As a mother and educator I feel the need to share with the amazing RWC community my deep love for my birth country, its people and traditions. I am pretty sure many of you have already read about Venezuela and its humanitarian crisis. Chaos more or less characterizes the condition of our economics and politics. Venezuela is a country submerged in a social calamity.
However, there are approximately 32 million Venezuelans that keep working hard for their country, big smile included, and that represent hope in the middle of our actual disaster.
How can we be so optimistic when the country is in such a precarious situation?
Well, the answer involves a long tradition of ups and down and an economy known by its boom-and-bust cycles. Our country is young and so is our political system. Since the times of colonization in the 1400’s, Venezuelans have developed an extroverted, intuitive, and confident personality that has helped us overcome the many challenges of our history. These personal traits aren’t just reflected on the way we think, create business opportunities and survive in disastrous conditions. They are also present in our cultural practices from music to art and food to literature.
Venezuelan Food: hospitality and solidarity from Venezuela to the World
Venezuelan cuisine varies tremendously from one region to another. Our food staples include corn, rice, plantain, yams, beans and several meats. Our exotic meals and sumptuous deserts embody the hospitality of the Venezuelan people who delight in opening the door of their houses and hearts to anyone wanting to experience some good old Venezuelan dish.
Solidarity has characterized Venezuelans since the significant waves of immigration during our country’s history particularly in the period after World War II, with large number of immigrants from Asia and Europe coming to Venezuela seeking a better life.
Do you want to experience Venezuela’s hospitality? Then I invite you to try our food! Delicious staples such as Arepas, Pabellón Criollo (the country’s national dish), Cachitos, Mandocas, and Perico (my favorite breakfast ever!) are wonderful ways to feel Venezuelan friendliness at its best!
Venezuelan Music: the sympathy of the Caribbean in every Venezuelan heart
Several styles of our traditional music have been influenced by our Caribbean neighborhs. Venezuela has its own salsa, merengue and other imported styles that have produced global superstars and worldwide renown orchestras. Our music varies from region to another, just like our cuisine. However, the rhythm of every Venezuelan demonstrates a deep sense of Caribbean upbringing (Caribeños), content and sympathy.
We are sad, we dance. We are happy, we dance. We celebrate a wedding, we dance. We baptized our first born, we dance. I spent my childhood dancing to the rhythm of Tamunangue, Joropo, Gaitas del Zulia and Barlovento Drums (Tambores). And we won’t be celebrating by ourselves. No! We will invite you over to dance your hearth out until dawn, showing you once more our approval and support of your own traditions and ideas.
Go ahead and search some of my favorite songs: Caballo Viejo, ¡Viva Venezuela!, Amparito, and Tambor Urbano’s Le Oh Le. I guarantee you will be feeling the Caribbean in your veins and dancing in no time! You’re welcome!
Venezuelan Art: optimism and joviality in every shape and color
Venezuelan’s affable nature is reflected on every art piece we create. Our long and eventful history has given birth to passionate artists whose main purpose has been to express their feelings and embrace the diverse culture of our country. Initially dominated by religious motifs, Venezuelan art began emphasizing historical and heroic representations in the late nineteenth century. Then, Modernism took over in the twentieth century.
Paintings, sculptures, landscapes and ceramics are the instruments to share our understanding of the world and surviving our own history.
One of my favorite views in my birth town, Barquisimeto, has always been “El Monumento al Sol Naciente” (Monument to the Sun” by Carlos Cruz Diez). It represents the joyful way in which Venezuelans “recharge” their optimistic energy to confront the many obstacles of lives in a country with so many shades of wonder and tragedy. We are cheerful and optimistic warriors.
Do you want to learn more about Venezuela’s more prominent artists? Check Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jesús Rafael Soto, Patricia Van Dalen, Armando Reverón, Julio Aguilera, Manuel Cabré and Mercedes Pardo.
Venezuelan Literature: the passionate voice of Bolívar’s children
Venezuela is a country of diversity, a tangy mixture of indigenous practices, African beat and Spanish traditions. Our literature is defined by the same conglomerate. From our Pre-Hispanic myths and tales, to some of the stories still written in our country, Venezuelan literature has been deeply impacted by the Spanish conquerors as well. Colonization times were characterized by discrimination, assimilation and struggle. Those aspects are widely present in chronicles, letters, and acts of Venezuela’s first writers. Writing has been an ever important balsam for our troubled souls.
Read one of the many novels written by Rómulo Gallegos to find yourself immersed in the beauty of our plains “Llanos” and the mystic rivers of our culture. Gallego’s Doña Bárbara (1929) has been described as one of the most well known Latin American novel. I would like to suggest Arturo Uslar Pietri, Salvador Garmendia and Teresa de la Parra as additional sources of Venezuelan literature.
Venezuela has a rich culture, from the natives to the Spanish and Africans, from the Arabs to the many Italians, Portuguese and Germans that came to our country after World War II, every single cultural group has influenced our history, traditions and the way we Venezuelans behave in front of difficult times. After all these news about my country’s crisis, I invite you to inform yourself about Venezuela and its beautiful people, always warm, friendly, happy, entrepreneurial and above of all kind hearted.
“Growing up in any big city, you get exposed to so many beautiful cultures. I’ve grown up with a lot of open eyes around me that’s influenced my eyes to open.” King Krule