Boots on the Ground: I’m Back Home in Venezuela
by J.G. Martinez
We are back home in Venezuela!
I want to thank those of you who have followed me all these years. Since my first article, so much has happened. Not all negative or bad. But I had to absorb a few hits here and there. Overall, I’m in great shape. My original plan is back on track, which is excellent. My kid is going to start studying again, and that’s just great. My parents are delighted to have him at home.
Minor issues with tap water at home in Venezuela
Water quality is incredible at home. Much better than the Lima water. However, it’s not as good as the Ecuador one. Quito water is the best.
The reason for the minor issues is simple—a failed local government (Police department shut down? Come on). Also, disappearing resources needed for maintenance have caused a minor crisis in the water grid in some portions of the town. Water directed to these places causes low pressure affecting our supply.
It’s not a big deal for me. There is a 200 liters tank in the backyard I plan to hook up in a few days. First, the kiddo needs to start school. Water can wait a few more days.
Our travel back home was flawless
No harassing, no revisions, nada. Excellent. Just as it should be. Just a drug-searching dog and a sweaty private with an AK doing a visual inspection. The bus to town took even less time than I was expecting.
It was sad to see the huge parking lot where the buses used to stop closed. There used to be eight or nine restaurants and other businesses to get food. My dad mentioned how badly the pandemics affected those businesses.
I have a ton of work options at home
Because of my career and merchandisable skills like English, we survived in Peru. But, I am not a young man any longer. I wouldn’t last for too long doing manual labor without taking a toll on my health. That was not my plan anyway. We should have come back before the pandemics, but a family situation dragged us out. (My ex-family).
My dad runs his own business from home. But he says it’s time to set up a shop. He can’t drive anymore, and he’s tired of having to work in the field. I understand. He’s almost eighty. And as it is, this is no country for an older man.
Also, my previous plan, where I retired to the faraway mountains to raise rabbits, poultry, producing whatever I can from the ground, write, and engineer part-time, is again a reality—this time with my kid as my only responsibility.
It’s still a bit challenging for everyone
My immediate goal is to make some money and exchange it in local currency. I intended to save some funding while I was away. However, I found this was very hard to do, even before the pandemic. Now, everyone is having a hard time saving money.
Some of my former peers are desperate to flee. One of them is now in Uruguay. He had been running a good operation, producing his mayonnaise brand. But he is tired of struggling. Which, I understand. I don’t know what he expects to do in Uruguay, but I wish him the best. One of my friends is now a college teacher there. But, it’s not exactly a country that can offer a career to an engineer with 15 years of experience in the oil industry.
Let’s talk money
As I expected, cash dollars are widely accepted and used as one of the payment methods. (Even on that infamous island.) Indeed, it is an entire combination of currencies. People calculate how many Bolivares they need to the price of the day, and that’s it.
Some bozos try to inflate prices in USDs, but that “initiative” doesn’t prosper. People stop buying from them when their costs go too high. There is no real reason for inflation in USDs, no matter what happens to the local currency. It’s PEOPLE who generate inflation when a local economy is using a stable currency.
What does $10 afford us back home?
I spent ten dollars on the following:
- 1,6 kilos of meat (we eat a lot of meat!)
- 0,25 kilos of ground coffee (I can find it much cheaper, in the grain, to grind it myself and grown organically from a friend’s farm)
- 1 kilo of cornmeal for arepas.
- 1 liter of raw milk
- 4 small sweets. (plantain ones, delicious, same flavor they had when I was a kid)
For comparison, here is my article on what food cost in 2016 in Venezuela.
There is a shortage of change
People try to adjust their prices to round numbers. It’s a small town. If, for example, you have ten bucks and only spend 6. if the merchant doesn’t have change, they will issue a sealed note for you for the $4. Or, they will give you 5$ back, and you could pay the 1$ remaining in local currency via debit card. (If the power grid is working.)
Larger cities have suffered more due to the change shortage.
However, if the internet were more reliable, I’m sure cryptos would be a widely extended payment method. Not so much here. It is small cattle and dairy-producing town. People here haven’t used computers since they were kids.
Even at home, situational awareness is key
Like Fabian says, “It’s a fact of life: predators of all kinds exist everywhere. There’s always someone around looking for opportunities to take advantage of.” Even at home.
Since my arrival, I haven’t left home yet to survey the streets. We made only a quick visit to the butcher shop and the fruit/vegetables stand. Kiddo went with his uncle to get some stuff. But this is a quarantined week, and I don’t want to attract unwanted attraction. I’m not exactly skinny these days (too many calories, and no need to walk long distances).
Many thinned people with missing teeth and other effects of the crisis-induced stress are evident. I expected this. However, it is hard to see in the first person.
Walking on the streets, being healthy these days would make me stand out. My Mohican haircut, unusual for someone my age (but beneficial to avoid wasting shampoo in a lousy economy), could attract attention, too. It’s a traditional town.
My mental resilience returned
One’s psychological state is paramount.
With my kid no longer in a foreign country under the constant threat of being kicked out in the streets, I’ve felt incredibly peaceful. That almost happened during the pandemic when his mom lost her job. They were on the verge of homelessness. The Peruvian government issued a law protecting anyone from being moved out of their rented housing. Still, they didn’t protect the Venezuelan migrants.
Plans for the week
For this week, the projects are to rebuild a couple of small refrigerators someone gave to my father. Two things are possible; one, sell them for a profit in record time. Or, two, stash them for a Skoolie for kiddo and me I want to renovate. A Skoolie would work as an alternative to our current home, which I could rent for a reasonable fee to a company. The house is in an oil producer town that surely any day soon will start producing again.
I’ve been able to sleep peacefully since we have been back home. And, without interruptions, in my hammock on the terrace—24 ° C and sunny, at 7 AM. No more dark and sad days with 18°C at 10 AM in Lima. There’s no possible comparison.
Our goods are here, our home, our relatives, and our land.
What are your thoughts?
Do you have any questions about Jose’s journey and return? Do you have questions about the situation in Venezuela? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments.
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
About the Author
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