|Gone Walkabout||Journeys around the world by Sean Connolly|
Masters of the Dance
XIII. End of the Dance[ Back to chapter 12 | Table of Contents | On to the Epilogue ]
The station in Caracas was a large parking lot with buses everywhere, some with my destination on them, but no one was getting on anything and I couldn't find anyone who looked in charge. I despaired of finding the right bus. But I put on my "lost-but-not-helpless" face and asked a stunning young woman walking past for help. She spoke no English, but seemed to understand my Spanish. Unfortunately, I was unable to understand even a word she spoke (though I did watch her lips rather carefully). Her accent was so different from those I had heard beforehand. Was this a Caracas accent? A local dialect? I never found out (or understood anyone there). But she understood where I wanted to go, and dragged me all over the station, asking one person after another which bus I should take. No one else seemed to know either. Finally, one man lit up when she asked him, and he pulled us over to a bus just about to take off. "Si?" A firm "Si." made me feel better. With a heart-stopping smile, the lass wished me luck and went her way, leaving me less eager to leave, but committed to my way after our all-too-brief time together.
It was a short trip out of Caracas past the squatters' hovels in the hills surrounding the city. At the end, the driver dropped me off right in front of the hotel where I planned to stay. Miserable town, grotty hotel room with roaches bigger than my thumb, and unfriendly residents. I even had one fellow try to mug me, but I had nothing on me (I left it all locked up back in my room), and it didn't amount to anything other than a small hole in the back of my shirt and a major surge of adrenaline.
The following morning, I took a taxi from my hotel to the airport. American Airlines had just gone on strike, and the airport was in chaos. Everyone was stressed out, all remaining flights were full, and it looked like my chances of changing my flight were practically nonexistent. But I lucked out. I was given a standby ticket. One by one, they called out names to assign seats. About ten or twelve people were ahead of me, and I glumly considered what I would do if I didn't fly out today. But as they reached the end of their list, my name was called, and I got the absolute last seat on the plane. End of the road.
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