Feb 17, 2015


Dear abandoned reader,

I am a little embarrassed that every time I update this blog is when someone prompts me to do it. I should be doing it constantly, not that I have much to say in relation to what the blog is supposed to be about, but I brought you guys along my journey just to abandon you as soon as my things got solved.

In my defense, work has been pretty hectic and I am incurably lazy and a procrastinator. So there, that’s my excuse.

I must confess there were times a few years ago when I was in the middle of the legal struggles, tethered to the ankle monitor from hell, when I despaired that the day would never come.  The day arrived however and I set foot on my homeland back in October 2014. I wondered while on the plane if kissing the floor when I landed would be too much.

DH seemed a bit baffled by my lack of enthusiasm a few weeks before the trip; he was looking forward to the food, the pretty women (he thinks I don’t know that’s one of his reasons) and the salsa dancing that awaited us. He told me several times he was more excited about the Colombia trip that the one we took to Europe. It was not lack of enthusiasm on my part but while I was bouncing off the walls when the Europe trip was approaching, the trip home made me feel so much different. There was unspeakable happiness in my heart, I couldn’t think about it without getting a little choked up, but there was also some apprehension. 

What are you bitching about now, Melissa? What could you possibly have to complain about? I didn’t have anything to complain about but I couldn’t deny the feeling in my chest.

A few weeks before the trip when I was running work errands I was listening to music in my car and this old Gloria Stefan song came on my shuffle. It’s called “Mi Tierra” and very appropriately talks about how you can never forget your roots, the land you left behind and how that lands aches with your absence. It struck me then why I was so apprehensive. I had been away from home for almost half my life! I was 31 years old and been away for almost 13 years. I truly was afraid that I would get there to the land I am from and I feel like I didn’t belong.

What if there was no strike to my heart, what if I felt like a foreigner? It reminded me of another song called “Foreigner” by Franco De Vita (awesome Venezuelan singer/songwriter) where the guy in the song leaves home in search of a better future leaving all behind and when he returns the children from his hometown called him the Foreigner. He doesn’t belong anywhere! Ain’t that kick in the head!

Every time I thought about going back home, back in those first few years when the U.S. didn’t feel like home and I was full of piss and vinegar and sorrow about being here I imagined the moment like in a movie; me getting out of the plane, the city would look more beautiful than ever and I would just feel like I had made it home, tears would run and my soul would once more be happy, content, comfortable, complete. Like when you sit down in your couch alone and your spouse is asleep upstairs and the pets are purring/snoring next to you and you know that everything is right in the world.

The bitch of it is that I was right. I was right to feel apprehension Dear Reader because home…is not home anymore. I so LOVED being there. DH and I had a blast eating our weight in fish in Cartagena and seeing my family in Barranquilla (the few that hadn’t made it to the US on vacation yet) was so much fun.

Clubbing on Halloween was a flipping blast, the music was great, and my family was so warm and welcoming and awesome with us. My aunt and uncle woke us up with café con leche every morning and breakfast, drove us around and it was so beautiful being there with all of them and see how much the city had changed in some ways and stayed the same in others (Let’s retire the donkey carts, Barranquilla)

I felt like a visitor though. I stood there thinking if I would leave my life in the US and go back and I wouldn’t, I don’t think my mentality would fit in any longer, the same way my mentality didn’t fit in here when I came 13 years ago; the same way that who and how I am sometimes still collide with the US even after being here for so long.

I came back speaking Spanish like a Costeña but I felt this…divide between the Melissa I was then when I was there the last time and the Melissa I am now. Not because 13 years had passed and I was 31 instead of 18 but because people looked at me like I was a tourist and treated me like I was a tourist and I dressed like I was a tourist and while they knew I was a Colombian expat in the U.S. I was not a true Barranquillera to them. My Venezuelan accent was confusing and I complained too much about the driving (they drive like crazy there). The things that a “True Colombian” takes for granted or accept as normal I couldn’t, I couldn’t hide the horrified expression with every homeless dog I saw in every corner. I lost my patience with the disrespect for traffic laws.

I wonder if I would feel different if I went back to Caracas instead. I knew how to get around there, I knew the streets, how to get from school to home, you could drop me somewhere in town and I knew which bus to take. Maybe the reason why Colombia felt so…alien was because I only went there on vacations; I visited two/three times a year but never lived there.

But what if…what if I ever go back home to Caracas and I feel the same? I would have lost something precious that I can’t get back.

In Barranquilla I met my 22 year old stepmom (my dad’s girlfriend) and also met for the first time my six year old sister that my dad had with another of his girlfriends. I told DH that I was afraid of the years of therapy the trip to Colombia may cause me, he laughed and thought I was exaggerating, but I truly am not.

Jul 8, 2014


One of my readers (didn’t know I had any left since I don’t update and I am so undeserving) asked if I had any updates on my sweet life now that I am free. Pretty succinctly and accurately put. I wasn’t free before, I mean I wasn’t in jail, but all the freedoms that my situation curtailed made me a kind of prisoner.

Other than the nasty acute sinusitis I am battling right now (gunk everywhere!) I AM living the sweet life. Sure, Colombia was robbed of that game by FIFA and that stupid referee (I haven’t stopped crying for James), yes Venezuela still suffers daily blackouts and shortage of goods, but me, personally have nothing to complain about.

What does one write when there are no demons to fight? I still feel directionless when it comes to this blog. I see comments and it makes me feel guilty of neglect and on the other hand I can’t shut it down, it would be like severing a relationship with a therapist, because believe me, sometimes writing (ranting) on this blog was the only thing that kept me sane.

DH and I went to Arizona, haha yeah, me. Remember that post I wrote four years ago? http://diaryofanillegalimmigrant.blogspot.com/2010/04/arizona-loves-guns-hates-spics.html

 Well that sure came to bite me in the ass because I spent a week in Sedona and I gotta say, aside from people in Mauii I have never seen such customer service, everyone and I do mean EVERYONE we met was so incredibly nice and attentive. Everywhere we went people would hand us bottles of water because Arizona is SO DAMMNED DRY, I mean I have never been so dry in my life, I was turning into a freaking prune and my eyes were so red I thought I was getting pink eye for the first time in my life. Nope, it was just the moisture being sucked out of my eyeballs by the dry heat. It was lovely.

There is something majestic about Sedona, I don’t know if it was the famous Vortex or not but the place is certainly magical, those red rocks, I just can’t explain how they make you feel. I will shoot for awe and leave it at that, I was in awe with its beauty, the intense reds and blues, the promise of road runners crossing (didn’t get to see one) the memories of watching Wile.E. Coyote chasing that damn bird over the familiar rocks. It was like a place I’ve never been but I somehow remembered. I also loved the fact that everyone is Sedona was so eco minded, there were recycling bins and solar panels everywhere.

DH and I got back from Phoenix suitcase full of sage, Navajo jewelry and feeling like daredevils after crossing Devil’s Bridge and hiking like pros on such high altitude (not a myth, the altitude will kick your ass). I feel I am a fairly fit individual, I may not be able to do a push up but by God my cardio game is on. I was seriously challenged hiking those trails, I mean I hiked all the time back at home in the mountains, on muddy, mossy terrain with no problem so dry rocky terrain should be fine, but it was haaaard man!

The Grand Canyon was, as expected, fucking huge. I mean I had an idea of how big it was gonna be, I knew the size in my head, and yeah I knew it can be seen from space, yeah, yeah. And then you get there and realize there is no way to accurately imagine the magnitude of that hole. One feels kind of miniscule and insignificant faced with such size.

Every time I get on a plane and I am terrified that it will be last time I take a breath and see my family and I will die a fiery death I am also so damned happy, happy that I can finally, finally, finally after 10 years do what I always wanted to do, which was travel and write. The writing part is more difficult that I thought it would be, but hey I’ll get there. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy this sweet life.

Next up is Colombia in October, going home after 12 years of absence will be interesting, DH can’t wait (I think mostly for the food and the pretty girls he will ‘discreetly’ check out without me noticing)

Feb 20, 2014


For the last few days the streets in Venezuela have been taken over by an ever growing group of students. From Caracas to Merida, from Maracaibo to Valencia, all the major and minor cities are involved in a protest against the tyranny of the government.

I am talking about young women and men, some no older than seventeen years old, many even younger than that. Can you remember what you were doing when you were seventeen? How many of us were out in the street fighting against oppression, rampant delinquency, corruption, shortage of basic goods, inflation, fighting for life.

I was growing up in those same streets when I was seventeen. I walked them without fear, I walked them happily; I walked them at any hour of the day without fearing for my safety. It was beautiful time to be a seventeen year old in Caracas.

So far five students have lost their lives fighting because they are tired of the land they live in, they are tired of the fear, they are no longer afraid (The number of victims hasn’t been confirmed since the protest is still going). I see the videos that fill the net (Facebook and Twitter have become the only way for them to spread the news since the government controls all forms of media) I see them there standing defenseless, wearing a flag, singing and facing off against a line of fully decked guards and running away from tear gas (some are saying even nerve gas) and they come back, they don’t give up, they cough, they cry, they convulse and vomit and bleed and fall, and die and come back. They are so brave, I was never that brave. 

I see them singing the national anthem Gloria al Bravo Pueblo (Glory to the brave people), praying Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers, repeating “The people united will never be defeated” or “Viva Venezuela” holdings hands and helping each other and it rips my heart in two.

I saw a video, filmed on someone’s cellphone and uploaded to Youtube and one of those students (Bassil Alejandro Dacosta) is seen falling down after running away from the GNB (Bolivarian National Guard). He was peacefully protesting, he had no weapons on him and as he ran away he was shot, right there on the street in front of everyone. You can see him falling, probably dead before he hits the floor and is such a disturbing thing to see, life snuffed as if it was nothing. He was 24 years old.

The other students turned around, saw him on the floor and without any care for their own safety ran back for him and took his lifeless body with them. I see that video and I cannot wrap my mind around what is happening.

A 22 year old beauty queen got shot in the head and died yesterday. The picture of her being carried away to the hospital on a motorcycle gave me chill and haunted me all day. Her hair flew in the wind; her arms were limp, her head thrown back. The guy carrying her was holding onto her so strong. I wonder who he was, a family member? A friend? Boyfriend? Concerned stranger?

I am in bed with Zoey and Max next to me, my husband watching TV downstairs, all safely home and I feel this raging impotence, kind of like when I saw Blackfish, angry tears made my chest hurt, I feel so frustrated and angry and sad.

I wonder what I would be doing if I were there. Would I be outside fighting alongside them? Or would I hide in my house, away from the dangers. DH said to me that if he had to go through what Venezuelans are going through today he would be outside, marching, fighting. It makes sense why they risk their lives, their safety.

“All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come”. Victor Hugo knew what he was speaking of. The time has come for Venezuelans and I hope nothing will stop them.