August 23rd, 1990

August 23th, 1990

Caracas, Venezuela

Spent the morning on the balcony with Millie and Dolly, gorging on tea and toast, recounting; “Tales from the Amazon,” which kept us laughing until the temperature spiked, forcing us inside, where the air conditioning was broken, which led us to the beach!

Floating in the water, I couldn’t help but think of David and how much I miss him. I’ve already sent him two postcards and a mega letter but I wish we could talk. He’s in Tokyo and I know where he’s staying but with a mortgage to pay, there’s no way I can afford or justify the cost of even a short chat.

Tonight, the hotel disco was the place to be, teeming with all sorts, including the Alitalia crew who arrived a few hours prior. Every one of them was stunning looking (average weight seven stone!) dressed to the nines, looking as if they just stepped off the catwalk (some of them acted as though were still on it!)

I got chatted up by an amazing dancer, dressed in a Prada suit (I clocked the label when he opened his jacket on the dance floor, oh, imagine the moves!) Unfortunately, he was deeply in love with himself but still managed to tell me his name is Massimo and that he liked my “style.” I ignored most of his subsequent questions and comments and continued dancing but he wasn’t taking the hint. “I’m on the dance floor to dance, not talk,” I wanted to say.

After a few songs, Massimo started getting a bit full on and when I turned to leave, he grabbed my arm. I attempted to pull away but his grip was firm.

“Let go,” I yelled, thinking my next move would be to, as mum would say, “Kick him in the goolies.” There wasn’t enough room to step back so I figured I’d knee him instead, which I was just about to do when Roberto appeared.

Roberto took one look at me and yelled something in Italian that made Massimo promptly release his grip.

“You ok?” Roberto mouthed.
I nodded yes and he tilted his head in the direction of the bar, where most of my crew was gathered.

“What was all that about?” Millie asked when I finally made it to the bar.

“Just some dickhead trying it on.”

“Looks like your knight in shining armour took care of him,” she said, gesturing to Roberto as he made his way towards us.

“You sure you’re ok?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine, thanks. What did you say to him?”

He laughed. “I can’t repeat it. Far too rude.”

“Well whatever it was, thank you.”

“Yeah, thanks for taking care of that slime ball,” Millie said, passing a drink to Roberto.
“For me?” he asked.

“Uh-huh,” she smiled. “It’s a Mojito.”

“My favourite. Thanks, Millie,” he said, clearly surprised.

“No problem,” she said, passing the same to me. “One for you as well, Madison.”

“Yummy, thanks, Millie, oooh, the mint smells so good.”

“Cheers you two,” she said, clinking her glass first to mine then to Roberto’s.

“Cheers,” Roberto and I said in unison.

Wonders will never cease!

 

August 22nd, 1990

 

 

August 22nd, 1990
Flight from Puerto Ayacucho to Caracas as passengers
Caracas, Venezuela

I would not recommend drinking straight vodka on an empty stomach!

With the absence of a lock, Nigel suggested we drag the dresser (with all three drawers missing!) in front of the bedroom door, which Dolly and I attempted to do, whilst Millie, visibly sloshed, looked on and asked why we were blocking the kitchen door with the drinks trolley!

Thanks to the humidity and the boxy room with not a lick of cool air, I felt utterly drained but each time I tried to sleep, either Millie or Dolly would let out a piercing scream anytime a bug landed on them.

Morning couldn’t come fast enough and we literally crawled outside to the table set up on the street (no dining room in the hotel!) The toxic fumes from the speeding cars only added to the flavour of whatever it was we were eating and at one point, we watched in horror as one of the lovely ladies plying us with food, narrowly escaped being hit, as she crossed the road, her arms laden with several baskets of freshly baked bread we could only assume she brought from her kitchen. We devoured every last crumb and left a hefty tip for her and the other woman, who, through body language, told us they were both widows, with seventeen kids between them!

Ample carbohydrates and Millie’s temper proved a lethal combination when she confronted Juan, after he finally showed up two hours late to whisk us off on what the flimsy pamphlet
touted as; “The Jungle Jeep Tour.” From the back seat of the van, Dolly asked if there was any vodka left and Nigel laughed heartily and said this is the best trip he’s ever had!

For what felt like hours, the rusty van wound its way through makeshift roads, then out of the blue (more like brown) we came upon a vast, open area, with young children running in our direction. Juan was all smiles as he got out and introduced us to each of them and Millie wasted no time pulling out her sketchpad. As well as drawing the huts dotted around, she drew a picture for each of the children while they made funny faces that made her giggle in a way I’ve never seen.

A few hours later, Juan looked more than relieved to be dropping us off at the airport, by which time we were dying of thirst. The only drinks available in the terminal were lukewarm bottles of coke that Millie enhanced with the last of the vodka.

The return flight was on a Boeing 727 Avensa that had clearly seen better days and a crew I’d say the same of, all of whom seemed intent on chewing gum, inspecting their nails and re-adjusting their sloppy ponytails throughout the fifty-minute flight, during which none of them moved from their jumpseats!

At the hotel, we immersed ourselves in the ultimate in luxury; guzzling ice-cold drinks in an air- conditioned environment, free of fumes and insects.

August 21st, 1990

August 21st, 1990

Flight from Caracas to Puerto Ayacucho as passengers

Some Dodgy Hotel, Venezuela

At five this morning, I met Millie, Dolly and Nigel in the lobby and a short while later, we boarded an ancient looking DC-9 that arrived (via San Fernando) in the capital of the Amazonas state.

Juan, our tour guide, met us at the tiny airport terminal and drove us to the boat that would take us up the Orinoco River. I wasn’t expecting a yacht but neither was I expecting the miniscule boat we crammed into, with Juan at the helm, insisting we wear bulky lifejackets that only added to the discomfort already felt by the heat.

The slow pace up the river felt serene until it became apparent that Nigel’s role was to stop Juan from falling into the water, anytime he dozed off! Nigel is one of the nicest guys ever. He’s the sort of chap that, even if you do something wrong, will take the blame and insist it’s not your fault.

“I don’t expect you got much sleep last night,” he said to Juan, after the umpteenth time saving him from drowning. “Perhaps it’s time for a short break?”

With Millie, Dolly and me shaking the boat (raft!) with our uncontrollable laughter, Nigel helped Juan guide the boat under the shade of towering trees, where sloths moved above us. What strange but cute little creatures they are.
“I feel a bit like that at the moment,” Dolly uttered, knocking us into another fit of giggles.

Only Nigel was brave enough to eat the unsavoury looking chunks of chicken (debatable) Juan offered, as we girls ate only rice and not nearly enough of it.

“We’re going to die of hunger,” Millie groaned, sounding as lackluster as I felt.

After “dinner,” Nigel took on yet more responsibility, aiding Juan anytime the engine cut out, which seemed like every few minutes but allowed us to stay on the river long enough to witness a spectacular sunset which would’ve been much more enjoyable had we not been so ravenous.

“I am not staying here!” were Millie’s first words after Juan dropped us at the hotel, to which Nigel calmly responded; “It’s only for the night.”

The so called “shower,” is a hand-held unit but the bracket that used to house it is broken off, along with the piece of the wall it was attached to, leaving a gaping hole to the outside! There are spiders and huge black bugs everywhere, some of which are already dead. And I’d prefer to be at the other side of the jungle when Millie discovers there’s no lock on the bedroom door!

We’re beyond starving so Nigel went in search of food and just returned looking rather apologetic.

“It appears we’re too late but the good news is, breakfast will be served at eight.”

Too bad we’ll be dead by then, Nigel!

Ah, but to prove that every cloud does indeed have a silver lining, Millie just produced a bottle of vodka from her rucksack with the same dramatic flair, a magician would, a bunny from a top hat.

Or maybe I’m just delirious!

 

August 20th, 1990

August 20th, 1990
Caracas, Venezuela

“Morning Madison,” Millie chirped, when she rang first thing this morning.
“Hello,” I replied, my tone curt.
“Fancy some tea and toast?”
“Not really.”
“Oh, come on,” she said. “We always have tea and toast together. I’ll be there in two minutes.”

She barged into my room, smiling widely and made a beeline for the balcony.
“We can have it out here,” she said, swinging open the doors.
“It’s too hot out there,” I said, closing them. “Besides, I don’t want blotchy skin and straw hair.”
“You’re not still on that, are you?”
“Seems I am. Speaking of, what do you have to say about your behaviour yesterday?”
“I’m sorry.”
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”
She sighed. “I think the heat was getting to me.”
“That’s your excuse?”
“I just said I’m sorry, didn’t I?”
“I don’t know Millie, sometimes I don’t understand the way you act. It’s confusing.”
“I don’t like Roberto,” she blurted.
“That’s pretty obvious.”
“Why do you like him so much?”
“He’s a really nice guy.”
“He’s fake.”
“Well that’s your opinion and I just happen to disagree with it.”
“I don’t like guys like him, he’s just so…”
“Fine!” I yelled. “That’s fine, nobody’s forcing you to like him.”
“I just don’t…”
“Enough. Seriously Millie,” I said, throwing my hands up in surrender. “That’s enough.”
“Ok,” she smiled. “Let’s invite Dolly for tea and toast then we’ll go to the pool. OK?”

The rest of the day passed without incident and we had fun by the pool making the final arrangements for our trip to the jungle. Nigel, our purser, is coming with us and I’m going to suggest he bring a cricket bat, just in case the heat starts getting to Millie!

August 19th, 1990

August 19th, 1990

Flight from CCS – BOG – CCS

Caracas, Venezuela

 

While the aircraft was being catered on turnaround in Bogota, Millie appeared in the galley.

“Phew, it’s bloody roasting, isn’t it,” I said, fanning my face.

“Not really.”

“You’re not boiling in this heat?”

“Your face looks blotchy.”

“It’s the humidity. It doesn’t like me.”

“Your hair’s a mess as well.”

“Gee, thanks friend.”

“It looks like straw.”

“And you remain as flawless as ever,” I said in a sarcastic tone.

“You look bedraggled,” she hissed.

“You can go back downstairs anytime, you know.”

“I’m not needed down there.”

“You’re not needed here either with that attitude.”

“You’re vile when it’s humid.”

I’m vile?”

“Uh,” she said, shaking her head. “You get really snarky.”

“I’m not the one being snarky!”

“You are. You’re upset because you look like shit.”

I opened my mouth but no words came out.

“See you later,” she said, turning to go, just as Roberto came into the galley, his mouth agape.

“What the hell was that all about?”

I shook my head. “I have no idea.”

On the crew bus back to the hotel, Millie sat by herself while Dolly and I attempted to make eye contact with her, but she wasn’t having any of it.

So much for a fun request trip!

 

August 18th, 1990

August 18th, 1990

Caracas, Venezuela

Lovely, relaxing day by the pool (uncovered and not in the shade!) with Millie, Dolly and a ridiculously handsome guy from our crew called Roberto, who had me in stitches with a rating system he devised for the guys, which I have to say was utterly brutal and lead me to believe Roberto’s standards are way higher than mine!

Most of our crew met for dinner at a place called, The Solimar, just a short walk from the hotel. We were just about to tuck into dessert when Pauline’s boyfriend (clearly very drunk) called Roberto a poof. Mouths dropped around the table and the Captain wasted no time getting up and telling (not asking) “Just call me Trev,” to go outside so he could, “Have a word.”

About ten minutes later, JCMT returned looking sheepish and told Pauline the Captain wanted to speak to her. She burst into tears and almost took the entire tablecloth with her when she mistook it for her napkin!

While Pauline was outside getting what I imagine was a right telling off, Just Call Me Trev made his way over to Roberto. Around the table, we did our best pretending not to watch or listen as Roberto nodded his head in response to JCMT’s obvious attempts at an apology, which ended, surprisingly, with the two of them shaking hands.

Pauline came back inside, all smiles and made a fool of herself by proposing a toast to; “The best crew ever,” as JCMT gazed longingly at her, or maybe he was still glassy eyed from too many Cuba Libres.

While Pauline was rabbiting on, Millie kicked me under the table and mouthed, “They belong together.”

My sentiments exactly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 17th, 1990

August 17th, 1990

Flight from LHR – CCS

Caracas, Venezuela

First time in South America and it’s hot!

Worked on the Upper Deck, a position I rarely get but always enjoy. One of the duties is to take care of the flight deck crew, who are super nice and made my job on the thirteen-hour flight very pleasant, as did the passengers who were mostly Venezuelan.

Millie and Dolly came up to visit a few times and needless to say we’re very excited to be on this request trip, even if the timing for me isn’t exactly great.

Can’t wait to go out tomorrow and see what Caracas has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

August 16th, 1990

August 16th, 1990

At home (mum & dad’s)

Went with dad first thing, to the carpet showroom, only to find the entire building secured with huge padlocks! There wasn’t a soul about, so I guess I’ll have to find another company, which means spending more money on something I already paid for.

The fridge was delivered this afternoon, as scheduled, but the bed didn’t show up, so I rang the company, in Italy, in the hopes of finding someone that spoke English.

“Buon pomeriggio, comme posso aiutarti?”

“Oh, eh hello,” I stuttered. “Do you speak English?”

“Yes.”

“Great, ehm, I’m ringing about a bed I ordered.”

“Bid?”

“Bed. B. E. D.”

“Sleeping?”

“Yes. I ordered a bed from your catalogue.”

“The book?”

“Yes.”

“Number?”

“C1984436.”

“Too fast. Again.”

“C 1 9 8 4 4 3 6.”

“One min eet pleeze.”

While on hold, I fanned myself with the invoice and ignored the outrageous amount of money I spent on something I bought because I liked the glossy picture.

“Ok,” she said, the sound of papers rustling in the background. “Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow for what?”

“For the bid.”

“No, it’s supposed to be delivered today.”

“Not today. Dee lay.”

“I need it today. It’s supposed to be here today.”

“Tomorrow.”

“I won’t be here tomorrow,” I stated.

“So, you want today?”
“Yes!”

“One min eet.”

More fanning with a few deep breaths thrown in for good measure.

“Ok, so tonight.”

“Tonight? I can get it tonight? What time?”

“Ten or more o’clock. It is ok?”

“Eh, I suppose that’s ok, yes, that’s fine. I’ll be here.”

“Ok tonight for the bid.”

I now have a bed and a fridge. And bare floors.

 

August 15th, 1990

August 15th, 1990

At home (mum & dad’s)

Shot over to my house first thing to meet the flooring guys, who didn’t show up ‘til late this afternoon when a burly, gloomy looking guy knocked on the door and told me the company had gone into liquidation, therefore no carpets I already paid for! Dad said he’ll see what he can do tomorrow and in the meantime mum helped me clean the house from top to bottom, which, with the music blaring wasn’t so bad.

I’m so glad I didn’t buy a house in France!

 

 

 

August 14th, 1990

August 14th, 1990

At home (mum and dad’s)

I don’t know what I’d have done without mum and dad’s help moving all my stuff, which took most of the day.

“Yer no taking this old thing are ye?” dad asked, at the sight of mum’s steamer trunk.

“Uh-huh, I love that thing.”

“It’s bloody heavy.”

“That’s where Karen keeps all her secrets,” mum laughed.

“Yeah right, mum, the lock doesn’t even work.”

“Oh, if only it could talk,” mum sighed, gazing longingly in the trunk’s direction.

“Those were the days eh, Lizzie?”

“Oh aye,” she smiled. “I still remember packing my stuff to come home from America. It was so heavy I couldnae move it.”

“Nothing’s changed,” dad laughed.

“I can give you a hand with it, dad.”

“Thanks, hen. Wit do ye actually keep in it?”

“All my old diaries, letters, photos and stuff like that.”

“Yer a sentimental wee soul,” he said, squeezing my shoulder.

I wouldn’t disagree with that.