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“Thanks to that opportunity, I discovered my life mission”

My name is Mayling. I was born in 1971 in Maracaibo, Venezuela. I came to Almere in the Netherlands for the first time in 2009. I live in Almere Buiten and this is my story.
I was born in Maracaibo, Zulia State also known as "The Land of the Beloved Sun" because of the hot temperature. It is the second most important city in the country after its capital Caracas, due to the oil industry that develops on the shores of Lake Maracaibo. 

I am the second of four siblings. I had a very nice childhood and adolescence with parents who were very good lawyers for our pedagogical education and our formation of values. When my parents divorced, my older sister and I were raised by my stepfather who was an important artistic entrepreneur with whom we spent a lot of time doing artistic tours. Through him, I met artists of renown and fame. 

In 1996 through a friend, I traveled to Curacao on vacation where I met a Curaçaoan. For a while, I had a relationship with him but it ended. I continued my life in Venezuela and started my studies as a Marketing Technician. 

In 2008, while I was working in a dealership and studying at the same time, I met again with that guy from Curacao. He invited me to visit the place where he lived in the Netherlands. So I arrived at "De Wierden, Almere Haven" and it was love at first sight to this place. Who would have imagined that the country I always grew up idealizing through the pictures that my aunt had, would be the country to which I would emigrate?

My first impressions were the canals, the bright green meadows with fat cows eating their grass, as well as the typical windmills. I was amazed by the colorful and extensive variety of flowers that I saw for the first time when visiting the Keukenhof. The only thing that was and still is a constant challenge for me is the climate and the language.

The socio-political problems, the inflation, the high cost of living, and the shortages that my country was going through caused me a lot of sadness when compared to what I saw here. I remember seeing those supermarkets with shelves full of every imaginable product, I felt a lump in my throat. I felt helplessness, guilt, and mixed feelings when I thought of my family and friends who lacked everything because of the crisis that Venezuela was going through.
For four years I traveled 2 to 3 times a year to Holland to study the language, get to know the culture, and prepare myself to take the Integration Exam. 

It was finally until 2013 that Sasha (my pet) and I arrived in Almere where we lived for 8 years.  During that period I remember that it gave me peace and tranquility to contemplate the beauty and tranquility of the nature of this city as the beach. Both were my refuge.

I spent my first year studying Dutch and the compulsory Integration exam, which I managed to pass. Then I worked in a production company in Lelystad and then a couple of years at Subway.
In 2014 near my home I found a Yoga studio where I started twice a week. I did Yoga Teacher Training and volunteered for a couple of years, teaching Restorative Yoga classes for people with Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and chronic pain. Thanks to that opportunity, I discovered my life mission. It is this path of Yoga that I wish to follow.

I am currently working in the health sector helping elderly people in their homes. A very rewarding job that I enjoy and do in honor of my grandmother (a very important figure in my life). In 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic she died without me being able to attend her funeral.  

In 2021, with mutual agreement, I separated from my partner, and today I am and live independently in Almere Buiten. I have a new life, new challenges, new friendships, and a new relationship. One of my new projects is to work Yoga with people who have fibromyalgia. 

I would not change any situation that life has presented to me as I have learned many lessons. I am a blessed woman who does not forget her Venezuelan roots. I still feel like a maracucha who enjoys pastelitos, empanadas, mandocas, tequeños, fried plantains, patacones and the Venezuelan sanduchon. But I also feel very Dutch when eating haring, stamppot, bitterballen, pannenkoeken, erwtensoep, rookworst and oliebollen. 

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Photos, Interview and Text: Lyla Carrillo Quan - van der Kaaden
Text Revision: Babette Rondón
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