So OK after tearful hugs and goodbyes to Jess and Speck, I’ve made it through the airport. I’ve got a money belt on me because the black market exchange rate in Venezuela is double the official exchange rate. Count this as one of the many concerns I have for my stuff getting through two choke points between me and safety in the apartment where I’ll be staying. I’m a little nervous about this.
So the other day I asked Jess how to say in a letter “allow myself to introduce myself” because I am absolutely not used to talking about myself or what I’m doing. Here it is in brief: I’m heading to Venezuela for a month and then Brazil for another month to conduct research interviews and come across whatever data I can get my hands on regarding two social programs that the countries have initiated. In Venezuela, the programs are called the social missions, or Misiones. In Brazil, the program I’ll be talking about is called Bolsa Familia, the more famous program of the pair. There are 17 social missions in Venezuela. They range from providing identification cards to a program where healthcare is provided by Cuban doctors in the informal neighborhoods called barrios. I won’t be looking at all of them. I’ll be looking at education-related missions, and one focused on funding mothers in the barrio. I intend compare these to the Brazilian plan of Bolsa- that is transferring cash to fund families’ livelihoods by keeping their kids in school and out of work. Like Bolsa, the Venezuelan programs involve cash transfers to the poor, some in the form of a “scholarship.” I think that coverage and disbursement in both countries’ programs have political factors motivating them. I’m going to ask people about these, and when I don’t get straight answers, I’ll ask somebody else to figure out what folks ARE saying.
But why I want to blog is much more interesting than that. I want to highlight the experience of an American dude while he goes through inconveniences and awesome stuff.
I found out that there’s a TGI Fridays in Caracas. I wanna check that out. I will post about my experience making food and eating, sharing cultural differences, and some similarities. Most important of those is BASEBALL. The Venezuelan league has just fired up and Jose Tábata will be there for the month of November. I’m going to figure out how to see him play. I’m really stoked on this. Here are the Caribes:
In Brazil I want to go crate-digging for psych records. I brought two mailers and I’m bringing home some records for me and maybe some for Ross, if he’s lucky.
Look at Gilberto loungin’ like he’s not trying to start a revolution.
I’ll post more later.