Venezuela has now gone through nineteen months of this phase of its new normal. The country continues to be plagued by a stagnation that began once the 2019 political crisis winded down, and was then immediately made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As I said last month, while the lockdown and quarantine measures are still ‘in effect’ they’re pretty much symbolic in practice. Slowly but surely, things are not quite returning to ‘normal,’ but rather, adapting to something that passes off as normal. Don’t forget, there is no such thing as ‘normal’ in this country, that hasn’t been the case for years. More than two decades of political strife and turmoil has given us a misbegotten national trait: adaptability, and that’s what we’ve been doing lately, adapting.
We will be ‘blessed’ with two whole months of ‘flexible’ Christmas quarantine that won’t really change much, as at this point the whole lockdown is just a formality, or if you wanna look at it this way, a way to diminish some of the country’s worst shortcomings (gasoline shortages, public offices, et al).
Quite frankly, not much has been going on around here. This stagnation comes with a malformed peace, a grimful realization and resignation that things won’t ever change for the better in this country, at least not in the near future. The new iteration of our currency, the Digital Bolivar, began its life cycle without any major events. I still haven’t gotten my hands on one of the new banknotes, and I’m in no rush to do so other than for bus fares.
Having axed those six zeroes did certainly helped in our everyday transactions (and I’m sure people working at banks/accounting/bookkeeping feel much relieved as well), that’s always the main intended purpose to these currency denominations — but in practice, it won’t stop the continued march of inflation in the long run.
The regime injected a few million to artificially stay the inevitable and keep the exchange rate somewhat stable for now. This measure is a palliative one at best, and like most prescription meds, the country is building resistance to it, and its effects are starting to wane off.
Christmas season approaches, and I’m already starting to feel it in the weather and in my pocket as well. Things continue to increase in price at a steady manner, especially food, and each week I find myself spending more for the same amount of groceries, just like the past years of my life. Pan de Jamon, one of the simplest pieces of our traditional Christmas dish, is already going for an average of 8-10 USD a piece, quite steep if you ask me.
I’m still quite detached from the ongoing affairs and stagnation of my country, focusing what little strength and willpower I have these days on carrying out my goal of leaving Venezuela instead. The ticking time bomb on my passport’s final expiration draws closer with each passing day, and that’s kept me rather stressed and on the edge. Not to make excuses but yeah, it’s largely why I’ve had such a low productivity in regards to content lately.
My time is running out. I have less than nine months to solve this riddle and finally start a new life, where I can find my role in all of this. That impending expiration on my passport is the biggest burden on my mind right now, and it’s wearing me down in all aspects — it’s what I get for still trying to make things right, I guess.
Many things remain uncertain with regards to my chances at any kind of visa, and by extension my whole life as well. But in spite of that I’ve begun to start wrapping up my affairs here and leaving everything in order to the best of my ability so that I can be ready for when that day finally comes. There will be things that I won’t simply have the time nor resources to solve, and I’ve already come to terms with that, it’s best if I focus on the things that I can solve, which is another reason why I’ve been somewhat busy and neglectful on my content lately.
The next few weeks will be very crucial and will determine my future. I’m trying my best to make this happen and travel before Christmas because, if I may be honest with you all, I do not wish to spend another Christmas and New Years here, it’s just not the same without our mom. I don’t want my brother and I to spend another Christmas alone ever, but we don’t have anywhere else to spend it should we have to spend it here.
The whole ‘leaving here before Christmas’ goal is honestly wishful thinking on my behalf, it’s currently an ephemeral pursuit that may not actually come to pass. No matter what, I’ll start assembling our traditional Nativity Scene next week. What else can one do but to pray and uphold traditions these days…
I’ve also started to wrap up and bring closure to some untreated wounds regarding my mom’s passing in 2018, such as organizing her room and seeing what clothes and remaining medical books I can donate away. I’m sure some in my family will try to sway me towards selling them instead, but it just wouldn’t feel right. I’d very much rather help someone in need with these clothes, and would very much like to give these books to aspiring doctors instead, that’s more fulfilling to my soul than money even though yeah, I could use the money.
I’m doing this in phases, and only on days when I have time/water, one step at a time.
Some of it still hurts, and I’m aware that I won’t ever get full closure so long as I remain in this apartment and fulfil my promises to her, which I’m long overdue on achieving. I still constantly dream of her, sometimes I dream that I’m about to leave or I’m arriving at a new place, sometimes both at once — only to wake up to the crushing cruelty of my reality, in the same bedroom I’ve occupied for two decades now.
There’s also the whole mandatory vaccination to enter the US, an obstacle that I’ve had no choice but to swallow my pride to pre-emptively overcome. I’ve faced and dealt with so many bs already, so what’s another stripe to a tiger?
While we’re on that subject, the regime is planning to implement a pilot ‘stoplight’ system to limit admittance to public spaces for the unvaccinated. Starting in november, they’ll be ‘test running’ this system on restaurants.
A ‘red light’ for those with COVID-19, a ‘yellow light’ for the unvaccinated, and a ‘green light’ for the vaccinated. Not much info has been given out, and there’s skepticism on whether it’ll be implemented or not, as it wouldn’t be the first time the regime tries to implement something only for it don’t go as intended and then it gets silently phased out. According to a family member though, they’ve begun to require proof of vaccination to certain public sector employees, so there’s that.
This month’s intense storms have given me a fair share of trouble as well, as not only have they kept me locked in my house during times when I had to go out to do some stuff, but I’ve had to deal with some roof leaks in our living room. I had to move some things around and a row of plastic containers now adorn my living room. Much like me, this place is literally falling apart, but it is our home, and not a day goes by when I’m not thankful in my prayers for having a roof and a bed to sleep in.
Venezuela is slated to hold regional elections next month. The results of a rigged election where most (if not all) of the opposition candidates are only there as part of a collaborationist pact will surprise no one. It sounds rather blackpilled to say, but yeah, it’s not like the results will mean anything, nothing is going to change. Why would the regime and opposition be interested in changing the status quo when this ongoing disaster has, is, and will continue to be, good business for them?
The rest is the same, water distribution is erratic, power surges/brownouts occur almost daily (could be worse, at least blackouts are still rare in this area), food becomes more expensive with each passing week, I keep jury rigging my internet connection (now force-downgraded to 3Mbps down / 0.33 Mbps up for the sake of stability) and gas lines are a nightmare I’ll start to deal with once I get my mom’s car repaired (almost done with that).
I wish I could tell you something different, something more optimistic, but I’m afraid I cannot. Venezuela’s stagnation continues unabated, to the point that people that I used to see brandishing an optimism most enviable with regards to the country have begun to consider and entertain the idea of the one inevitability in all of this: leave the country if you want a future.
Getting my brother outta here is my main driving motivator, it is what I promised my mother in her last hours, and I’ll keep fighting to make that a reality, even if it’s the last thing I do. I’ll keep working towards that, keep praying, and if all goes well (which I’m sure it will), I’ll have some good news to share soon.
Sword of the Nation remains on hold until I solve the crucial matter of my visa, as I cannot spend our escape funds to have the manuscript edited. This book series is a cornerstone dream of mine, but I’m shackled by the circumstances of my life right now, and I must get both my brother and myself outta here first. Nonetheless, I’ve started to resume work on it’s lore entries and planning the plot layout for Sins. Stay tuned for more info on that soon.
In the meantime, I hope you all continue to take it easy and don’t give up. This new normal sure sucks, but what else can we do but to keep fighting and don’t succumb to the hopelessness and despair like some would want us to.
Until the next one,