In 1986, we arrived to the Maiquetia International Airport, ready to discover a new world, this time where the local language was Spanish. Upon exiting the terminal and being received by the admin officer of the Canadian Embassy, the most striking site were the so-called "ranchitos" on the sides of the hills surrounding the bay and the city. We all saw through the window of the car transporting us to our home in Caracas, the dense vegetation seemed similar to Brazil, with red earth, bushy jungle-like trees and potentially an amazing fauna as well, all blended in with the ranchitos. We felt a certain familiarity already with our new surroundings.
|Venezuelan flag in use from 1930 to 2006.|
The apartment that was assigned to us was my mother's dream. There were staircases with no railings - the type kids would love to sit on their bums and slide down, not that we ever did - to three compact floors, with free access to the rooftop - where there was no railing nor walls, therefore an easy place to fall off the building a whole three storeys - and our backyard with bamboo plants as a separation from our closest neighbours. One of our first backyard experiences was meeting our neighbour, Rocky - a big, smelly, sad-looking dog craving for attention. He was quite athletic and managed to hop on to our side of the yard on various occasions. My brother and I immediately took this dog on as a friend, to my mother's dismay. It was no surprise that we did not stay there too long, with my mother pressuring my Dad to get a safer, more acceptable home for a small family.
We moved to a neighbourhood called Santa Paula, in El Cafetal, Caracas, to a nice two-storey home with a big backyard, fenced-in for my parents' peace of mind. We had a guard dog as well, the most elegant looking German shepherd brought in by the owner from Bulgaria called Snap, and a deadly land turtle who could deal with enemy threats through extreme boredom called Touché. This was a great place to live as the community was safe, with adequate police presence and most of our neighbours seemed to be foreign entrepreneurs or diplomats from other countries.
|Brian and I with Caracas on the backdrop.|
We knew Caracas could be an exciting place for us as a family, and my brother and I had been coached very well on our new lifestyle. We were now unable to play on the street due to security reasons, and our new areas of activity were restricted to the backyard. I remember riding my bicycle around the house and building forts with garden furniture, which always seemed to be well received by my parents. My brother and I noticed when we went out on our walks with my mom and dad that there were no kids on the street like back in Ottawa.