Life in Venezuela – The Sequel to the Fiasco in the Rio Burere

As we find out very quickly, “The best laid plans ….” quite often are all for naught.


December 5, 1938

Gente mia,

The sequel to last night’s letter follows so closely that it will probably arrive with the same mail, some few days before Christmas.

Mr. Human, Mr. Myers and I rose early this morning, expecting to make the necessary purchases for camp, then leaving for Carora, Mr. Human going to Barquisimeto with the plans, Mr. Myers and I by hired truck to the mired “Cambion”, scene of yesterday’s fiasco.

We left Carora at 10 AM, mas y menos and tried the better branch of the road to Burere. A body of water soon put a stop to our plans in that direction, so we tried the other road, the road, incidentally on which I had trudged the night before. It was a futile alternative, so back to where we came from and made arrangements for a mule train to take us to the “Cambion” manana.

What will transpire then, I cannot say, perhaps we shall find the truck buried under a fresh river, perhaps we shall extricate it without further trouble, but at any rate, we leave Carora for camp tomorrow. Most of our camp peons came to town with me, so that we all must get back if work is to continue.

Mr. Myers and I shall attend the cinema in a few minutes and I shall delay sealing this letter until manana, in order that I may add a few more words.

To date I have received only for personal letters, two from El Mayor, one from Barbara and one from that scarlet scourge of Southern Trumbull, Redmond The Red.

When Mr. Human returns from Caracas in about 10 days he will bring muchos cotas de malla, yo espero. Translating my Spanish is good experience for Dick.

I still hope to see Wills favorite “bus driver” (his brother, Lad) in these here hills before Christmas.

El teatro is bueno for such a town as Carora. It is an open air affair over the lower section, but the balcony, which has the more expensive sitio, has a roof. I should have liked to have had rain while the show was in progress. It would have been quite an experience. The night is muy claro con la luna lleno. There was so much light, in fact, (from the moon), that it was a bit difficult to see the picture. The talking was in English but it might as well have been Arabic with the sound system they have.

The picture was ”Bosambo”, a British film starring Paul Robeson in an African thriller. The film broke about five times.

This is probably the last letter from me before Christmas. I wish to be with you in person as well as in spirit. Season’s Greetings to all.

Merry Christmas.


The third and final letter in this series is written just two days after the last one. We still don’t know the final disposition of the “Cambion” in the Rio Burere, but perhaps that mystery will be solved in a future letter.

December 7, 1938

Amigos mios,

This sequel of the sequel of the famous Carora trip arrives post haste, mas y menos. On Tuesday morning Bill Myers and I set out from Carora with three mule carts and about

Dan in Venezuela - 1938

Dan in Venezuela – 1938

12 of our peons. It was quite a sight. We arrived at the water-ford ere long, and were able to get the three carts across after swapping mules in midstream. Bill got a snapshot of the mired cart. I shall ask him for a print of it. We experienced no more trouble until we arrived at the truck. The river had risen, due to rains further west, and had soaked the motor. It was impossible to get the truck out, so we carried the supplies by hand across the river, and it was quite a sight to see the naked or half-naked men with bundles on their heads walking across the river! On the camp side of the river was another truck owned by a fellow who has been unable to get to Carora. We arranged with him to transplant our men and supplies to the truck terminal near the Rio Camarura. The driver had two or three of his cronies with him, and they stopped very often to fill the steaming radiator, or to pick up somebody’s lost sombrero, or to get some refreshment at a casa, and at every stop the driver quaffed deeply of a potent native brew called cucoy, and with every drink his voice became more robust – he was not a 97 pound weakling – and his actions, including his driving, followed suit. By some miracle, the motor did not give out and we arrived at 5 PM at the terminal. We stayed there overnight, and came on by horses to camp today, arriving in the rain at 11 AM.

Everything seems to be going better now. We have an extra man, Bill Myers, and, although Dr. Boshnakian is leaving for the other camp, Mr. Human plans to be here for a while, and everything will be straightened out.

I spent a fairly restful time in Carora in spite of the truck worries, and from now on I hope to have an occasional Sunday to myself.

We plan to move camp again in a few days which will take us many more miles from Carora. It won’t be so very long now when we will start using Cabimas for a supply base.

We have a shotgun in camp now, and a fishing line, too. Perhaps it will mean fresh meat once in a while.

I look forward as much as ever to my return to Trumbull, but I don’t begrudge one moment of my time and experiences down here. I’ve learned enough already about a multitude of things to equal a year of study. My Spanish, surveying, mustache, goatee, hair etc. are coming along as well as can be expected.

This letter will get to Carora via a peon who is taking a letter to our agent at Carora, instructing him to get our truck out of El Rio Burere. I don’t dare say when the next letter will go. Until then, Merry Christmas once more.


 This letter helps explain why there are fewer letters from Dan, but I’ll be posting them as we continue to follow the lives of Lad and Dan and their adventures in Venezuela while still in their mid-twenties. Does their confidence and fearlessness amaze you as much as it amazes me? I felt pretty confident moving 70 miles from home to go to college, but couldn’t imagine going to such a primitive location to take part in building a road through the wilds of a foreign country.

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Judy Guion

2 thoughts on “Life in Venezuela – The Sequel to the Fiasco in the Rio Burere

  1. Mrs. P says:

    What a great adventure! It reminded me in part of those traveling the Oregon Trail and also of the Romancing the Stone series sans the treasure. I had to keep reminding myself that these were letters home and not some novel from the store! What fun!

  2. Fascinating! Lovely to find you via your comment on my blog. Good luck with these letters, it truly is a labour of love, isn’t it?

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