At last, after six years of failures, I was able to depart from Venezuela with my brother. We left everything that we own behind, carrying only 3 luggages, some video game consoles, a damaged laptop living on borrowed time, and some savings.
We are now in Turin, Italy, as this was the “consensus” place that I got through the recommendation of several unrelated people. This city has been great and it boasts a peace that I had not seen in decades.
We’re slowly getting used to the drastically different weather that we are used to, as well as the difference in time zones and food. I will say this, though, having access to water 24/7 and no power brownouts/surges is perhaps the closest I’ll ever be to paradise.
Our lack of Italian is a predictable and unavoidable obstacle, but that’s up to us to overcome on our own. Our fluency in Spanish and English has aided us here and there, so far it’s been 50/50 I’d say.
My brother seems happy, but although he is so far enjoying himself here, I am not, for there is so much for me to do still.
I have a little over two weeks to find a place to rent, and this has me extremely stressed. That, in addition to other setbacks, have pushed me into going through several breakdowns — and yet, I gotta keep going because I need to ensure a good life for my brother. That was the second half of the promise I made to my mother, even if I don’t have any more strengths in me, and even if it all seems uphill right now.
Here’s some words on how it all has gone so far.
We left Caracas on January 22, the first immediate day after the holiday season flight tickets price hike. That day was also my cousin’s first day of her second semester in Nursing school. She arrived around noon, and we all three went to eat at a local supermarket that sells food.
A guy that I hired to take us to the airport arrived about an hour later. In what is very much a “me” moment, the telescopic handle on my luggage broke as we were leaving the building, lol.
We had a very emotional farewell and then we went en route to Maiquetía.
Upon arriving we were met with a massive line even though we were about four hours ahead of schedule. This was, after all, the first flight to Spain after the holiday price surge.
A regime official took everyone’s Venezuelan passports to “check with Interpol,” ours was eventually returned as the line slowly progressed.
The bottleneck that caused the line turned out to be a Bolivariana National Guard member that stopped people to ask questions. He stopped me to ask about my brother whom, according to him, “looked weird.”
I had to explain his condition, brain surgery, and all that. He allowed us to proceed after a few more questions.
Everything else went smoothly, the Iberia check in, all of the migrant controls, etc.
In case you ever forget who has Venezuela grabbed by the balls, the airport’s signs are in Russian, Chinese, and Farsi first and foremost.
A couple more hours later and we boarded the plane to Madrid with priority check-in, courtesy of Coach Dorn.
That plane was my first flight trip in over a decade and the most “first world” plane I’d ever been inside of.
Seats with Android-powered touch displays, free cheap headphones, a dinner with wine, and a pillow and blanket to rest? Bruh.
I picked the chicken meal while my brother went with the pasta. I ended up watching Tenet on that display. My brother went with Spiderman.
While he and most of the rather full flight managed to sleep, I couldn’t. The flight was a bit rocky, with a lot of turbulence. The most I managed to do was take off my shoes and listen to music for a bit.
I must confess that I did not have a jacket for my fat size. I had been given a leather jacket that’s definitely not my size. My brother does have one that fits him but that’s all I had (I got something here on our first day).
I had my first encounter with cold weather as soon as we stepped off the plane — boy, I was not ready for that.
The flight to Turin was mere minutes away, so there was no time to rest, we scanned our itiaj passports and rushed all the way to another terminal, through a train that my brother enjoyed taking.
Then, a couple minutes later, we boarded the flight to Turin. My brother was able to sleep for most of that flight, but I couldn’t even rest for a few minutes.
Turin, the first days
We arrived at the Airbnb I rented on Tuesday, January 23, at around noon. The woman handling it was very kind. She showed us the place, left us a set of keys, and explained how garbage disposal and recycling works around here (it’s serious business).
That’s when I finally crashed.
We both woke up right before sunset, and we walked to a nearby supermarket, like the strangers in a strange land that we are. This Airbnb is equipped with basic kitchen stuff, so I got some breaded chicken patties to make in the oven, cheese, sandwich bread, water, and minor stuff like that.
We had our first dinner here, and that’s when the feels started to kick in. I had been fighting for that moment for almost six years, but the realization of all that’s left to do, and all that I’m gambling with this trip (my brother’s wellbeing first and foremost) began to weigh upon me — it still does.
First order of business was getting a pair of new SIM cards because without them our only way to communicate is through this Airbnb’s wifi. Boy, that was easier said than done…
I charted the route to a store, we went there with our passports and Italian tax ID, and left with 2 SIM cards. The lady told us in broken English that the cards would start working with mobile data within the hour, but the phone numbers (calls, sms) would work on Friday.
A few hours later and only my brother’s SIM had working internet. I went there the next day, they checked again and they said “1 hour.”
This went on for days. By Monday, my brother’s SIM finally had a working number — except it had the number assigned to my SIM instead…So I took that SIM in the meantime.
I went back on Tuesday and I got the Venezuelan response of “the system was down,” so they could not check.
Went back on Wednesday, and the lady, which by now knows me by name, basically re-registered that SIM from scratch. She said it’ll be finally done by Friday.
Then, on Thursday, as we were heading back, I received a message from the store asking me for a copy of my passport and to go back. She ended up giving my brother a new SIM and taking the non-working one back, so finally, 8 days after the fact, my brother has a working SIM.
Not having a working phone delayed my apartment hunting, and time is not exactly something I have a lot of left. It was an absurdly frustrating ordeal. I would say Venezuela is better at phone carriers — but then again, one of the main ones just got severely hacked.
When it comes to local paperwork… long story short, and after several frustrations and visits to different offices, I need to rent first before I can do anything. That means no local bank account, no healthcare, and no local ID card until I do.
This Airbnb is paid until February 23, after that we’ll, I have to either find a place before or get creative.
I have sent requests to several places, some have replied saying that it’s already taken, others I’m yet to receive any kind of response.
This is what’s keeping me on the edge and highly stressful, I haven’t been this stressed since 2019, when I was at risk of losing access to our money (story for another time).
Time does seem to be a flat circle, because I find myself in a similar position than my mom was more than 25 years ago when we had nowhere to go, and only a few days left on an apart-hotel in Maracaibo. I remember her crying but I did not understand why, now I do.
This is a beautiful city, and I can’t wait to see it’s historic landscapes, but right now there’s no time for that. I have until February 23 to figure out if we can even stay here, for which I need to find a place to rent, and I’m not exactly winning right now.
I don’t have anywhere else to go, and I, under no circumstance, will return to Venezuela, that would be a complete defeat for which there’s no recovering from. Six years failing and, after one victory at last, I’m still not winning at all.
Hopefully I get all of this sorted by next week so that I can finally rest, because I’m just so tired right now, it’s not just because of the current circumstances, but the whole collective lot I’ve been through over the past years of my life.