Reason 225

#225: The White House

With my dad, who loves Caracas above all but also loves DC, outside the White House.

With my dad, who loves Caracas above all but also loves DC, outside the White House.

Everyone loves the White House. It would be #1 in lots of people’s lists, I am sure. I don’t think of it much and probably wouldn’t have included it in the list for a while except that in the middle of a very sad day, out of nowhere I remembered that the White House was burned down and then rebuilt, repainted and given a name that’s a giant “in your face” to the fire that brought it down.

Since last night my other home, the chaotic, busy, overpopulated yet still lovable city of Caracas has been burning with opposition protests. People -college students at first but now just people- have been on the street since February 12 to protest the high prices, lack of food and essentials, unemployment and, ironically maybe, violence in the city. Protesters have been tear-gased and shot at. The opposition leader turned himself in yesterday and is now held in prison. And then last night, the city started to burn. The front page of the Venezuelan daily “El Universal” read “Sunrise smells of pepper and burning.” Or something like that, like for everything else that’s happening there, I find that words, especially words in English, fail me when I try to explain.

In my second home, DC, the sun has been shinning all day and it’s a gorgeous day. Life in DC is normal as it should be because we are at peace here. Streets are not blocked by protesters. Students are going to school. The president is the president and the people that don’t like him are mostly just waiting for November or 2016. On this beautiful day I felt hopeless. That I might live somewhere so beautiful and have access to the best of everything while the people I grew up with were being attacked by the police and the military is unjust and tragic and other words in English that mean that people are reduced to tears.

And then, in this city that is my home as is my home the city that is burning, out of nowhere I remembered that this city also burned, albeit for very different reasons, and now it looks gorgeous and new and old and even photogenic. I hope the same for Caracas. That soon the burning will be over, and that the sun will shine over Caracas and its people, traffic jams, buildings, mountains and thousands of billboards. It will never be as photogenic as DC, but it does have El Avila and there’s no hill here that can compete with that. While I hope for better times for Caracas I am thankful that I live in a city that with other people that care about it, and also a city that on a sad day gifted me a reminder that things will be better and that bigger fires have been overcome.

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