Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The other morning I took a walk up in the cerro (the hills) with the old man to check it all out. We have a mini project to do for our Spanish class and I wanted to walk around to get a better feel what’s going on in the community. We walked up paved roads which turned to dirt roads which turned into rocky dirt paths winding through the neighborhood. The folks that live on the hill are essentially squatters on publicly owned land. They go up the cerro, find a little plot of land, go to the local municipality and put a little something down to stake their claim on the land. Then they build a little starter hut out of clapboard, aluminum, or whatever they can afford and go from there, building out and improving as they have the money. The area seemed like it was pretty clean and the folks seemed to take care of their neighborhood. They get their water through garden hoses tapped into the local water supply. It’s supposed to be temporary but I imagine they’ve been waiting for something more permanent for a while. They don’t have sanitation so each house has a little latrine about 100 feet from the house.

In Venezuela, I’d seen these little barrios on the side of the hills from the car on the way to our private American school or to the country club but never walked through them. Feel like I won the lottery considering where I was born, my family, the opportunities I’ve had, and never having had to worry about basic human needs: a roof overhead, food, clean water. These folks are survivors in the every sense of the word, make the most out of what they have and are happy. What in the hell do I, or any of us for that matter, have to bitch about?

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