Erin, a North American who lives in Venezuela and writes a blog called Adventures in Places I Don’t Belong, recently wrote about a stomach bug she’s trying to beat, and the music from next door, and the things about Venezuela that she’ll miss if she has to move, and… this isn’t making much sense, is it?
I’ll let her tell it, but I just wanted to say that the things she describes that she will miss are almost universal to Latin American countries, and in fact to all third world countries, where people are not so much focused on precise punctuality and the Protestant work ethic, as on people.
Something about recovering from my fifth (or sixth…?) stomach bug has made me feel inordinately grateful for my job and the opportunity to be in Venezuela. I was putting fresh sheets on my bed earlier (a task one can only thoroughly enjoy after being horizontal in bed for 50+ hours) and heard Don Omar’s latest Virtual Diva (from the album “iDon”) float in from a neighbor’s window when I felt a rush of nostalgia for my life here. I’m a bit heartbroken by the fact that I might be forced to move away if our contract isn’t renewed in a few months.
Though I will not miss the bimonthly stomach bugs, I will miss the special things about Venezuela that have made me enjoy life more. I really like the focus on today instead of the thirty year plan, celebration and appreciation of family, the freedom of spontaneous emotional expression, the humor that is a bit more bitingly funny than what I find at home, the attention to home-cooked meals and the always perfectly breezy evenings.
In any place, including my original home, there are things I want to focus and enjoy on in this culture, and other things I’ve simply grown to accept but not really adore. The things I’ve merely learned to live with include the lawlessness/ lack of accountability, inflation, thick traffic and anxiety-causing crime levels. Also when people blow up with spontaneous negative emotion I get WASPily awkward and bug-eyed, which totally ruins my chances of genuinely responding in kind.