Dear stranger,

The Atlantic ocean reaches our shores as a reminder that there is a world out there aside from us. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: How can you forget about the world and find serenity in a place like Venezuela? A place where people dying doesn’t make it in the news. A place where locals are assigned specific dates and numbers to go buy the little food left at the grocery stores. A place where schools are empty because the students are fighting grown ups battles. It seems odd that anyone would actually find serenity in absolute chaos. But then again, only a Venezuelan could understand why.

Between the chaos and the rivers of blood in every manifestation. Between every empty classroom and fallen heroes with colorful flags on their shoulders. Right when everyone leaves the battlefield and goes home to hug their mother because they made it alive that day. That’s when I see it: hope. As clear as the color of our flag. As clear as the deaths of the kids that could have been at home watching the news, but instead became the news because they decided it was time to fight. As clear and beautiful as a little girl walking on the streets with a Cuatro and singing a song she made for her country.

A long time ago, we were ranked the happiest people in the world. Would it surprise you if we still were? After all the suffering, hunger, crime, corruption, abuse, loss and deceptions. Well, you are right, we are not the happiest people anymore. The truth is that we are exhausted. We are mad and sad at the same time. We are hungry. We are asking for more, more that what we got, more than what the government has given us. We are unapologetic. We are fierceless.

So, No. we are not the happiest people in the world. In fact, We are actually the most optimistic people in the world.

We are optimistic because at the end of the worst of days there is always a joke that will make even the saddest soul laugh. We are optimistic because when there is lack of food there is nothing a week of only Arepas can’t fix. We are optimistic because even though the police keeps shooting at us, oppressing us and threatening us, you still see millions of people on the streets everyday to fight for freedom. Some people may call us crazy, just because we are fighting a war we can’t win. I think they should call us crazy if we didn’t try.

It’s sad how in some countries issues like racism and bullying can lead in so many cases to death. I don’t remember experiencing anything like it growing up in Venezuela. We were never worried about someone’s skin color, or ethnicity. We do not put people in categories. There are not black people or white people, or tan people, there are just Venezuelans. Brothers and sisters. Families. Our problems are about safety, about finding basic goods to provide to our families, to fight the corruption of the government. Yes, we are all so different, there has always been divisions in our people, but these past few weeks I only see one Venezuela. A Venezuela fighting united.

I guess it seems difficult to find serenity in a place like Venezuela, but I do. When you are in Venezuela you do forget about the world, but not because of everything bad going on, but also because there will never be a place like it, people like us, humour like ours and happiness as distinct as ours.

I bet if you go to the shores where the Atlantic meets our land you could hear it. Where you can hear our anthem traveling through the wind, the distant sound of a group of locals toasting with beers in the sand, the usual lady showing around the rings and bracelets along the beach. The sound of our culture. The sound of hope. Can you hear it?

 

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