I was seven years old, turned eight at the end of that year. I don’t want to put my age as another dramatic ingredient of my story, I’m just telling you my age because since I was so little, my memories are a little bit blurry and they often confuse with another coup attempt that happen that very same year, on November.
We lived in a neighbourhood called “La Floresta”. The neighbourhood is separated by a highway of the military airport called “La Carlota” so this could explain why we felt all the events so close.
I woke up at dawn hearing planes and random gunshots (first time I heard those). In Venezuela every kid is used to hear explosions: on Christmas eve and New Years are simply non- stop. But these explosions sounded drier, I knew they were no fireworks but I wasn’t sure of what it was until my mom screamed “¡Tiros!” (Gun shots). Still half awaked in our pyjamas, we all went to my parent’s bed to watch the news on TV. I asked if we were going to school and the whole family gave me this ironic look back “Yeah… sure…” Then we heard more airplanes and the gunshots seemed to be closer. My mom screamed all of the sudden: “¡Al suelo!” (“To the floor!”) and we all layed down immediately, I think my sister made me lay down but I’m not sure.
My parents made us go to a small room that connected all the bedrooms and closed the bedroom doors. The “Al suelo!” screams became more frequent, and the explosions and planes simply didn’t stop and were quite annoying. I asked my mom what was going on and she answer me back "Its a coup" - "And what is a coup, mom?" - I replied as the annoying little girl that I was - "Ehmm a coup is like a war, but shorter" - was the best answer she could come up with.
I think it was near noon when my parents decided that that room where we were staying, on the top floor, was not safe anymore and the only safe place remaining in a house filled of doors and windows was a small bathroom we used for the visitors, located right under the stairs. I think the six of us (my brothers and my parents) somehow ended inside that bathroom and when they decided that it was safe to go out, I didn’t want to. My moms made me pasta and try to give it to me but I refused, I was sort of shaking.
At some point of the day I saw my mom argument with someone outside from the balcony of her room “They can’t be here!” – She said. My dad made her go back inside. Apparently they were a few soldiers hiding in our garden or near by.
The rest of the day was nothing different: non stop explosions, stories here and there, and airplanes all the time.
The next day my mom was afraid of sending us to school so we spend the day in the garden, looking for bullets. We find a lot and I think they are still saved somewhere.
It is odd but right now, as I write this, I’m hearing airplanes. They are probably practicing for the celebrations Chavez is going to held because of that day. And that sound is probably the sound that better reminds me of that day. It’s like going back 17 years, and to see myself covering my ears with my hands and asking my mom if she could make it stop.
It’s the very same airplanes but 17 years later. Sometimes I think that I’m still covering my ears and lying in the ground, since no one has still been able to make it stop.