Easter week in Venezuela is quite different to what we Cubans are used to: everybody goes on vacation. Many of the businesses are closed —almost all of them— and the workers go to their homes or any other place they want to during these days made so hot by the lack of rain in the country.
The people of Venezuela, from what I can see, are very devoted. In one neighborhood of the city you can find more churches than in all of Havana. The faithful are attending the sacred temples of God by the thousands this week. The most visited by all is the Basílica de Santa Teresa, where one can find Nazareno de San Pablo, the image most worshipped by Venezuelans and to which many miracles are attributed.
It’s rather common to find a speaker in each park or a procession in the most unexpected places, like in shopping centers. Street vendors take advantage of the opportunity and offer their religious merchandise. I talked with one of them, who asked me if we celebrated Holy Week in Cuba; I told him that certainly we did, but clearly without as much enthusiasm as here.
The Venezuelan found it strange that there existed churches in my country. I told him a little more: “I studied theology, so how are there not going to be churches on the island.” He was convinced and admitted to me that he would like to visit the land of Che and Fidel. “I’m sure you’ll be able to,” I told him as we said goodbye.
In that tour of the churches of Caracas I was overly observant and got separated from my work colleagues —something very dangerous— especially with all my photography equipment, which costs a fortune.
Although it was my second day in the capital, I could locate the hotel where I’m staying without problem. With a candle I bought from a boy at the entrance of a church, I went down Avenida del Mexico unafraid and without a hitch. Although the holdups and the gunshots continued like on any other day, Holy Week is something much respected in Venezuela.
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