An odd ode to sanitary pads

In silence, Venezuelan women are the ones suffering the newest shortage: sanitary pads. Although I have enough for this month (naturally, I always buy one extra package in advance); when I heard about the shortages, I panicked. On my way to work I visited five different places - including four pharmacies and one supermarket - only to find out, to my disdain, that all sanitary pads of any type and any brand, had magically disappeared of the shelves. In their place, I could see some tampons, alongside adult diapers and pantyliners (of only one brand) unsuccessfully halfway filling the empty spaces.

Food and other basic products' shortages are now insanely common in Venezuela. But till this moment I did not had a lot of trouble adjusting myself to them.

No more black beans? That's ok, I can live without eating them, I didn't like them that much anyway.

No more milk? Now that was a rough shortage phase, probably what caused Chavez to lose its first election in almost a decade. But like I said it was just a phase. It was hard to adjust, specially considering my stomach is fully accustomed to low fat milk. But either way, milk as remain as an elusive hard to find product ever since, so we are used to always come back home with an unfamiliar brand or to not drink milk for a few days.

No more meat? We ate chicken, pork and fish until meat "comes back"

There was also a shortage of toilet paper that did freaked my family out about a year ago. Fortunately, it was only a shortage, in the sense that toilet paper did not disappeared completely. Only one package per person or family was allowed to buy; and for sure, you couldn't find the brand you were looking for. Although troublesome and extreme, we could still have access to it.

Some mayonnaise brands usually disappear and reappear again. In my house, home-made mayonnaise has proved to be a better solution than buying an unfamiliar brand.

The deodorant brand my boyfriend likes, “magically” disappeared a few months ago so he's still trying different brands until he can find one he's comfortable with.

To make a long story short, it seemed to me that there were always creative ways to "survive" shortages. I even thought that this hard situation was teaching me something: nothing is truly indispensable. Us humans tend to lay on so many things and we tend to think that without those modern commodities we can't survive. But shortages were proving me so far that that's not true. I thought I could even be happier if I effectively learned that life does not consist neither does depends on what we find or not, what we can buy or not at the supermarket or shopping mall.

I got to fell even prouder about leading my life into this new (odd) "philosophy". I was even preparing a long sentimental post on the subject.

But I just made the mistake one cannot make under this Revolution: to take something for granted.

Probably not intentionally, but I did took sanitary pads for granted. I never put myself in the nasty scenario of a sanitary pads shortage; even less a sanitary pads disappearance.

Once it all happened, all that speech of being creative about shortages and learning to live without things we consider "basic"; stopped making any sense to me.

Like I said, I had never previously thought about it. But now I'm convinced that a modern women can live without make up, high heels, purses, even without meat, black beans and milk but it cannot survive without sanitary pads. That's our one truly basic item. Our idea of a modern woman does not exist without sanitary pads. How could us go out to the streets, wearing skirts and tight yeans, during our period days without those holy extra slim items? Without them we could excuse from all work, love and social life to lock ourselves in the bathroom for at least three days once a month.

Sanitary pads are a miracle. Our body goes throughout a crazy - and not exactly pretty - process, our hormones revolve, our mood changes, our belly hurts and yet; thanks to the sanitary pads; our lives can continue (erasing in a disposable item all our chaos). The best about it is that no one notices perhaps your boyfriend after your over sensitive complain because he called five minutes late (it always happens...)

I regret not seeing the possibility of a sanitary pads shortage - disappearance before, of not saving enough packages in my room. I regret always being ashamed of them, hiding them in a remote inside pocket of my purse without realizing how valuable they actually are.

I hope the government and the business sector can find a prompt solution for the sake of us modern - and very concerned about out personal hygiene - Venezuelan women. Because truly, I haven't figured out - nor think I ever will - a creative way to keep living with this shortage. A friend of mine seemed unworried: "I'll used tampons instead" - She said, while she was buying a few boxes of those.

To be honest, I don't wear tampons, I simply dislike them and I don't feel tempted to swim while I'm on my period anyway.

To be honest, I'm just a woman who doesn't fully understand how this happened. But she suspects strict government controls have something to do about it. I'm just a woman looking throughout empty shelves for this one single item I can't function without.

In the meantime, some women are wearing tampons, some men are unworried because "it is not their business". The government is looking to impose more controls to make us believe with artificial low prices that it is all ok. And some business people, I hope, are figuring out how to sell what I can't find.

So welcome to Venezuela. A place where at least today, sanitary pads are a rare, scarce, and precious item.

PS: There is also a diapers shortage. Moms and dads speak angry on the radio daily about the sizes and brands they can't find. Perhaps I'll post more about it lately. I prefer to talk about one shortage every time.