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In the Church they were holding communion. and of course being important people they had their reclinatorio which is a kneeling chair made of fine wood and covered in velvet, to kneel on. I was in the pew behind them with the rest of their family.  It seemed like they all where looking at me, wondering “What on earth is this prisoner doing with my parents?”  Of course I just kept praying and thinking “God let me be free of this nightmare,  I did not commit  any crime, why am I here?”

Now I need my 007

Now I need my 007

Wait a minute, did not commit any crime? Oh yes,  I had a half a roach in my pocket (it was not mine, it was my lovers, but nevertheless it was on my person) and seeds of Marijuana. It did not matter if I smoked it or not? I had them in my possession, but for 30 seeds, came on! Give me a break! It had been almost a month and a half and I was still a prisoner!

When the service was over, we walked over to the corner where there was a dinner place. The

rest of the family left, so the Licenciado, his wife and I sat down  in this restaurant “Maria’s” and between some food (glory be to God!), real food, we talked and I told them my story. They must have had a son who was on drugs or alcohol or something, because they were very sympathetic towards me and very gentle. I could read in her eyes tears wanting to come out, while he was concerned and gallantly containing his  emotions. Then he said I will try to help, and ask me don’t you have a lawyer?  Well, no and yes.. if you could give me permission to make some long distance calls to Caracas? I thought, maybe I can get someone to help me?…..

Smoking my dreams away

Smoking my dreams away

In  a few words, I understood that he would give me Monday the number of an abogado (Licenciado)  that was a very good friend of his– Lic. Lawyer Public Defender  Morales– to see if he could talk to the judge, they played golf together, to see about my case and when I would be going to court to finish this matter. The only thing I could say was GRACIAS, with tears in my eyes which I did not try to hide.

And when we were in the Cadillac,  I dared to ask if was also possible to allow me to use the phone with their permission to call my mother and my ex-husband? They said it would be OK.,  just that I have to ask his secretary for permission and not  to tell any other inmates,.

(I could spend many pages describing how moved they were  about my situation, but at the same time they could not show it, after all, I was their prisoner– yes, with some unheard of privileges).

They were holding back their laughter and smiles over this stupid incident, but the law is the law! They were so cute,  like seeing  that is exactly what they would havce been doing when they were younger, doing these crazy things that they never did, but would have  liked to have done!

Then when we got to the reten it was unusually quiet,  there were some men on the other side of the street, smoking and talking,  but my friendly cops were not there ,so  I went straight  to my hammock with my kitty and went to sleep with dreams of getting out of  Maracaibo and being back in the elegant parts of Caracas.

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The  big door opened and I moved my head slowly in; then my body followed, half with fear and half curiosity, also a weird air of hope. “Pase, pase, Señora,” a voice came out from this large mahogany desk behind which a gentleman stood up, stretching his hand to me, “Welcome… please sit down.” This nice old colonial-style room with expensive looking antique furniture; the room had a high ceiling, and this short good looking older men was directing all his attention to me. He seemed to be saying to himself, “What am I going to do with this young Lady?” Curiosity seized my soul, so firmly and quickly I went up to this man and shook his outstretched hand, saying, “Como esta Ud. Señor?” (in Spanish of course). In so many words he made me welcome, after this initial formality that I knew so well. I asked, “Where am I? and how long will I be here?”  “Oh, that depends on your lawyer,” he assured me. I did not know I had one! I never met him, but I did not want to question my situation and was satisfied with being here and not there in that pocilga. Leaving his office, he said, “Just sit on the bench back there. If any news comes, my secretary Senorita Pepita will let you know…” I could only say “Gracias Señor Rodriguez”

At home writing my life, it seems like a movie

At home writing my life, it seems like a movie

No one stopped me from walking around, looking and inspecting this cazona. I was kind of free, and it felt great, walking around looking, hoping to get same rum or aguardiente, anything to calm the insanity going on in my head. I found the location of the kitchen, or what was supposed to be a sort of kitchen. I kept walking on into this big room like a storeroom, a gigantic space piled high with boxes of what looked like powder milk and more boxes and people behind the counter going through papers. The secretary of señor Rodriguez was giving instructions which I did not understand clearly, and towards the front of the room near the street was a long counter separating the room in half. A long counter so that the people entering from the street couldn’t reach the boxes on the other side. Then I went walking toward what looked like the patio I had seen when I walked in. But now I could see clearly there were many men in there: Why? I thought I understood why they were there, but I didn’t know why I was here at all?

So I went back to my bench and soon it was closing time. Everybody was going home except for a couple more policemen who arrived, maybe four or five; one or two of them went to the patio where the men prisoners were, and one went to the front doors looking and closing them better. Two of them sat by a table not far from my bench. I wanted to sleep, so after yawning and  saying goodnight, I said to them “I wish I could have a drink of something strong? my nerves are going to explode!”,  Pedro said, “We’ll see,” so I just had a glass of water.

Me now, Painting writing living to which I am getting costume to it

Me now, Painting writing living to which I am getting costume to it

I was still shaking a little, because there weren’t  any women there that I could see, except the old lady  in the corner at La bodega de la esquina.  The front door was half open with the policia talking to the one standing  in the street. I finally closed my eyes and in no time I felt someone standing in front of me , I opened my eyes in fear and there was Pepe with that crocodile smile, picara, passing into my hands a flask of rum and a package of cigarettes, I asked, ” Cuanto le debo?” but he replied , nada (nothing);,

God bless this guy, I’ll never forget him.

I drank up all that little bottle of rum and lay down again on the bench in a fetal position, with whatever I had as a pillow and went to sleep feeling okay: God had not forgotten about me.

Snoring in a sound sleep,  I was brutally awakened by the screaming siren of a police car, and through the  big central door came a few more drunk men covered in bruises.  My God,  they must have been beaten by the policemen! I did not move, I just lay there watching them all go straight into that patio where all those other men were…

Let’s get back to that dream whatever it was! Anything would be better than this..

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Book Scans Two0002

“Yes, I guess, yes,” said Maria, “but you cannot leave this office or go outside. You must just stay in that corner, so no one will see you. But I must put you back inside there at 5am because the other jailer is coming to relieve me and I will not be back until this evening. Hopefully you will be O.K.” What did she mean by hopefully? Well I couldn’t think, I just sat on the floor and tried to rest between her desk and the corner wall, away from the rotten, broken door left open all the time. So I could hear the noises of the giant square cell outside and the women cursing and laughing and screaming at each other with words that I had never heard before (and I heard plenty of curse words since childhood! They even expelled me from one school that my sister tried to put me in, because those were the first words I learned when we arrived in Venezuela). O my dear God, help me!…. but the night went by amazingly fast.

5 am: “hey, let’s go, let’s go!” My jailer walked out only a couple of meters from where we were, and I was following her very hesitantly. Then she opened that giant iron gate door, pushing the women away and telling them to back off. “Go in!”  “In there?” “Go!”  and she almost pushed me. I was carrying my poetry book of Khalil Gibran against my chest, clutching it for dear life, when they all surrounded me and I barely got to the first bed I saw and just sat there, with them all around me. One of them was walking towards us screaming “Let her breath mariconas (fagots)!” They just backed off a little, and this one came up and grabbed my book. “What is this?” I humbly but forcefully said, “That is dried flowers that I picked up hitchhiking from Mexico to here.” “What? Ha ha ha ha!” All of them laughed,  but she just stood there and said to the others, “Let her be.”  Looking at my book she said, “This is not Spanish,” and  I said, “No it is Ingles.”  “And you read Ingles?” she asked. “Yes, si”

The cockroaches were still flying everywhere, it was getting later, and the morning wanted to come in, even into this pocilga (pigsty). The smell was horrendous and the rats, well, they could not care less for these humans. I put my feet under me in yoga position and did not move. One of them brought a beat up steel cup, very dirty in my opinion, with water, and said  “Drink this and relax you are going to be okay.” “What?” “The men are gone.” What did she mean by saying the men are gone? Oh my God!

Tad picking Tomatoes through our trip

Tad picking Tomatoes through our trip

After a while, I don’t know how long, some jailers brought in coffee that tasted like pee water, and I had a chance to say “Please may I speak to an officer?” Yes, one was just here. “Si, please can I call again the American Consulate?” No need, the officer said, “they called last night and someone from the Consulado will be here this morning.”  “What time can I ask?” “Who knows? later…”

So I went back to my bunk, and they all still were there sitting on my bunk, all talking at the same time, and many if not all of them were scratching their heads. My head was spinning, because I was powerless over the situation for the first time in my life. All I could think was, a drink would be very welcome now, to soothe this pain!

There were some ugly faces and there were some sweet faces, and faces with cuts through their cheeks, some women with one eye, some limping, some had their arm in a cast– but they all had lice in their hair! Oh God! No! I have long hair, and it was in a ponytail, I thought, I must roll my hair around my head, to not get these lice or hair mites!

The hours went by miserably, slowly, and very disgusting, but I will not go into that at this point, everything I saw in there I will leave it for my book…

About noon the American Consul arrived, but he did not even speak to me. They just went straight to some office, with several people, and I could barely see them through the iron gate. In about 15 minutes or so, no more, they left without me. Why? I was about to cry or scream or do something crazy, when the head jailer came in with two others and opened the gate and said “Follow me, Ludmila Millman.” That was my last name from my marriage to Jack. Oh God, what now? I could not believe hearing my own name. So now I am out? (wishful thinking!) There was a police car and a black van, and the Jefe said “Get in!”

My dear God, what now?

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We sat in that scary immigration office at the border of Venezuela and Colombia.  Finally, after many hours of interrogation, we convinced them that we were just having fun cruising around the world.

Went to The horse Track, had fun wonn some money

Went to The horse Track, won some money

Using all my charm, and showing them my phone book, I persuaded them that I only needed to call the Herrera or Boulton families, or my political friend Rafael with a penthouse in Maracaibo. Although having so many influential friends, including my brother Anatoly who lived on Canaima, I really did not know who to call!  In this horrible moment, I decided to call Jack, my ex-husband, and I had Jack call other friends I had introduced him to at the Onda Nueva International Music Festival.

Finally, after all of the information I gave them, they realized that I was a Venezuelan citizen and resident and pretty well known celebrity from shows, and that my friend with me was just my lover, a harmless young American.

At that time, money was pouring from the U.S. to Venezuela, through the companies that General Marcos Pérez Jiménez had set up in deals many years before, and which were still in business. In other words we needed a friend to come driving to the border to pick us up and vouch that I was who I said I was, and that Tad was okay also.

This is were we are flying to Anatoly Island, from Maracaibo

This is where we are flying to, Anatoly Island, from Maracaibo

Boy oh boy, I was not a happy customer while we were in that hole full of rats in unbearable heat! I was drinking whatever I could find there! I found a little bodega, a hole with a piece of wood or old door for a counter, some fruits and veggies and some rum. And there, in this dusty place, stood one single bottle of “El Cacique King of Venezuela” rum, which I spotted immediately, remembering my wild social life in Caracas where that expensive rum flowed like water at the tables of the nuevo (new) rich people. But it cost more than we wanted to pay. We had no money to spare because we hadn’t reached our destination yet!

So I found a very inexpensive rum and Tad bought a bottle of wine to give to our friends when they arrived, as a gift. Well, I was oblivious by the time they arrived. While all the kissing, hugging, and introducing went on. I just said, “Let’s get out of here, we’ll talk in the van on our way to Maracaibo.” So it was goodbye, adios and gracias, let’s go. Finally we were on the other side of the border, so far so good. I was so happy and drunk and I started singing!

Rafael had come with his girlfriend and another lady that seemed to be an official, maybe an immigration secretary, and she was the one that signed for us and did all the paperwork at the border, before we could cruise on down the road.

I slept the entire ride to Maracaibo, well, to be honest I passed out, and woke up when I heard Tad say “Did we arrive? Is this your home?”  “Yes!” three voices sounded off.

I can tell you that the heat of Maracaibo is uniquely hot! I had been there many times with Walter, and then with Tony Aguilar on a tour with him singing and me promoting the Kent cigarettes that paid for the tour. We spent a few crazy days there at this condo of Rafael. We had fun; they were smoking marijuana everywhere we went, and I was snorting cocaine and drinking as much as I could. I am not so proud of the time we spent there. I was promiscuous and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

The time came to say goodbye and so we went off to the aeropuerto of Maracaibo. When we arrived there, we still had a few minutes to spare before boarding. Tad had a joint of marijuana he wanted to smoke before going on the plane. So we went out and sat in a semi-private area outside. I had been collecting some pot seeds as a hobby, and putting them in a silver little box that Walter gave me for cocaine. I was going to plant them somewhere. Sounded good and why not on the island, or better yet at my home in Los Angeles, in my own garden!

Then we heard the flight being announced, so Tad quickly put out the roach. Not wanting to waste it, I told him not to throw it away and put this barely a third of a joint, in my safari pants which had many pockets. We put it in a different pocket from my little silver box.

Walking to our line to board the flight, Tad went in front and passed me. It was my turn, and as I stepped up, this fantastic female officer, with a lesbian smile that seemed much too nice to me, started frisking me– she was touching me a little more than necessary I thought to myself! Then, when she touched the pocket with the little box, it must have been her curiosity, she stopped and touched it again almost like grabbing my calf muscle! I remembered what was in it and blurted out, “Oh shit!”

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We walked a few minutes down the little trail where there was no one around us, but there was a big tree in the tropical jungle providing shade, so I said “Let’s have a drink.”  “From where?” said Tad, “there’s nothing here no tiendas.” Well it just so happened that I had a bottle of rum and some cookies. So we sat on a limb of a tree near the entrance of a small river, where there were many places for little boats to get in and unload their merchandise. We were too tired and hungry to be concerned about anything but getting to Medellin for a hotel, rest and relaxation, after all this ordeal.

The sun was up and getting warmer, the tropical humidity was going to be very high from the shores now. We still had to walk through this unknown land, when finally we saw a real road! “Hey look at this, we are getting close!” Then we walked to what now became a highway with cars going and coming, so we hitched a ride too Medellin. What a beautiful city! We went to the first hotel that seemed okay, even if it was not classy, and we took a room. By that point, we did not care.

After sleeping and resting for a few hours, then getting ready to see the city and exchange some money, Tad asked me, “where first?” I said, “the bank I think.” So we went to the Bank to exchange money. There was music everywhere already playing in the early afternoon, with people dancing on the streets. It seemed that happiness prevailed everywhere.

Which bank, I don’t remember, but the exchange rate was not as good as we expected. So we went outside to see if any of the guys by the door who were approaching the people that entered the bank, to see if maybe they would have a better exchange rate, and they did. We proceeded to exchange the dollars Tad had to change.

Border Colombia and Venezuela waiting for Help S.O.S. .from

Border of Colombia and Venezuela 

Tad counted the money that the guy gave him, then I counted the money and gave it back to Tad. He counted it again and then the Columbian guy took the money from Tad and counted it again in front of us, then gave us the change money back correct. Everything was correct, and we went satisfied with the exchange of the money, happy, to the hotel to pay our bill.

But when we sat down and counted the money again, surprise! “What?!” Tad said with a loud voice. The whole amount was half of what it was supposed to be! We counted it once, twice, a third and fourth time. No, no, no good!  We had been fucked.

All of this contributed to my university; I know some fantastic people are saying that they went to the university of life. Many famous millionaires and other amazing people were educated that way, but I had the heart of a gentle gazelle, which was soon turning into a Cossack Warrior, awakening that nomad in me, including the drinking part.

We had certainly been taken by these Colombian con-men, for all that money, which thankfully did not stop Tad  from taking us out to dance and see a little of the nightlife in Medellin.

Oil in Maracaibo, Venezuela

Oil in Maracaibo, Venezuela

We stayed in Medellin for a couple of days, and on the third day we ventured off to continue our journey to Venezuela then reached the route to Maracaibo.

We went through an incredibly beautiful jungle, with houses along the route, little huts of vendors of tropical fruit and the smell of mangos, bananas, and ananas (pineapples) like delightful flowers. We spent another couple of days enjoying the Colombian countryside from Medellin to the border with Venezuela, and from Maracaibo we were to fly to Canaima. Maracaibo is located in the Lago de Maracaibo, Estado (state) Zulia, Venezuela, which is the largest lake in all of Venezuela and one of the largest places for oil extraction. The temperature is over 100 degrees fahrenheit everyday and only slightly cooler at night.

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We sat and waited on a broken bench with all our belongings, near the boat dock, as we watched the sunset. Then slowly, hesitatingly, we went over to the boat where the captain’s men were loading refrigerators and boxes full of other things; we waited to the side until they finished loading. Finally, it was getting dark, and that night there was no moon, so it was a smuggler’s perfect night, the boat would be very hard to see. There was contraband on board for sure, but even if they were transporting drugs nobody would be able to see us.

Waking around the Las Palms looking for a owner of a boat  that may takes to the shores of Colombia

Walking around the Las Palmas looking for an owner of a boat that may take us to the shores of Colombia

Captain Juan made a sign to us, waving his big hand, “Come on.” We got onto his boat while the crew prepared to cast out, untying the ropes. We put our belongings in a little corner space and just watched the show.

The sailors were just like Captain Jack Sparrow’s pirate crew; one of them had a scar over his face, another had one arm, and they all looked very terrifying. We were as careful as we could be not to leave our things out, and even so, we were soon missing some money from Tad’s bag.  But I had nothing of importance, so I was just watching Tads stuff.

We were too excited to go to sleep, so we asked for some sodas and paid for it. At about 4am we stopped in a shallow of a small river, and the captain, with a machete in one hand, came to us– almost scaring us to death! He said, “now my friends you are to go with him,” pointing to an ugly deformed man down in the water on a small dingy boat, loaded with a couple of boxes from our boat. “He will take you ashore to the Colombian shore!” So it was gracias and adios! I didn’t know if Tad knew about this arrangement, I couldn’t tell.

When and how some money disappeared from one of his bags remains a mystery to me because I did not leave his things, maybe when I went for a minute to the boat galley for some aguardiente or rum when Tad was asleep?

As we were walking, this women was standing next to this rotten boat whiting for her connection,  maybe her husband whit a contraband merchandise from Panam

As we were walking, this woman was standing next to a rotten boat waiting for her connection, maybe her husband with some contraband merchandise from Panama

We stepped down carefully onto a small boat, that looked like the water was almost up to the gunnels. I knew enough about boats to see that this was no good, plus this was a river of poisonous water snakes and big crocodilos. Our new Captain Raul is telling us with a knife on has sinch and a machete next to him, that was the reason why he was very well armed, meaning that he has a pistol, slowly I whisper to Tad, “you know? He can just kill us and we would never be found in these crocodile infested waters.”  We kept looking at him and being very alert, as usual we had no Plan A or B for what to do in that situation.

We had no weapons with us, not even a decent knife. I begin to pray and forget about my bottle of rum that I got from the cook. We said nothing, and sat on the end opposite to our new captain, his name he said repeatedly is Raul. I am sure none of the names were real! We whispered to each other as he started the little motor and we departed from captain Juan with a big smile, but which boat seems safer now?  This one is scarier! What would we do if he attacks us, takes our things and throw our bodies in the water?

Now we were really afraid. We said to each other, let’s sit a little further away, separately from each other, so we can defend ourselves better just in case he attack us. “OK?” I said to Tad. Yes was the answer, but we also did not want to be apart to far from each other in case the boat sinks. We were riding almost with water up to the gunnels of this little boat. I started a conversation with captain Raul, to distract him from looking at our luggage as much as possible and at me. Tad was telling him where we were from and that I was his aunt. Raul said it should soon be getting morning, we said to ourselves we hope. Dear God help us!

Tad was asking him how to get to Medellin from where he was going to let us off. Captain Raul said, it’s too far from the Pacific shores beach, you walk straight. It was still dark. We still could be killed by him or others that were waiting for him at the shore. At this time the stars became fewer, they seemed to have disappeared, a sign that very soon the sun would be coming up, just a few more hours to go. It was a full sky of stars, not that there were more stars, just that they were much brighter from the river. It was actually hard not to notice that fantastic sky in the middle of the dark waters. We were navigating in a very dark night, one of the darkest I ever remember seeing.

The light was coming slowly, slower than what we wanted! “Tad can you see land?” I asked. “Yes, we’re on the Pacific side, Colombia here we go!” he replied. “Hush,” I told him, “we are not completely safe yet,” still a long way from Medellin. Finally, after a little while we stopped, gave a tip to the captain and said our goodbyes and thanks, gracias and adios! With the outboard motor the boat couldn’t go any further, so we had to walk in the water to the shore. Captain Raul said adios, and again we said goodbye. After helping us out, he had a big smile on his face with all the front teeth broken. It was an even scarier face in the morning when he let us off. In those last dark minutes, we knew we could still be killed by him or maybe others that were waiting for him and his cargo at the shore.

Our bravery only can be described as naive, or a case of muchas bolas (a lot of balls)!

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We arrived in Tepoztlan near Cuernavaca and I broke entry without having confirmation from Maria to use her home, but it was empty. I reasoned to myself it must be okay, so I found the way in and did not say anything to Tad about it. It was a beautiful place, wood brim ceiling and tall spacious rooms, and a big bed with furs on it.  The one thing missing was enough wood to keep the whole house warm, so we were in bed early with a cozy fire and a bottle of wine and lots of fur covers all over the bed to cover us. We loved, we read, we laughed, and fell asleep early with the wood still burning in that big fireplace. The room was so romantic and Mexican, with pre-hispanic art everywhere on the room shelves, candles, that smell of burning wood that only in Mexico, the wood smells like that.

The next morning we decided to go to the peak of the mountain, Tepozteco, where the clouds sometimes cover the temple and half of the mountain. There is a pyramid dedicated to the god of pulque (the Mexican alcoholic beverage), about 1420 metres of altitude, very hard to climb and very dangerous. Many tourists that climbed had to be taken to Mexico City for bad fractures and a direct flight is about three or four hours. The drive in a car depends of trafico, or to Cuernavaca it was 40 minutes. Cuernavaca is a retreat for the very rich people, per week ends. Many famous people go there, like Rodolfo Valentino was many times a guest of archaeologists and powerful people. Errol Flynn was a guest of some spies, he himself was accused of being one. “The rich poor girl” Miss Hutton built a palace for herself and even Clark Gable visited Cuernavaca. Everyone loved that perfect climate almost year round, green with valleys and rivers, waterfalls, piramides, mountains, and above all the tranquility of a low key discretely wonderful, hideaway.

 'El Tapon de Darien" nears port  on one of the rivers

“El Tapon de Darien” near the port of one of the rivers

Most of the days you don’t see the mountain top and the ruins of the old pyramid of Tepozteco, in Tepoztlan where we were now staying for a couple of days and meeting very interesting people. On this particular day it was clear, so we decided to go and visit these ruins.

I prepared a basket full of food and liquor with some wine too, a great picnic for us to eat and drink on top of this pyramid. When we finally arrived there and relaxed to eat and drink, the clouds started upon us. As we were finishing our meal, enjoying the scenery, drinking the rest to get our buzz, the clouds crept over us slowly and covered us with the fog, so it was like being inside clouds envueltos (wrapped) in the floating sky. This was a marvelous feeling, and quite different than looking up at them from the bottom of the hill, but then it started pouring down rain on us and we had to descend, because it would not stop soon.

Canal de Panama in that time look like this

Canal de Panama in that time looked like this

It was time to leave Tepoztlan, although we really did not want too. Tad had a schedule to keep in Pamplona Spain for the running of the bulls, so we continued our journey, and we took a local bus, with chickens, ducks, and baby pigs! It smelled like a farm and not a bus. We rode it to the border of Mexico and Guatemala.

I told Tad I knew people and had friends right where he wanted to go, to Lake Atitlan, since that was where Jose was now. I did not know he was living with La Negra, so I got a big surprise after an arduous trip hitchhiking, finally getting to Guatemala, and now to Lake Atitlan to the Hacienda of the coffee plantation of La Negras family. We arrived at night and as we entered their home, there was Jose with La Negra and a new baby! Well surprise, surprise!

My heart stopped for a moment and all my feelings for him revived in me, I still loved him. I had tears and lots of pain, my heart was becoming crazy but I contained my emotion for my pride. Tad was just a fanboy for me up until then, I did not really love him, as Jose was still there on my mind and heart. It was becoming more than that though, Tad was great company and fun, he cared for me, I liked that. Jose seemed not to forget our love, showing us photos, looking at me and the motorcycle, in the middle of the bedroom next to the baby, with which we had the accident. He called her La Tzarina. I couldn’t play anymore games with Jose, and I started liking Tad a lot.

I said, “Well, let’s get something to drink.” We’d come from a long journey, were dirty and tired, which was as good an excuse as any, to drink. Unfortunately, the only thing available for a buzz was Mayan real aguardiente, which is the strongest cheapest alcoholic drink available in the pueblo. It was the only one the Mayan Indians sold. There was not a single liquor store in this valley in or out of these beautiful mountains, with the pristine beautiful lake inside a crater of a volcano, millions of years old!

We slept in the room next to Jose’s and my mind was thinking of the past I had with Jose. In the morning after having had Mayan grown coffee, and some more aguardiente, just me alone since no one else drank like I did, we had a tour of the coffee plantation and all their process up to  the shipping. The following day we proceeded our journey to the next country, Honduras.  Sometimes in buses and sometimes hitchhiking in trucks. I must be honest, since this is my confessions– I don’t remember much of Honduras. I think we slept in a hostel in Tegucigalpa, and continued quickly on to Nicaragua, where we found a camping ground. There were lots of young people that probably had some cause to stare and talk about us, with me being much older than him, but they did not comment to me or ask about my relationship with Tad Gail, which was very nice of them. We made lots of friends there, some were going to Pamplona also. We ate with them and drank with them and it was okay for me– but camping in tents was not my bag!

We had no problems at the borders. I said I was his aunt, and while they most probably did not believe it, that was alright with me. The next stop was Costa Rica: beautiful beaches, great forests and we arrived at a good time, not much rain at that time of year. We arrived in a big truck with a bedroom built up like a second floor, so Tad asked the driver if we could sleep in the truck for that night, since it was too late to find a hotel or anything. He let us stay there, and it was not bad. The following morning we went out walking in San Jose. We went exploring and found a little beautiful mobile home camp on the outskirts of the city. Luckily there was a motor home empty that belonged to somebody who was out of the country, so we rented it for a couple of days. Well Tad did, so far I did not spend any money.

From there we proceeded hitchhiking rides, down to Panamá. Now in Panamá City we stayed downtown, not too far for the canal of Panama. What a fantastic labor of that men can do. We walked downtown and found an incredibly luxurious hotel. I could recognize it probably had very important people staying there at some point. There were white stairs made of alabaster in a caracol (seashell) shape, marble tile, tall ceilings with big crystal chandeliers, and big ventanales (windows), and balconies hanging out of them. It was a great stay.  We loved the fruit called marañon. We stayed for another couple of days and then on a train, we set off to El Tapon de Darien. (Dear readers of my book: very soon there will be more details of the beauty of all of these countries and their costumes and traditions.)

We were trying to cruise by car or by ferry to Colombia from the last Port near El Tapon de Darien but there we found only swamp mosquitos, and old very sad homes made of rotten wood by the jungle weather. There was no road to Colombia or to anywhere. People said there would never be one down there but if you open the world atlas it shows in that time there was a trans american highway from the beginning of the Andes to the end of the Andes after Chile, because of the traffic of drugs and other illegal things, but never will the part of that be finished.  Well, now what?

This was Tad’s plan and the only time he would be able to do go.  We had to get to Colombia and then to Venezuela, and we could not afford flying, because it was not in his budget. I don’t think it included me in that budget nor did I ask him about his money so I really don’t know. I never asked him about his money situation at any other place. Back at the little Port of La Palma there were cargo boats going from the near La Palma port to a river that enters into Colombia shores of the Pacific and from here we can go to Medellin and home free to Venezuela and to Canaima to see my adventurous men of the jungle.

Without  further ado, we went straight to the  Las Palmas docks, where we found a place to sleep and asked how to get on a boat to Colombia. Big ships were not allowed legally to take passengers and the big ship that did, cost a fortune so we spend day after day, me translating and doing all the talking and snooping and listening until I heard of a contrabando small boat that goes out by the back of a small river where regular boats could not go.  After talking to many boat captains, we finally met this big fat ugly guy who looks dangerous to me, but I did not panic or say anything to Tad.  So we agreed it was okay to pay and go on his boat. “Captain Juan” stood up straight and shouted to his crew laughingly, we will take these two passengers!  Well, they did not look like deeply religious or godly people exactly!  We laughed too and said “Okay”, here tonight after dark? This did not sound too promising, but we laughed nervously and shook hands with Juan the jefe. The rest of the crew looked liked thieves and one of them was like Peter Lorre with a cut on his face down to the lip!  How innocent and stupid we were!

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During the great fish dinner, which was just enough for everybody, and as a matter of fact very well done by the chef of the Hotel, with the food, wine and conversation going on, Tad was just staring at me across the table and couldn’t take his eyes off me. My associate was not feeling that great, so he paid the bill or signed for it, and retired to the room. Some of us proceeded to go out and sit by the tables outside, where many a time Liz Taylor and Richard Burton would sit to drink.

Ludmila in Bora Bora with Jack

Ludmila in Bora Bora with Jack

Some people went to discos or to another bar by the sea, but we sat there talking and holding hands. He said come with me hitchhiking through Central America down to Venezuela! We’ll see your brother in the jungle and then I will be on my way to the corrida de toros in Pamplona, since I promised my friends I would be there this year. Then we’ll see each other when I am back in L.A or if you want to come with me to Spain. Boy oh boy I was not aware how far into the alcohol I was? Of course anything seems possible under Mr. Buzz.

It was not easy to say goodbye to my future partner, of course not any more than a business partner, but as of the moment I told him I was going to Central America and to Venezuela to see my brother. He knew better by then, what was really going on. With him I had a horrible situation; he almost did not want to give me back my passport, since he paid the hotel and flight and meals. I did not explain nada to him except that I was not coming back to L.A. with him, and that I was going to Yelapa. So I left him there with no remorse.

Cuernavaca whit friends and Tad

Cuernavaca with friends and Tad

Tad and I went on our merry-go-round, into the next town by the beach on the other side of Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa. In those years there were no roads or any way to go to this place, except by horse, mule or by boat. That was how the provisions arrived there, all the food and water. As we approached the place we saw its indescribable beauty, so unique, with high mountains coated in lush green jungle, and cliffs dropping into the sea. There were no beaches except where we arrived in the boat. We walked up and up the little dirt road full of palms trees and jungle shrubs after we got out of the boat. I remember that Octavio, my Chilean friend, had a wife living there with her new husband. So she was there and invited us to her gorgeous tall and spacious palapa. There was an incredible boutique of very fine things that the rich tourists  went crazy for! Tad met Ruth and she welcomed us, then offered us a drink– well, not any drink but one especially made for her by the indians in the mountain tops, real Mezcal that was so smooth and delicious. I asked for refills of course, a second and a third one. Tad was okay with one drink, but not me!

We found a cabana in the rocky area almost touching the water, where it was possible to get in the water carefully. We stayed there for three nights and it was fun. I drank all the time, and he read all the time, and it seemed the romance was progressing because we did not argue or step on each others toes. In the center of this mini pueblo there was an open bar and once in awhile they had movies. One particular night they had one, and what a surprise, I could not believe here of all places they were playing “Kaliman”! In this Mexican film was my friend of the parties in Hollywood and Mexico City Jeff Cooper.

Ludmila whit a German Von Boron in Cuernavaca

Ludmila with a German Von Boron in Cuernavaca

Staying there I remembered Bora Bora with my ex husband Jack, where we had a different time, cocaine and making love everywhere on the water, on the long solitary beaches and even in the golf cart! That was a little different from this intellectual romantic trip with Tad.

From there we went on to Cuernavaca, where I invited us to the house of Maria, my German friend. Her father was a well known archaeologist. She had a very romantic home, with beautiful landscaping, flowering gardens and trees everywhere. This was in Tepoztlan just a few minutes outside of Cuernavaca.

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We walked hand in hand, we talked, and we heard some far away music, very Mexican and romantic. Of all the composers of course it was one I knew very well– Agustin Lara! They were  playing “Mujer Mujer Divina” that he composed for all of the women he loved. But at that time Maria Felix was his great love, as I once was like every women he ever loved.

In Puerto Vallarta Ludmila after swimming.....

In Puerto Vallarta Ludmila after swimming

Then he got a bottle of good wine and we drank it sitting in the sand and watching the sunset. We did not speak much as we walked to my hotel and we said goodnight in front of my hotel room door, with the most innocent but passionate kiss I ever had. I went straight to the table where a bottle of Scotch was sitting, and I poured myself a stiff drink or two, and then went to bed.

The next morning when I walked in our bathroom, there on the floor were many papers and restaurant napkins folded. I sat on the john and started reading them, with my heart throbbing and goose pimples all over my skin. This is the starting process of being in love, how did they get here? I looked up behind me, at the wall up ahead, and saw a little window that was very high up, facing the corridor and the interior of our bathroom. It read that he had to see me again, please!

Ludmila coing to the river area whit local woman..

Ludmila at to the river area with local women

My friend was still in bad and very uncomfortable shape, so I went downstairs to the desk to ask for a massage, acupuncturist, or doctor. And there in the lobby he was sitting writing some magazine! We said hello and I invited him to the fish dinner that evening; we already invited a full table but I asked the chef to make one more space. I had a terrible night because of the pain of poor John, whose back was killing him and had to wait until later to get someone to ask for a doctor. It was a Sunday so not many people worked, not even in the emergency rooms, where they were open but there was no doctors available. I went upstairs after saying to Tad Gail that I was to talk to him and see him later that night, “can’t talk now, I must help my friend and business associate, he is not very well.” He stared in my eyes holding my hand and said, “I will be there– maybe we will talk after dinner?”

Modeling for a cover of a magazine

Modeling for a cover of a magazine

Today I know very well that I always needed to be in love, always, and especially when pain, distress or any crisis comes along that I cannot cope with. So when I am feeling that indescribable thing called love, anyone who was willing to give me attention and show of concern or care, I converted it into a love. Today I begin now to understand that, which at that time I was blind to due to alcohol. Under all that was a serious alcoholism in full bloom, you will say, and drugs! I think I agree now that it was the pain in my subconscious, from my childhood and youth that I masked by drinking, and using what appeared to be love. I found the only emotion to cover pain was love, or did I really ever love anyone?

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After this incredible night on the town, we had to get up and go fishing at 6am!  I had no problem with that, but my friend from the cosmetic company had a very bad back and believe it or not, we had no coochie coochie the night before. Maybe because I was not really attracted to him, as you see I always had to have romance with sex, not just the sex alone. Not that he had no appetite for me, but many women at that time were nymphomaniacs I think. Hollywood was waking up to wild sex in the hippie era, and I had to be doped up to the gills! Like what happened with that black gentleman cocaine pusher who never sold me a gram, always giving me as much as wanted. Well now I can see very clearly why, but back then I did not think about it: I just did everything for fun. It was just there, or nothing better to do, or did not have any plans. I also did not have God as I know Him now.  Of course I was still a model but now it had no future.

Ludmila In the sixties it was a big scandal wen this bathing suit came out

Ludmila in the sixties– it was a big scandal wen this bathing suit came out

So there we were fishing. I am not a specialist at fishing, but I love the water, the sun, boats, yachts and everything that is on or near the water.

My friend was supposed to be a good fishermen, and was showing me how to cast, though the fish simply would not bite his line. But I pulled in several good-sized fish, and the more I brought in the more pissed he got! With that bad mood, he managed to pull a muscle in his lower back and could barely stand up. So we had to stop fishing and go back to the hotel.

Ludmila a commercial for the blues

Ludmila in a commercial for the blues

We had enough fish to invite 8 or 9 people to dinner. He went to bed and the fish went to the cook for tomorrow’s dinner with our friends. By then, we hoped he would be better, but since I am not a nurse and not a very caring person, I was not really worried about him. In that time I think I was in my early 30s. I was still full of life and adventures. I left the room and the hotel, wishing him a good rest.

I put on my new bathing suit and went to the beach, only carrying a sari around my waist, dancing and happy to be alone. I went skipping through the waves! It must have been 3pm or 4pm and it was just hot enough for me to enjoy getting in and out of the water, and walking along the water skipping over the little waves while singing.

Ludmila in top of roof whit local children watching the parade

Ludmila on top of the roof with local children watching the parade

Then my sunglasses fell in the water, I thought, “Oh the waves will take them away!” So I reached down and then something held my hand, with my glasses against the palm. As I looked up, I saw these big blue eyes full of admiration and, I would dare say, with love. He had been watching me for a long time and following along, but I was too busy in the water to notice him. He had this young smile, with the most expressive eyes, as he gently introduced himself, “Tom Gale…”  “I am Ludmila,” I replied. I suddenly felt alive and happier than before, with goose bumps on my skin and my heart accelerating. I knew something great was happening to me! When we stood up straight, I saw he was much taller than I (I was 5’8″) and in his early twenties.  So he was just right, taller than me, and younger, after Jose who was also ten years younger. Ten years seemed like so much, I always said to myself he is too much younger! As I told him “thank you!” I realized I wanted to know more about this young man. But I did not know that one day this would change my life.

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