In the land of the twenty-four hour "fruit" stands

fruteriaI leave La Chinita airport, relieved that my cargo – two suitcases filled with toilet paper, shampoo, diapers, and other essentials – went undetected through customs, as if covered by Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak.

We are on our way. It’s 1 am, and the scene is what I expected – unlit streets, few cars out, litter everywhere, construction detours where nobody appears to be working on anything, marked by oil barrels lit aflame. But one thing is different.

“What business is that, open at 1 am on a Sunday night? What do they sell there? ” I ask my relatives.

“Oh, those are fruit stands.”

“Fruit? Who buys fruit at this time of night?” I shouldn’t have asked.

“There’s several businesses that open 24 hours. There are the fruit stands, and then there are the pirated CD vendors on the side of the highway. That’s just their cover, though. They basically sell drugs – marijuana, cocaine, crack, you name it. Everybody knows what they do.”

O sea … the new normal. Venezuela never ceases to amaze.

Note: My posts will be shorter and more sparse while I am in Venezuela. The intermittent Internet connection is also a challenge. Apologies in advance.