“It was difficult not to fall in love.”
Late night Idylls. The shores of Lake Maracaibo.
by Colin Leslie Beadon
There were things he had not wanted to write about for many years, thinking perhaps they were best weathered away by time. Yet time, as he had thought it might, could never deaden such memories. And so the years had slipped, and before his memory should fail, ….
Even the bodega music, had a life of its own, the late night music of the bodegas, which he loved still, the languid throb of boleros, or waltzing Castian, the bote, still cut into his being.
And the girls he danced with; the slap of their sandals, the soft almost urgent sound of their voices, as they sang, sweet-breathed, body pressed-swinging tightly- giving,… against him. And so the warm nights around Lake Maracaibo merged, the girls in your arms, sweating, into one.
True, he was near-exhausted after days and nights out on wells on the lake with little sleep; and so he and his Venezuela crew coming off lake, late, stopped off, at watering holes they referred to as ‘The Convents’ their walls being cluttered with sad-faced Mother Mary images, their lighting being ambiance-creating flickering candles.
And the girls gathering around, fascinating long black haired-sweeping young women, carefully dressed, with impeccable bodies, and manners, if you treated them as the ladies they deserved.
Those dark Latin eyes, their small sometimes inquisitive hands, the almost childlike smoothness of their skins, their natural unforced laughter; and what they would tell about the misfortune of their lives where they came from, Barranquilla, Cucuta, or Bogota; and what they could promise with their eyes.
It was in the bodegas his aficion had emerged for the voices of Latin singers like Dutra and Manzanero, Ledesma and Luis Miguel “Para que acabar este amor?” “ Que estran~o que no podria dormir sin ti”. It was in the bodegas he had learned what it was like to dance with experts who could portray every word of a love song in the sway of the dance; the hypnotics, of guitar, trumpet, cowbell, and deep throbbing tumba; And then girl in your arms, who relinquished more than you could ask.
Ok, so he and his crew filled the tables with their empty Zulia, Regional, or Polar beer bottles, and he fed his crew and the young ladies, parallia of steak, pork and chicken, and expertly cooked yucca, whose aroma from the kitchens pervaded the ambiance of candle-flickering tables and the sense-quickening perfumes of the girls.
The Convents, in truth were such places, so clean, self managed, no madam officiating, just a big cheerful armed guard sitting on a leaned-back chair against the outer wall in the car park, spitting chewing tobacco or chicken bones.
It was difficult not to fall in love. The ladies clung, like long lost lovers each time they revisited, or left. ‘ El Hombre Simpatico’ they called him, laughing and happy, to see him return.
At last, full-bellied,… and often enough,… a little too groggily – unsteady, … they’d clamber into their powerful V eight pickups trucks to drive for station base,…en la amanecer, in early dawn.
Heart-felt, indented in his being, who could insist he forget those people and those places now?
Colin Leslie Beadon. April 2014.
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For other writing by Colin Leslie Beadon, click here.