The nomadic life of my youth taught me four things: 1) be at home where you are; 2) let go when it's time; 3) settle in fast; and 4) forget there's anywhere else to be. This cycle puts you right back at 1) being at home where you are.
Before Hispanic Heritage Month 2018 comes to a close, let me jump aboard with this declaration: I am half-Norwegian, one-quarter Scottish, one-quarter German ... and 100 percent Hispanic.
Mom and Dad made their protocol farewell calls on the Ambassador and Mrs. Sparks and other senior diplomatic couples. They were fèted at our first “despedida,” a goodbye party routinely thrown by Embassy colleagues for departing friends; the “bienvenida” was the party counterpart to welcome new diplomats and their families into the Caracas Embassy.
Here I was on July 4, 1955, expected to assume duties as Press Attaché and Information Officer, American Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela - after only two months of practical orientation in Washington, preceded by five years of corporate public relations, a BA from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, courtesy of the GI Bill, and roots reaching all the way back to a one-room schoolhouse on the prairies of South Dakota. Not exactly elite.
Sometimes our group of six friends - five of whom were born overseas - hits on a topic to talk about over tea. This one was my suggestion: incidents that took us by surprise as we moved into other cultures. What I will mention are three episodes from Caracas, our very first post:
July 3, Hotel Potomac This is our first report from Venezuela. We are set up in an unpretentious hotel called Hotel Potomac, accent on the first syllable. Looking out at the afternoon sunshine from our hotel rooms we can see why Caracas is called beautiful. The city is situated in a high valley and all…
on Venezuelan Independence Day, she set down in another letter about how the American Independence Day seemed to be done in Caracas. She was an outsider, sharing her observations with perhaps more enthusiasm than she could yet feel.
At 2AM July 3, 1955, my parents and I, a 8 month-old, arrived at the seaside airport down the mountains from Caracas. It had been a marathon: driving up to NYC from DC, where they'd had two months of orientation training, leaving the car at loading docks, and taking our 10 pieces of luggage…