Often times, I am in the throes of telling my family and friends about the daily occurrences that happen on the ranch and in our lives, and the listening party erupts into uncontrollable laughter after which they almost always say, "I sure hope you're writing this stuff down in a book. Its a best seller"... or "whoever said living on a ranch in the country was boring has never lived in your shoes"... and so forth.
I admit, there's always, ALWAYS something going on. Most of the time its funny, incredible, unbelievably hysterical, or beyond belief...
But there are sometimes too, when our 'different' lives are different in a bad way, and those times are not so fun... like yesterday.
Before I tell you what happened yesterday, I want to give you alittle background... many of my readers on this blog applaud my honesty and willingness to share everything. So I can't tell you yesterday's story without sharing with you our background...
When I married D, I knew that third-world Venezuela was not the safest place on the planet to be. He had cautiously told me stories of family and friends being kidnapped and ransomed for money, most times returned unharmed, other times not. Soemtimes worse. He told me stories of traveling to the family's ranch but not telling people about his whereabouts, never keeping the same schedule, not making future plans that could be overheard by others and used against him.
He told me how prevalent kidnapping was/is in his country and how it is a way of life to have to watch your back- always. The threats were everywhere, it was not just from the guerrilla on the close Colombian border, but his own countrymen, who were capable of such injustice.
I was in disbelief. I couldn't imagine a place where you couldn't just call 911 or your local police department and get help. I couldn't fathom that there, the police are actually paid off and are as corrupt and bad as the criminals. In my mind he was exaggerating the situation, trying to make his foreign life all the more intriguing and exciting...
Thats what I heard from everyone after I married the Venezuelan. "Oh wow, your life in Venezuela is so different. So exciting".
It was true. However, exciting does not always mean a good thing. Exciting can be bad too...
When we married and settled in Venezuela, things were exciting. Thats for sure. To this little midwestern girl who trusts just about everyone, I was in a for a rude-awakening...
My in-laws traveled with an armed guard driving the car. Often times on trips to the ranch, an armed car went in front of theirs and another behind. They both carried their own weapons... The schedule and the routine was always changing so that anyone paying attention to us couldn't know our schedules. We didn't go anywhere alone. Always with a driver. A guard sat outside my home all day and all night, guarding me and my house. We had to stay ahead of the game when it came to the guard and treat him/pay him well so that no one else could pay him more and thereby buy his loyalty. Our German Shephard is a trained guard dog to protect me. To the death.
Its not a fun way to live, to never know who's watching you. When you're going to be the target. There are whispers and threats all of the time. Its a way of life there. There's no sense of security. No freedom. Its something that we, Americans, have never experienced and can hardly imagine. I didn't imagine it. It was real.
My reason for wanting to return to the US was because of this uncertain lifestyle. It was too hard for me. How could I raise a family in a place like that when I knew a better way? A better place!? Unless you're the president, you don't travel in motorcade here, and if you need help, the police/ambulance/fire department is a short call away. We should realize that those things we take for granted are luxuries that don't exist in other places.
It was only one week after we returned to the States that we heard of the neighbor being kidnapped. One mile down the road from the ranch. It could have been D. It could have easily been my husband kidnapped on his long drive to and from the ranch. Instead it was one of his closest friends at the neighboring property. A husband and father of 3. Plucked right off off his own land. They were waiting for him.
He was kidnapped and his family ransomed. Think about this: if your loved one was kidnapped, his life in question, you would move heaven and earth to get him back, wouldn't you? Of course you would. Thats how these people make money. The family pays... after 51 days of torture, he was dropped at the Colombian border wearing only his underwear and no shoes. But at least he had his life.
Another kidnapping happened the day before my sister in law was to marry her groom. He was at a stoplight. Thieves jumped in his car, blindfolded him and put a gun to his neck as they drove his car to every ATM in the vicinity. Imagine this happening to you on the eve of your wedding day! After they maxed his credit cards in the ATM machine, they tossed him out of his own car and took off. He was broke and carless but at least he had his life...
What I'm trying to tell you is that these things happen on a daily basis in Venezuela. Its happening to regular people like you and me.
Yesterday, after little D had been sent off to school, we received a threatening email that our son had been kidnapped. Of course when you come from a place where kidnapping is commonplace, you instantly assume the worst and take it seriously. The message was extremely threatening and scary.
We spent the morning having the email traced, contacting the Texas Rangers and ultimately the FBI. The school was on lock-down. It turned out to be a hoax of the worst kind, someone's idea of a sick joke. I bet that person isn't joking now!
So yes, we have an unusual life. The excitement is enough to give me a heart attack.