Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Keeping the Self-pity at Bay

My readers are aware that I do not love Venezuela. True, the country is beautiful and the weather is perfect (unless you dig seasons and changing leaves and snow) and we have a great apartment and some cool neighbors, but the government is abysmal and it is REALLY not safe here and there isn't much to do for the under 5 set.

When we discovered we were expecting a baby, I was thrilled. Not just because we wanted another child, but because that meant I was going to get a 3 month reprieve from Chavezland -- Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US of A sounded too good to be true. And, as it turns out, it was.

Of course I was/am sad about the baby and what might of been, but truly, I was/am mad. I wanted those 3 months (not away from Kenny) but away from Hugo and his increasing craziness. I wanted my boys to go trick-or-treating with kids who wore costumes and said "trick-or-treat" instead of hanging out with kids in street clothes carrying pillowcases and yelling "Halloween." I wanted Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings instead of having to make-do with mail-order ingredients. I wanted to play in the snow and go for walks on actual sidewalks and eat sour cream and cottage cheese. I wanted to go Christmas caroling with our new baby girl bundled up in a fuzzy, pink snowsuit and watch "The Sound of Music" and "It's a Wonderful Life" on network television for the millionth time. I wanted all of that, and so much more and I still do.

October is coming and I'm worried. I'm worried that I haven't dealt with the baby as well as I think I have. I'm worried that when we're still here when we weren't supposed to be I won't be as "okay" as I think I am. Mostly, I'm worried that I am not as pragmatic or rational as I give myself credit for being. My kids deserve not to have these fears realized so I have taken some dramatic steps. I have begun what I call "project embrace Venezuela." We have gotten out the guide book, there is only one, and scoured it for everything and anything that sounds remotely fun. We have already embarked on a few of these adventures and though we've had mixed results, we are feeling a little more friendly towards our current home. We are becoming scuba certified and planning a Thanksgiving trip to Bonaire, purportedly the best scuba diving locale in the world. We have decided to spend Christmas in the US after all and I am ecstatic with anticipation. And, perhaps most dramatic of all, I have taken a job with the US Embassy.

I never planned to work after we had kids, at least not until they were old enough to be in school full-time. But, I came back from UT and knew I needed a distraction. Working for the man is just about what I expected it would be, but I am enjoying the adult interaction and the feeling that I am contributing to the US Government's diplomatic mission in Caracas. The unexpected drawback to the job (apart from the salary - this is definitely not a get rich quick scheme) is that the Department of State blocks so I have been silent in my commenting and posting, though I continue to read all my favorites. Another drawback is that I miss my boys, but I love coming home to them and losing myself in the excitement of our reunion. My position is thankfully not full-time, but I think the job and my renewed determination to embrace this country is having the desired effect and if I'm lucky, October will ease quietly into our lives devoid of sadness and self-pity.
Gratuitous photos of come cool kids

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

T.I.V. Tuesday

Tomorrow we will not have internet access. Evidently, THE cable, yes, that is singular, that runs under the Caribbean sea from the USA to Venezuela has been damaged and is in need of emergency repair. This cable must be a wonder indeed. Millions of people linked into one mass of apparently vulnerable wiring all at the mercy of the tides and hopefully accommodating sea creatures.

Wednesday has been designated as repair day and the engineers will head out to the middle of nowhere large body of water and begin, what one can only assume must be, the painstaking process of bringing THE cable back to full life. During this process which supposedly will consume merely 4 hours (don't expect to hear from me before Friday) the entire country and surrounding region (i.e. Aruba, Curacao, Trinidad & Tobago etc.) will be without internet service.

The questions I have are 1) how was the cable damaged...I envision a very large anchor falling in precisely the wrong spot or a pod of mischievous whales wreaking havoc?; 2) if the repairs are so urgent why has service not heretofore been affected?; 3) since when does the government of Chavezland have the courtesy to report problems of this nature in advance? Which leads me to 4) is the world at last coming to an end?

This situation has given me pause. Of course I know that internet doesn't just appear in my house by magic or because I click my heels together and fervently wish. I know there is no Google Fairy or Firefox Sprite...but, I always just assumed there was more to internet service than just a big 'ole cable and hundreds of millions of little cables all snaking their way to the fiber optic mother ship. Is there no redundancy in the system, one wayward octopus and we short circuit? And, really, even if there is just the one cable, wouldn't we all be better served to pay the engineers overtime to fix it on the weekend than to shut down several economic systems in the middle of the week? Economics is not my forte by a long shot, but isn't this sort of like not preventing a pilot's strike at Christmas? Of course, "this is Venezuela" where nonsensical is de rigueur. I have to remind myself about the former bus driver who is the current foreign minister and his common law wife who is head of the Senate. I have to remind myself that we have been without sugar, in a country that grows sugarcane, for more than 2 months. I have to remind myself that last Friday Chavez nationalized the ports and then handed them over to the Cubans to run. I suppose with these conditions in mind I should be grateful that there is a cable at all and that we aren't expected to make sacrifices to Yahoo! in the hopes that he will feel magnanimous and grant us access to

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