Two months ago, a good friend had his first baby. We’re very close. I haven’t been able to visit. I know little Samuel only through his Facebook photos.
It has been months since the last time I invited someone at my home. I guess it was last year when I invited my uncle to visit us so he could see our place after we moved in -and that was that. I haven’t gone to the cinema since December 2015, and I don’t remember the last time I went to the theatre, but it was probably in 2014.
Am I becoming some kind of hermit? Maybe, but not willingly.
The lack of time is the cost of a single mom, a university professor, trying to feed her kids three times a day when you live in the country with the highest inflation rate on Earth.
I have to work much more than a full-time job, because my salary does not cover food (and food isn’t all your family needs). So I have to work on weekends, vacations and sometimes, even at nights.
But I also spend a lot of time looking for food, because shortages are getting worse and there are some goods you simply can’t find any more. This weekend I went to four different places.
The first stop as every week was at a municipal street market in Prados del Este. In the parking lot beside a tennis court each Saturday there is a big market with fresh food, flowers, even home-made soap, bleach or deodorant. There are many markets of this kind around the city, but I prefer this one because it is below the highway, so you don’t have to wait under the sun.
This first stop is to buy fruits, vegetables, chicken and eggs. There is much more on the shopping list; so we need a supermarket for the second stop. Since the lines got worse and my ID card does not match the day I can go, I skip the big chains altogether. This weekend I was trying to find bread, pasta, rice, sugar or flour… I was unsuccessful. I only bought papelón, nestea and some baby pastina. And so it goes.
When you need to make a living and your money isn’t enough, it also means much more housework. Three people eating lunch at the dining hall every day is a lot of money! Everyone has breakfast at home and goes to school or work with a lunchbox. After working all day, I get home to do the laundry, cook dinner, and next day’s lunch. When the weekend arrives, after the shopping tour it’s probably more work. I am too tired to go out.
I know I am lucky. I have stopped buying things we used to love like seafood, mushrooms, strawberries or olive oil. But we have food at home, and we keep eating breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
I pay a high price, though.
Alone at home, without seeing the few friends I have left in Caracas. I wonder if they will forgive my absence. Or maybe they haven’t noticed, because they are also struggling to survive.