HAVANA TIMES — Leaving the “system”, “matrix” or whatever you want to call this wild and psychopathic group of people, with or without traditions and with more or less “civilized” ways of surviving, is a long journey.
It was always somehow my wish and need to leave the traditional family circle, later it was to leave Cuban society. It wasn’t because of the naive thought that I would adapt better to a different set of beliefs, customs and people; although I definitely felt more free than I could be in Cuba when I arrived in Venezuela, there’s no doubt about that.
Things have changed a great deal in this country ever since I first arrived about seven years ago. What seemed to be a breath of fresh air in regard to certain political and economic freedoms in the beginning, when compared to my previous life in Cuba; today, seem insufficient. I have changed, but Venezuela’s situation has changed a lot more.
While I was here illegally (which was the majority of the time I’ve been here), I worked as a freelance photographer. About two years ago now, I got a “normal” job at a government institution and I took advantage of the opportunity to alleviate the crisis with a stable and secure income for the first time in all these years. Beyond the fact that monthly wages for a government photographer aren’t enough to cover ones basic needs, I began to feel uneasy with my job not even a year after starting. I essentially needed to cover every event and public speech made by a well-known political figure.
Work is work, I told myself, and as well as a stable income. I had the opportunity to travel all over Caracas, to meet new people, live new experiences which is always interesting. However, the question that keeps going around in existentialist minds came back to me and it was more overwhelming, is this what I really want? Is this my contribution to life, to the planet, to others?
There are people who don’t give a damn about how they earn their daily bread, whether their lives help to pollute the places we live in or not, whether they are screwing people over or not. They are happy and that’s enough.
Going beyond my personal experience, I realized that I wasn’t contributing anything to anyone, that I wasn’t building a home or anything useful, I wasn’t showing anything useful. The only person my work was any good for was the politician and the system he represents.
While thinking about all of this, my relationship with my partner ended and I set out on my journey through Caracas’ streets looking for somewhere to rent. It also meant less chance of getting out of that stupid job. Right now, paying rent (which has always been expensive) can mean more than an entire minimum wage.
Gardening and bee keeping are something that has been on my mind for some years now. In Cuba, like the majority of Cubans, I spent long periods of time in the middle of a furrow back in school, but I can honestly say that I didn’t learn anything there. Maybe I did, I learned how to hate a little, with this next to nothing flair I have for this emotion, because I didn’t want to be in the middle of those fields and I didn’t believe I was really doing anything useful either… and lastly, I didn’t understand why some of us were almost forced to be at the rural school and yet others didn’t come even if they knew they had to.
I have forgotten this resentment over the years and I have found other ways of getting closer to the earth which aren’t those vast furrows of red soil in the middle of nowhere, where there’s not even a tree to take shelter from the rain or sun.
Along these roads, I have met someone with similar interests to my own and here I am, far from Caracas, looking after old dogs who nobody wants to feed because almost no one likes dogs that aren’t pedigree, much less in the middle of this crisis; and I’m trying to make a vegetable patch so I can then start bringing bees.
We still can’t think about only living off of this vegetable patch, so we make the most of technology to do some jobs here and there on the internet. In the future, we are thinking about doing exercise groups with old people in the community, who are the most affected by this crisis.
Here, we don’t receive any assistance from the government (the CLAP basic food products or the charitable coupons) because, among other things, we don’t have or want to have the “patriot ID card”. There isn’t a lot of food because we share it with the animals. It’s very hot, the streets are made of earth and stone, everything is far away and there isn’t a lot of transport; but I feel a lot freer than in Caracas, or anywhere else where we give our lives for a piece of bread.