Venezuela: Life in Caracas – Surviving the City
In Venezuela, there is a huge shortage of essential products; shower gel, shampoo, milk, laundry detergent , deodorant, soap and even tissue paper!! So, how do the people survive? Well, they don’t live in this country. They survive this country. I spent the last month doing just that.
At the street market indulging in Peruvian cuisine…
SARAH: I need a napkin
ALEJANDRA: Good luck finding one.
SARAH: You mean they don’t have napkins here?
ALEJANDRA: That’s a difficult product to get hold of.
SARAH: How am I supposed to clean my hands?
ALEJANDRA: You have to find another way.
SARAH: (Grabs scarf and takes out antibacterial gel)
ALEJANDRA: Exactly. You just have to survive.
At the market…
SARAH: Ooooh, I found cinnamon! Now I just need milk so I can make my usual breakfast.
SARAH: Sounds like I’m gonna have to use water instead!
On the hunt for shower gel and shampoo…
SARAH: I need shower gel. I can’t live without it.
ALEJANDRA: Stop being so posh and just learn to use soap.
SARAH: Soap leaves a plastic feeling on my skin.
ALEJANDRA: I was just like you when I first came here. But then I learnt to use soap and it’s not that bad.
Every day of last week was spent hunting for shower gel and shampoo. I went to all the pharmacies to be left disappointed. They sell hair products but no shampoo. No soap. No shower gel. Almost no cleaning products except bleach. Weird! Why??? Monday, nothing. Tuesday, nada. Wednesday, nope. Thursday, losing hope.
DRIVER: That’s a product we don’t really have here, lady.
SARAH: (Slumps in her seat on the verge of break down)
DRIVER: But, I’ll do you a favour and give you a bar of soap to keep you going. I know a place near my house that always sells it.
SARAH: Soap? No shower gel? I guess I have no other option. Ok, thank you.
And laundry detergent? Non existent.
I walked into a pharmacy and became really excited after seeing something that looked like detergent for coloured clothes and one for white clothes.
SARAH: Look what I found! (Raises the two bottles of liquid to view)
ALEJANDRA: (Laughs) That’s not detergent. It’s stain remover.
People have to help each other out. Neighbours, friends, family share products until it is available to buy in the shops. To find it, is like winning the lottery. I managed to strike gold for shower gel on Saturday at Sambil Shopping Mall. I should have bought another load.
Now, this week, I’ll be searching for shampoo, detergent and deodorant. Wish me luck!
Or, if you are planning to come to this very beautiful and interesting city and visit me, please bring shower gel, shampoo, detergent, deodorant and I will happily take you out for lunch or dinner.