Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes

Before we moved to Venezuela I adjusted the widgets on our Mac to include Caracas in our list of cities where we like to keep track of the time. I was surprised to see that the time registered was halfway between CST and EST. I assumed there was a hitch in the program and didn't think about it anymore after that. Then we arrived. No hitch, Venezuela has their very own time zone. The rationale behind this is that Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's not so sane, "democratically" elected dictator decided that time zones were set by "'imperialists'" in the first place and in the second that it was bad for children to get up for school in the dark. That starting their day thusly meant their digestion, sleep and clarity of thought would be adversely affected. Solution, turn the clocks back and create your own time zone - duh! He could have mandated that school start later, or turned the clocks back an entire hour, or adopted daylight savings time, but those solutions are typical of other imperialist nations I'm sure and don't show any creativity. The funny thing is, only the clocks were affected. Television programs still start on the hour (or rather the hour in the rest of the world). A nearby church's chimes ring in the hour 30 minutes ahead of schedule. People still go out to dinner well after the sun (and our children) have gone to bed. I guess it just goes to show that there is such a thing as absolute power.

This is a picture of Chavez resetting his watch the day the clocks changed -
notice the red shirts, does that remind anyone else of anything - Mao anyone?

Which reminds me of another interesting/odd Chavez anecdote. At the same time he changed the time zone he also changed to name of Venezuela to Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (an homage to the much-lauded liberator Simon Bilovar) and added a star to the Venezuelan flag. For over a century the Venezuelan flag has had 7 stars in an arc representing the seven colonial provinces of Barcelona, Barinas, Caracas, Cumaná, Margarita, Mérida, and Trujillo that united against Spain in the Venezuelan War for Independence.

old flag

Then randomly, and I say random because I cannot ascertain why, this year Chavez added an 8th star to the flag. We learned this because we are collecting flags of the countries we have lived in and visited for Caleb. I went to a store in Virginia to buy a Venezulean flag and was informed that the new flags were not yet available. Perhaps there was an 8th province that somehow was overlooked in their efforts to oust Spain? Or perhaps in Chavez land 7 is unlucky? Or perhaps there is no reason at all? Nevertheless, the new flag has 8 stars and we will be sure to purchase that one to add to Caleb's growing collection.

new flag - apparently the change in time zone, country name and flag
(he also redesigned the coat of arms) are all part of what Chavez calls
the "'21st Century socialist'" society - lucky us!


Sandi said...

How fun to hear from you. I love Jesse, we were compatriot when we were kids. I think perhaps your post misses one good play on words: "I guess it just goes to show that there is such a thing as absolute power." It really should say: "I guess it just goes to show that there is such a thing as absurd power."

dana said...

Okay, I'm so excited you're back in the blogging world and with a whole new world of things to talk about! I'm loving the crazy Chavez-land stories.
When I worked on a film shooting in Australia, they were always "x" number of hours behind us, until their own daylight savings came around. So we adjusted an hour for it, except for the strange town of Coober Pedy (you know, where they all live underground? Totally bizarre) They decided to have their own daylight savings of only a 1/2 hour. Where do people come up with these things? That would never fly in America. Though, I'd be happy if we got rid of Daylight "Savings" time all together. Daylight wasting time is more like.

robin marie said...

that is really funny!! funny, as in, ha ha.

Christie said...

Nobody will find out you are speaking out against the dictators, right? Be careful, there.

I still think you have a very cool life. It would be so fun to live all over the world!

teresa and the boys said...

He's just a tiny bit scary, huh? People are weird. People with lots of power are weirder. Good luck with that!

alisa and sometimes brandon said...

Fascinating. I guess you do what you gotta do to show who's in charge! Let me know if you have any luck with the 8 star mystery!

diane said...

How would it be to always get your own way?
I love your stories. Your life is exciting.

Paige said...

Weird. Just weird. I'd make a good dictator.

Nortorious said...

Um, is it wrong that the red shirts only remind me of Target?

Adrianne said...

We had a similar daylight-savings-time-debacle here last year. Cristina and Hugo must be friends. Oh wait, they are.

Paul said...

I hope you guys are enjoying Venezuela, Kristy and I would love to come visit you while you are down there. On the coat of arms change he has the horse running to the left instead of the right to indicate a left leaning government. Sweet eh. I know its not as great a teaching moment as "Pina Colada" was but I'm trying.


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