This is the second half of a long, detailed letter from Lad to family and friends in Trumbull about his activities between January 20th and January 30th, 1939.
This is an older model Citroen Camionette. I don’t know the year but it
gives you an idea of the vehicle Lad is writing about.
After a good breakfast we left on the mules for the truck at 6:05. It was too dark to cross the river safely before that. We turned the truck around and in crossing a stream about 1 ½ miles from camp we got stuck. Sand in the bank kept us from going forward, and a large rock prohibited us from backing up. Finally we all got out by climbing over the front fender to the shore and Manuel, with the aid of a crowbar, succeeded in removing the rock. Then in backing and going forward successively to get into position, the transmission case almost exploded, and parts went all over the sand on the river bottom. That left the truck in the river and no way to get it out under it’s own power. T.H. Jr. and E. K. went to La Cruz on the mules to get a truck or a pair of oxen and Manuel went back to camp to get some Peons to cut down the bank to make it easier to pull the truck out. I stayed with the truck to watch the things. Around there things not watched just seemed to disappear. I learned from the Natives that the nearest place to buy parts was Coro and that a bus left La Cruz at 9:30 every other day and this was one of the days. T.H. Jr. and also found that out and when he returned he came back with the bus. Around there the buses were trucks and the seats were made by placing the cargo so as to form some sort of a seat. Also, the gas, which had been stored in a 50 gallon drum, had leaked out so that there was no gas in La Cruz and the driver would have had to wait until a truck or car came through with a few gallons to spare. That may have been two or three days or a week, so we killed 3 birds with one stone. The bus pulled the truck out of the river, we gave him some gasoline, and he took us to Coro for about 1/3 usual price. But that’s getting ahead of myself. We gave him the gas after he had pulled us to La Cruz and then he had to go San Luis for cargo and would stop by for us on the way back. Coro was in the opposite direction. We put the car in a hotel yard and put everything we didn’t absolutely need in a room, E.K. went to camp and got some food, and we waited until 2:10 for the bus. Our seats were made of bales of tobacco and were not very comfortable but served the purpose.
During the whole trip we stopped about every two hours at a private home or a hotel which served coffee and native refreshments but only E.K. took much relish in eating at these places. About 10:00 P.M. we came to a hotel called San Maria and we were told that we would stop there for the night and get an early start.
T.H. Jr. woke the driver up at 1:30 A.M. and by 2:05 we were on our way again. The stars were very bright since the moon had set, and T.H. pointed out the Southern Cross to me. It was not as I had pictured it but it looked like this:-
We could also see the North Star and the Big Dipper. The road was not much better than the one we had come over and we could not sleep. We got into Coro at 6:00 A.M. and just got everything in the hotel when the lights went out. In most of the cities they only have electricity during the hours of darkness, and as soon as the first streaks of daylight begin to show in the East, off go the generators. The Hotel Occidental, although native, did wonderfully well and after cleaning up we had a rather nice breakfast. After the stores opened we went our devious ways. T.H. and E. K. about their business with the State Presidente, Manuel off for a good time until noon and I, after the necessary parts for the Camionette. About 11:00, upon returning to the hotel with the parts, I found some letters to be mailed for T.H. and then returned again and had a short nap till the Chiefs return. Had lunch and then The Two went off on business and I took another short nap. The bus was to leave for La Cruz at 2:30 and at 4:00 P.M. along it came. About 7:00 we had some crackers and cheese and about 10:00 we again stopped at San Maria for the night.
Although T.H. Jr. had everyone up at 3:30 it was 5:00 before we finally started. Of course, for breakfast we had had our usual coffee and as many cigarettes as we wished to smoke. En route, we had some more cheese and crackers and pulled into La Cruz about 12:30 Noon. Manuel and I started immediately to put in the new transmission and T.H. Jr. with E. K. and two mules went to the Camp. In about 2 hrs. lunch arrived from Camp and we stopped work long enough to eat, and then on again. Everything went fine and about 6:30 I left Manuel pack the truck, eat and sleep in the truck, and I went to the Camp on the mule sent back for me. I had a late supper and went to bed. T.H. was already in bed.
Was awakened by violent shaking by T.H. Jr. at 4:00 and with full stomachs we left camp at 5:00 in spite of the darkness, using flashlights to light the trail for the mules. We had left Jim Pierce there but was taking a fellow, Carl Nelson, back to Caracas with us. No trouble at all and about 7:00 I took the wheel because we were to drive all the way through to Carora and Manuel, who knew the road was to drive after it got dark. We had a few crackers about noon and later on stopped for beer. Oh, yes. Down here, even in Caracas, the tap water is not good to drink so during the duration of the trip we had to drink beer. Because of the alcoholic content there are no harmful germs in it and it also furnishes quite a bit of nourishment, to my surprise. I’m getting to the point where I can drink it like a man. About 5:00 Manuel took over the wheel and going over the last range of mountains he hit a rock and bent the steering apparatus. It had to be taken out and straightened and we had to work fast to finish before dark. Not having the proper tools for straightening the post with us, we had to take the outside pipe off and leave everything loose to allow for the few bands we could not straighten and then we proceeded. After getting into the flat country again Manuel drove so fast that he broke the center bolt in the rear spring and the body shifted enough to drag on the tire and we spent about an hour trying to fix it temporarily to finish our run to Carora which was only about 25 Kilos. more. As we drove on, each bump shifted a spring leaf until it finally began to drag on the brake drum but we continued on and by the time we got to Carora, 5:00 A.M., it was making enough noise for you to hear, but you were probably all in bed and asleep. At least I hope so. We went to bed immediately with orders not to be awakened before 9:00 the following morning.
At 9:15 I had breakfast and then went to the garage to help Manuel repair the spring. I forgot to tell you that on the way to Carora from Caracas a stone had rubbed along the bottom of the car and had punctured the gas tank. Therefore, after getting Manuel busy on the spring, I took out the gas tank and after repairing it, put it back and then helped with the spring. Just as we finished the spring, Dan walked up. I had been told that I wouldn’t see him for another month, so it was quite a surprise. We went back to the hotel, had lunch at 3:00 and then spent the rest of the day chatting and swapping experiences. He looks very well, better than he did in Trumbull, but you have seen a picture of him so you know. He can converse with the natives fairly well, and gave me a few pointers that will help a great deal. As we were to start for Caracas Sun. morning at 4:00 and Dan had to return to his camp, we said goodbye about 9:00 P.M. and retired.
With our usual native breakfast behind us we left at 4:30. Manuel, in the Camionette with the luggage, and T.H. Jr., Nelson and myself driving in the car. Just before daylight we had a tire blowout on the car and it pulled the car off the dirt road into a 3 foot washout on the right shoulder. This sudden stop bent the axle very badly but by using the Camionette and rope we were able to bend tie-rod enough to compensate for the bent axle and we only took about one and ½ hours. About 11:00 we arrived in Barquisimeto and had a very good breakfast at a German Hotel. Manuel stayed there to buy the 1939 plates for the cars and we continued on. We drove into Valencia before it got dark and since we were all tired, decided to stay there for the night. After a good supper at another German Hotel, we went to bed.
Since Caracas was only about 200 Kilos. further we didn’t get up until 8:00 and we left the Hotel about 9:30 after having a flat fixed. The remainder of the trip was very uneventful except that with the bent axle, we had a little trouble going around the curves thru the mountains and a little more trouble trying to make the turns here in Caracas. All the roads here are narrower than the narrowest street I can think of anywhere except a few I saw up in Canada. We came directly to the Hotel Aleman and they had room for the three of us so Mr. Human is here now also. That finishes the trip and this paper too, so instead of using another sheet, I’ll bid you all adieu. Remember me to everyone.
Good luck to all,
Tomorrow and Sunday, more Memories of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion.