And you arrive in Caracas, and life gets intense. “Taxi, to FILVEN [Venezuelan International Book Festival] please”. I find myself right on the highway of Prados del Este, chatting with my taxi friend about Plato’s Cave Allegory, and later a little about Gramsci, courtesy of the Bolivarian University. That’s how the richness of my Caracas days begins.
The FILVEN hasn’t opened yet, and dozens of kids from various schools are getting ready to go around the fair with their teachers. A girl disguised as a bear walks past, followed by a bee and a strange clown. The children laugh happily and I, contaminated by it and moved, laugh with them. It’s ten to ten, and there are already people waiting to find their books, their authors, their friends – because at the fair we’re all friends, and one talks and drinks coffee with one of these old friends that one didn’t know until now.
At FILVEN, someone in charge of cleaning and maintenance shout’s me a coffee and talks about books he has read and hopes to read. He shows me around the fair and recommends books, and Kiki [the translator assumes that Kiki is the author’s child], always walking by my side, can’t believe that the man who cleans knows so much.
It’s dangerous when the people read. A reading cleaner can’t be a sweeper who fills up the pockets of a cleaning company boss. A reading cleaner creates a cooperative and obtains a contract to clean the book fair, and does it with pleasure. The reading cleaner understands and no longer permits himself to be exploited. Oligarchs tremble!
But not even the FILVEN lasts the whole year, nor is Caracas just FILVEN, and further more responsibility obliges me to leave the literary paradise and run to Plaza Bolivar, to my dear newspaper, to write what you are now reading. Luckily such obligations exist, which beyond being delicious, they make you walk about the centre of Caracas, to be a little irresponsible and get a bit late drinking a thick hot chocolate- one of those that one drinks with eyes closed in order to preserve the moment and trap happiness with eyelashes pressed together.
The laughter of a child makes me open my chocolatey eyes and I understand that the happiness doesn’t go away, it’s right there in the plaza, in the streets, in the people who walk about their streets which today are precious, walkable, kind.
Caracas is changing and recovering the beauty that was stolen from it by indolence and nastiness of those who tried to sell it like scrap to then suffer the effects of that and dream of living in Miami. But Caracas, as always, resisted. The people of Caracas, we resist, and we stand up. Myself, a person of Caracas, who has never been able to live too long in my adored city, I celebrate these few intense days, typing my happiness with goosebumps and wet eyes hiding behind a smile.
I am happy in Caracas.
Translation by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com
For a range of beautiful photos of the fair, see here.