Americas, Venezuela, Life

Ideas and Topics Venezuelan People are Obsessed With

Every nationality has something they are obsessed with. I am not talking about stereotypes, or what other people think about us; this is a completely different subject. The topic I want to talk about today refers only to the ideas and topics that invade our heads in Venezuela. The beliefs, values, and conceptions that we have stamped in our mind like a moral passport.

I have previously talked about how politics invaded our Venezuelan homes and how we could not stop talking about it in our everyday lives. With family and friends, at a party, in the elevator, at the bakery or in every single corner of the city. Everywhere in Venezuela, somebody is willing to talk to you about politics; some are even willing to fight you over politics.

But politics are not the only subject that we always like to bring to the table in Venezuela. There are other topics, some more interesting and some much lighter, that can help you have a very long and nice conversation with your Venezuelan friends.

First and Foremost: Arepas

If we had to choose a new flag, it would have a very yummy arepa printed on it. Back in the days when we were not yet independent, it was fashionable to have colored flags with multiple stars. So we got our own: yellow, blue, red and some stars in the middle. If we had that chance again, I bet we would redesign it and select something that represents our soul: a beautiful arepa.

Arepas are made with corn flour and bread shaped like hamburgers. It is a very simple bread that can be stuffed with almost anything, and that is where the magic comes from. You can have them for breakfast with ham, cheese, and eggs or you can have them for lunch with meat or vegetables. And you could repeat your favourite stuffing for dinner.

Arepas are so famous that even TV shows like Master Chef have had participants who prepared arepas. Last year Alejandro Toro was one of the final 12 participants to leave the show, and he won some of the challenges with his wonderful and tasty arepas. Our dish has won awards for being the best breakfast because of its versatility, how can we not be in love with our food?

Le Derrière

Asses, bottoms, behinds, you name it. We are obsessed with derrieres, and the Venezuelan language is the best evidence of that. We can express so many emotions and feelings with expressions related to ‘that ass’: love, anger, disappointment, and envy.

Everything can be phrased by using derriere. Here’s a short list of some of our most beloved derriere expressions:

  • If a man or a woman is dating someone who is really attractive, you could say in Venezuela that you are dating an ass(salir con un culo)
  • If the relationship is going to be temporary then the ass is small (sali con un culito)
  • Want to say that somebody is constantly angry? You can say that this person is an ass-face (ser cara de culo)
  • If a topic does not interest you at all, you can always say that it tastes like ass (saber a culo)
  • If a person is completely confused and disoriented, this person is all ass (volverse un culo)

There are almost a hundred phrases with “ass” meanings that we have culturally accepted and even promoted. Our linguistic energy allows us to have fun with the Venezuelan language. It enables us to continue making jokes or laugh even in the middle of this economic crisis. Maybe we use it as some sort of home remedy to alleviate political and economic rashes and cuts.

Venezuelan Baseball

And more baseball. Baseball season causes collective amnesia, for the best and the worst, we forget about everything else we focus on baseball. Our favorite teams have all our attention for a couple of months.

There are several baseball teams in Venezuela but two of them have the largest number of followers. Navegantes del Magallanes (Magellan’s Sailors) and Leones del Caracas (Caracas’s Lions) have always been rivals. Bullying, pranks, jokes and any other kind of public humiliation are used and completely valid. In case you happen to be attending a game where both teams are playing, and your team is losing, you better leave the stadium a little bit sooner because towards the end you will be probably showered in beer and yelled at a lot.

Miss Venezuela and our Beautiful Women

I don’t know exactly when or why we started believing we had the most beautiful women in the world. Venezuela has won several beauty pageants, true; but I think mass media has more to do with this belief than actual beauty. There are similar beauty standards around the world: symmetry, soft skin, youth, ok. But, we like curvy women, with long hair and small waists (and we like strong men with big arms and nice butts).

The thing is that most Venezuelans are not really like this. We have a plethora of body sizes and shapes that no beauty pageant represents. Most Venezuelan women are quite short and have some curves here and there while a Miss Venezuela is super tall, and has to also follow the 90-60-90’s cm rule to enter the contest. So, we have a Beauty Queen representing what the TV audience and producers behind the show want our image to be.

We devote more time to these topics than to the ones we should be paying attention to. We should pay attention to the ones that are supposed to influence our growth as a country. In the past, we were never in too much trouble, meaning we could spend some time with these hobbies. To this day we go back to these ideas and become obsessed with them. In an attempt to recover some of the peace and strength we used to have.

So, the next time you want to relax with a Venezuelan friend, and you want to hear how proud they are of something, try asking them about arepas and baseball. You won’t be disappointed.

About Isabel Matos

Isabel is a Venezuelan translator that struggles to find a voice and to prosper in today’s political turmoil and tension. She is also an undergraduate English teacher and is currently pursuing a Master’s in English as a Foreign Language. Translator, teacher and always student, she is interested in how language shapes reality and how women and men negotiate power through discourse.

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