Pariaguan vicinity is the cluster in the lower left-hand corner, Pariaguan is marked with a # along the dotted line.
Sun., Apr. 16, 1939
Rec’d. Apr. 25
Dear A. D. and Familia:–
Since I last wrote a few interesting things have happened.
As planned, I left Caracas, Wed. at 4 A.M. and drove or rather rode in a truck with a cargo of building material, parts and supplies for the S.-V camp here. That first day there was nothing of much interest and along toward 3 or 4 P.M. we had passed through all the coastal range of mountains and had emerged into a section of Venez. even flatter than Florida, which, if you remember, is slightly rolling. The vegetation resembles that of Fla. even to the short, stunted evergreen (mostly grey) and the unattended fires. As it got dark I could always see, on the horizon somewhere, a dull red glow. It was really quite a beautiful scene. However, one bad feature, the road was quite poor. About 10 P.M. I began to see the 7 or 8 lights of a town far ahead. When we got there about 20 minutes later, it turned out to be a store, hotel, gas-station combination, which is found frequently here, boasting one of those home-lighting plants, more than the capacity number of bulbs, about four houses and one cross street. We spent the first night there and since I was the only Americano and had nothing to say, I was obliged to accept the whims or fancies of the driver. The place was dirty and no sleeping facilities except rings on which to hang your own chinchorro, a native hammock, and, as luck would have it, T.H. had given me one, just for the novelty of bringing it home. Needless to say, it came in handy.
Thursday we were up at the first sign of dawn and were on the road again with a cup of coffee inside, before 6. All morning long, except for stopped in a wayside house (?) for fruit, we saw what could have been the same road that we had come over the night before, only that we began to come to a slightly rolling country. I am going back mentally now and take you along with me as I remember it: –
We get up as it is just beginning to get light enough so that we can make out objects on the ground. We have slept under a thatched roof or a porch of the store. Before we can get our shoes on it is light enough to read what hundreds of people have written on the whitewashed mud walls of the store. Incidentally, I have nearly been floored (or rather grounded) twice by the pigs, goats, hens and dogs looking for anything that may have been thrown on the floor after they had retired the evening before, such as orange and banana skins, scraps of food left on the plates from late diners, etc. By the time we have our shoes on, which was all we had removed for the night, arranged our clothes, put on a sweater, because it’s quite cool, and gone around behind this store or truck or any other suitable object, for our regular morning duty, the sun is beginning to show over on the eastern horizon. Then we fold our blanket, if you happen to have one with you, and the chinchorro and throw them into the truck or bag or however you carry it. By this time the odor of coffee is in the air. If you are vain and foolish enough, you ask for some water to clean up a little with, and the Señora looks at you in surprise – “Agua? No hey.” So you comb your hair as best you can and wipe what dirt and dust you can from your face and hands with your handkerchief and take the proffered cup of coffee. As you put the saucer down and try to let go of it, your hand sticks from countless hands having held the saucer before you, not only this morning, yesterday and the day before, etc. If it has rained recently and there is plenty of water, the cup and saucer will probably be clean enough so that you will not be able to feel the dirt. Then, tipping the cup to wash this stains from yesterday off, and sterilize the part our lips will touch, we gulp it down. The coffee has been made by boiling so that there are no germs in it, and it is served so hot that the cup has been sterilized. The coffee is so strong that your hair stands up, so that the time spent combing it was useless, and so thick, that, like a thin syrup, it leaves the inside of the cup a very dark brown, which gradually drains down the sides to the bottom. By the time the coffee has been downed, the sun has been up about 15 or 20 minutes and it is about 5:45. We pay la Señora about 50 cents for the coffee and the use of the two rings, climb into the truck and start. Within five minutes after we have gone, the rest of the cars and trucks, if there were any, have also left. The truck is a 2 1/2 ton 1939 Ford with 4,000 kilos of cargo on it (nearly 5 tons) and although it has plenty of power in first and second, by the time we have used third and gotten up to thirty K.P.M. and shifted to high, we have gone nearly half a mile (1 K).
The roads are just one long washboard with holes here and there the driver might be able to miss 2 or 3 kilo if he is alert and not too lazy to turn the wheels. By the time we have gone 2 or 3 ks. Our speed has gotten up around 50 or 60 k.P.H. And the truck no longer seems to be falling apart, but has just settled down for the long run, vibrating like a reducing machine, and leaping in the air now and then as the driver fails to miss one of the holes. The paint on the truck is nice and clean, but perhaps Dusty, but the front fenders have been replaced by makeshift ones and although the speedometer still works and only shows 5 or 6 thousand Ks, each time we hit a bump, it sounds as though it had been 10 times as far with no care.
Tomorrow I will post the second half of this letter from my father, Lad, to his father and other family members about his trip from Caracas to the camp at Pariaguan.