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YAB Memories: The Stories of El Caimán de Sanare

Caimán de Sanare

Always with his particular hat, leafy beard, and singular smile, he became an icon of popular literature.

“I looked for jobs, and none of them worked for me because they didn’t give me the base, I was still in debt.”


People often say you can’t live through the dreams you have, that you’re always supposed to be somebody else. You can’t be a writer, either an artist or a dancer because you could end up homeless and starving. You can’t be an engineer because you’re a woman and that’s a man’s job. You can’t be a doctor because you’re not smart enough. There’s always a “you can’t,” but what happens when you truly listen to this and then lose yourself?


“I was a broom maker; I was a merchant, I bought eggs in all those hamlets; I carried the symphony, I touched them a little waltz, and they gave me food. I would buy eight eggs per bolivar; each bolivar would earn half.”


You try to live between someone else’s life and dreams; you may get to have a decent life, but that doesn’t mean happiness. You walk past people that just move because they have to, not because they want to or either they’re planning to go somewhere. It gets to that robotic point we all hate, the  “wake up – work – sleep” schedule. You’re not really living; you’re just breathing and moving, but not doing what you came here to do.


Storytelling Barquisimeto

José Humberto Castillo, better known as El Caimán de Sanare, dedicated his life to collect and share stories he created from his imagination.


“Then I went to the beach, and I was going to burst those guacales so heavy. The work masters didn’t give me any more work, because if you stopped fifty percent of the workers… I said I wouldn’t give up in my stories even if I get killed. When you’re born to tell a story, it’s not worth letting it go. I’ve always been a storyteller, since I was a child.”


El Caimán de Sanare got to live a happy life because he forgot about everything he was supposed to be and became what he wanted to be: the real him, the joyful man we all remember with so much love. He‘s the one who through his stories gave light from Sanare to the whole country. He touched the hearts of anyone who found his work because no matter how old you are, there’s never a wrong time to hear a good story.


“Some say, «so many people see that guy, El Caimán». Others appreciate me. Those who don’t appreciate me are very few, those who don’t know about culture. Other people have been very kind to me; I’ve been very recognized for the stories; they’re my best friends.”


However, El Caimán wasn’t recognized just because his stories were good, but for the love and passion that moved him. This wasn’t just a job for him, or a thing he was forced to do, it was his life. What surrounded him was the magic of every new story he created. Perhaps that’s why it feels so special to read that sign in Sanare that says “Here lives El Caimán de Sanare”, because although he may no longer be with us, he left a space and hundreds of memories filled with the joy he was always known for in the people he met.




“The best work was the one with the lies, which is the same story. Through lies, I found how to work. A beam of lies makes people sensitive. Look at the politicians. I couldn’t tell the truth because people didn’t believe the truth; a lie did.”


There are already too many dreams paused in the world, and there are way too many people that doubt about what they are capable of, that don’t believe the great talent that hides inside them. Fear is something we all feel, and sometimes we even get to the point of staying in a place we don’t want to be even if we feel unhappy. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve already listened to the “follow your dreams” quotes millions of times, the thing is actually to believe this.


If there’s something certain, is that our happiness are dreams have too much value to let them go. Whether you dream about filming a movie, writing a book, being a mother, saving a life, you go for it! Everything is worth it when you really want it; and if that’s your dream, then who can stop you? Just remember El Caimán, and say: “I’ve always been this, since I was a child.”


“I work with meaning. I have never wanted to be anyone’s slave. You help each other and then you’re a slave because somebody controls you.”


I’ve always been a storyteller since I was a child.” story from the book Sin Decí Una Garra ‘e Mentira by El Caimán de Sanare.



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