Goodbye to the little girl and hello to the young Lady.
We were going back to the capital with the truck driver Julian, until we reached a small dusty village where his family lived. When we arrived there, his wife told him he couldn’t leave because their daughter was giving birth, not too far from their little village. She made it clear he was not going anywhere today or even tomorrow; he needed to take the daughter back to the city we had passed a few hours back. Julian was very apologetic and said he was sorry, that was the end of our journey with him. Thank God, it was still early in the morning and with any luck we would see another truck, or a bus, coming along. But we were hours from the main road, and opportunities to hitch a ride in the jungle were very few. So we had to walk as fast as we could back toward the road, before night would find us alone in the middle of the jungle.
This was fine with me, but we had a bundle of clothes and a suitcase made of cardboard, and they were heavy. So Gala took the suitcase, I grabbed the big bundle and put it over my shoulder, and we set off. The bundle was heavy, and after an hour of being distracted by the jungle sights, the 100 degree temperature and humid air got to be very uncomfortable. All of a sudden, a big hairy animal with a long nose and huge feet appeared, standing with his big claws out just on the side of the road. He was eating on a nest of ants, but I did not know how dangerous they were and just stood there watching him. He paid no attention to me, strangely enough, but then I realized how far away my sister was and screamed out to her to help me. I dropped the bundle on the ground and ran to her, and my scream had scared the anteater off. Gala never forgave me for making her walk all the way back to get the bundle of clothes. I was still afraid and very tired; we had to walk another two hours to get to the main road, where we got a bus to Caracas. After many stops along the way, we were finally back in the city on the third day. From there, we took the ferry boat back to Porlamar.
My dear niece Vera had fallen, broken her arm and developed gangrene, so my sister left with mama and her to go to doctors in Caracas. I stayed behind, since I had to finish packing up and closing up the house. It was adios to my Isla de Perlas, to the peaceful island and my beloved swing by the beach.
I finally came along to my family’s impoverished new home in Caracas. It was little more than a shack made of timber and cardboard along the hills of Buena Vista, on the poor side of Caracas. When it rained the mud slid down the hillside and the roof leaked! Poor Vera was in and out of the hospital with her gangrenous arm, and Gala and I were at home with mama and papa working. The Orthodox Church was not too far, and there were many Russian refugees there, new friends of mama and papa. Sometimes we would go to their homes, much nicer than ours, and they would all drink and sing along to the accordion that Sasha played. Somehow, all these poor heartbroken people had made a life in the new world, all trying desperately to be happy and find work wherever they could.
The doctor’s wife had given mama a nice lady’s dress among a whole bunch of clothes, and I was soon wearing a
smart American ensemble, a turquoise colored dress with a matching coat that fit me like a glove. I was showing off my young figure for the first time, and I liked it. Somebody showed me how to read the help wanted ads in the newspaper, and I saw a job that seemed good, working at a lawyer’s office. I thought, how hard can it be answering the phone? I had already done that in Porlamar at the place where my sister worked. So I went for my first interview in my new outfit!
There were another 20 girls there too, waiting for the abogado (lawyer), who turned out to be the senator for Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. He finally arrived and told us to come into his office, one at a time, to talk to him; being the last one to arrive, I was the last to be
interviewed. I was surprised when I entered the office; it was a room of rich mahogany wood around the walls, with a big desk. Everything was shiny and new. I just smiled and told him my name.
The interview was quickly over: He immediately called another young lady in the front office and told her to sign my onto the payroll. I was to be there at 9:30 am the next day, he would arrive at 10 am and want to know who had called. The secretary in front asked me if I could take shorthand and type. Of course, I said, yes I can! (I told myself, I will have to learn to do that).