dangerous or anything?“ ”Oh no,
the Metro, everybody takes the Metro, it's supersonic and they
keep it very clean and there is no fooling around or goofing
off in the Metro.” So we go take the Metro and it turns
out to be a very nice experience. I didn't get to keep the ticket.
I'd have to go buy a ticket and not use it. We get on it and
it's very wide and clean and it's a French one. But it's wider
than a French one because of the rails. Since it was brand new,
they could build the rails any size. It's really, really great
and it's air-conditioned by the way. We went swishing off to
Capitólio: we got on at Andres Bello I think.
Seeing the Monuments
We got off and there they have La Casa del Gobierno. The first
thing we went to see was La Casa de Simon Bolivar.
I know I had seen that ten thousand years ago
but I had no recollection whatsoever of it. Maybe they've fixed
it up even better since then, probably have. Then we had a quick
look in the Museo Simon Bolivar next
door. We went onto Plaza del Libertador and the Cathedral. A
very nice and shady plaza. We went into the Cathedral and I
wanted to light all these candles. Let me tell you, no way José.
There's not a candle in there you can light , I don't know maybe
because either people rob the kitty (money box) or the candles.
There's just no way in hell you can light a candle, so I just
went away. We walked across the Plaza del Libertador and Aurita
told me that Simon Bolivar (the statue) always has a pigeon
sitting on top of his head even when it's raining (you can imagine
what the pigeons do to it). We also saw the old University building
and all of this was commissioned by a former dictator who had
lived in Paris many years, Guzman Blanco (I think). It is a
most attractive building. Then we went into a jewelry shop.
I wanted to buy a gold orchid with a pearl in it for Maria because
I told her I would get her one that I'm giving her for Christmas,
ten thousand years later. I had told her about them and she
said she'd like to have one. It turns out that they were not
making them in Venezuela for the longest time, but now they're
making them again, so there you have it.
Buying Shoes for Everyone
Then we all went to buy shoes, comfy shoes.
(by that time EVERYbody's feet were killing them). Anita bought
some, Leonora bought some and Aurita bought some. I didn't buy
any since I had just renewed my wardrobe. Anita was about to
die. She had high-heeled crocodile shoes on that she had been
running aoround in for a couple of days so she was really pooped
out. Forgot to tell you that early that morning we had gone
to see Aurita's brother, Jose Armando. I remembered that guy
as a little bitty kid and now he's all grown up and he hasn't
thinned out any. Chubby kiddie, chubby big guy. That was just
an aparté: I needed to fill you in on that.
After that we get back on the Metro and ride
back to Andres Bello. We wanted to call up Raquel but she has
her fax machine on her phone line. Then we drive to Raquel's
house but she is still not there. We decided we all need some
juice or some kind of a drink. We were spittin' cotton; meanwhile,
we had been talking full blast. Nobody would shut up any of
the time. It was just a running quadrilogue (as there were four
of us as opposed to a dialogue) We were just talking all the
time and we get along just super fine. That was very good. Then
Leonora takes us to the Centro Commerical Las Mercedes.
And we all go sit down outside overlooking the Avenida Las Mercedes
and we order fruit drinks, piña and I had mango. Mangoes
are in season. I want you to know it was to die for. I've hated
mangoes all my life - it was about time I got a good one. Now
I'm a mango fiend and I want some more. I hope it's going to
be as good as the one I had today cause it was very good. I
might even give up wine for mangoes. Hardy har har har. Well,
you just never know if I had mangoes like that I might just
consider it. Supoib.
Then Aurita needed to get some fixings to go
on the arepas she had her girl make for us that night. Which
is a big treat, lemme tell 'ya. After we buy some stuff, we
go to her house and we meet her two sons and the girl who made
the arepas and then we meet her husband, Pedro, a very jovial
guy. We all sit down and have arepas with all the fixings on
them and that was great fun. Then her husband said, “Why
don't we get out of here because you can't sit on these chairs
for very long they are so hard. Why don't we go in the living
room and sit down and chat”, so we did. Then we started
taking about Maracaibo where I.m going tomorrow. Aurita had
organized a big tour of Maracaibo for her American friends so
she said she'd write it all down so I could go see it. Then
she gave me some baskets made by the Orinoco indians: I cannot
remember their names to save my whole life (I just cheated and
looked their names up in a book I got so that we wouldn't all
die stupid as the French say: they are the Yanomami Indians).
Aurita collects these baskets. She has them everywhere. So I
have two beautiful baskets really and truly made by the indians.
Not very many people will have some of those.
Online (at last) from South America
After that Aurita said, “I want you to
show me your family newspaper Website. Come on up and show me.”
So I showed her La Gazette de la Famille Online.
We looked at the baptism of Anatole and Celeste and pictures
of Capucine. We had a look at the pictures of Portugal and the
art exhibit and we clicked on the other Website I made for Arnaud.
Then I clicked on William's Email address and sent him an Email
and a copy to Jerome (I just couldn't resist the temptation
of sending an Email from Venezuela, obviously). We'll see if
they get it, there is no reason why they shouldn't (they did
get it). Everybody started getting pooped out, so then we exchanged
Plans for the Next Day
I tell Aurita I had made arrangements to have
lunch at the Valle Arriba (that's
the country club I used to spend hours at either in the pool
or playing golf with Dad) of course and “Would you like
to come with me tomorrow?” She said “Oh I'd just
love that”. She has to find out if she'll have the car
or not (her car just got stolen and the other family cars are
in the shop for lack of spare parts. Otherwise we'll just take
a cab. She'll get back to me on that but she definitely wants
to come have lunch with me at the Valle Arriba.
And I want to go to Altamira too because I want to go see what
it looks like.
Caracas by Night
We left Aurita's house after saying goodnight
to everyone. We left with Leonora and Anita who was going to
spend the night at Leonora's house. So she took us around the
Valle Arriba urbanización and got an incredible view
of Caracas at night at your feet, pretty damn pretty, and also
got to have a look at Leonora's house. She also showed me the
American Embassy compound, I mean it's got bunkers, it just
totally off the wall. I guess they're scared shitless. They
act like there are prepared for a raid, a civil war and a revolution
all thrown together. Then we either saw the Argentine Embassy
or some wealthy person's house with armed guards with submachine
guns. God, I said “Drive fast, I want to get out of here:
they might be trigger happy, you never know what's going to
happen.” I'm a scaredy cat. Then we drove home (my hotel)
and jumped out of the car and came upstairs.
Recapping the Day
That's basically it. Look at my beautiful baskets.
I'm soon going to pour out the beautiful orchid I got for Maria,
watch TV and turn in, what do you know? This was the perfect
day. I couldn't have thought of anything better. I did mention
that we had had arepas? And they were divine, so were the little
toppings. Nothing like the ones I had yesterday: you could have
thrown one of those at somebody and knocked him out. Nighty
night at the end of the 4th of June. Oh by the way, I especially
want to remind Michael of the bidet that hits the ceiling cause
this is something he and I used to do together and have a blast.
My Old Boyfriend
I did forget to mention Humberto. I spoke to
his sister today and said “Whatever did happen to him?”
It seems that he got married at 37 to this girl who was pregnant
and that's why he got married. That still doesn't explain why
he got married so late. Not any obligation, but anyway. It didn't
work out at all but they had that one child whose name is Victor.
And the mother at one point just disappeared from the face of
this earth and so did Humberto and so the kid is left sort of
high and dry and now he's 23 and lives with Aurita's mother.
He doesn't go to school and he doesn't work. Sounds familiar
I'm afraid. And so c'est un laissé-pour-compte. The kid
is totally deséquilibré and so that's that. From
what I gathered he might have married somebody else and that
didn't work then finally he went to Guatemala to work. There
he met a woman who is not particularly chic and supersonic and
seems to have her head screwed on right. She's an economist
of some sort representing (maybe) the Guatemalan government.
Anyway, so she's got a job in Geneva. And she's already left
for Geneva and he's supposed to be following her soon and Aurita
says it's the best thing that's ever happened to him since she
seems so sensible.