Coast of Venezuela; December, 1992.
So I had the dream again. The nightmare. The same dream I had many times in Central America. The apocalypse highway dream. I won’t write it out again now. It was intensely the same. Strangely enough, I hadn’t had the dream since arriving in Venezuela four days earlier. Indeed, I hadn’t been dreaming at all the previous few days. I don’t know why. But the damn dream came back when I fell asleep in the hammock in the garden after breakfast. I can remember it now because of the vivid wake up experience that was rendered particularly confusing because of the hammock. As usual, the dream climaxed with black helicopters shooting at me among the fleeing refugees on the highway. Normally, rolling around in the smoke on the ground to escape helicopter gunfire was the thing that woke me up. Reality was usually sweaty, panicky and disorienting for a little while and this time it was especially surreal.
Upon opening my eyes I found myself trapped in a new kind of nightmare. I was restrained in a straight jacket. I tried to roll and shake free but the tangle of cloth and fabric around me only seemed to tighten. There were palm trees with coconuts up above. Blue sky and jungle. I wasn’t on a desert highway, I was, I was….. Where was I? I shook and struggled to release myself from the restraints.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. Somebody steadied the hammock. I heard a voice. “Patrick. Wake up. Your having a nightmare. It’s Stuart. Your safe. You are far away from Caracas. Wake up.” I finally opened my eyes wide and sat up and steadied myself in the hammock. I was okay. Reality came to a steady state and I knew where I was.
“You okay,” said Stuart?
“Wow,” I said, “that was some nightmare.” My body was soaked in sweat and my heart was racing. “But I’m okay now.”
“Probably stress induced,” said Stuart, “did you dream about Caracas?”
“No, not at all,” I said, “it was this same crazy dream that I’ve had over and over for the last several months. Refugees on a highway and black helicopters shooting at them. Started as a fever dream when I thought I had malaria. The fever went away but the nightmare keeps coming back. It has nothing to do with Caracas.”
“Nightmares in paradise,” said Stuart, “what a drag. Why not get up now and go to beach? Maybe we can meet some of the bikini birds from yesterday.”
I sat up some more and looked around. Gaya and Pierre were nowhere in sight and the breakfast dishes were all cleaned up from the picnic table. “What time is it? Where’s Gaya and Pierre?”
“It’s almost noon,” said Stuart. “Gaya left an hour ago for Macuto to get supplies and run some errands. She promised to be back in time to make dinner. Pierre went out walking in the neighborhood and said he would find us later at the beach.”
“Almost noon, wow. I really slept. Totally crashed out,” I said. “But yeah, let’s go to the beach.”
Down at the beach, we set our blankets up right near the sign that separated the public from the private beach. We were close enough to see that the flock of beautiful young ladies in bikinis from yesterday were back again for more sunbathing. If only a few would decide to walk along the shore towards public property, we might get a chance to meet them. In the mean time, all we could do was enjoy the sun and sand and surf. This was the first time I ever really talked to Stuart at length. I remember learning about his job. He didn’t like his job much. He was just glad he got six weeks vacation a year. This year’s six week excursion to Venezuela was by far the wildest thing he had ever done.
“I’m in hardware,” he said. “I sell screws.”
“Not those kind of screws,” he said with an awkward laugh. “Real screws and nuts and bolts and clasps and clamps and all sorts of similar items. I work for a company based in Manchester where I live but I drive all over England to hardware stores selling and delivering supplies.”
“Oh, I get it. That makes sense. You sell hardware.”
“I know,” he said, “it’s boring. I’m not a spy or a super hero or a revolutionary. I’m just a boring normal hardware guy.”
“You are certainly not boring,” I said, “not with a lady friend like Gaya… and there’s nothing wrong with working in hardware if you enjoy it.”
“Of course I don’t enjoy it,” he said, “it’s work. And Gaya is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s not like I hook up with African goddesses back home in the Manchester pubs. I’m just a screw guy who almost never ever gets screwed….”
“Oh” I said, stunned by a confrontation with reality.
“Do you enjoy what you do?” he said.
“Uh, uh sort of. I mean, it’s a good job, good career. I’m a lawyer. But I’m in the middle of taking a year off to travel and I like traveling more than I like work.”
“A lawyer huh?” He said. “You don’t look like a lawyer. Maybe that explains why you are so thrilled by all this revolution and socialism stuff. Me. I know nothing about it. I’m just normal guy… A screw guy. I want nothing to do with the chaos in Caracas. I only want it to end so I can keep on traveling.”
“I do find it interesting,” I said. “I’m even tempted to go there.”
“I know,” he said, “and that’s crazy to me. You and Pierre get so excited in your debates. Me. I don’t understand and I don’t care. Capitalism, socialism, what’s the damn difference? I just want to hang out, drink beer and meet birds.”
Just as Stuart made his comment, three beautiful young ladies in bikinis came strolling along the shoreline from the private beach to the public beach. We were sitting on blankets about twenty feet back from the water. We both fell totally speechless as they walked between us and the water strutting their stuff. Oh my goodness. I had an urge to call out to them, say something, scream or howl. What would be a good beach pick up line in Spanish? But my tongue was tied. I said nothing and neither did Stuart. When the girls were about twenty feet beyond us, they turned around to look at us over their shoulders? They smiled and giggled when they looked but they kept on walking.
“Why didn’t you say something?” said Stuart when they were out of hearing.
“Me, why me?” I said. “You’re the one that’s good at meeting birds. Why didn’t you say something?”
“I was waiting for you to speak,” he said, “you are the handsome American lawyer. The ladies love that. You should call out to them when they come back..”
I got my opportunity about twenty minutes later when they came walking back down the shoreline towards the private beach. As they passed near our blanket, I shouted out, “permiso, excuse me, do you ladies speak English?” They stopped walking and looked briefly at each other before smiling and turning to walk towards us. It was one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen. Wow. Three perfect bikini bodies, glistening in the spray and sun like a vision from heaven. Holy Smokes.
“Yes,” said the middle girl in the blue bikini. “I speak English little bit. My name Theresa and this is Maria y Caterina. What you want?”
“Well,” I said, “my name’s Patrick.”
“And I’m Stuart,” chirped in my companion.
“And we are tourists,” I continued, “who got stuck in Macuto because of the troubles in Caracas. We rented a cabana here,” I pointed behind me towards the jungle, “to wait for chaos to calm down. But we don’t know anyone here.”
“Touristas?” She said with a smile. “Where from?”
“I’m from the US,” I said, “Estados Unidos.”
“And I’m from England,”chirped Stuart, “Inglaterra.”
The three young ladies looked at each other like they were confused and started giggling. But they didn’t speak.
“And what about you?” I continued. “Are you from around here. Local? Aqui? These parts.”
“We are from Caracas,” she said, “we came here for weekend with school program but now are stuck because of the trouble. We were to go back ayer… yesterday. Now we don’t know when we go back.”
“I think we saw you yesterday,” said Stuart, “when we accidentally trespassed on your private beach.”
The girls giggled. “Yes we saw you too,” said Theresa. “Security not nice there, no?” They giggled again.
“No,” said Stuart, “security was not nice. And we had no idea it was private. Our trespass really was accidental.”
The girls did not respond verbally to Stuart’s spirited defense of yesterday’s transgression. They just giggled and talked among themselves in fast Spanish that I could not understand.
I remember being dazed and confused by their dazzling beauty and not really listening to Stuart drone on with awkward conversation. The ladies were so frickin hot and they were standing about four feet in front of me and they were practically naked. Was I speechless? Tongue tied? Probably. But then I heard Stuart invite them to join us.
“Since we are all stuck here because of the chaos in Caracas,” he said, “it makes sense that we be stuck together. No need to separate public beach from private beach. Why not sit down and join us for a while? We have beer in the cooler.”
The girls giggled and whispered in Spanish between themselves for a moment and then Theresa spoke on their behalf. “Today no,” said Theresa, “We have classes at 2:30 in conference room. We have to go. But maybe tomorrow during midday break if we are still here and no go back to Caracas.”
“Midday Break?” I questioned.
“The teachers are stuck here with us so we have a schedule like in Caracas. Classes from eight in morning till 11:30. Then afternoon classes 2:30 until 4:00.”
“So you can meet us about noon?” said Stuart.
“Si,” said Theresa, “if no go back to Caracas, we can meet you tomorrow midday?”
“Aqui no,” said Maria, “las professoras son cerca. El otra lado.”
“What?” said Stuart, “no comprendo espanol.”
“Better to meet at other end of beach,” said Theresa as she pointed away from the private beach. “Here too near school.”
“That sounds great,” said Stuart. “We’ll bring a cooler of beer and set up our beach blankets at the other end of the beach tomorrow before noon. It will be a party and you lovely ladies are invited.”
The girls giggled.
“Just out of curiosity,” I said before they left us for their 2:30 class, “what kind of school program are you taking at the beach. Is it college or university or what?”
“Es un colegio privada solo for mujeres.”
“A private college for girls.” I questioned.
“Colegio,” repeated Theresa.
The realization hit me like punch to the gut. Oh no! Oh shit. I remembered the Spanish word from my translations. Colegio is high school not college. I probably stuttered incoherently when I asked. Truthfully, now, 27 years later, I can’t remember if I asked in Spanish or English. I will certainly never forget their answers. “Cuantos anos tiene? How old are you?” I said.
“Diez y siete,” said Theresa. “Diez y Seis,” chimed in the other two. They then all said in unison, “hasta manana.” And turned to walk away down the beach shaking their beautiful bikinied butts in the sunshine. Wow! Holy shit? Was I a bad, bad man? I sure wanted to be.
For the rest of the afternoon, Stuart and I discussed the age of consent laws in Venezuela as we drank beer, roasted in the sun and swam in the ocean. How old is old enough? They certainly didn’t look like high school girls. At the time of these events, I was 27 years old and was certainly no innocent virgin in the sex department. I’d had more than my fair share of sexual experiences throughout college and law school and first few years of my professional life. But I hadn’t had much luck in the sex department during my six months (so far) traveling adventure. There was a little bit of loving with the American sailboat girl on the beach of Caye Caulker island and the Swiss backpacker woman on the ranch in Guatemala but no luck at all with local girls. Indeed, my inability to speak any Spanish had proved rather detrimental to my pursuit of “chicas” so far. The young girls on the beach near Caracas were a golden opportunity. Would I pursue it?
As Stuart and I walked up the hill back towards the Cabana, he asked me not to mention the teenage girls to Gaya. He didn’t want her to be jealous.
“Do you think she would be jealous?” I said. “It’s not like you are married and we haven’t even done anything with the young girls yet. We just said hello on the beach.”
“I know,” he said, “but if she finds out that we are meeting them tomorrow she will be mad. She may even try to interfere.”
“But we’re not meeting them tomorrow,” I said. “We are just going to the far end of the public beach to hang out and drink beer. If super hot young teenage girls happen to come by and join us, it’s not as if we planned it.”
“Exactly,” said Stuart, “we can’t predict the future. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. Maybe the girls will go back to Caracas and we will be all alone. So no need to talk about it tonight with Gaya.”
When we got back to the Cabana, Gaya was cooking up another feast in the kitchen while Pierre dozed in the hammock. Another big night of eating and drinking in the garden lay ahead.
Temptation is the key
That unlocks the temple door
Dissatisfied with order
The senses will seek more
We try to fight the instinct
And pretend that we are good
But we’d sacrifice the virgins
If we knew we could
An apple is eaten
And a people are free
The ruler is overthrown
Thanks to you… Eve
She shared it with Adam
And though he tried to resist
He traded in paradise
For a spectacular kiss…
To be continued…