Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why I'm going back

I had a grand plan to explain the move back to Caracas in a heartfelt and impassioned blog post that would help answer the what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you type questions I've gotten since the start of last week. That plan ran into something of a speedbump when I realized that I'm simply not OK publishing on my blog the two main reasons that I decided to take a job in Caracas (ask me personally and I'll be happy to say).

What I can say: I've been bitten by the optimism bug. Salman Rushdie talks about it in Midnight's Children, which I've not managed to complete after at least five attempts but hope to eventually so I can write a blog post about it. This was his way of talking about a people's effervescent hope for the prospects of a new nation -- in this case India, the creation of which is the subject of the book.

The three weeks I spent in Caracas in July felt different than the previous moments I'd been there. Yes, maybe it was spectacular rise of la vinotinto and their bittersweet defeat that brought a whole country together and diverted conversation away from the same hacked political debates. And maybe it was the Bicentenario celebrations that I wrote about here that showed me a different face of the city. Or maybe my wife's fascination with the new Caracas world of fashion design that was somehow, in a quintessentially Venezuelan way, was being born of economic malaise.

Or maybe, after all these years, I've discovered an inner kernel of optimist despite being surrounded by what I've come to regard as growing cynicism in my immediate surroundings. Venezuela is not a place folks look to for optimism these days, but I'm hoping I'll find it, or at least find a way to find it in myself.

I'm gonna miss Rio. No, not the beach, as most people would most likely ask. I haven't been to the beach in months. I'm going to miss my favorite parks where I can take the dog. I'm going to miss the security I have here, the street life that's been squeezed out of Caracas by so much violence. The capacity to walk from one place to another, the chorinho in the plaza on Sundays, the spectacular buildings that remind you this place has been around 400 years. And I'm hoping I'll take with me the collective unconscious of a nation that knows that what lies ahead of it is much better than what lies behind it. Maybe Venezuelans will feel the same way themselves soon.