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.

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Is a PhD sociologist and researcher at Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales and Sociology Professor at Escuela de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. Blogger and collaborator of SIC Semanal and ElUcabista.com.

6 COMMENTS

  1. My dear Lissette, I share your pain, and we have probably seen each other at the same market(s). I work from home, so I don’t have a formal schedule… but it also means that I work nights and weekends. Members from my extended family, call me by phone sometimes during the day and they do not understand that I am pretty busy! Housewife and business duties do not leave you any free time at all.

    Yeap, no movies, no restaurants, no visits, no socializing. Just internet networks (y de varilla!)

    I do have some kind of advise for you or anyone as busy as we are: change the time of the meals. How’s that? In this household we eat our heaviest (or more nutritive) meal at night (around 6 pm). Why? because I think north americans are on to something! I get up around 4:30 am and make breakfast for all of us and lunch for the ones that go to work and school (Lunch is just another kind of sandwich, a piece of homemade cake and/or a fruit, a thermos with water completes the “lunch”). Then I take out from the freezer the meat (or whatever protein we are having that day) and my business day begins… I take care of dinner around 5 in the afternoon. Of course I do cook some big dishes every other weekend and freeze them.

    All of this works more or less OK. With the help of my family, of course. But then we have water shortages and Hidrocapital is making our lives miserable. But that’s another story which I’m sure all Venezuelans do understand. No matter how organized you are, they wreck your schedule. I think that the idea is to makes us go crazy.

    • Hailing from North America originally, I can confirm that eating the “big meal” in the evening for dinner is designed for busy work days and is much more efficient to manage. If your life is too busy and revolves around work, evening meals are better.

      HOWEVER, I’ve grown accustomed to the heavy noon meal here in Venezuela, and I think it’s a much healthier system, less beneficial to your work schedule, but more beneficial to your body.

      Not that most people in Venezuela today have the luxury of choosing what’s healthy. Survival first, health later, maybe.

  2. Hace unos días leí esto en tweeter “Vi a un señor que iba a comprar jamón, queso y atún. Dejó el atún, no le alcanzaba el dinero. Es profesor universitario” y era difícil de creer. Tras leer su artículo se entiende mejor. Hoy he estado viendo vtv un rato a través de youtube (estoy en España) y en un anuncio decían que Venezuela era el quinto país del mundo en matrículas universitarias. No dijeron nada de que los profesores ni tan siquiera pueden comprarse una lata de atún. El contraste entre lo que cuenta el gobierno y lo que cuentan los medios de comunicación independientes sigue aumentando por momentos.

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