Friday, November 14, 2014
The winding Old Road back to Caracas from La Guaira, the Carretera Vieja that my dad would choose to use when he'd had a few on those week-ends that he took us to Arrecife (that would be most week-ends for about nine months of the year) and drop us at that one ugly fishing village in the Caribbean, in between two power stations while he went out fishing in his little outboard engine boat. I enjoyed those days at the beach, at least to a large extent, left on my own with a child's snorkel mask and flippers to peer into the water at whatever little wild-life lived in that small artificial bay while my sister and my mum stayed near the water line. There was always the drone, the pink noise from one of the power stations and often a film of oil on the water. My dad would come back and disappear in the bar for a couple of hours more, come back even a little more drunk than before and then there usually would be a horrible argument between him and my mum or between him and us, we would get in the very hot car and he would drive off while remonstrating us because we didn't have any feelings, threatening to drive out of the road into the precipice. There was a part of the road where there was a weird sort of monument, a crashed car on a plinth, Supposedly you could see the wrecks of quite a few cars down the bottom of the ravine, I don't remember this and I think I never dared look. Once home, we would be looking forward to having to scale and gut all that fish, while being remonstrated some more about not having feelings. Poor dad, he was trapped in a life that'd gone wrong. Although it'd gone wrong way long before we appeared in the scene; he used to remind us often that he'd been 'taken away to fight a war at age sixteen', 'for seven years and three months' (I never could compute that last statement. If he was drafted on '39 and got back in '45. I hated fish. One of these days, though, I'll have to try his old recipe which I so hated: a couple of groupers on a baking tray, with cuts along the side in which he would put parsley (I hated parsley as a child) and garlic (I hated garlic) , put a few potatoes on the side, smother the whole thing in olive oil (I hated olive oil most of all). It sounds so yummy now and I so hated it then... Flashback of little me at dinner, gingerly picking into the fish. 'Eat the eyes, they're good for you'. Yuk. Poke into the eye sockets of the thing, even more gingerly. 'Eat it!' I poke a little harder, the white ball of the eye jumps out of the plate. I cannot possibly eat this. 'Eat it...'