Thank you for reminding me that generosity and kindness transcend economic crises and currency devaluation; that even in the midst of a dire situation, people are capable of staying beautiful.
The origami frog and butterfly were made by my taxi driver using Venezuelan bills. The value of money has depreciated so much that the only thing these bills are useful for is an arts and crafts project!
Depending on the day and black market, the frog (2 Bolívars) is worth approximately 5% of one US cent, which is more than enough to fill up an empty tank with gasoline, but it takes 1,000 frogs to buy a loaf of bread!
But there is so much more to Venezuela than its worthless currency or political unrest. In the words of Ray Viloria Yoga Teacher, this country is more than the sum of its circumstances; it’s the gentleness of its people and their love for their country.
Like the high schooler who told me about her dreams of using nanotechnology to better the lives of others. Or the owner of a food joint who smiled greatly as he kept putting on my table more food and drinks than I paid for. Or the yoga teacher I met on Instagram who invited me for lunch at his house and put himself and his friends and family at my disposal whenever I needed help with translation, or finding a car, or getting to the airport, or booking an alternative flight when I missed my connection.
In a country where scarcity is so extreme that a person is lucky if they eat twice a day, generosity hasn't subsided! Until today, I continue to receive several messages a day from people inviting me to their homes in different parts of the country.
Traveling across South America for the last month has taken me on exciting adventures, but visiting Venezuela has easily been the most precious part of this journey!