After flying over more green jungle and many smaller waterfalls and rivers, we were finally seeing what looked like a dirt runway, a two lane blacktop and not very long…I started praying: this looks very small and short even for this small plane– a 747 wouldn‘t have a chance! Our Father ………….. and then we are landing, not smoothly, jumping, weaving, and we barely had enough runway to stop just as we reached the very end of the runway. Scared? hahaha you bet I was!
The captain turned the plane around to the spot where it was supposed to be park. As I looked out the window I could see a little palapa and a bench for four persons to sit on, that was the airport. There was a small dirt road out the other direction to the other side of the landing strip , as I looked more I could see a jeep and in it driving was my brother Anatoly awaiting for me, bravo I am home, family, yesssss.
In the jeep he had a bottle of vodka that he offered me like it was an bottle of water. Okay, just a slug from the bottle to calm my nerves from that incredible landing, and especially for the scare that I got seeing the drunk man directing the airplane to park, he was weaving like a bamboo tree! The wind from the engines of the airplane motor was not helping him to stand straight, so this drunk man was moving like a leaf in the wind., I think he was drinking aguardiente ( bad stuff) all day probably.
From there we went off down a narrower road covered with jungle right and left for about 15 minutes or more, and then we were in front of this majestic lagoon with tea colored waters and sand as pink as a woman’s face powder.
The water in this lagoon where coming all the way from the Angel Falls, and continuing going past the camp, around on three sides of Anatoly Island. and continuing its course on to the Ocean far away, I couldn’t take my eyes of this part of God’s creation, a miracle which today is considered one of the seven wonders of the world.
I had been in Canaima once before , little had changed, just a few more huts, but this time it really hit me the majesty and beauty of this place .
The airport and the small buildings with palm roofs and the palapa huts made the whole of the village of Canaima in the main land where we were now. Approaching this place I commented at how little it had grown. Si, my brother answered as he was having a another slug from the bottle of vodka– and I did too!. He pointed out that there was a glass somewhere in the jeep. I said no, we’re almost there, gracias!. We came to the main house with the reception , living room dining room and behind was the kitchen on the open air, no walls, like this whole place was organic in a primitive rustic away, with the smell of carbon (charcoal) from the local trees, what a delicious aroma and the fresh breeze always keep the place pleasant and the air freshy.
From this room you could see everything: Anatoly island and the rest of the compound looking at the cascades of water all around the island, with that color of tea and the pink sand and the tears of water falling from the rocks covered with exotic flowers and some orquideas, looking like long diamonds behind the veil of mist , and falling into this tea colored waters and making bubbles around the lagune to frame this pink sand– ah, what a magic place!
Back in those years it was not officially named Anatoly island as it is now, but everyone was calling it Anatoly island because everywhere thru the jungle he was known as the golden boy not only for his hair and those green big eyes, but for the gold and diamond diggings. He was like the tarzan of Canaima, now living alone on his paradise not wanting even the indians to serve him or be with him anymore, on the Island by himself. Only by his private invitation could you get there during those many many years when he was a king., making love too all the pretty women that visited Canaima and then he became a bush tour guide when he wanted,. But there was one special indigenous lady deep in another part of the jungle with whom he conceived his only legal son Luis.
He drove the jeep up to the reception and park in front of the door.Then as we walked in, Anatoly was introducing me to everybody, some of them I knew from before. Then we sat down in the veranda area with our backs to the island, and facing to the dining room and the whole enormous compound. So we can see everything, the island, the laguna and the entrance, while seated at this long table seating approximately 20 persons or more. I believe it was full, between drinks and food and singing, when a very handsome pair of primitive local indians came in, walking to our side of the table and talking in a whisper to my brother then leaving. Anatoly said “I have a job tomorrow so I will take off.”
The two Indians had to sit at a small table far for all the tourists and white people that worked there, who were French and German the majority. The Macaws were sitting on the branches of the trees that surrounded the hut and were free to walk around the dining room floor to visit the people that they already knew, or just fly in and sit wherever they found a place and some of us even fed them from our hands. What a natural way of life!.
For accommodations they had some very primitives baucoulos (hammocks) and that was all . There was not to much to do except drinking, eating , making love and sleeping, and some time working. Well, yesss there was gambling in the evenings!, some of the tourists, admiring all this magnificent beauty were reading a book! there was no TV, not even a regular old fashioned telephone.
The roaring waters seemed much louder in the evening and stronger through the night– roaring waterfalls and the smell of the perfume of the orquideas and the brilliant cascades of waters, shining like diamonds through the silver moon and falling into the waters of the laguna. that night, the intellectuals and lovers of books\ we’re reading or just meditating, looking out at this wondrous place, same holding hands and a few maybe kissing passionately on their honeymoon.
So after we finish eating and drinking my brother explained to me, let’s go to the island and you can stay there until I come back from Angel Falls, which will take couple of days– now I have to get ready for the tour because there are four tourists and we are leaving early in the morning, your stay here and I we’ll take you there in another trip, where there’ll be some women , because this trip is all men and we have not separate tents now, they’re being repaired.
Most of the tourists were Europeans, adventurers and criminals and wanderers. The whole Avensa campamento, the entire compound, village, boats and airplanes belonged to my friends’ family the Boultons, Lord Henry and Howard and other members of the family.
This jungle was abundant with wildlife, especially the parrots (papagallos in Spanish and macaws in English), and many hundreds of other species of birds , monkeys, and snakes, not to mention the beautiful wild orchids!