Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Venezuela Chronicles (VC)

I was debating  whether I was going to create a 2nd blog around my journey to Venezuela which started today -Friday, May 11th-. But I decided that wouldn't be worth it. Instead, I'll put the Initials VC at the end of every entry to indicate that these are entries that are part my Venezuela Chronicles.

 Not too much events around the first days.  I am currently in my mosquitto infested space in Caracas -or as our American pilot half called it, "Crackas"..- The little buggers are everywhere, but they're so small, that I don't really feel them. Just little pricks here and there. That's almost bearable. I hope this keeps up! We had a wonderful first meeting with the guys in Philosophy here.  Through a mixture of English and Spanish, we were able to celebrate this joint vocation we all have as 'young' Jesuits ( one of them reminded me I don't quite fit that description by saying " Tu es muy Viejo" -you're very old-). Otherwise, we had fun with them, had lovely conversations. Poor Eric has not had his first Spanish lesson yet, so he'll be struggling for a bit there, but Adam and I tried to keep the conversation flowing. Not always easy!But the men are so welcoming, they make it look easy.

 Of course, all of this took place only at the end of the day.  Our travels from Toronto to Miami and Miami to Caracas were rather uneventful. I ended up buying 'The Hunger Games' in our layover in Miami because it's a movie that really  inspired me, so I wanted to follow up with the book. As of the early stages of this novel, I feel like it could be used as a tool to talk of the social justice issues of our era. I may turn to it again to teach justice to future generations. Very inspiring.
    Equally inspiring was the ease with which the 3 of us travelled together. It's reminded me how much of a family we have truly become. I say this because I almost expect that the more time I spend with community, the more tired I get of it. There are days when this can be true. Especially on a long voyage like this one, you'd think there'd be issues or problems that would emerge, that we'd be tired of being together all the time Nothing like that: I guess we understand that we're lucky to share this mission together, and that we'll be growing in oodles together for the next few months. So we have been 'working together' to get through customs, dealing with the delay in our flights, filling out documents for the customs people etc... it's been wonderful to have my 2 brothers around. I'm sure my stay here will be made all the more interesting because of them.


The sense of the Ignatian family would only grow.  We know that wherever we go in the world, we’re usualy very well received by other Jesuit communities.  I definitely experienced that in New York and Boston during my pilgrimage.  Still , last night, we were so delayed in our flight, that we were concerned our hosts may not have been there when we arrived. However, once our baggages were retrieved in Caracas, we were greeted  by some frantic whistling from enthusiastic young men, 2 of our Venezuelan Jesuit brothers:  Allesandro (-nicknamed, Chivo, which means goat- was our driver for the night. A young man interested in Engineering, but has been in Jesuit schools his whole life so the vocation was an obvious one. A very amicable guy –as many people are in this country.- ) and the man who would end up being our main contact in this country, Jhozman.  He is the only one who regularly speaks in English with us. There are fewer linguistic barriers between us and him -i.e.he  can navigate eloquently from one language to the next- and is essentially the bridge between the two cultures, though he probably has much still to learn about our language and culture. It was nice to have him and Alex as the first two faces we meet in Venezuela.

   Actually, the first exciting thing I saw in the country, was one Adam pointed out.A tiny little cross on the top  of a very high mountain close to the center of Caracas. Besides the fact this mountain is way bigger than our little Mount Royal in Montreal, it’s hard to not think of home in this circumstance.  The cross definitely brought a big smile on my face.The next thing we would see on our way home, was the city of Caracas at night. I had heard of the vast city that climbed up the hill with its houses for the poor, but when you see it at night, I guess you’re a little detached from the poverty. It just looks pretty! More than pretty,  there was a childlike sense of wonder that just overtook me, and all I could say was 'wow'. This was a scene that brought me much joy!!  The irony of it’s beauty wasn't lost on me…Christ always tells us to turn our hearts to a simpler existence, that we will find the true divine nature of God  by  staying close to the poor. I get that, but it's not always easy to live in Canada!


  The other moment of joy was the conversation we had with Allesandro on our way to  our residence for the night. –we have since moved to the philosophate, the residence of philosophy students- It was a test on my own command of the language, but we managed to communicate. Not sure how much I understood, but it was basic, and when I didn’t understand, we found some other way –with Adam’s help- to express an idea.  I guess I realize how much work I have to do with the language, but suddenly, it’s not as daunting.


 This comfort with the language continued as we arrived at our residence for the weekend, a place we'd stay at before moving to the Philosophate or house of philosophy students. Our first residence, the Centre Javier is next to a Jesuit run school, in a much nicer part of town than the philosophate, but just as noisy as the latter. The difference is that the noise we get at the philosophate is that of sprawling neighbourhood around us, where as for the other residence had the noises of clubs! A world of difference.  It was in this setting that we first met and were warmly welcomed and received by the guys. It was a little intimidating to be in conversation with a room full of philosophers in a language I don't yet speak, but we managed beautifully and the bond between us has only continued to grow...praise be to God!
I look forward to sharing other aspects of life here!!



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