Running an errand… (Part 1)

I’m know I’m gonna feel a little down today; I have to run an errand to the nearby town of Caucagua. The sights and sounds of this forlorn place are rather depressing, and that’s going to bring my mood down for the rest of the day.

I’m not exposed to all these miseries while in Cholondron (the name of the abandoned housing development where I live in), but they become quite evident as I set a foot out of the place. Directly outside the development lie several big houses, which are seemingly inhabited. Hard to tell, considering the level of dereliction that these structures show: overgrown yards, peeling paint and broken windows.

The rule here is the same as in the rest of the country: when something breaks down, it stays broken. Walking down the road that leads to town, you’d meet your first half-erected shanty. This one is located at a bend of the lane, overlooking it both ways, like some sinister manor of the ages, right out of a creepy ghost movie. As far as I know, it has been built (or attempted to) for at least half a dozen times. It has been torn down quite as many times; once, I saw a family consisting of a woman and her five kids living in it, but they moved out a couple of months later, after her husband was gunned down by a mugger on this same road.

About three hundreds yards away from this foreboding shack, more shanties have sprouted on the right side of the road (or left, depending if you’re retracing your steps). The density of the buildings is growing exponentially as you get closer to the first fork in the road, just a simple T intersection, where you can chose to go east or west. If you go east, you’ll reach Merecure, just a bunch of more shanties running down a main highway. There’s nothing of importance there, unless you’re after some cigarettes, a beer or a whore.

The other road leads to Caucagua, walking past and endless row of more impromptu shanties. A few are well-constructed structures of cinder blocks and concrete; the rest are just haphazardly piled up pieces of sheet metal and wood planks. These appear to be in shambles, but if you managed to step into one of them, you’d be amazed to find 42” plasma TV screens and top-of-the-line stereo equipments.

In front of most of these rickety houses you’d probably find gaggles of half-naked kids, their protruding bellies bulging due to malnutrition and parasites. Also, you’d find roving packs of mongrel dogs in the street; Little Caesars of a mutt that growl at you for passing by through their territories….

I only have a couple of friends along this long street… well at least I consider these guys friendly because they don’t reply with a grunt and distrusting glares when I greet them from a distance. One is a guy from Colombia, who I suspect is amicable in his attitude to me mainly because he’s also a stranger in a strange land. He runs his own business, a bloquera, which means he manufactures concrete blocks to build walls and such on an artisan level.

If you need to ask, yes, there’s some public transportation at this level. You may be wondering by now why don’t I take use its benefits to just pass through this area as quickly as possible. Well, here are a few of my reasons on why I won’t.

First, I want to keep all these unwelcoming morons used to my presence here. Let them see me clearly while I walk down the street, scavenging scrap metal as I move along. Let them realize that I live off this activity. It’s part of my protective camouflage anyway. Let them think I’m penniless… or crazy enough… to leave me to my own devices.

Second, every now and then I also find coins and discarded currency bills; the other day I encountered two hundred Bolivars (the local currency… about $20 worth) lying inside a roadside gutter. Which will certainly help me to extend my meager budget somewhat. At least my online expenses will be adequately covered this month.

This long road (about three and a half miles away from my house) leads to the Caucagua’s Club de Comercio. About a decade ago it was the place where the local merchants had their weekend get-together parties, spending most Saturdays and Sundays in any given month there while they had BBQ cookouts, got drunk and went into heavy whoring sessions when nighttime came along. Can’t really go into details; as I never set foot in there, it’s all hearsay. Funny thing, this place is just a mile away from my house as the crow flies (no direct roads here… it’s a mile if you enjoy to walk through a heavily overgrown area, infested with brambles, swamps and snakes, that’s it), which enabled me to hear the noises coming from these activities, confirming my suspicious.

The place is now abandoned; the local merchants enjoyed it mainly due to its relative isolation away from the town, but as the local populace began to spread out beyond the confines of the main township, the people running it found the idea of being surrounded by all the miserable shanties that sprung up as a consequence a bit tasteless. Besides, the land value dropped to a level unheard of because of this. So I guess it was easier to find another place for their orgies.

Next to the Club, just two land properties over, lies the main electric power distribution center. Here you’ll see all the incoming and outgoing power lines that keep this area properly (ahem! *chuckles*) electrified. Next to it, lies a cooking gas distribution locale and there’s a story about this place that I will tell you some other day…

Well, now we’re at the edge of town, standing on the Autopista de Oriente (Westward Highway), a.k.a Ruta del Sol (Sunny Route, LoL). It’s just a weirdly shaped road junction where the road to Caucagua and this relatively important highway meet. The place is overall known as the Triangulo de Caucagua (the triangle). It’s also a slightly industrialized area, since there’s a small wood mill and a clay bricks factory in this place.

Anyway, we must take a small detour here, as I must stop by a small roadside supermarket and check their garbage bins for some beer and soft drink cans.

And this is just the beginning of my journey…

Stay Tuned for the Next Part.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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