Before our 6th grade graduation, we had a lovely Spiritual Exercise, except I was the only non Roman Catholic (I am Orthodox, not Roman church). After the service, Father Ignacio de Loyola gave us a beautiful talk and told us that if we had a problem, we should write it on a piece of paper and put it in the box. I need help, for him to explain me that, because my Church does not believe that the Pope of Rome is our representative here on earth; the other girls called him “Su Santidad” and said I would go to hell. Well, in my Church there are no living Saints!
After all the girls went to bed, I was summoned to Mother Superior’s Office. I had never been there before. It was a large wood-paneled room. Father Ignacio who was from the missions of Ahmedabad in India, walked towards me and greeted me in my language, saying “God be merciful!” After we repeat that blessing 3 times, we talked. I just loved him; he made so much sense and radiated kindness, and gentleness, besides being handsome! In fact, all the girls were whispering about him at the church and in the hall, disrespecting the silence of our Spiritual exercises. He was very nice to me and helped me understand the differences in all religions.
Saying goodbye to the school was sad, but there was so much that I wanted to do now that I was growing up. What would I be? I didn’t understand that I was not educated to do anything, except pray, read and get married someday.
My sister was invited to an opening of the first great hotel on the Island, a Sheraton at Porlamar beach just a new steps from where we lived. Anatoly had come to the worksite to operate heavy machinery and make good money, but actually he came to visit us, especially mama; he brought her a beautiful diamond. Papa was there too, so the whole family was together, even Valery who Galina was in the process of divorcing.
Fedor was taking a bathtub washing himself, when he called mama in to wash his back. I went to bring soap and to my horror saw that he had a concealed knife under his armpit. I felt it was a dangerous situation and screamed for Gala, but then mama went in unaware and started washing his back. Just as he was about to pull the knife from under his arm, we rushed in and took the knife away from him. He smelled heavily of the alcohol, and had accidentally scarred my wrist when we grabbed the knife out of his hands.
This was just days before the grand opening of the Sheraton, but luckily papa left almost immediately, embarrassed by his behavior, so we all had time to cool off before the big event.
I did not yet realize that alcohol is a devil that makes people do crazy, bad things; for me it was just more Hollywood drama at my door. When the happy day arrived, mamachka did not want to go, but Anatoly was dressed to kill in a black tuxedo suit, I never seen him dress up like this, and Galina was in a black velvet dress with a tiny tiny waist. I was in a pale rose encaje dress, with white shoes and gloves! Wheee!
I felt like a Hollywood star, we sat with the cream of the cream, big shots from the Island and from Caracas all came for this great event.
Of course, Isla Margarita was really only a fisherman’s Island, laid back and peaceful, so this was the first real ball, with the pool and garden all lit up with special dancing lights, and the palm trees seeming to sway with the rhythm of the bossanova music- slow music but with a romantic, sexy beat that matched the gentle waves of the Caribbean. I saw the reflection of the moon glittering on the water, and felt the breeze caressing my body. I‘m afraid I can’t do justice to the scene with my descriptions: I felt so so good and happy, just to breathe and be alive in this magic moment that I wanted to last forever. (As I’m writing I felt again for a second that incredible moment!).
I went everywhere in the hotel after dinner, while my brother and Galina were sitting drinking their fancy drinks in all different colors, (of course my brother was always drinking vodka mixes). Walking around, I found the elevator. I’d never been in one, so of course I went in to try it and pressed all the buttons. Then I saw strong white hands with long fingers, stopping the doors that were almost closed, and in walked a handsome slender blond man. I looked up at his beautiful blue eyes staring at me, fascinating and paralyzing me; he was so tall and good looking! He asked in English, in a velvety voice, “What floor are you going to, young lady?” Since I did not understand a word at the time, I looked up into those big eyes and then read the name on his lapel tag: “Juan Carlos Blake.” Seeing me tremble, he just smiled, looked at the elevator controls and did not say a word. He smelled so good, and at that moment my dream of the Hollywood movies seemed complete. I wished that moment would last forever: stop the world and let me off, I have arrived!