It was a “BREAK”

Yes, I admit it, I almost quit. I needed to focus on other things. I was either too busy or too depressed to write, at least for it to be a positive writing. But now I am back, no guarantee though. Let’s say just one post more every week and hope for the best.

Sometimes it seems to be so much that do not even know where to start by. It so overwhelming that your head says “Let’s do nothing better.” Anyway, here is an English writing practice from what I learned during my absense.


Somewhere in the world, someone is getting married tomorrow, but they will be divorced in two years. In contrast, other couple won’t meet until their forties, but they will live half of a century in love with each other.

I actually know a woman who could not have children for years, and then one day, she was going to an appointment afraid that the doctor might say she would be having another baby. Why? Because when she finally got pregnant, in each of the three first checkups the doctor said “Wait a minute, I see another baby”

So, I’m not late, you aren’t late, nobody is late at all because this life is not a race. Everyone has a lifetime of their own with their own racetrack and everything. Late for what anyway?

Death is only a finger snap away from all of us. So if you are breathing and have a heart that beats, that is the perfect match you need. They are our best qualification and most valuable possession while we are here.

“Rendirse” and “Darse por vencido”

Rendirse = To give up

Darse por vencido = To give up

What is the difference? “Darse por vencido” is a bit more dramatic than “Rendirse.” Let’s see it with examples.

If a kid challenges you with a riddle, you might say: “¡Me rindo!” I don’t know.

On the other hand, if you spend 24 hours awake refreshing a government website because it’s your only weekly-chance to do it according to the last number of your citizen ID, only to upload the data needed, so you are allowed to request the next week an appointment to go (God knows when and where) and ask them to seal a paper; and YET you didn’t get to make it because you had to deal with electricity cuts, Internet connection cuts, and fails of the system itself (again, during the 24 hours)… Then you may say:

“¡Me doy por vencido!” I have got to be an illegal immigrant.

This world is too small for both of us.

Everytime I drive straight away from you, sooner or later I end up in front of you. Then I turn the wheel and escape one more time. But it doesn’t work.

The worst part is that it seems like you don’t even move. So, every time I have to make up excuses to justify my actions and I’m running out of the reasonable ones. It’s so embarrassing to admit it, that I’m just fine with people thinking that I’m weird and that all of my movements make no sense.

I decided to try going just a little bit far away from you and stay there. In this way, you are close enough for me to know where you are at and keep you out of my way, but far enough for not having you in my social circles. How is that going? Well, right now every inch of my skin is fighting against the wind that is pushing me towards you again.

It’s not a big deal when I only have to change where to drink my coffee, or missing some parties. The problem comes when I have to make a life decision and you’re the only item in the column “Cons” of my best option.

I have made some moves before that make me feel proud of my wit, although all of this sounds patetic. It’s like playing Chess, but against … Myself? God? Destiny?… I don’t know, but who ever it is, it’s making fun of me. I lost all of my pawns and most of the good pieces. I already heard “check” and I’m afraid that soon I’m going to hear “checkmate”

If I could go anywhere right now, I would go to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

I would cross it until I have burned my eagerness. I would take 2989947563638449 pictures of its details. And when my body claims for resting, I would choose a place where I can appreciate its magnificence while drinking a cup of coffee or maybe something cold and sweet (depending on the weather).

When a civil engineer is making a design, he or she has to make sure that the structure can stand and be funtional at a minimum cost. Moreover, they have to make doable the art and space distribution made by the architect as faithfully as it can be. But when there a frequent seismic activity in the area, the goal in these designs is save the lives of the people in the structure. And here it comes the craziest part: the structure is designed to save you by making you feel unsafe under extreme events.

Here is the basic idea of how it works. The structure can resist steady certain level of shaking. When the intensity of movement overcomes that point decide by the engineer, the structure starts to break down at specific places that are not critical for the stay standing, but it will scare you enough to make you look for an exit. If the movement keeps happening or increases and the building cannot stand it anymore, you will be long gone before it collapse.

This bridge is the first of its kind. The new span is a self-anchored suspension bridge. It means that its stability does not depend on the ground but on its internal equilibrium. Theoretically, if the ground moves it won’t give a “sheet”. This is the start of saving not just lives but also reducing the great economic losses characteristic of these natural disasters.

I love engineering because it makes me feel that with pacience, pasion and dedication there is no problem that humans cannot solve if we work together. I wish politics could see that.

How is my English learning going?

Well… I’m training for TOEFL (Test Of English as Foreign Language) with a simulator. I started in late January with scores from 17 to 21 out of 30 in each task (Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing).

I thought I was going to see a progress as the line in the top of the picture, but I was stuck in that range. I was like – well this constant part is taking too long – But, with the crazy grades I got the last two weeks, I’m realizing that my learning line looks more like the line in the bottom. For example, today I got 21 at reading and 28 at listening. And yesterday I had 27 at reading and 20 at listening (all this out 30).

My scores used to vary according to my distractions (I’m hungry, I’m tired, I have something else in mind…), and I used to wait without a clue for the result because most of the time I felt just guessing.

Now I can feel when it is going to be a good score or not. Some days I feel so in the clear regardless my mood that it made me reflect: If I’m going to actually know this language, this is the way I should feel about it all the time, I shouldn’t have to be so concentrated to use it. Whilist on other days I find a pharagraph in which I only understand the articles and prepositions.

Instead of walking to the goal, I feel like jumping back and forward. Yet, I’m starting to feel how 2 steps forward and 1 back, is still 1 forward.

Yucca empanada recipe.

I have to remind you in this post that I am not a writer, and that I’m an english learner. So, in the same way you’ll notice that this is not a recipe by a professional cook. Nevertheless, I had to try writing my version of this recipe below because I simply love it and I need to practice my kitchen/cooking vocabulary.

This is for more or less 12 empanadas.

☝ 1 Kg. or 2 lbs. of yucca
✌ 1/2 cup of pre-cooked white corn meal (that kind of flour ground from maize that we mostly use to make arepas).
👌 Sugar and salt as you like. I like it salty with a hint of sweetness. So I use 1 spoon of salt and 1 spoon of sugar or papelón (which is much healthier crude brown sugar).
👐 Your favorite salty filling (It could be cheese, chicken, ground beef, ham, sauteed vegetables, combinations of them, your imagination is the limit.)

1.🔪Peel and cut into little pieces the yucca.
2.🔥Put the pieces and the salt in boling water until they are soft enough to easily smash them.
3. 🍴 Smash the yucca while it’s hot on plate, and then put it into a bowl.
4. 👋 When it isn’t hot but warm, add the corn flour and the sugar, and knead it for 5minutes.
5. ✊Put a ball that fits in your fist over one plastic sheet and cover it with another.
6. 🍳 Press it with something plain and heavy to get it flat until you have 5-mm-thick dough, and remove the top plastic sheet.
7.🐓🐴🐖🐟🍆 🍠Put one or two spoons of your filling ingredient in the middle.
8.↪ Fold it with the help of the plastic sheet to have a semicircle and cut it with a bowl to seal the edge.
9. 🔥Deep fry it.
👏 Enjoy it!

They are crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside and gluten free. I am so sorry I don’t have a good picture to show you.

Dark diary

Day 1

4:30pm. I was taking a nap and the sound of the fridge turning off woke me up. I thought “Great! With the pile of work I have on, subjects of my course to cover, and they have to cut the electricity now.” I decided to stay in bed and chat with my friends until it come back.

6:30pm. I was wonder how long it was going to be this time to know if I had to forget about work for the rest of the day. So I opened twitter, and this is when I found out this time was special. I tried to reach my family (who live on a island) by phone but I couldn’t.

10:30pm. My phone was dead but I was sort of satisfied because I could help a friend that is out of the country to contact with her mom and sent messages to my family saying that I was fine. Then all I could do was rest and save my powerbank, which was half charged, for real emergencies.

Day 2.
10:30am. I started worrying about the food in my fridge. It was time to decide what to to do about it, and for that I needed to check The News. As soon as I turned on my phone with the powerbank, I received a call from an unkown number. It was a superwoman that I know and she said “Mija we are going to pick you up. You stay with us, ok?”

From now in this story I’m gonna call them “auntie” and “sister” because they are the aunt and sister of one of my best friend. Even though he had left the country they always kept inviting me to eat with them time to time. The telephone companies of their phones were out of service. They borrowed a phone with almost no battery left, and if I wouldn’t have turned on my phone just in time they would waste that charge in vain, and my story would be way sader. So this was the first miracle.

2:00pm. They hadn’t talk to anybody in the island yet, so we reached them by my phone and they got bad news. Two kids close to them had an accident that morning. It made everything worse as they couldn’t know how bad it was for hours. But later that night we contacted them again and we knew they were hurt but safe.

4:30pm. First 24h without electricity. I really thought that I was going to spend the day with them, and I would be at home by this time. We checked twitter again with an old nokia that I have. Its showed three twits at a time. Hospital colapsing, people whose lives hanged on a machine were either dead or scared to death, Doctors busy bumping air manually to the lungs of babies that should have been in incubators; whilist politics were blaming each other (as always). There was nothing certain about what was happening, why we didn’t have electricity, and how long it was going to take to recover it.

11:30pm. We went to bed after planing how to save the food we had stored in our frezzers because if something is a sin in Venezuela is throwing damaged food away in front of so many people starving. You have to either save it or give it away before it get ruined.

Day 3.
8:30am. All we are from the same island, so they use to bring with them a lot of fish because here, in the mainland, you cannot find the same variety and quality of fish. They have food for two for a month or so. We were cooking all of it and using all the techniques we knew to conserve it when I saw a light coming from the ceiling and then we heard the fridge motor starting to run.

10:00am. We conected the phones, ate breakfast, saved the rest of the food, and went out to buy water. When we arrived to stablishment, the man said that the electricity was just cut again, so we could pay only in cash. As cash is really scarce here, we didn’t buy it and save the little cash we had for something more critical because we did have water for one day more.

3:00pm. After lunch we retake our initial plan for that day. We went searching for ice, as the same as every single person in the city were doing too. We asked here and there until a woman told us “I think there is ice two blocks down this street.” Indeed the woman was right but there was line to get it with people even from other cities. We heard that someone said that the ones paying with cash didn’t have to make the line. We looked at each other and have the same thought. This is that critical case.

4:30pm. 48hours of the blackout with just 1hour and a half of break. We got the ice and had to split up because I had my own food to save. As I use to store food just for me for 15 days maximum, It wasn’t a big deal for me. I did a big soup with all portions of chicken, meat and cooked grains that had in my freezer; and most of my vegetables.

6:30pm. I ate and went out to give away the rest, and I didn’t have to go so far. I found an old lady from my building that hadn’t eaten hot food in two days because her kitchen was electric. She was in her way for a “sharing” that my neighbours had set up for other people in the same conditions (I didn’t know about it because I wasn’t there). I gave it to her and she told me she was so happy that she wasn’t going empty handy now.

9:00pm. I went to bed thinking about Venezuelans. While ones make themselves feel better under the saying “Mientras unos lloran, otros venden pañuelos” because they believe that overpricing ice, water, gas, or selling 10minutes of a phone charge for $5 makes them smarter; others are all willing to help and give away as much as they have during the worst condition. Like that lady that could stay in her floor (4th) and eat all of the food I gave her, which would be reasonable considereing her legs difficulties. But instead she was excited for going uptairs to the 12th floor to share it.

Day 4.
9:00am. I made “Empanadas de yuca” for breakfast, and went to share with my neighbours from the same floor and saved some for auntie and sister.

10:30am. I always have my front door closed. But I was returning from my neighbour’s and just wanted grab my phone and contact my balckout partners to comeback with them, but our plan didn’t cover this part. We forgot their phone lines were dead. That only mine was working. I kept trying walking in circles nearby the door when I saw by edge of my left eye someone going down stairs in the hallway outside that walked like sister. Then I cameback and saw her wondering there and I shout her name. As I am the one that use to visit them, she wasn’t sure which was my apartment in a bulding of 88. This was the second miracle.

4:30pm. 72 hours without electricity with a break that then seemed to had last just 5minutes. We went searching for more ice for the food they could saved and oil for the car. There were not ice anywhere and lines for oil were of hundreds of cars. We made the line in a station service far from us, but it was worth the travel because it have way fewer cars.

6:30pm. Sister had loved my “Empanadas de yuca,” so she ask me to prepare more for dinner and we shared with their neighbours.

We were in bed and talked for hours. For our luck, auntie is one of the funniest people that I’ve ever known. So sister and I didn’t lack entertainment. She amused us with crazy stories of her and her friends in college until we fell asleep.

Day 5.

1:00am. The light of the bulb above me burnt my eyes although I had them closed. I was dizzy, so I crawled not fully awake yet to the outlet to conect my powerbank. Someone yelled “Llegó la luz” and one by one windows started to bright. I would say there were 15 windows shining when everything went black again. It only lasted 10 minutes.

1:42am. We were still awake, but we couldn’t even talk. We all were just too mad, frustrated, worried, and emotionally exahusted to sleep. I was desparate to recall all the coincidences that kept my head above the water, and I said aloud “Tomorrow with the first light of the sun, I gonna include in my daily writing all the miracles that we experienced so far.” Believe it or not, as soon as I finished that line, the light came back to the room. I have auntie and sister as witnesses. It was as if GOD have said “Finally you have a good idea, go ahead now”.

Apart from the two that I mentioned, there were other little things that were key for us to solve problems. For example,

My phone battery is damaged, so it use to turn off when I am use it at its 80% of charge. But one time that we were out of the apartment and it was at its 30% we received a call that lead us to recharge water. Also, it let us to make a call at its 20% to know about the children that had had the accident.

Another miracle was that we had the visit of an old neighbour that didn’t live in the block anymore, and went there to check on us. It happens to be that he knew the place to recharge oil without a long line and took us there.

Also there was the fact that we had exactly the cash enough to buy two bags of ice and a minute later there they said they ran out of it.

Continue reading “Dark diary”

Pizza without cheese, love without kiss.

Some people may say that they cannot live without cheese and I was one of them. Thinking in that person, the person who I was then, I thought “well, by now I would have scroll over this reading because if this is something that would make me consider to quit cheese I do not want to read it”. But when I ponder the scars I could have not have, Gosh! I just feel selfish for not sharing this. I just hope that a stubborn head (as well as mine was) read it and use it, so I will go straight to the point.

By “leaving” cheese and all dairy products I got rid of pimples for good and I realize that I was not breathing as well as I could. Because of these two major reasons I sleep better, this in turn made my morning rutine pain free, and that is how it started a domino effect of good consequences that made my days brighter. Now it is up to you to keep reading.

Long story short, I have a rough puberty. My acne was so serious that I was used as lab rat of my doctor for testing new treatments. We succeeded enough for me putting clothes on with no pain most days of the month, and I accepted that that was the way my life was meant to be.

One day I woke up with a rash. I was told that it was an allergy and I had to figure out what was causing it. I had to eliminate a lot of food groups (almost everything) from my diet until the rdaysash would disappear, and then started to add one group in every week to find out my reaction to each one. It turned out that it was not originated for any food, but I did discover a few things about my body that I do love to be aware of now.

  1. Everytime I eat or drink any dairy product, I wake up the next morning with stuffy nose. And if do this for two days in a row I get a pimple.
  2. I can eat gluten, but it is way harder to digest than the rest of the food for my system.

I said “leaving” before because I did not wipe out these products from my life. GOD knows I love pizza and ice cream and I do not like the fake stuff. Instead, I have learned when and how much of them I can eat to enjoy them keeping their effects on me under control.

I strongly recommend doing this experiment to everybody. It requieres time and effort but believe me it is worth. Everybody, and I mean literally every single body is different. Doctors can guide you because they have studied our human body for a many years but they are not soothsayers, and maybe you are not a textbook case.

Do not be like the old me. Do not waste your life getting used to dealing with health issues that everybody clasifies as minor if they lessen the happiness of your days. Pay attention to your body and give it some love.

PS. In case that you wonder, my rash was the way of my body to shout out that I had to take the stress down a notch. So, restricting my diet only made it worse. But once I became conscious of it, it vanished.

Todo pasa por algo y lo mejor es lo que pasa.

Grandpa’s country

Photo by Argenis Rodriguez.

I am one of the few young people living in my building. It has 88 apartments, distributed on 14 floors and 4 penthouses. You can find on each floor an older living alone, a couple of grandparents, and the rest of the apartments empty. Just on a few you’ll see a young family, or a single. And if you enter and take a coffee with these last ones, you’ll know that they are in the process of getting their paperwork done to leave the country.

This is not a thing happening just in my building, it is like that in the other next to this. Also, my last two friends that left here told me that it’s the same in their buildings. Moreover, if you walk in the streets and pay attention you’ll notice the same stats for the ages of the people you will see.

This country has became in a giant care home, except that they take care of themselves. Instead of receiving visits, they learnt how to use skype or facetime. They cannot do much with their retirement payment, so they rely on an allowance from their children outside of the country.

These grandparents are incredible fighters. Apart from the fact that they manage to get 18 liter-bottles of water and their daily staples into buildings without elevator most of the time, they also go out in each protest to defend what they built and are attached to. They do not want to start from zero in another land like our youth. They planted a tree in this land, had a son here and had already started to write their books about this place.

They do not stay behind and be safe at home while others defend them. As long as they can walk and rise a flag, they would go in the front row alongside the others warriors of peace clinging to the hope of dying surrounded by their offsprings. The ones they raised and the ones they only know through a screen.


Food is love.
Food is fuel.
Food is a peacemaker.
Food is an excuse to see you.

Some food can harm.
Some food can heal.
Some food gives you pleasure.
Some food gives you more years.

Your food is a reason to love you.
Your food shows me you care.
Your food represents you.
Your food can take you back in time and place.

My food says where I am from.
My food is my culture.
My food always spreads a message.
My food shapes my body and my posture.