We left Lima for Caracas, Venezuela. The plane made a stop in Bogotá BOG, Columbia El Dorado International one of the busiest airports in the world. Another high plateau with more samples of coffee. It’s really popular and all the countries compete with each other. I’m sorry but Columbia beats Brazil hands down. Katie remembered the beautiful emeralds they had for sale there. We would visit Cartagena on another trip.
Caracas CCS only 15 miles from the coast sits at the top of a high cliff. Fifteen miles at an altitude of 2200m It seems like the drive from the airport is straight up. We are back on the Atlantic side now. We are visiting Belgian friends who had transferred from Cincinnati. Jean-Pierre was with Procter & Gamble. They had a new baby. The baby’s name was Lucie. At 18 mos she was just learning to talk, French. She was a Belgian baby being raised in Venezuela. All she could say was qui, qui, qui or who? She is very cute. We stayed with them at their apartment. It was very nice. It was a high-rise. It is hot in Caracas.
Jean-Pierre had to work but on the weekend he took us to the German colony of Colonia Tovar. The original settlers from the Black forest in 1843. The efficient Germans were quickly isolated and kicked out of town to form their own colony by the people of Caracas. One day Dominique drove us to visit the faculty of chemistry at Ciudad University. The Capitolio is a small gold domed building downtown.
Well, the most important thing to know about Caracas is that it is the birthplace of the great liberator, Simon Bolivar, the George Washington of South America. He was raised in Caracas by his nursemaid Hipolita. During the Napoleonic Wars Spain was occupied by France. One by one, Bolivar picked off the Latin American colonies winning them independence. In sixth grade I wrote an oil company pamphlet asking people to come to work in Caracas.
Jean-Pierre is an excellent host. He gave us some gifts. Locally grown cocoa. two bottles of Polar, a local beer and a small reed bow and arrow. Use by the natives to shoot and poison frogs. He also gave me samples of the local coins and currency.
Even though our plane arrived a day late, Pancho was waiting for us at the airport. When we asked him how he knew how to find us, he said that’s easy I just called the airport and asked if any planes were arriving from BA today. They said not today but we do have one tomorrow, mañana. I think our plane arrived about 6 pm. It was Thursday. The flight on Lufthansa took about 8 hours including a stop in Santiago to pick up fuel and more passengers. That’s the SA way. No way to call ahead and let him know in those days. That just the way things were done.
So different in those days without Yelp or google. A good deal of time was spent on research, reading relying on locals and friends.
Finding things and getting lost.
Now I should say a few things about the Finns and the connection with
SA. Eduardo del Rosario and my father-in-law, Mr. Finn had been in basic training in the Mojave desert in California during WWII.
They renewed their friendship at Fort Knox during the Korean War. When Rosario returned to Peru he became a general. They had a daughter named Stella. They sent her to college in Cincinnati. She used to visit the Finns on weekends. Pancho was studying in Kansas, he used to drive to Cincinnati for dates sometimes. That’s about 700 miles, before interstates. It’s a wonder what a man will do for love. Katie was about nine years old. Katie told me he had a record player hooked up in his car so he could listen to music. No CD’s or eight tracks, then. The first time I met Katie she told me her brother was staying with friends in Peru. I thought well isn’t that interesting. I never thought of Peru as a place people actually visited. There were Political problems in Peru in the 60’s. The Generals’ had staged a coup and overthrown the President. There was trouble with the US over fishing rights, especially tuna. I remember my dad telling me about it.
Pancho owned ladrillos Rex in Lima, a foundry that made bricks. They have four children. The little boy really liked his He-man space mountain. He had all kinds of other He-man toys to play with. Pancho built his own house with bricks from his factory. One of the girls gave up her room to me and Katie. Pancho paid as much for his car as he did for his house. Labor is cheap imports are expensive. When we arrived at their house from the airport, they had a special surprise for us. It was Budweiser from St. Louis. We did get to try some of the local beer as well.
Lima is one of the oldest cities in the Western hemisphere. It was founded by Pizarro. Its port is Callao. They had a terrible cholera epidemic there in 1991. Peru was one of the last countries to win independence from Spain. At one time the entire South America was ruled from here, known as the viceroyalty of Peru, Limeños are very proud of that fact. Lima is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of San Marcos. I had an Austrian friend in Cincinnati who used to teach Pharmacology there during the summers, their winter.
A word about the calendar we arrived in September so it was just about the end of winter there, but since Lima is close to the equator 60 F is about as cold as it gets, but with the humidity it’s still a chilling cold. The climate is moderated by the cold Antarctic Humboldt current. More on that later.
Unlike the dialect spoken in BA the Spanish of Peru is modeled on Castilian Spanish. Peru is also under the influence of two native languages Quechua and Aymara, also due to many Asian workers, Chinese and Japanese. It is a fascinating country a melting pot in its own special way. In many ways Lima is just like any other city on the Pacific coast in California, in many ways not. Miraflores and San Isidro are nice. One day we went to a Chinese restaurant with Stella’s friend, Linda. The special dish was pigeon. Pancho didn’t tell us about it until after we ate it. It wasn’t bad. It tasted like pigeon, though.
Well, Pancho took good care of us. One night, we went to a Bodega. Things didn’t really get hopping until after 11 pm. Unlike Argentina, they have a curious way of getting on the highways here. They don’t necessarily use an exit if there was a hole in the fence somewhere, they just get on there. Why waste all that gas driving all the way to the exit? The other cars will slow down won’t they? Some people here drive like maniacs. I’ve seen that in Spain and Mexico, too.
One Saturday Pancho took us for a drive. We drove up into the mountains with the children. It was beautiful. I still don’t know how the seven of us fit in that car. It was a big Mercedes like the one I have now. On the way back we stopped at some friends. They are always doing things like that. Dropping in on people. They are very social. They throw lots of parties. One night went to a christening.
Senduro luminoso or shining path was a band of Maoist guerillas who were terrorizing the country. Blowing up power plants, bridges and other infrastructure. The had murdered a New York Times reporter in Ayacucho. Fortunately they were not active in Lima. One time Beatriz heard the fireworks at the Reds game in Cincinnati. She was scared. She thought it was the shining path. We said don’t be scared. We don’t have things like that here. She was good friends with Katie’s mother.
Lima is one of those cities you either love or hate. It does have a problem with air pollution. Katie and I loved it. We loved the history and the people. We ate at many nice restaurants and sometimes at home. The food is excellent especially the fish and shellfish. Pancho never let us pay for a meal. We really appreciated that. One night we ate a special place that had a decor with little huts like the African jungle another night on a pier that jutted right out into the Pacific Ocean. It was just beautiful. There is a special Inca museum called the Gold Museum.
One day we went downtown on our own. We saw some of the sights including Plaza de armas, Plaza St Martin, Parliament, the cathedral of Lima and the Palacio de Torre Tagle. Some of the older homes still have wooden balconies. We met a Deputy of the Parliament of Peru. He enjoyed showing us a round. He gave us his card. Like many Spanish towns the Plaza de Armas is laid out on a square grid. New Orleans and Cuzco have the same plan, if you look closely. The cathedral was closed the day we came, but we told them we couldn’t come back they let us in anyway.
Pancho took us on a tour. He showed us a special square built for the anniversary of Peru all of the buildings around the square are identical. He is very proud of his city and rightly so.
We saw a coulple of old 1957 black Cadillacs. The ones that my grandmother loved so much.
Katie and I decided to go to South
America. We had just bought our house on Berry Avenue in Cincinnati. It was 1986.
visa. Back then you could just cross back and forth across the border as many time as you wanted. The view from Argentina is up close. The view from Brazil gives a better perspective of the immensity of the falls.
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