Considering Venezuela?

Venezuela is not bad when you think about all the gorgeous beaches! (this will be me this Thanksgiving break!) Photo Cred http://www.flickr.com/photos/manhattan104/3949477838/in/photolist-7217au-hgG6G6-6ZXbs3-hgEBWG-hgEAAf-5NxXcZ-bNarJK-hgDvcb-baV9Sg-hgvMAi-hgDHGE-6ZXbBo-hgDFdU-hgEMtp-71uMCL-6ZY86C-hgErzr-6iLANn-6iQLQo-6iQyxL-6iQQ7W-6iLyaD-4xwKPf-6iQEr1-6iQK9m-6iLrPH-6iQKD5-6iQDPw-6iLro8-6iQAeu-6iLkzD-6iLjHH-6iQFPY-6iLxna-6iLyTk-6iLCAe-6iLuin-6iLnSa-6iQDCf-6iLq1M-6iQHwL-6iLshZ-6iLzMD-6iLABa-6iLkZg-6iLvfz-6iQJJj-6iQBbW-6iQGTu-6iQLKs

Venezuela is not that bad when you think about all the gorgeous beaches! (this will be me this Thanksgiving break!) Photo Cred 

It’s hiring season and I’m sure some of you are looking at positions in Venezuela.  I’ve been telling people to come to Venezuela to work for the past couple of years because I like it here so much. However, starting last spring with the protests, things have only become more difficult in this country. I think it will only get worse before it gets any better.

I’m not an economist, or even a Venezuelan with more background on these issues, so I can’t really predict what will happen in the future. Instead, I can only write about what I am already experiencing:

The Good:

Despite my recent trials and tribulations, there are still a great many things I appreciate about life in Venezuela.

Fun: I can still live a pretty full and fulfilling life while I’m here. What I do find in the stores is affordable for those with access to dollars.

Work: I love my job and the students at my school. I like my coworkers. There is a great work/life balance here.

Money: I am able to pay $1000 a month on my student loans, travel a lot, and still save some money. I generally spend about $400 a month if I’m not traveling that month.

Romance: I like Latin men (and they like me! haha).

Spanish: I can practice using my Spanish skills everyday if I wanted… or not at all if the mood strikes.

Environment: I’m only an hour away from some of the best beaches I have ever seen. There are mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, savannahs, and cute colonial towns to explore on the breaks. It is also sunny year round so you can always enjoy it.

People: Most locals I meet are warm and welcoming. Also, you can hear wonderful salsa, merengue, and bachata wherever you go AND you can find people who can dance properly to it!

The Bad:

If this would be your first job overseas, I would think long and hard before coming here. Many people who have only experienced living and working in the US would have a really tough time (I know two who have left). If you were in the Peace Corps you might fit right in!

Rationing: The past three months I have been here the water has been regulated nearly every day. Some people are lucky and they have a tank in their apartments to dispense water when the water isn’t working in the rest of the city, but I am not a lucky one. Therefore I get about 3 hours of water a day. There are also fairly frequent blackouts (usually once or twice a week).

Product Shortages: shampoo, conditioner, soap, diapers, milk, flour, sugar, coffee, butter, olive oil, cooking oil, etc. If you see something you like you should buy ten because you don’t know if you will see it the next day, let alone next week.

Flights: if you wanted to come to South America so that you could explore the continent on your breaks, you better plan on paying a high price and getting really lucky. Plane tickets are hard to find because there are very few airlines flying internationally. This drives up the cost of the flights, so what should cost a couple hundred dollars is now $1200 or $1300- IF you can find a ticket.

The Ugly:

Unless you have lived in one of the other countries in the world with really high murder rates, you can’t really know what to expect until you get here and experience life in such a place.

Violence: As things get more and more expensive for locals, as things get harder and harder to find, more and more people will be turning to violence just to meet their basic needs. This makes driving during rush hour, walking on the street by yourself, and having anything of value very unsafe.

I lived for two years in a small city and three months in the third largest city before someone tried to rob me at gunpoint. I had my laptop stolen from my work during the second month I was here. I don’t feel very comfortable walking by myself (even in broad daylight with plenty of traffic around) or even driving by myself after what happened to me.

My Advice:

My advice to those considering a job here is to do what you want, but know that if you come here, it might be more difficult than you originally thought. Also know that I have heard little mention of anything changing for the better.

This place has its warts, but a big part of me still loves it. Also, there are students here that need great teachers, so if you think you can work in a country like this, come on over!

Please comment! Have you worked in a country that is really unsafe? How do you live a fulfilling life with all of the restrictions put upon you?

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16 responses to “Considering Venezuela?

    • Thanks Linda. I don’t think any local schools hiring, nor international teachers looking for jobs, would want to be fooled into thinking this place was a walk in the park and completely blindsided by the reality of life here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, then you have teachers quitting after a week and leaving the school in the lurch. Happened a lot at the school I worked at in Poland. They bigged the place up in the ads, then people went there and saw it, smiled and nodded, and disappeared back to England etc. in the middle of the night 😉 People need to be properly prepared for where they’re going to end up!

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  1. We will be moving to Caracas in August and really appreciate every single bit of information we’ve been able to glean from your posts. If you get the chance could you explain how the whole black market thing works?

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    • Thanks for visiting J!

      I will work on a post about the unofficial rate of exchange which is what I think you are talking about.

      There are also actual markets here that we call a “black market” where you can find items that are not available in stores (like coffee, sugar, flour, shampoo, and deodorant to name a few).

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      • Ah, ok. I guess it really is hard to imagine the logistics until you are actually living there 🙂 The whole process of getting paid in USD and then buying things in bs seems really confusing, but that will just add the the excitement of a new place (or so I keep telling myself!). Like teaching isn’t challenge enough, right? Thanks again.

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  2. It is very confusing until you have been here for a while!

    I can tell you one thing a friend learned the hard way though: unless you are on an American website like expedia.com or something, you should never use your credit cards in Venezuela because something that should be $4 would be $100. Lock up your credit cards!

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  3. (sigh) this is definitely going to be interesting 🙂 glad i’m at least going to be at a great school. looking forward to more posts from you!

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  4. I am thinking of applying to a school in Maracaibo. I’ve lived in South Korea for 4 years and I like the benefits the school has to offer. I am wondering if you could tell me about the city Maracaibo. Thank you

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    • Maracaibo is the second largest city in Venezuela. I used to go to Mcbo to go shopping on the weekends. It was always much easier to find items that I couldn’t find in a smaller town (toilet paper, coconut oil, sugar, good coffee, etc.). Last Spring there were major protests in Mcbo (fires in the streets, roads blocked off, people marching everywhere with signs) so that it took us 4 hours to get home instead of 1. It is also known for being especially dangerous on the weekends since people then have the free time to rob you. It is not as dangerous as Caracas though.

      I took some professional development courses at Escuela Bella Vista. You can get a Masters of Education in International Education via Framingham University at EBV. I like the staff there and it is a school with a lot of resources available.

      If you are thinking of taking a job there you might want to consider it- just weigh your options carefully.

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  5. I am currently interviewing for a position in maturin. I have young children and I am worried about safety. Can you give any advice about how this area is for young children. I do speak Spanish fluently.

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    • I’m sorry, but I’ve never been to Maturin. I have a friend who taught at that school for a few years and seemed to like it. Last year I met the principal of ISM who seemed very nice and professional. I believe they have a 1-to-1 ipad program which is pretty awesome too. The town itself seems pretty small and nondescript. I don’t have children, but I have always taught the young ones, and in my experience they can be happy in nearly any environment. Good luck with your decision!

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  6. Hi there! I am glad I found your blog. I have accepted a job teaching at EBV in Maracaibo and was wondering if you could tell me a bit about the city.

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    • I haven’t been to Maracaibo since June, so some things might be different now. Maracaibo is the second largest city in Venezuela so when I lived an hour away in Ciudad Ojeda we would always try to go there on the weekends. There are good expat (imported) shops (that I’ve now forgotten the name of), malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and good spots to salsa dance. I never felt very threatened while I was visiting, but the security specialists at my old school told us that Maracaibo is very dangerous (especially on the weekends). Just take normal precautions and only go out at night with a group. Good luck! EBV is a great school!

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