I know some international teachers are still signing contracts and I know that Venezuela has been in the news lately, which might deter some people from signing contracts in Venezuela. I thought I would write up a little overview of what my experience has been so that international teachers thinking about moving here would have a little more insight into the current situation.
The two biggest cities in Venezuela are the capital Caracas, and Maracaibo; I don’ t live in either of those cities. In fact, I don’t live in Valencia, or Puerto La Cruz, where there are more amenities and international schools. I live in a tiny city called Ciudad Ojeda.
For the past year and a half I have been teaching in Ojeda without many problems and I personally have found great satisfaction living here because of the friends I’ve made and my personal lifestyle choices. I’m not sure you would hear many people say that they liked it as much as I did while I was living here last year (soon I might interview some of my friends who are staying on another year).
I’m still returning to teach in Venezuela next year. I have signed a contract to teach at CIC Valencia, so obviously you can see that I still love this country, but I will provide a pro and con list so you can make your own informed decision.
Salsa and Latin music and dancing EVERYWHERE: I am obsessed with salsa dancing! I have been taking classes from my local salsa academy since August 2012. In Venezuela it is very popular to dance Cuban salsa, which the locals call salsa casino, and you dance it in a circle with many people (thus helping a gringa like me make friends quickly). While waiting in grocery store lines and driving down the street you can hear music that will make a fellow salsa enthusiast want to dance! Dancing makes me VERY happy!
Currently driving anywhere and shopping anywhere is very difficult because of protests.
If you are paid in dollars (most international schools here pay 80-85% of your salary in dollars and the rest in Bs), you have access to a black market exchange rate that is $1=85bs so your money goes a LONG way. Someone else can do the math regarding the Bs portion of my salary which is paid at the official rate of $1=11.3 bs.
Where I live, in Ciudad Ojeda, it is difficult (or nearly impossible if you don’t know the right people) to find items such items as toilet paper of any kind (I haven’t personally seen it in a store since June 2013), sugar (not since June 2013), flour (found once every other month), milk (every other month), dish washing soap (not since December 2013), laundry soap (since beginning of January), and now coffee is becoming difficult to find as well. I have just learned to stock like the locals do once I see an item I want and to ask the locals if they know where I can buy something (or the parents of my students who might own stores).
It is very common for teachers to have a maid. My housemate and fellow teacher and I share a three bedroom, three bathroom house with an enclosed porch at the back. We have white tile floors. Neither of us is particularly fond of cleaning floors… or cleaning really, so we hired a maid! Our maid comes to our house for 3-4 hours while we are teaching. We pay her 250 bs per day (black market rate is almost $3 USD), provide her with simple food and drinks for her to have for lunch, pay for Venezuelan holidays, taxes, and Christmas and end of year bonuses. It is a great deal for her and it is an AMAZING deal for us!
The locals want access to dollars and the only way for many of them to get dollars is to travel. This means that they buy most the tickets out of the country so seeing more of South America and the Caribbean can be really difficult.
There are AMAZING things to see in Venezuela!
Angel Falls (tallest waterfall in the world)
Parque Nacional de Morrocoy (AKA Los Cayos)
Parque Nacional de Mochima (stayed in Puerta La Cruz and went there earlier this year)
Pico Boilvar in Merida (I’ve been to Merida twice but haven’t climbed it)
Los Roques (hopefully I will go there in May of this year)
La Isla Margarita (I will hopefully go there next year)
Mount Roraima (I would love to go here next year too)
I’m sure I could go on, but this post is getting long, and as you can see, I clearly love this place!
Thank you for sharing your pro and con list of teaching in Venezuela. As someone teaching in Indonesia, I can relate to the random merchandise that is unavailable and then available and then again is “empty, Miss.” I can also relate to the benefits of having a maid or pembantu. I resisted this idea until I had to be alone in my home while she was away for the Muslim holiday of Idul Fitri. The gecko guano management and not having someone who can communicate with repair people, etc. . . . I don’t like to talk about how much I rely on my helper, because it gives the wrong impression. I will say this–appreciate her so much! Gracias!
Thank you for visiting! Teaching internationally does have its ups and downs, but having a maid to help around the house is a major perk!
That’s some real life adventure. You’re doing a great thing for the community but also for you. Saludos!
Gracias! Teaching here is definitely not boring! Thank you for visiting my blog!
Looks like an amazing experience 🙂
Hey Amanda. Interesting read. I have an interview for a school in Caracas, been reading up on it as I have heard mixed reviews. I was wondering if I did get the job and take it , how could I go about meeting new people in a safe manner? And would you like to meet up? Ive added you on instragm.. Ossai21. ps How long have you been travelling and teaching abroad for?
Caracas is probably the most dangerous place in the country, but I have been on the CIC Caracas campus and it was wonderful. I have also spoken with many teachers from schools in Caracas and they were very happy with their jobs. I have been to Caracas many times, but I mostly go straight to the hotel or the airport and leave because I’m short on time, so I can’t tell you much about the place. I meet people mostly at my school or when I travel but I know there is an Internations group in Caracas too. I’m sure I will see you at the next VANAS conference if you get hired in Caracas!
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Thanks for the post! Really interesting read. I was really shocked when we got maid service as part of our basic housing allowance in Argentina. Not going to lie, I still “clean for the cleaners” a little bit!
Do Venezuelans do a lot of “border hopping” to get products that aren’t available there? I know Argentina/Paraguay/Brazil do this a lot, so I was curious if in the face of such shortages, Venezuelans took to the same tactic.
Hi Sara! Thanks for visiting.
Are you working at an international school in Argentina?
I also clean up a bit before the cleaner comes! When I had a maid three days a week like my roommate and I did in Ojeda, this was not the case. I feel so lucky to never have to iron!
What many upper class Venezuelans do is order stuff online in the States and have it shipped over. Also, anytime they have friends or family visiting the States for business they will ask them to bring things. The most popular way to get items is to go to Miami during Christmas or Summer vacation and stuff their suitcases with items you can’t find here.
I work in a hydroelectric power plant on the Argentinian/Paraguayan border. 🙂 I have a three year contract.
That makes sense about the online ordering! That’s not an option in Argentina because of the semi-closed economy. You can only order less than $100USD of merchandise up to twice a year–and each time you have to take a whole day off to essentially sit in customs and fill out forms that say “I know I’m horrible because I didn’t buy this in Argentina.” It’s crazy! We do a lot of the “suitcase sneaking” down here, carrying some little stuff back for our coworkers and friends whenever we go Stateside.
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I am leaving in two months for Peace Corps Service in Indonesia, but would like to move to Venezuela to become fluent in Spanish after my service ends. What would transitioning from PC to full time teaching in South America look to employers? I love salsa! I hope you get this message. You’re awesome! Just followed you on instagram. 🙂
Thanks for the follow!
If you already have your master’s degree and teaching license you would be a fantastic teaching applicant. I think my Peace Corps service in Azerbaijan demonstrated that I was not your typical college grad student accustomed to a comfy American life.
Good luck in Indonesia!
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Hi. I was wondering if you are still in contact with people in Ciudad Ojeda and whether you can offer any leads on finding a private English tutor or English language school for a beginner in ESL? The prospective student is a local, adult, female. Any leads?