How could it be otherwise? People do not even have enough cash, literally, for shopping the Christmas essentials. In Venezuela that would be to build up an Hallaca, the Christmas dish. And even if you had enough banknotes, or a well furbished checking account, there are so many staples that cannot be found or are so far out of reach that many this year will have no hallaca on their plates. And many will simply have little on their plate. Period.
Last week was a frantic obstacle course for yours truly, combining a chimio session for the S.O. to buy enough food basics to hold out until January 15 at the very least. Thus I saw Caracas first hand.
Christmas decorations, to begin with, are limited to perfunctory ones in banks and the like. Rare are the private homes or appartements with any light hanging in front. In fact, in my street only one house has the full gaudy display. NO OTHER neighbor put even a light on a window.
But if you think that my choice of starting with decorations is frivolous, let me tell you that it is on purpose, to delay my writing on the other nasty stuff. The lines have been humongous all week, For food, for a few banknotes at the banks, What was worse is that the regime after stealing all the toys from the main Caracas importer has decided to also steal the clothes from EPK, a business on children clothes, etc. I cannot tell you how pathetic, how a feel-terrible experience is to watch hundreds of people standing in long lines to benefit of that loot. What a miserable populace this country has become.
Traffic has been almost as horrendous as in normal days. Few left on holiday. Few can travel over seas. Few will bother to travel visit their relatives as the food and services situation outside of Caracas is much worse than in Caracas. It would be an unfair imposition on your relatives. You'll have to do without family reunion this year.
Sadder still is the amount of people scavenging, everywhere it seems. The worst for me was when I stopped at a given pharmacy in the never ending search for this or that. When I came back to my car I was startled to see somehow sitting down at the opposite corner of my car. Having been robbed three times this year I was duly concerned. And then I realized that the chap, a late teenager, skinny but with a baseball cap and bermudas, was eating something he had found in the trash bags next on the sidewalk. I do not know how I did not puke. Maybe I was so angry, with such a need to cry that it cancelled....
This is really getting awful, and the "needs" of the season make you more aware of your everyday misery and the hopelessness that settles everywhere. Even the regime in spite of a continued stream of cheap propaganda with people dancing folk dances, I suppose to let us get used tot he idea that soon we will lose communication with the outside world, cannot convince "el pueblo" who looks the saddest. How is it possible that you spend December 23 in line to get, say, a liter of oil? That there will be nothing for the kids? Not even food in some cases? What TV propaganda show can make up for that? How cynical the regime can get?
But Christmas is also a thanksgiving time for those of us who live outside the US. I am thankful that I get to spend one more with my SO and that I ruined myself but was able to get him the curent chimio treatment. He will not join, yet, the list of those who have stopped treatment in a country where you cannot even find morphine to assuage your last days.
|Not in Venezuela|
I am thankful that my elderly parents are safe and confortable in France and got used to the idea that they will never be able to return to Venezuela. In fact, in their little Podunk they did manage to find all what it took to build the Venezuelan Christmas plate that so few of us will be able to have this Christmas. ALL INGREDIENTS in a country that prefers foie gras to exotic food for Christmas, amen of hallacas.
I am thankful that I still have family here though one niece left this year and a cousin family will leave early next year. In a little bit over an hour we will still manage to be 9, trying to forget a little bit drinking one of our three last bottles of French champagne.
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
And my dog is grateful that the country is so bankrupt that there is no fireworks this year. All pets are thankful, for once.
The fates have reached us.
Still, for thus that are away, for the families, the hundred of thousands of broken Venezuelan families, for the faithful readers of this blog, may you have a good Christmas, make me live vicariously.
Alpha es et O