Change of Shoes, Change of Plans

When I woke up at 5:20 this morning I could already hear the cacerulear, which roughly translates as to protest by knocking spoons on empty pots.

I went downstairs early to wait for the shuttle driver because whenever there seems to be a problem he arrives even earlier than normal to make sure I get to school on time. His work ethic inspires mine.

Protestors were already outside, dressed in white shirts and Venezuelan flags.

And they were blocking the street.

Trash bags filled with leaves were spray painted with the white words “No pase”

A more aggressive person could’ve passed if he/she truly wanted. Case in point: one person drove on the sidewalk to reach his destination. There are only about thirty protestors on my corner.

The issue is that, supposedly, tires are being burned further down the main street, which is the way to get to my job. I, for one, can’t smell anything yet but I have an infamously bad sense of smell.

While waiting for my school to officially close, I shook my head and called the shuttle driver back. He shouldn’t come and get me. He thought it was a little bit dangerous out, and I didn’t feel right having one person drive to get me if they didn’t feel safe doing so. Besides, I live in close proximity to at least eight other foreign hire teachers. If worse came to worse, we could all walk or attempt to carpool together. There’s nothing like safety in numbers.

So, I returned to my apartment and changed my shoes.


I left my packed lunch and water bottle so that I wasn’t carrying much weight. If I needed to run quickly, I wanted the ability to do so.

The sheer ridiculousness of the fact that I was even thinking about this in an attempt to get to work does not escape me. The security guard, super, and the super’s wife all told me I shouldn’t go out. I explained to them that I was still expected to report until my boss told me otherwise. The men shook their heads.

Part of it’s political because if the Ministry of Education does not close schools a school can get in trouble for choosing to close anyways. Since the Ministry of Education tends to lean pro-government, they do not want to close schools because of the anti-government protests. Never mind the fact that kids–at least at my school–stopped showing up last week.

So with these facts in my head, I changed shoes and purses in an attempt to get to work.

And then, the notice came that school was closed less than forty minutes before it was supposed to begin.

I think there will be some difficult conversations at my school in the week to come, which I will choose not to post about here.

When should an institution err on the side of caution in the midst of political unrest?

When can the “business as usual” mantra be viewed as insensitive and willfully ignorant of what’s going on in a community?

How do you judge if a person’s safe or not when trying to reach work?

Should it be the powers that be that judge if you’re safe or can an individual judge for him/herself if he or she is safe without getting penalized if their opinion contradicts with the institution’s?

And will the expat ever understand the immigrant, or the immigrant the local, in times of unrest and in times of peace?


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