An Average Day in the Life of a Refugee

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by J. G. Martinez D.

For those of you wondering how my life is, I have written this article to give you an idea of what it’s like living as a refugee. Here is how we have been living these last few months, waiting for the day we can come back to Venezuela.

Simple morning ritual: water, push-ups, and coffee

Street fruit vendors begin working very early. By 7 AM, they are screaming all over the place with their speakers, waking up everybody. Including me. After that, I have no choice but to get up off my mattress, fold my microfiber blanket, and get into my wardrobe. My son usually takes over my space on the bed while it is still warm. He lays there until he decides to wake up and have his breakfast. I lift his mattress and support it against the wall with a plastic garden chair. Our space is small, but we manage to keep it clean and organized. 

After having a glass of water, I perform 20 push-ups to get the blood circulating. Doing this warms up the body. I brush my teeth, a quick face wash, and then go upstairs to the unfinished part of the building to prepare coffee in my hobo stove. It’s a pressurized coffee maker I brought with me. It has been with me for over 10 years now, and it’s perfect. Not too much needed when your kid is safe and well-fed.

Next up: chores, news reviews, and social media

Splitting the firewood with a borrowed kitchen hatchet and a hammer is a chore I do every day. It’s best not to leave the firewood on the open terrace. Although Lima is an arid desert, cold and moisture are high at night, and the firewood will become moist if it is left out. I take a small cardboard box and put the split firewood in it and get it into our bedroom. If someone had told me that in a couple of years, I would be cooking with fire in the middle of a deadly pandemic, I would have laughed in his or her face. I try to split firewood without making too much noise. In this cold, damp air sounds seem to travel much further, and I know hammering can be annoying to the landlord’s family. I try to split as much as I can once I get to it, and fast.

When I have finished going over in my mind what I have to accomplish during the day, I quickly review news on a few websites about the evolution of the situation in Venezuela. Mostly reputed journalists with awards report the news. There is a bit of biased garbage and misinformation.

I try to write one or two paragraphs of my book and make some publicity in the groups on the different platforms for my online English classes. Lots of professionals need to learn English, at least reading it, and I have found some students. However, the SARS/Cov2 crisis has hit everyone hard, and we professionals are no exception. Mining companies have minimal operations, meaning just a few technicians and engineers have been left working, and the rest of them sent home. Recently I found out one of the partners of a student died reportedly with SARS/Cov2. He was only 37 and healthy.

As I warm up and prepare myself for the remainder of my day, I post a few random comments, check my twitter and Facebook accounts, and post links to my articles. I try to not read anything about the spreading of SARSCov2. I have enough information already without ever having asked for it.

Related: Thoughts on Nomadic Survival from a Venezuelan Refugee

Wash time: Myself and the laundry

Since we have no hot running water, if the weather permits, I take a cold shower. If it’s too cold, I will heat water on the stove to wash with. I can’t get an electric head shower because I would have to pay for the electricity bill. So I just boil water over a fire and pour it in a small tub of cold water to warm it up enough to bathe. I hate when my underwear accumulates, and I have to wash them by hand for hours. After I bathe in the warm water, I wash my underwear in it. One piece at a time is a much better deal. Clotheslines on the roof get full from the other tenants of the building. I barely have space left to hang a T-shirt, some socks, and a pair of pants.

Best way to start the day: Breakfast and blessings.

These days with my kiddo here living with me, I usually prepare some meal in the hobo stove and a couple cans of fruit. He enjoys a lot ripping apart some smaller pieces of wood to be used as fire starters. I have been slowly teaching him how to make a fire in the stove. His mama taught him to use the gas stove, as he likes to cook, but making a wood fire, we all know, is different. After some fruit and cereal, I brush my teeth, make my second cup of coffee, and start researching for my articles. 

Kiddo wakes up, and I offer him a blessing. Venezuelans offer children, regardless of age, blessings upon waking, before bed, and when leaving home or arriving. Then I prepare his breakfast, usually fruit, cereal, or a couple of sandwiches with ham and cheese. I make him arepas also. Cooked over the open fire, these are quite tasty, and he loves them. My boy loves my oatmeal because I make it thick like concrete, with a little cinnamon powder. 

After breakfast, kiddo washes his dish and glass. He is becoming a coffee drinker and has started to ask for coffee with milk before he starts studying. Nowadays, studying means spending three hours watching a few videos of our choice. He watches videos made by the Peruvian government. (The Venezuelan versions are pathetic.) He also watches independently produced videos on the history of Venezuela. Math, science, robotics, Arduino programming for kids, veterinary, chemistry, and some fundamental physics principles are other topics he chooses.  

The best part is, my kiddo truly enjoys learning and is quite smart. He is talented with tools, building, and assembling stuff, and he is learning English fast, as sometimes he just comes to sit next to me while I am teaching.

All in a day’s work: Writing, reading, projects, and planning.

I write for two blogs: backdoorsurvival.com and theorganicprepper.com and also for my Patreon site. I try to get in a little reading about poultry/rabbits/fishing and the current weather conditions, and I have projects I tend to daily. Here are just a few: 

  • Drone project
  • Automatic cheese press
  • Basic survival tool kit (hopefully I can make this available when we recover our freedom)
  • Aquaponic system planning
  • Generator: I’m still calculating how much cubic feet of methane needed to feed a forge, and the generator. (The forge is needed for tempering)
  • Designing, making, and building rototiller spikes, knives to sell, and more. (Some of you may not know this, I am a metallurgist and know how to get the best of steel. And I suspect some nearby farmers are going to be very satisfied with my cutting tools.)

Mid-day lunch and study review with my boy

While my kiddo “splits” firewood with the butcher hatchet and “helps” me, I prepare him some noodles for lunch, or maybe a couple of chicken legs with rosemary and potatoes like his mama used to make. (He says he likes my cooking better.) I have never been good at cooking rice, and doing it over a wood stove is a challenge. I have tried to cook it a couple of times, the results were not good. More practice is needed, I suppose. And, now I have a gas stove lent by my sister-in-law that should be easier. 

Something I have been particularly interested in researching these last few months is homeschooling for kids with diversities. Kiddo watches some of the abundant material after he finishes his daily composition on the topics he just watched. While I take a brief nap, 15 or 20 minutes, he uses the one computer desk we have to write his composition. We read it later and discuss it so it can be fully understood by him.

Related: Where do I Start With Homeschooling?

Time for supper, tea, and bed

Usually, at the end of the day, we have some tea, like manzanilla or some other herb (helps us to sleep better and warms us up in winter nights), a small sandwich or leftovers from lunch (in my case) as supper, or some other light meal and he goes to bed. I usually remain awake for a while and look for a good SciFi video to watch on YouTube. This is, for me, the best time of the day. 

Before going to sleep, my kiddo talks to me about artificial intelligence. My boy believes the day will come when we can upload a human conscience to a machine. As a species, I tell him we are going to need all the hard work of smart kids like himself to overcome all the future challenges and that he must prepare hard and learn tons of stuff to use it later in life. He says, “Yes, papa,” with his soft little voice, and I know I must be doing this right. 

That’s enough to make me sleep with a smile.

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

An Average Day in the Life of a Refugee
J.G. Martinez D

About the Author

J.G. Martinez D

About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

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