Each day the bridge to Colombia sees a steady stream of people — a mix of young and old, alone and in family groups — cross back and forth looking for basic supplies. Most are carrying empty suitcases or a handful of plastic bags as they cross into Colombia. On the return trip, the bags brim with goods they can’t get at home.
The air is humid and dusty at the same time. The bridge is flanked by lush palm trees as it leads to a patch of land teeming with makeshift storefronts, mini supermarkets and currency conversion shops.
As the road opens into the border town of Cucuta, young women pass out yellow sale fliers to entering Venezuelans. A man raises his voice to yell into a microphone about goods on offer at a large supermarket. “Welcome, friends from Venezuela, we have chocolate milk and toilet paper for a good price,” he shouts.
Enrique Sanchez, wind beaten and darkened by the sun, is thankful to Colombia, he said, “Because they have enough for themselves and us.”
This time, he has come over to buy flour, oil, rice and sugar with his depreciating Venezuelan Bolivars. He makes the hour-long journey from
San Cristobal every two days to keep is family of eight fed during the crisis.
“Unfortunately, in Venezuela, there is no food. That’s the reality,” he said, before walking back towards the crossing.