Venezuela, 39 Years Later

Checking Out the Place

Downtown Maracaibo

Then we struck out across town and I got the chofer to stop in front of the Bella Vista Club which used to be the old Shell Club. It is very colonial looking, the only thing is that they put up another wall. And it looked just like I remembered it, not that I knew it that well but I did know it because I had been there many times with Humberto. Then we went to the Basílica Chiquinquirá. It was about almost 2 pm. Forget it, it was closed. So I took a picture anyway. Almost all of it is done in "trompe l'oeil". From there, we went to the Cathedral and the car wouldn't start again…Oh dear, dear, dear, bad news. We're stuck and it's hotter than hell. It was getting really hot. It is about 2- something pm. After we went to the Asemblea Legislativa, I think. Then he took me to a super little block of historic painted houses at last. I don't know where they were back in the olden days. They were probably there, I just never went (of course they were there since they go back to about the 1800's). That really bugs me, the little culture that there was to be had at the time, I don't think we ever went to see them. I know that if I had gone, I'd remember it. I mean, come on, the basics. Then we went to the Mercado Guajiro where they sell pom poms to go on their shoes and hammocks and belts. I bought myself a little bitty hat, a magnet to stick on my refrigerator. I don't where the magnet is, but it's gone. Pretty expensive, it was a whole dollar! Good grief! I just didn't want to haggle for one hat.

Heat and Medio Bracelets

I'm just dying on the street. I went into a jewelry store ha, ha ha. This is such a riot. I mean NOT a riot. It was extremely hot. They had bars on the windows. I asked to see something and it took the guy about 10,000 hours to bring it back. Meanwhile this other guy in the shop was dressed in bathing trunks sweating up a storm. I almost think I'm cool next to these other people that are starting to get really hot in that small house/shop. He went in the back and pulled out a fan he brought in and plugged it in and asked me to sit down. Then the guy brought in medios and reales (coins we used to use but no longer are in circulation since the metal is worth more than the value of the coin) and a 5 bolivar piece and a 2 bolivar piece (Mmm I don't remember the 2 bolivar piece). He had a whole bunch but hadn't made any jewelry out of them or anything. Oh well. What am I going to do with these? Just stick them in a drawer, they're not decorating anything.

Souvenirs

Before that I went into all these little tourist shops that sold stuff that would have been smashed to smithereens. Besides, when you get home, what are you going to do with a little maquette of a house made of adobe and plop in down on your desk? It'll look terrible in Paris so I didn't get it. You can't DO anything with it and there's no room in my kitchen, so forget it. What I did want to do is buy a flag. I see some little warped looking flag that looks like a key chain, and the woman pulls out that one and I see another one that is a plain old key chain with the flag of Venezuela on it Ahh, snatch and grab. I want it! Do you think I sat there and haggled over the price? NO. Just one key chain for two bucks. I think I can afford that. So I got it and it's mine, I'm so happy wa wa wa wa.

Going for a Ride

Then he took me to the Paseo del Lago, a place where you can have piñata parties and have picnics and you can rent a little thing and have a private party and it's really neat. It's on the lake which is supersonic but it's about 10,000° Centigrade. I'd never rent one of these, it's too hot. It was really neat and I took a picture of a man on a bicycle vending machine.

Walking Around

He took me back to the hotel after that. When I got in I went in to thank the lady for everything she had done so I could go to the Creole Club. She wasn't there so I talked to her sister who was in the book shop/newsstand. I went in and told her how super fantastic it all was and thanks to her sister I had gotten in and had lunch and it was super great. I talked for ages. Lot of magazines. Came back up and had a big Coke. I was spittin' two tons of cotton by then let me tell you. I went back down to buy some postcards and came back.

Then I went to the centro comercial next door. Looks supersonic. When you walk in almost all of the shops are unoccupied. There is a McDonald's running full blast there and a Haagen Fruz (copy of Haagen Daas?). I had been smelling popcorn ever since I got in there so I went up and found a movie theater where they are playing 5 movies (Masque de Fer with Di Caprio). I didn't want to see a movie but I sure did want some of that popcorn. So I bought myself a bag of popcorn (cortufa in Spanish). There was nothing basically to do so I took a couple of pictures. It was a cavernous thingamabob Centre commercial where there are hardly any stores.

So I came back and I had to walk over hill and dale on the sidewalk with old chopped up branches that had just been left there after cutting. (why do I get myself into these things? Every time I walk some place I have to climb over all sorts of things). At one point, the tree overhanging the sidewalk was so low I had to bend over double to get under the tree without leaping onto the street and the oncoming traffic.

Trying Out the Pool

Put on my bathing suit and went down to go swimming. Well, if I had run a hot bath for myself, it wouldn't have been any hotter than the water in that pool. You don't hesitate one second to get in. You almost want to get right back out. In fact, it was so hot, I was almost feeling oppressed. I didn't stay in forever like I might have done if it had been cool. God, I don't remember anything being THAT hot.
   
I got out pretty quickly and sat down on the lounge chair and just wanted to dry off. Just sat there looking up into space. By that time, the sun was gone. Then I heard thunder, that's why I got out of the pool. Then I went over and stood by the lake for another 10 or 20 minutes. I haven't seen that in a long time. Then it got dark so I came back up and got dressed up.

Saturday Night in the MaraBar

I went back down and had a drink in the MaraBar. Then the guy came on and sang and it was just super estupendo. (This is where I used to come dance when I was a teenager). I had a Cuba Libre and reminisced about dancing there on that little “piste de dance” about a thousand years, well precisely 39 years ago. That was great. The music was great. Hardly anybody in there (8+pm). I don't know where all the people were.

Price of Wine

I had this brillant idea of going to eat in this crappy pizza place (in the hotel). A little thimble of wine cost me 2,000Bs. You've got to be crazy: I had a whole bottle of the same thing (Venezuelan wine) for 4,000Bs at the Valle Arriba (very chic place, that). He brought over the price list and there it was, a bottle of the same stuff was 9,500Bs here. I didn't have any more wine in this part of the country.