Venezuela: Life in Caracas – New Year 2015
When the holiday season hits Venezuela, families get ready to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve together whether in or out of the country. What do singles do? Well, they hit private parties or the beach. In style. An “exotic” Christmas or New Year indeed. December is known as “Berbiembre”, marking the drinking tradition at the beginning of the month to kick start celebrations. Nativity models are placed around the home, work and public areas. And… the whole country is buzzing.
The festive food, hallaca and pan de jamon (bread with layers of ham, olives and raisins inside) and pernil (pork) replace traditional arepas, empanadas and cachapas (corn bread with white cheese) for a month! Each has a distinct taste. But, I’ve had an overload and am now looking for the fat free alternative. I’ve searched in a few shops that were fortunately open but with limited stock. No luck. After witnessing the queues that led into the main road from the counter, lasting hours or several days, I excused myself from waiting for something that was most likely out of stock. So, what do I do now? There is only one way out. To give in. Then promise to run it off.
Hallaca – The most traditionally recognised food of Venezuela. About 4000 calories in total per piece, served at Christmas and all throughout the holiday season. For the recipe, click here: http://www.venezuelatuya.com/cocina/hallaca.htm
Christmas is celebrated on the night of the 24th and spent recovering on the 25th. I was honoured to spend it with four different families; a Christmas tapas. The 25th was spent playing “Pictionary” in Spanglish with a Venezuelan family whilst tackling with “google translate” that whole afternoon. It was my first Christmas without my family and in hot weather.
I attended a private party with a group of great people at my favourite 360 rooftop bar to celebrate New Year’s Eve and count the seconds down to 2015. The fireworks exploded. In the midst of the city smoke, I made my wishes as I put each of the twelve grapes into my mouth – a Venezuelan New Year’s tradition with each grape signifying a wish for each month of the year. Chinese lanterns floated out of sight into space. The dining? You guessed it; hallaca. I promised myself it would be the last time.
The NYE party was a blast.
Stunning Nella is looking forward to starting her beauty career in London.
New Year’s Resolution: Lose all the weight I gained in the last month!!
My night ended with a touch of Venezuelan authenticity. The people in this country are so amazing. The next morning was a beautiful first day of the year.
On New Year’s Day, absolutely nothing is open so food and other supplies must be bought in advance to avoid shortage on the day. The city is quiet. Walking through the empty streets of Boleita felt like I was in a ghost town. Paranoia seeped into my mind. Spirits of the dead haunting my every step. Moments later, I was spotted by a fellow colleague.
MARCELLA: Oh. My. God! You’re crazy! What are you doing on your own? You should never walk alone on these streets. Especially this time of year. It’s very isolated. Someone could have kidnapped you!
SARAH: I only walked a few metres to the bakery to buy breakfast.
MARCELLA: Yes but please take someone with you next time. It’s very, very dangerous.
SARAH: Erm… But, I was just hungry.
Then… It hit me. Everything hit me. I was awake. Inside. I have never lived like this.