To Hollywood, yes! I took a Greyhound bus across country to Hollywood all by myself. Now life was taking on a different color. Passing through the states, seeing the open countryside, I just could not keep my eyes away. I had to see this vast country and all the people, state after state, across the continent. We would only stop to eat, get gas, and visit rest areas for a few minutes. I was just flabbergasted by all this scenic grandeur, but I savored every second of it. I did not think of the past or carry with me any vices to enslave me at the time. I thought,to myself what a strange place! My God, how big is Texas? I don’t understand a word they are saying but I know what they mean. Were we going through a state famous for their potatoes –Ohio or is it Idaho? Virginia ham, well it is not like my fathers ham, but it is so good, I love it!
Three days and two nights, then early on the third morning we saw road signs to Los Angeles so many miles ahead. I kept thinking, I want to go to Hollywood, not Los Angeles. My head was spinning, pounding from ignorance, my nerves were excited and on high alert. I was wondering, where I would sleep tonight? where? At that moment I heard the speaker of the bus announce we are almost there! But where where are the movie stars? A not so beautiful city was appearing in front of my big window, I saw highways and freeways, automobile traffic everywhere. Then we arrived at the poorest part of downtown L.A. and a sad looking bus station appeared in front of us; the bus driver reminded us not to forget our luggage and all our belongings on the bus, but everybody was busy getting ready to meet someone
I was alone with my God, so I made the sign of the cross over myself and proceeded to get out and confront my future. How I managed to find someone who spoke Spanish God only knows, but there he was, an older Mexican gentleman. There were not so many Latinos in downtown LA in 1960. He was going to a hotel not far from the station, he said, a very old family hotel but clean and comfortable. More important, it was economical, and above all very safe, he added, for a lady alone. So I got in a taxi and there I went . It was by the overpass of a freeway exit, but to me it looked better than downtown.
Walking in there was a reception desk in a living room with musty old furniture. I saw a big T.V. in the far corner, where old people were watching and smoking away. The room felt heavy, old and gray, but it was okay with me. As I entered they all turned to look at me; it was not that I had people staring at me whenever I entered a room, or cars bumping into each other when I walked across a street back in Venezuela. But somehow this was different, these people were Americans, most of them were men, but there were some women too. I felt flattered, not scared, and besides I was tired. I almost did not sleep on the bus; I wanted to see it all, even at night, every light in every city that we went by.
Here is your key, said the man behind the counter, and key in hand I went in to my room. Something was telling me that this, too, shall pass. I opened the door to enter this big room with an old carpet. We had had no carpets at home, it was too expensive and only rich people had carpets! There was a big rocking chair on one side of the room, a double bed and a window that opened out to nowhere.
I did not like that much, after living like a free bird in the open spaces, and only later did I realize this was just my claustrophobia. But there was this big bathtub on four legs in this big bathroom, just like in the cowboy movies. O yes, yes! I put hot water in the tub, unrolled the bed blankets, put my clothes in the closet and after that just lay on that old bed and closed my eyes. Even with all the lights on, I went into a deep sleep, I felt so carefree– how could that be? I was far from home, away from everybody and everything I knew, but somehow I felt that my grandmother’s , and my mamas blessings and prayers were still with me. The guardian Angel can rest two.