Boots on the Ground: I’m Back Home in Venezuela

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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.

That was not just in Peru. It happened everywhere

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.

This way we would have means to live anywhere, and long-distance travel. I was thinking initially of a modified cargo truck. However, road pirates looking for food would target us.

Finally…

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. 

We’re home. 

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.

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

Boots on the Ground: I\'m Back Home in Venezuela
J.G. Martinez D

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

Leave a Reply

  • That’s great Jose, I can feel your contentment through your words. Things look positive for you.

    There’s no place like home indeed, I’m sure you’re much more capable of prospering again from all this experiences and situations you’ve been through, now again with your family and friends around.

    And you’re absolutely right, you describing the importance of adapting once again to “blend in” in your surrounding after the change is invaluable advice. Read the landscape, assess your state, be patient and adapt. Invaluable advice.

    Here’s wishing everything goes well with you, your kid and your relatives. And keep sending news!

    • Thanks Fabian!
      After 6 years, some things have changed a lot, but I´m here to survive. At least I could sign my kid into a school a couple of blocks from home.

      Peru is no country for this man. LOL.

  • Jose-

    Glad to hear that you are safe! I did have one question for you- when you say it a “traditional town”, what other characteristics define it as that? Here in the US, traditional can mean many things, and I didn’t want to assume a cross-continent correlation with what that word brings to mind for me. I would appreciate your thoughts.

    • Dear GhostViking,
      Thanks for asking 🙂

      Traditional town means, it´s a town with lots of elder people with a traditional lifestyle. Tattooed guys with long hair and aggressive punk haircuts are uncommon, generally speaking. It´s not like you´re going to be mocked on the streets because of this,, but people is usually very fond of traditions. Sort of. LOL. Regular clothing, like T-Shirts, jeans and sport shoes, allow to blend in though. Good thing is, local food production is just fine. I will make a good survey and write an article about this next week. Stay tuned!

  • -Jose,
    Glad to hear you and your son are back home and safe!
    Thank you for your updates and experiences.

  • Hey Jose! I’m glad to hear that you and the kiddo are safe. One question: I got the sense in one of your other articles that you rather regretted leaving home in the first place. Is that still true? If you had it to do over again would you stay home this time? Thanks!

    • Dear Jayne,
      According to most of the people I´ve talked to in the MAJOR CITIES! (Emphasis on that) food availability was really bad, but we could have surfed that. I had some savings and contacts, and could have developed my hut, which is not such a large plot but with a modern setup and some technology we could have set it up properly to product some poultry for bartering.
      Yes, I do regret because my family here had a hard time, and I could have supported them much better by coming back instead of heading further down to Peru. (I was in Ecuador 6 months and didn´t like it enough to stay longer).

  • Glad the two of you made it home safely! Looking forward to hearing how your journey continues!

    • Thanks Dear Grammy!
      Best is yet to come. I have a place to rebuild and become a productive unit. Surveillance drones and silent not-so-lethal weapons included. Stay tuned 🙂

  • “It is small cattle and dairy-producing town”

    what is the population, and how much outside resources does the town require? I’m wondering how large a town and supporting rural area is needed for it to be independent.

  • “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.”

    but the dollar isn’t “stable” anymore.

    “It’s PEOPLE who generate inflation”

    uh, no, creating more currency generates inflation. and the present u.s. administration wants to create $2 trillion more dollars next year.

    • I think he was speaking of the local situation, inflating the price of products priced in USD vs prices in local currency for the same product (i.e. not a proper based conversion rate regarding the of pricing items), not on what causes inflation in general

    • The Bolivar is a totally collapsed currency. Everything is volatile these days, and currencies are relative to each other. But the USD is still the WRC and still very stable when compared to many others. For how long, though, impossible to say.

  • “It’s a small town … if the internet were more reliable, I’m sure cryptos would be a widely extended payment method”

    would enough people in this small town accept crypto (or be able to accept crypto) to make it worth using?

    • Here is something that is missing from most of those “prepper” guru’s suggestions of putting your finances into Crypto.
      If a real SHTF hits (basically a Teowawki), then without internet, those Crypto’s are worthless.

      Since in a Large Scale (global) SHTF event, you probably could not travel to a location with a working internet. Even if you could find one, it might be only a limited one, like a local or semi national one, but with limited or no international connections.
      Then there are areas, that do not normally use computers or have them and it would be useless there, regardless of the operational state of the internet.

      How a limited internet would affect crypto transactions, I do not know and I am not sure anyone else really does either. Since there are many methods in use, of verifying “pending” transactions and validating them.

      Many crypto’s require a group of nodes (other computers or mining operations, often internationally based) to verify the transaction. If those were not “online”, could transaction be processed?
      And for how long, if the number of nodes was drastically reduced, until a backlog develops, possibly rendering the system
      basically unusable.
      Questions that I don’t think anyone is really qualified to answer, they may have a theory but what happens in real life does not always follow what should happen in Theory.

      So I would think twice about using Crypto Currency as a way to store your finances against a SHTF scenario.
      Mostly because I believe that we are headed for a Global economic meltdown of gigantic proportions, (a global SHTF event).

      Almost every country in the world is facing the same economic pressures and influences. All it will take is one major crack in the system and it will all collapse. The 2008 Mortgage crises, showed us how easily that can happen.

      • “without internet, those Crypto’s are worthless”

        sure, but he’s standing in a cow-town saying he’s sure crypto usage would “be more extended” if the internet was more reliable, like cryptos are worth considering even in his computer-barely-literate location. personally think crypto is a waste of time, too many weak points – requires power, requires software, requires unrestricted net access, likely to incur government opposition/cooption, requires customers willing to take it, etc – but in his partial grid down situation he’s still talking about them, so hoping he’ll expand his thought here.

      • Mostly because I” believe that we are headed for a Global economic meltdown of gigantic proportions”

        (shrug) sure. been thinking that for … oh good grief, 13 years now. understand the breathless reasons, understand the hyped causes, understand the hysterical logic, standing by. but the event itself … just doesn’t seem to be arriving.

        • Well, I´m not even close to a guru (and my beard certainly won´t grow that far in decades) but…if there are some private internet providers silently doing their business down here without too much noise, there is a good chance the internet will be there for some time (provided Starlink or some other similar companies do it well) and the use of cryptos will make it worthy. Thing with technologies is, there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding them. Like Y2K. It´s not the internet reliability though; it´s about how Mr. Sanchez, a 65 years old cattle producer, is going to sell a couple of cows and charge in cryptos, if he doesn´t has the computing skills?…And I´m sure this is a trend all over the world.

    • Thanks 🙂

      I´m on it. My mom and dad say “Just take a couple of weeks, relax, and get some rest”…but I´m already cleaning some of the old gear I´d left here, prepare some things like a couple of small coolers, and my dad’s “workshop” (actually a space filled up with junk to be rebuilt and sold).

  • Jose I am glad to see that you are home, feeling good, and feel optimistic. It seems like Venezuela is rebuilding, and ‘life’ is coming back. Update us when you can! 🙂

    • Dear Julie, indeed some sort of business continuity seems to be in place. I need to research deeper. Stay tuned because there will be articles about this, including interviews.
      Thanks for your kind comments!
      Stay tuned! Good stuff is yet to come.

    • Well, that’s a painful answer. One of them disappeared (we still cry remembering her) and the other one was very sick, but she’s now in good health and with a family who is taking good care of her.
      Kiddo was really attached to her, but I told him that we were lucky she was in a great place, and we could in the future adopt a couple of other strays who desperately need us more than her.
      One of my goals is someday rising a non-profit .org to take care of stray cats.

  • Jose this plain makes me happy! you have persisted an over come and adapted. I to am not a young man and Im preparing for chaos here in the states. You remain an inspiration and that Skoolie is the way to go.

    I want to RV adapt a 10 or 12 box moving truck! Please share your process and I will share alt energy processes.

    BTW Daisy you were stellar in Endgame!! I owe you soooo big for bringing that to my attention. I found so many unexpected solutions and inspirations and confirmations I am on the right track!! Bless you!

    • Dear Ric,
      Thanks for that. Let´s see how income comes around this year. Some things have been improving, compared to the crisis since 2018-2020. Those were terrible years but people could surf them out somehow. I´m in the process of getting in touch with my countrymen who needed to stay and collect their stories. Stay tuned!

  • Thank you and best of blessings to you and your family. Any use of metals? Gold/Silver? Thank you

    • Dear Sarah,

      Anything valuable (including rice bags, live pork and other staples) is being used. Cryptos, but mostly USD (cash is king) and local currency for exact change, in electronics. Of course, people has bought things like cars or sold houses accepting jewels, but it´s a small percentage. You would need means to determine the PM are what they say though.

  • Glad your home, Jose with your kiddo. I know your family is so happy your home too. You’ve been through a lot, learned a lot and I look forward to you sharing more.
    I believe we can learn a lot from what you’ve done and are doing.

    • Dear Cindy Fox,
      Thanks for that.
      Learning is a never-ending process. This decision to come back was based on the analysis of the local economy back in Peru, which is going to be deeply influenced by the political changes these years to come, and not being on my own ground meant I was in a huge disadvantage in the labor market, and without the needed infrastructure to overcome immediate needs, like housing. The pandemics changed it all for worst. I have been able to sleep peacefully for the first time since I left, to be honest.
      Stay tuned!

  • Jose I’m so glad to hear that you and your Kid are back home safely! You certainly are an inspiration to all of us. I can bet when the SHTF here in the U.S. that some of us are gonna say…What would Jose do??I’m sure you have told your story here on this site somewhere but can you tell us why you left home to begin with. If it’s not too personal that is. May God bless you and your family!❤

    • Dear Susan,
      Just reading that makes me very happy to have spent so much time getting my ideas in order and pouring them with my keyboard.
      The reason was a somehow complex one: mostly what I felt in the environment, and the influence of my (back then) wife. I was sure that we, state oil company workers were going to be under a modern slavery, and the borders would be closed in short time. I was partially wrong, indeed. The main reason was the impossibility to get food because of the hyperinflation and the food black market, controlled by a corrupted system kidnapping the entire food production and supply chain (still is, but it´s weakening because the citizens are already reacting). My salary was barely enough for 10 days worth of food (I believe this was mentioned in one of my previous articles). My now ex´ family was already in Ecuador, and we thought it was a good option. However, once there it was proven not to be: harassing and aggressions to Venezuelans took place, and I decided to follow my sister-in-law and her mother to Lima. At this point, I should have returned to my original plan: bring back my meager savings to Venezuela, fortify my mountain home, fix my SUV and start some sort of home-based business.
      Reasons to come back? This will give you an idea.

      https://www.theorganicprepper.com/why-i-regret-venezuela-bugging-out-refugee/

      😀

      Thanks for the blessings, and we bless you and yours too. My mom loves to see how much appreciation we receive.

  • Greetings, Jose! So delighted to hear you have made the journey home safely with your kiddo. I hope you are able to take some rest after this momentous journey that has clearly removed some stress and pressure from your life. That is wonderful that you are sleeping peacefully!

    I am curious about your small cattle and dairy-producing town. You talked about the USD and local currencies. It sounds like cash is king there. Is there any bartering going on? Is there an opportunity to develop a bartering network for things you can’t produce rather than cash? This is something I am working on in my own rural area, as my own half-acre can’t produce everything.

    Also, I am curious about the “quarantine week” you describe. What are the attitudes towards the pandemic and government quarantines in this town, which you say is “traditional”?

    Looking forward to hearing more about everything once you settle in!

    • Dear Happy Homesteader,
      You´re right, I have a LOT of less stress now. Pressure is different now, maybe more in the long run, but for the time being I´m much better here than in Lima.
      This said, I will answer now your questions one after another. LOL.
      1. Yes, a somehow complex system is in place. An example: my dad paid the weed cutting of our patch of land (labor manual, with a machete and primitive tools) in the mountain hut with 3 kilos of cornmeal for arepas (the laborer asked for this as a payment). Another example: I paid with a 5$ note bank a bill of food for 7,5$, paying 2,5$ in local currency with my dad´s debit card. So yes, a bartering system is in place previous agreement between both parts. As far as a network in place, not yet, but it is possible nowadays to create it from scratch, in some communities without too much contact with large cities, like some close to our town (maybe not a city, but indeed large enough for the small rural towns to have it as a supply means for many needed goods).
      2. The pandemics have been treated with one week of “radical” quarantine, where you can´t travel from one city to another, nor transiting on the streets. Or shouldn´t. Business and shops just open up in the morning. Roadblocks are plentiful and will let some people pass only by paying a “fee”. You know what this means. So, the roads are desert these days, mostly. The next week after a “radical” one, is declared “flexible” quarantine, and you can do as you please. If this works to stop Covid or not, will have to be asked to the “scientists” behind such incomprehensible decision, if you ask me. However I have just gone out of the house just to get some groceries and take kiddo to school, a couple of blocks away, to be screened up. Still imagining the means of going to our hutch in the mountains without pedaling 20 km, most of them uphill. (dad´s car is busted). As an interesting note, my dad mentions that some business won´t open in the afternoon even if the week is “flexible”. Go figure. Never imagined this! so the economy can´t be that bad if they don´t need to keep their business open 8 hours per day. This means they´re selling enough to make a living, I think.
      3. Most of the non-formally-educated people in town (meaning, got a bachelor degree and had to work without opportunities of going to college) will do as they have been told; I´ve talked to very educated people and the attitude is entirely different. They know what this is all about and agree with me on this being a man-made disaster.

      This is a small town, with not-so-many problems. Food production around is enough, beef, milk, cheese, poultry…and we´re starting to seed this week some stuff I brought from Peru to try them out. However my mom didn´t had enough planters nor proper earth, and will have to get some before starting, which means investing a little bit in good earth. Weather is so fair that, with a good water reservoir, you could grow plenty of vegetables and fruits. My dad brings mangoes everyday he picks up at his employer´s place. I had to pay 1,5$ in Lima for one kilo…so I appreciate this fruit a lot, as you could imagine.

      Thanks for asking!
      Stay tuned 🙂

      • Jose, I was amazed to see your response this evening when I got home from shopping in town. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions in such detail. It makes the world seem quite small today! Will be staying tuned and looking forward to your next article. Thank again and all the best settling back in.

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