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Starting Over Again
When the heart resists to leave, but it must leave.

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By Nelson Peńaherrera Castillo

Photo Courtesy Magno Concepción.

LIMA CITY, Peru - It is one of those days when the Metropolitano bus goes full up people. Then a man. no more than 5'7 feet height, pokes another husky one, around 6'3 feet, who decides to go straight beyond to avoid the disgusting strokes. Who knows, as everybody goes such as sardine, the touch, the inertia anyway is unavoidable. But the idea does not work because the shorty guy is right there poking again. The big man goes still beyond until he has no more space to go.
"excuse me, stop poking me," he requests well-mannered, evident Venezuelan accent.
"Shut up and stop coming to remove us out from our jobs," the one who looks like an aggressor claims him, much arrogant, angry.
"But I did not come here to remove anybody out from the job," the first one replies.
Then, an elder woman intervenes: "Stop right now blaming on him!," she rebukes the aggressor. "He comes to work hard for the money as everyone of us."
Understanding that despite gaining support he is getting the whole opposite, the agressor and the woman are starting an argue which spot is that John Doe, and the lady seems to lose the respect from that very angry, arrogant guy now, until an around-5'10-feet hunk, evident bodybuilder look, stans up, advance toward the aggressor, faces him: "Come on, poke me because I freeze you with a punch."
Looking at the muscled young man's anatomy, the impertinent one must be thinking in that moment if to continue being wayward is most important than protecting his humanhood.
"I am Peruvian, indeed, and that Venezuelan is my friend," the bodybuilder closures.
The aggressor whispers something and slices among the rest.
The Venezuelan stands to see the scene not saying any word, not knowing who that young man and that woman who went out to defend him are,even. Ultimately, both leave out a couple of stops before than him. He just could thank them.

Photo Courtesy Magno Concepción.

"I never met them in my life and I never knew who they were," the Valencia (Carabobo) native business manager Magno Concepción, 49, assures. He is part of the migrant wwave in Peru. He left his four kids, his parents' house, and a job that allowed him not to reach the end of the month due to a riding bolívar currency devaluation  in Venezuela, what transmuted twice, first bolívar fuerte (strong bolívar),  what once weakened became to rename bolívar soberano a couple of months ago.

When he was 21, he tried to start up a career in the proffessional baseball joining Leones del Caracas, one of the most popular teams of the nation, but he just  if stood  as apresummoned because his scenic fear played him the most disgusting and embarrasing situations he could imagine.

"I never understood why all that crowd scared me at the stadium," he says, because he enrolled  in multiple things, working as a driver and a bodyguard among them, what demans much public exposure. even more, he joined every December the groups those performed the gaitas, typical Caribbean rythms played  and listened during Christmas time. Inclusive, he became to be part of The Ex, that played salsa and merengue, joined by former member singers of Guaco, a popular orchestra that began performing traditional music of Zulia, Western Venezuela. "One of the best," he affirms.

The Magno's instrument was, and is if somebody gives him the chance to play it, the bass drum.

Photo Courtesy Magno Concepción.

But being a four-kid father, bills to pay, the monthly money each time worthing much less, and the unsecurity the Chavism offered, Magno thought his life needed a radical solution - leaving the country.

He expected ffor the 2017 elections tto the Nicolás Maduro opposition got to have the control of Carabobo, what was no possible, so he followed up the advice of a female friend who was already living in Lima, and he left as he could with the support of a brother who is living in Canada. He took his luggage, his laptop, his cellphone, an tripped southwestern course, comforted that at least arriving into Lima, he had a place where to safeguard.

"When I arrived into Piura, I turned on the laptop, connected to my friend taking advantage the bus terminal had wi-fi," he tells. "Then, she said me that she could not have me anymore because her building-master became angry."

Magno desperated initially. He was already inside the country pretending to be his new home but less than 650 miles from his destination. What he left behind was five times than that. He wanted to cry, but he searched other online buddies who told him about other cheapest-but-quite-noisy choices in North Lima City, and he took them.

After getting many jobs which he did not last too much due to his masters did not pay, he got something steadier as a securitty guard at a disco in La Victoria, what he got to combine some time later with the administration of a restaurant in Chorrillos. That is how he started to gather money and send it to Venezuela. Of course, working double took the sleep time off. "Once I became to add more than five days sleepless," he remembers.

Photo Courtesy Magno Concepción.

In few spare times, when homesick flew around, Magno turned on his laptop and reviewed  all his kids pictures in private.

"I remember the New Year's Eve, the DJ started to countdown, and when he reached zero, I started to cry sadly; the next I remember is my every workmates holding me strong, ssaying me not to become sad, that the Venezuela situation is going to improve very soon, and the next morning, when the company invited us breakfast, the boss was who got me closer and also held me strong," he confesses.

Magno says despite the Metropolitano episode, the treatment he had from Peruvians has been possitive, although clearly he continues not to know who the lady and the bodybuilder defending him were.

"Later, I got ajob at a sewing factory and the machine was too low that I ended backpain; then my workmates created grips and raised it, looking me for a littlest chair,so I might be working more comfortable," he tells.

Trying to look for better opportunities, he left the prior jobs and now he is in Ventanilla, Callao, at the opposite side of the capital city, working for a company that makes mining accesories. There, his new boss provided him a modular house as a shelter so he could avoid  more expenses in transportation.

eberything was alright until somebody entered  the company the second week of September and robbered it. The whole personnel, including Magno, was reduced and tied.

"As the little house has no warm system, I sleep wearing two layers of clothes, so at least they did not robber me that and other I kept," but they did leave him partially broke... and without his laptop. "when I want to see my kids now, I have to log in the social media on the cellphone."

Photo Courtesy Magno Concepción.

After that episode, he has preferred to  go sleeping to the company's warehouse that seems him safer, or one neighbor's house. But he is returning eventually to the little modular house. At least, they did not take his good humor sense off.

"I remember when Peru wan New Zealand, I was the one who screamed the goals more aloud, and my Peruvian folks saw me as saying I was insane; the same when you went to Russia, you don't know how I was sorry when [Christian] Cueva failed the penalty shot, and I was the most euphoric when Peru defeated Australia," he laughs.

Meanwhile, he is thinking to reivindicate himself and paying back a current debt more tthan two decades later, so he is joining a softball team, that is training in Magdalena del Mar. He also is planning how to task for playing the bass drum again, just one song if possible, during the concert that Guaco to offer in Lima next November. He is already making connections to get it, by the way.

He also would love to meet again the lady and the young bodybuilder who defended him in the Metropolitano, but he fears a little because he thinks is like lookina needle in a haystack.

"They were like angels to me," he assures.

Yes, Lima is more than nine million habitants, but even that remote chance, the meetings and the miracles happen when one expects the less.

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This story is part of Venezuela Libre Project.

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