My family left Venezuela when I was around 10.
We left for the United States from one day to the next, in such a hurry the memory has always been a blur. We didn’t even speak English. Despite being different ages, my brother, cousin and I were all put in the same ESL class for spanish speaking students.
If you’re a bit confused right now, don’t be. The vast majority of people I meet don’t believe me when I tell them where I was born. They ask me to prove it by speaking Spanish. I get it though, I have no spanish accident. I speak like I am a true American. And I guess that’s because once we left Venezuela we never looked back. It’s a long, long story, but we didn’t leave Venezuela on good terms.
And so, we completely distance ourselves from it all. While we still cook Venezuelan feasts, listen to spanish music, and keep the same traditions, it’s always been the spirit of Venezuela that’s stayed with me.
That’s why the situation in Venezuela at the moment makes my heart feel heavy. So heavy.
I really got what was happening when a childhood friend of mine put a picture up on Instagram of herself holding up a Venezuelan flag on the streets of Caracas. Since then I’ve been spending morning and nights reading, searching and watching as much as I can. My heart sinks even further, every time I read a new article.
At fist I felt too far from the protesters to show my support. I mean, how dare I? I don’t really know or understand. I’m not there, on ground. Before this, I only thought about Venezuela once in a blue moon. My best friends are all American or Australian. My immediate family left years ago. But clicking through photos of the situation all I see is versions of myself on the street. I see versions of my brother, and my cousins. Of my sister and my uncles. Of my godparents and family friends I often hid from in my room as a kid. I see my parents.
I feel so strongly for them and what they’re fighting for that I wanted – needed – to write something about it. If only just to get it off my chest and join the fight from all the way in Australia.
Jack has wanted to go to Venezuela since we met; just the thought of it seemed outrageous and a little ridiculous to me. But I desperately hope that one day we’ll be able to show our kids the beautiful country I grew up in. The place where their grandparents raised their mom.
I have always gone out of my way to proudly say, “Oh, I’m originally from Venezuela” and I will continue to do so. My every spare thought is with the protesters, those brave people with so much passion and pain bottled up inside.
If you have time please google what is going on Venezuela.
You will understand why a hug from me will linger just a few seconds longer right now.