Life in Venezuela has been nothing like you would think it is in the past years. Many of you know that we´ve been going through some pretty tough political and economical situation, but lately it has been so bad that I have opted for not speaking about it here, and just live this space as it is, my own little space for happiness, thoughts, love and family... my mommyworld. This is also pretty much the way I like to keep my household, free of the terribles that happen outside our door, but sometimes it´s impossible to not talk about it, or to try to ignore.
We have always been know for being happy people, for being a country full of opportunities, laughter and color. We have the best beaches because the Caribbeann Sea is kinda like ours, some pretty amazing mountains, waterfalls, we even have the Amazon... and to top it all we have more oil than Dubai... it was so good that Venezuelans had never immigrated to other countries, life has always been kind to us. Unfortunately, and to make a long story short... We´ve had the worst government possible for the last 15 years, a lot of people are calling it a Dictatorship, corruption is ridiculous, insecurity is absurd, poverty is growing by the minute, basic salary is as low as 10$ a month; the worst is our latest problem which is scarcity of basic goods... when you go to a supermarket, you will find half of what you are looking for, and if there is something like milk, rice, oil, diapers, corn flower, shampoo or toilet papers you will surely spend three hours in line or otherwise buy it at 10 times the price to contraband.
Still... if you have read my blog before you could not tell this by reading my posts, or by seeing the laughter in my girls faces, and this is not me... I think all Venezuelans have the capacity to see the good in the bad, and to make it a good day no matter what. All this is getting a lot more difficult lately, and it bothers me that children have to grow up listening to everybody they know worry about the future and seeing many many friends and family leave our beautiful country in search of a more peaceful living. But this is were we are, this is home, and we have not taken the decision to leave... and so everyday we try to make it the best day, we try to see our beautiful blue skies instead of the faces of the politicians that have taken over our country, and we watch the Disney channel instead of the news, and we go to the beach in spite of not wanting to.... and we know it is a blessing to be able to enjoy our Sundays lunches at my parents. I call and I will call my sister every single day a hundred times to talk about the same things over and over again... but mostly to reassure ourselves that yes, we are doing a good job, and that staying is what we want to do... and so day by day we know we live the life we want to live, and ours is beautiful, and it is a blessing!
As for my girls... well life is not easy, we are living in a world of immediate gratification that is undermining our ability to wait, to enjoy, to imagine, to create.... and maybe living in a country like this will help me, raise optimistic strong women capable of adapting to change, of creating their own happiness without help from others, of being able to enjoy life as a gift, and being the smile on somebody else´s face! And lastly being proud of who they are and what they are!
I don´t know if any of this made any sense to you... but I needed it today, so thanks for listening because now I am proud of being Venezuelan, once again!
Here are some pics of us, living without giving it much thought.... our life in pink as I call it!
Because in this corner of the world I get to enjoy this view every sunday...
And we find baby guacharacas in our rooms, which then in turn think that whoever found her is her mom....
and this, hug, this kiss.... and having my mom always there for us... priceless. If she only knew how big a force she is to us!.. maybe she knows, we´ve told her a million times!
my support and my inspiration... my team mates... all of that in this one picture!
This... this is the Venezuela I see... only this one!
Hope you have a wonderful week!
Here in Venezuela we have the Holy Week off, kind of like US¨s spring break, with the difference that is a religious holiday. But then of course, we also take advantage of the break and usually go to Margarita Island to my parents´ beach house.
Because blogging doesn´t happen in bubble, nor does life... or vacations, this one had a rough start... The week had been pretty messy, Ari got sick, with a very high fever, I could tell she had a throat infection and an ear ache... to make matters worse, she would not by any means take any type of medicine. Took her to the doctor Tuesday morning, and she had what I thought she had, the problem was that we couldn´t get her to take her antibiotics, the solution was to inject her three days in a row. It might sound like a drastic solution... but trust me, this two year old has the will of a gladiator! So with Ari being sick, plus real life, I had no time preparing in peace for our trip. That led me to not printing the plane tickets until the taxi was waiting outside... It was 1 pm, and according to my wonderful memory, our flight was at 4 pm, I really thought I had checked online our plane tickets several times and our departure time was 4:00 pm... when we got in the cab to drive to the airport I looked down at the tickets once again and realized our flight was at 14:00 hrs... which meant I had really messed up here and we were never going to get on time to the airport. Real life. Luckily for me, Gabriel maintained his cool (am still wandering how he did it!), and even though we missed our original flight and all the planes to the Island were overbooked, we were able to pull some strings and boarded at 7pm. It was a very stressful afternoon, the girls wanted to kill me, I am sure Gabriel did too, but as it turns out, luck was on our side and we made it to the Margarita!
Margarita Island, and my parents beach house ¨Miel y Papelon¨ is a tropical paradise for me! Here I promise you that I spend the days just breathing in God’s majestic views, and breathing in life. The sounds of the waves, of the cool breeze, the continuous laughter of the kids muffled by the sound of the ocean is all the fuel I need to realize once again that I am living the dream!
And trust me, as beautiful as this island is, is not paradise because of that, is paradise because here my girls grow as sisters, they become sisters to their cousins, they become friends for life, I find my sister again, and my mom and dad aside from really being the greatest grandparents in the whole world, are able to be the very best for ¨25¨ hours a day! So as you can see.... yes, this is paradise!
Here as my dad said.... ¨Ari found herself a new slave¨!!!
Memories at the beach.. many... but then there are the memories at the beach house, and those might not make as pretty pictures, but am sure they might make for prettier memories.
Every morning we wake up to the voice of many excited kids .... sometimes of an excited grandpa waiting for company. And even though I am not much of a morning person, waking up to this sounds and the smell of fresh made arepas in the outside kitchen, and a table full of my loves just makes for a perfect morning!
This last picture is not of this vacation but I didn´t take one of all of us sitting at the table this time.
Evenings at Miel y Papelon...
fancy dinners with not so fancy plastic plates!
Waiting for Abeyo to get home from buying the day´s catch for dinner... this is so cute!
These little two.... there are many types of love... their love... well it just makes your heart bigger! Pali is the only boy in the house, and he has our hearts with his kindness, sweetness and love, and then because I think he looks a lot like me, well.... I tend to play mom to a boy whenever he is with me, and while on vacation that happens for the whole time!
On Palm Sunday we went to Church and then went for some ice cream at the mall
This is our stop for Cocada everyday after the beach... Cocada is a very typical drink, kind of a coconut smoothy made of coconut and coconut milk! It is soooo good! We also have hand made coconut ice cream sold at the beach in its very own shell, and you can also buy coconut water straight from the coconut, right on the sand!
For some sightseeing I exchanged my tween for the sweestest nephew you could ask for!!!
and of course the best of the best.... real life love, in front of the camera or behind, perfect smiles, real hugs, sun kissed girls who couldn´t love each other a little bit more!
To me, the smiles of these 6 children is what makes this vacation and the captured memories from it even more special. I'll look back at all these moments where kids are smiling and waves are breaking and cheeks are sun kissed red, hair is beautifully messy and salty, and I'll know that this little part of this puzzle, is good, it was easy but also it was hard earned.... because family, although it looks easy and beautiful in pictures, is hard work. And every memory, every smiling moment, every great picture, every vacation, every beach trip to Margarita, is hard work... with the best reward ever, a heart full of love and memories to piece all of us together!
Have a great week!!!!
The mountain is a national park, so the only thing you will find there is peace and quite, nature and breathtaking sights, and a few restaurants! If you have a SUV you can go up yourself or you can ride a jeep that takes you up. You get to see Caracas when you first start going up and the views are really amazing.
We often get so caught up in living that we forget to live! I live in a very chaotic city, and I when I say chaotic I don´t mean ¨NYC chaotic, I mean really bad chaos in its truest definition... We are going through the most difficult political, economical and social situation in the history of Venezuela. Our president is as incompetent as they get, and his politics are turning him quickly into a dictator. We have what you could call a war economy where even though most products can be found, it may take multiple trips to various stores and the frustration of standing in long lines to get them. Rumors tend to dominate street and family conversations. And the worst part is that as of now Venezuela is ranked one of the most dangerous cities in the world, forcing us to stay a lot inside. This in a very very small summary.
But.... life goes on, and still Venezuela is a stunningly beautiful country, and we tend to be positive people, and life will not wait for things to get better. We have families to tend to, and happy childhoods to give to our children, and marriages to follow through. We cannot stand still and just sob over things we cannot control. Challenges make us stronger, make us grow... make us tough. We cannot control everything, but we can decide how we live.
Friday was one of our friends birthday and we were invited to go to El Avila for lunch. El Avila is the mountain that surrounds Caracas and which you have often seen in my posts.
Once you get to the top of the mountain, this is the view you have! It is absolutely perfect, breathtaking... you leave Caracas on one side and when you start going down you can see the sea, our beautiful and so rewarding Caribbean sea! And right there, at that perfect spot, is this little perfect restaurant that makes you feel as if you were having lunch on a cloud!
We rarely break away without the girls in tow, but once in a while is so necessary! We are usually able to reconnect and grow our marriage and family at the same time... but when you take a break once in a while, you do remember that time for yourself and with your husband is also needed to be a great family and a good mom... And being able to see this sunset with your love is so worth the time!
And see... just posting this pictures and seeing this sunset again made me forget the chaos that I started talking about... and finished feeling blessed, and happy, and hopeful and in love!
Have a great week you guys!!
This past weekend was our Carnival holiday, which means a long weekend taking Monday and Tuesday off! Usually when we get the chance we fly to Margarita Island, a 30 minute flight, where my parents have our family vacation home.
When I was a kid, I vividly remember my grandparents house at the beach where we would all go and spend weekends and a lot of vacation time too. I remember I learned how to ride a bike there, I remember getting all dressed up with mom made customs for carnival, I remember my mom and aunts all gathered around the kitchen preparing dinner, I remember non stop playing with my cousins, and my grandfather burning leaves outside the house. Details, not many, but I do remember those were happy times, I remember closeness that still bonds our families together.
Exactly that is what now this house ¨Miel y Papelon¨ means to us. I don´t know if the girls will remember every vacation spent here, or every game they played, or how they spent hours long swinging in the hammocks or having breakfast at the table were we all fit, and how they became mermaids and dolphins one day after the other. But I am sure that the times we have spent here will forever be embedded in their hearts and minds. And once they grow up, I am sure that this memories will keep them together, because in this house cousins became friends, and aunts and uncles, parents, and grandparents became just one!
This time it was only the five of us, It is a little different when is only us, but time alone only the five of us is pretty cherished too!
what I like most about the house is that once you go in... you are still outside...
and then again... the beach... oh my! is not because is my country, but this is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.
Without a question life is better by the sea!
I have never seen a baby jump like Ari!
In Venezuela Sundays are almost sacred... is a day to spend with family. When I was little we would ¨dress up¨ for Sundays, first we would go to Church and then to grandma´s. Any other plans were forbidden and really I don´t think nobody planned anything different. Sundays were pretty quite too since nothing was open, and when I say nothing I really mean nothing.
One of the things about living in Venezuela, and I would think in many latin countries, is that the city were you are born is the city were you will live your entire life. Families stick together, and grow up together, that´s why we are so close to our cousins, and aunts and uncles and also friends. Family is not limited to your mom, dad and siblings... family involves everyone! It can get complicated at times, but we have learned to master the art of family throughout our history. Everybody you have met since childhood is probably still living in Caracas, I for example got my architecture degree here and then went to the US to get my MBA at U of I.... and then returned home, and like me, Gabriel, my sisters, cousins and many friends. In fact I learned to speak English while my parents were doing their masters at University of Florida, which by the way will was one of the best parts of my childhood. This has changed radically with all the political and economical situation happening in our country, and a lot of young people are leaving... Fortunately for our family, we are still all here (except my little sis) and so in this chaotic times, we still have kept our sense of normalcy, and our family Sundays!
Anyways, life has change in the city, there are many things to do on Sundays, everything is open, sometimes we plan eating out or going to the beach, or to the mountain... but still families gather at least twice a month for lunch! We rotate between my mom´s, my sister´s and our home, and usually try to make it special. The good thing about this is that I know that when our children grow they will not remember how Mondays felt like, or Tuesdays or Wednesdays... but they will surely remember how family felt like on Sundays!
Ari... give me some moves for the camera!
or laugh like her!
Have a great week!!
Last december 22nd, was a very special day for me... I had been planning along with my mom, my sister Lilena and my aunt Manela a visit to an ´orphanage¨ here in Caracas. 70 children from ages 0 to 9 live there, the majority have been taken by the government from their homes due to whatever type of abuse or neglect, very few of them are real orphans. This I think makes it even sadder because you can see the suffering and abandonment in their eyes, you can see heartache in their faces, and is hard also beacuse as they are not real orphans their future a lot of the time means going back to the same family they were taken away from. The place is privately funded and is really very nice. Children live in a villas with 10 other children plus two ¨aunts¨ who take care of them and the villa as a home.
The preparation for this day is one of the things we enjoy the most. First we have to get some financial help from friends and family.... this part is not the best, since asking for money is not always an enjoyable task, but then you get the chance to create some awareness which I think is part of helping this kids, and then the prepping of the party and wrapping the toys, and anticipating making children´s happy for a day is always the fun part.
We hired a magician to entertain the kids, took some paper crafts to make with them, baked some cakes to take, made sandwiches, and jello... candies, and chips. The times I have done this type of social work, I always arrive with very high spirits, but then is like if a truck of sadness and helplessness hits me head on. I see some very happy kids, then I see and start imagining all the suffering that this children surely have been through and all the suffering that is sure to come too. The children that have been there a while look very happy, but then you see the ones that have just arrived, and your heart just aches... even physically. And then I start thinking that what am doing is just too little and will not change reality but for only a few hours before the magic fades.
After this visit to Fundana, I cried, I cried, and I cried. I couldn´t get myself to write a post about it, it felt kind of senseless, a little selfish. But I couldn´t forget the faces of the children, I couldn´t forget the baby that didn´t want me to put her down, I cried for the two siblings that had just arrived and were clinging to each other, I cried when I remembered some terrible stories that the ¨aunts¨ told me, I cried thinking that we were not able to help at all, and all we were doing was crying in silence, unable to change anything for any child. I even started thinking that maybe it was selfish of myself, and that I had gone to Fundana only to lessen my guilt and teach my children compassion and to show them a piece of reality.
Last night, I stumbled upon the Pope´s homily in the Philippines. "Only when we are able to cry are we able to come close to responding to your question," Pope Francis said. "There are some realities that you can only see through eyes that are cleansed by tears." "We need to ask ourselves, have we learned how to weep, how to cry, for somebody left to one side, for someone who has a drug problem?" And then.... is like another truck hit me again... That day I cried, I wept, I felt, my mom cried I know, so did my sister, Alessia and Emiliana saw me crying.... and maybe they learned to be compassionate, maybe we touched one life, one heart, maybe these tears will move us to do something more. Maybe it was not all a waste of time.
I heard hopeless, helpless, and uncomfortable stories of children living in Fundana. Stories that made me cry and want to avoid them altogether, but that some other people faced with courage, and sacrifice, and saw as an opportunity to help, to make this world a better place.
So, this is a story of a day that started up with tears, but that maybe ended up with hope, and action for a better tomorrow, for a better world... for a smile to last forever on a child´s face...
Here in Venezuela we have a saying that is that ¨everyone has a cross to carry¨, meaning that no one has a perfect life, no marriage is perfect, no family is perfect... some people have to live with an illness, others have financial problems, or a problem child, or a sick parent... so many things can go wrong in your life... and probably something will go wrong in a moment of your life... I mean is a fact. So it is not a thing of having a problem but how we deal with it.
Right now my cross is living in this beautiful country, were I was born, where I have lived all my life, where my family and my heart is, a country that makes me.. ¨me¨, a country full of color, laughter, sun, and happy people but which is sick in so many ways... I usually don´t talk about politics but lately is so much a part of our lives that is hard to ignore. That brings me back to Ale, Emi and Ari... three pure souls, three innocent children with their lives ahead of them, and a world for them to conquer, who are having to live in a country which as they hear and see is not providing any of the things a ¨home¨ should provide us.
Sometimes my heart aches when I see them listening to so many problems, I hate it that they are growing up learning to mistrust everyone, and to watch over their shoulder so they don´t get robbed... it is hard to explain why good people like the police and the national guard are not always the good guys, and why our normal now is not going out at nights, having to cross Caracas trying to find something as simple as diapers, milk, toilet paper.. our whatever basic need we need, not being able to go on a road trip in Venezuela because the risks involved are unthinkable. Why so many of their friends are leaving... or why every adult conversation revolves around the same subject of moving to another country or not, over and over again.
A lot of Venezuelans have given in, some have left the country in search for not just a better life, but a peaceful one, and the ones that have stayed are starting to loose hope, to loose that happiness that characterizes our people. But to all these (and a whole lot more) I refuse to give in... I don´t want my girls to grow in fear, I don´t want them to think anything else aside from their childhood games, I want them to feel safe at home, and even though they are not living in the same Venezuela I lived in when I was growing up, I want them to love and embrace their country. I want them to have parents that are not always worried, or thinking about options, and alternatives all the time...
I don´t know if I am doing it right, but I do try to cover reality with big smile, with a home full of love, with a cake in the oven now and then, with friends over Fridays after school, with parental control on what they see on TV, and trying to control what they hear us say (at least at home). I turn up the volume every chance I get and dance with them, and I pretend that all is cool. I will tell them Big Fish stories everyday if it is necessary... and try to keep our conversations simple and child-friendly. We try to travel every chance we get to breath in some sense of ¨normal¨. I have taught my girls (specially Emi who is more sensible) to see life as a horse, and that if she is in a situation where she is listening to things that scare her or if she sees something that she thinks is too much for her, to take the reigns and ride that horse away to a happier place, to a place she can control.
Challenges make us stronger, make us grow... make us tough. We cannot control everything, but we can decide not to give in to fear and sadness. So I say it again, and I will repeat it to myself how many times I need to.. BLOOM wherever you are planted. This is where we are planted, and I have three beautiful flowers that will give color to my garden!
I wrote this last night, and this morning on my way back from taking the girls to school, I was greeted by the most beautiful morning, full of fresh air, blue sky, cool weather, and hope! I love you Caracas... keep blooming!
Hi! my name is Carolina Perisse de Rico, I am a stay at home architect with the biggest project ever... my girls! The oldest is 16, then I have an 14 year old, and my miracle baby who is 6. Glad you are here, hope you stay a while!
Am now a member of Communal Global!!!