We were back aboard the twin engine
Otter, heading for Jimmy's hacienda in Jabali about
300 miles away. It was located directly under an active
volcano, which we could see smouldering from the air
as we approached. The ideal of building a great Hacienda
under a volcano appealed to Jimmy.
The estate originally belonged to Antenor Patino, the
Bolivian tin magnate. Forty years earlier, Jimmy had
eloped with Patino's 18 year old daughter Isabel, and
pursued by Patino's private detectives. Patino told
Jimmy he had never expected his daughter to marry a
jew, and Jimmy replied, he was equally surprised since
he never expected to marry the daughter of a Bolivian
Indian. After Isabel sadly died in child birth, Patino
tried to get custody of their beloved daughter, leading
to more bitterness. Patino had hoped to restore the
17th century estate, but died before he made much progress.
Jimmy then bought it from estate and, in three years,
completed the task.
When we landed we were met by Alix,
his second eldest daughter. She has a real feel for
Mexican culture, as well as superb taste, and supervised
the furnishing and decorating of the 80 rooms in the
hacienda. The architect, Robert Coutelier, was also
there, as we set off to inspect the project. Jimmy,
as always, was in the lead.
"Seeing him leading his retinue
through the ancient cloisters, standing at least half
a head taller than anyone, and pausing to admire a
painting or antique, this man was so emphatically
the king of his castle. Later on in the tour, looking
down into a courtyard where he stopped to talk to
a servant, I saw all heads nodding with him, in unconscious
We then returned to Cuixmala,
I took Laline for a boat road tour of the lagoons in
an electric boat. Although it had become a routine tour
for visitors, Laline seem mesmerized. I had no idea
what was on her mind She wrote:
"Ed and I went out on
a boat to witness the spectacular sunset when all
the lagoon birds came back to roost. We were ferried
between the little islands, Cuixmala high up on the
hill above us, a large crocodile basking in the water
nearby. Soon after, we saw Jimmy, el padrone out on
horseback, a figure from another age."
We had dinner that evening
at the home of Alix's mother, Ginette Goldsmith. Even
though Jimmy had divorced her in 1978, he told me that
she he considered the only friend he could always count
on. When he bought Cuixmala, he built a four bedroom
house for her on the beach below his own palace. It
was round, which made it aesthetically pleasing to the
eye and afforded it spectacular views of the ocean.
Laline instantly bonded with
Ginette. In retrospect, it was at least partly a reaction
to Jimmy. Laline wrote: "Jimmy might have been
the sun, the source and the center of all he surveyed,
but my own sense of being surrounded was very strong;
the sense of total control at Cuixmala was almost surreal....
I realized how much tension there was in the air everywhere
around Jimmy. How everything seemed to be balanced on
his pleasure and approval, and how I had unconsciously
fallen in with that too." In contrast, she found
Ginette sympathetic. "She was elegant and gracious,"
she wrote perceptively, " with a warmth that spoke
of a tender heart." She readily accepted Ginette's
invitation to go shipping with her in a local market
before returning to London on Jimmy's plane.
"I watched the Bond movie
Goldfinger in tribute to mine host," she wrote
in her memoir. Laline would also write the screenplay
for Zalmon King's "Business For Pleasure."
The imaginary plot involved a peripatetic tycoon, traveling
around the world in a private plane, offering to save
failed businesses on condition that their female employees
do his bidding.
Perhaps another tribute.