Here's something you don't read every day

Me iría demasiado a LPG
Me iría demasiado a LPG

A positive review of Caracas, courtesy of the New York Daily News’ Michael Kaminer.

I’m glad Kaminer had a fun time, but … the Paris of South America…? I dare say not even Antonio Guzmán Blanco went that far.

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  1. A refreshing change in coverage of Venezuela. But the writer was lucky, naive or both. People get robbed, kidnapped and killed in Chacao and Los Palos Grandes all the time.

    • GP,

      I don’t find it refreshing at all, but rather misleading.He writes about the aspect of Caracas I least like ( pretentiousness and insanely boring, generic luxury), yet ignores its more soulful qualities( like the obscure parks , street callers, a family birthday party,or a mystical trip up the Avila ) …….at the same time blatantly ignoring the obvious/

      It is a common yet unfortunate trait among many to think that something doesn’t exist unless it happens them or until it is too late.

      I recently had a visit from an old friend who claimed Caracas was simply not that dangerous…I argued to no avail.Upon her return she was a victim of a kidnapping Express, and is now living in Spain.

  2. Well he was in the “nice part of the city, probably with friends or befriended “nice”people…I don’t think he was doing a “lonely planet adventure” besides, even J rodriguez has a house in LPG (oh yeah!)

    • Well I think when you visit a city you are not familiar with you tend to stick to the nice parts generally and if you have friends there (“nice people”) who can guide you around the better, specially in South America. I mean you are not going to Rio de Janeiro to hang out in Rocinha or downtown Rio at night. Believe me those are scary places. Last year an American tourist got kidnapped on a Bus in Copacabana and raped, and a German tourist visiting got shot just last month I believe. I have also been to the touristic historic center of Salvador, Bahia and you cannot go out at night after 11 pm and generally have to be on your toes. That does not make Rio or Salvador terrible cities to visit. Millions visit these places and a Brazilian (unlike many Caraquenos) is not going to tell you you are insane to visit, quite the opposite they promote people visiting their country.
      I am not trying to compare RIo to Caracas (Rio is much more scenic and bigger and more things to do, among other things), just trying to say that you can visit Caracas and have a great time if you stay at the right places and are guided by the right people, and there us no reason to scare people off of visiting as long as you give proper recommendations and caveats.

      • Although I agree with your statement that Caracas is worth visiting, Rio is something else. I went to Lapa at nighttime and recieved the New Year on Flamengo beach. Coming from Caracas it took me a long time to accept how safe it really was. It felt almost like Spain. My sensation was that a likely worst case is somebody robbing you, while Caracas (very possible) worst case is kidnap or murder with no investigation. Salvador felt a bit more like home but stil safer.

        I have had people visiting from Norway a few times, and we don’t have a car. We sometimes take them on the San Agustin teleferico, see the centre, milenio, el avila, and yes they like it, but we do all this after camouflaging them in base ball hats, make them wear jeans instead of shorts and maintaining an extremely high alertness. Caracas is just not safe for tourists, not even remotely. Of all the people visiting, at least a third get robbed or something stolen, and most likely hustled as well. Beyond unsafe, it is also difficult and unpleasant to get anything done, whether in a taxi, at the hotel, exhanging money etc. Your shit gets stolen in the hotels, planes are delayed or cancelled, restaurants never have what’s in the menu.

        Beyond this it is sad to think about what an amazing place Caracas would have been if creative and hard working people weren’t leaving and streets, businesses and people were safe.

      • There is such a thing as murder rate.
        One can get murdered in Santiago or in Oslo (remember the Breivik idiot). Chances are just much lower.
        The murder rate of Brazil as a country is extremely high and yet it is lower than 14 years ago. The murder rate of Venezuela is several times that of Brazil.
        And yes, there are people in Venezuela that have never had any problem. It’s a matter of probabilities.

        It’s not worth it. I used to be a walking tourist office for Venezuela. Now I warn people.

    • That’s good.

      You know, everyone has to admit, you can have a great time in Caracas. It is a great city that is going though a long, extended nightmare of neglect. Though recommending Sambil to a New Yorker is like…I can’t even think how crazy that is….its like saying to a Venezuelan, you’ll love the coffee and fun atmosphere at the Starbucks in SoHo….

    • LOL the bad things about Caracas by my gringo husband is coming from the airport at 100+ mph because there is this risk your car can be intercepted and you can be robbeb or kidnapped… you should have seen his face… people asking to get inside of any house “quickly please!” because same thing…. good things according to him, much cleaner city (the nicer parts) than any city in Mexico. Food and people (of course). To me, I miss my teen/ early 20s drinking in “El Leon” or dancing salsa in this place in chacaito I forgot the name, close to the chinese restaurant who is very famous (I also forgot the name)… but everytime I visit is cool and everything but I don’t feel is the same city that lives in my memory… so odd, like I don’t belong anywhere… I have the immigrant disease, I don’t belong anywhere

      • “I miss my teen/ early 20s drinking in “El Leon” or dancing salsa in this place in chacaito”
        My esposa venezolana and I laughed at that, she said substitute Valencia and it could be us.
        My first trip there was a similar experience with the added fun of having to replace her misplaced passport in three days before our flight home was leaving. We found the Canadian Embassy is in a decent enough area of Caracas and a search for hotels on my trusty Garmin GPS (thanks regven for the map file!) took us to the Savoy Hotel.
        We decided to take the subway to the embassy every day rather than fighting traffic to check if the embassy had confirmed her long list of references and issued a letter of transit. Being pressed up to the edge of the platform as a train pulls in is not an experience for the timid!
        Other than that and the copious amounts of garbage everywhere I could see how he could have had a nice, however myopic impression of Caracas. We would have loved to have had someone we knew there so we could have tasted more of the night life, but during the day we walked around the shops and cafes.

        Kaminer didn’t check out the teleferico??

        Once we had the Letter of Transit in hand – issued just before the embassy closed that day, about seven hours before our flight – the last thing we did was ride the teleferico and do the white-knuckle 4X4 ride down to the small village where they grow all the flowers.

        I left with the same impression and love for the beautiful, crazy, f’ed up place as your gringo husband did.

    • Yep. I though Buenos Aires was the Paris of South America… ask every single Argie including my Argie sis in law 😛 she would said that too

      • In 1986, I spent 4 days in B.As, during which time I walked extensively through its downtown, its commercial sector, and a few of its residential neighbourhoods. I never felt fear, even around midnight. (It might have been different had I passed through seedier sections, late at night). Yes, I can attest to that city’s moniker as the Paris of South America, based on extensive use of (belle époque) architecture and leafy wide boulevards.

        I’d have to see more than El Calvario in Caracas to give my old hometown the same Parisian label. But that’s not going to happen.

    • In October 2011 I showed Caracas around to an Irish guy and El Calvario park was one of our tourist spots. While being there I was astounded when he told me: “Now I see why they used to call Caracas The Paris of South America”.

      I later did a little research. The truth is “The City of Red-Tiled Roofs” has only been a domestic nickname for Caracas. Around 1875 Caracas began being known abroad as The Paris of South America due to the results of the first city urban renewal developed by president Guzmán Blanco. That nickname lasted until the second city urban renewal which started under Medina Angarita’s presidential term.

  3. “I didn’t feel threatened for a second on Caracas streets.”

    He needs to get his danger detector re-calibrated. Good thing he was with friends to look out for him. Every time I go to Caracas, I end up stressed from maintaining such a hypersensitive state of alertness.

    • Roy, it literally took me YEARS to unwind and relax after I moved away.For several years I carried my purse around with me, even in my own home.I had developed eyes in the back of my head.

  4. I believe Buenos Aires is the city in SA that has received that moniker…
    Had Kaminer´s friends showed him a glimpse of la otra cara de la moneda, I suspect the article would be less chipper,

  5. In fact I think he depicted the contradictory passive agressive enchanting vibra de mi amada Caracas. I think he hit it spot on. He was lucky, yes. He kept himself to chacao, lpg y las mercedes, yes. He described aprilis, lugar común etc very well… Even to the wonderful coffee, which I so sorely miss, And that’s what I and my BFF’s all do when I’m there. Go to all those places. It’s not like we go out of our eastern ghettos to go out walking or barhopping to las Adjuntas on weekends.

  6. Despite all the crap that is ongoing in Venezuela, he is right insomuch that Caracas can, (and I stress the can part) have a very special vibe. It does require all the stars aligning, or a very tightly scripted and managed trip/night out.

    The people are great, the food is delicious and the frenetic energy (or perhaps its frustrated energy after 2-3 hours a day in traffic) add a lot. Assuming you survive.

    Still, a trip to Caracas only? The real Venezuela beyond the valley is where the amazing stuff is. Going to Venezuela and only getting as far as Caracas is like going to Caracas and only getting as far as La Guaira. There is so much more to the country than Caracas.

    • Incidentally, I’m curioIncidentally, I’m curious how he came up with the 300,000 tourists out of 600,000 arrivals.

      He cites the World Bank, but that data, shows 595,000 tourists.

      Fun fact, cross-referencing another table, the average tourist spends $1416 on their transportation to Venezuela. While that figure might include other prepaid services, per the WB, I can’t imagine anyone prepaying for a damn thing at the official rate when someone would be delighted to take their currency for the parallel rate.

      One thing I note from the WB data:

      International inbound tourists (overnight visitors) are the number of tourists who travel to a country other than that in which they have their usual residence, but outside their usual environment, for a period not exceeding 12 months and whose main purpose in visiting is other than an activity remunerated from within the country visited.

      So while Mr. Kaminer calls them foreigners, could they be expats coming home to visit family? Both the market share (~.5%) and the number of “tourists” (between 500,000 and 750,000) has been relatively flat for years.

  7. Oh, my! Seriously. What’s next? The San Francisco of South America? (Maracaibo)

    Caracas is located in a valley with a wonderful mountain.
    Humour is an asset – as long as you are not a musiuo in a jocular crossfire.
    Some people can take the extra mile or even two for you.

    Still: an equally amount of people can be extremely aggressive – more so than in many other Latin American countries. More than in others, they can kill or rob you.

    Architecturally speaking, Caracas is and was disaster. It lost almost all its past and it never had much of one either, unlike other South American cities.

    It wasn’t that impressive even in pre-Chávez time, even if it could be close to our hearts.
    If you can only go around those regions he mentioned: it’s (usually) OK. Is that a city or a ghetto? If you do the maths, you will find out many dangerous Parisian banlieus are as safe as Chacao, the safest place in Caracas. Of course, you have another sensasión mientras dura la fiesta.

    I reckon there are tiny artistic experiments here and there but: a city of books? I guess even a secondary city in Ecuador would outstrip Caracas. A city of museums? Ditto. Dance we do, like hell.

    Our cities were basically cities de juerga or, more locally, de jodedera.

    He should go to Valencia, the Valencia of South America.

    • What’s next? The San Francisco of South America? (Maracaibo)
      ROTFL, considering the differing climates of the two cities. Recall Mark Twain’s famous quote about fogbound San Francisco: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Compare with a Maracaibo summer.

          • Which is why I used the AC as little as possible in my living quarters in Maracaibo. And why I do likewise in TX, which in the summer isn’t that much cooler than Maracaibo- now about 37 C in TX. In the context of AC, I now see why in all seriousness you called Maracaibo the “coldest city on earth.” You can definitely get a meat locker reaction going from 35-40+ degrees C outside to an AC room inside. As I get in TX when I don’t go into my own living quarters.

            One rig where I worked in had living quarters with AC, of course, but as the living quarters were above the engine room, you could burn your feet if you walked barefoot. But the huevos pericos made for great breakfast.

    • “Architecturally speaking, Caracas is and was disaster” indeed. But in many cases, urban planners have found that disorder and dislocations in urban design are contributors to social fiber.

        • I don’t know if you are trying to be funny or is it that can’t actually see the many good things about a place because there are also bad things. Things are not black and white. It isn’t an all perfect or all chaos. There is a mix.

          • sorry, Rodrigo, but I was making a pun on your use of “social fiber”. Of course I know that things are not black and white, that there’s a mix. Too bad Kaminer was irresponsible and soft-pedalled the bad by purposely staying out of problem areas, and by not mentioning other imperfect and chaotic facts of life in Caracas.

          • Had he even stayed much longer in the non-problem areas, he would have been hit sooner, rather than later (btw, good joke that, “social fiber”).

          • I suspect Kaminer would not have been hit, during a longer stay in non-problem areas. And here’s why: because the caraqueños he “befriended” in New York (cha-maduristas at the consulate or VIO?) who invited him down would have accompanied him in a carro blindado to those sanitized corners of Caracas that made for a fluff, come hither piece acceptable travel writing, thereby serving Maduro’s earlier voiced need to promote tourism. Es que el artículo me huele a propaganda, a un exceso de fibra social …

    • Not to defend this Kaminer dude (Caracas is a stressful, aggressive, culturally limited and extremely dangerous city), but as someone who traveks around South American for a living, I can definitely say that CCS is one of the most visually stunning cities on the continent. The geography is asbolutely priviledged, and the architecture (of the nice parts) has unrivalled flair / character.

  8. and no word about the traffic?
    Does Kaminer have an impediment in sensory awareness? Or is the payment offer (via Izarra) too rich for him to see more clearly?

  9. Quico — you willed it to be true!

    As for Venezuela as a new home for the American fugitive, Greenwald said it would be a good fit for Snowden.

    “It’s an extremely diverse and civilized population that has all sorts of different facets of society, so I think he would be free,” said Greenwald. “He would be able to participate in the debate that he helped to provoke worldwide about surveillance. He of course would miss his family and the like, but they could visit him there, and so I think he would be perfectly happy.”

      • “It’s an extremely diverse and civilized population that has all sorts of different facets of society, so I think he would be free,” Free? To walk around downtown Caracas in the middle of the night. Civilized? In a country where you get killed for a cell phone
        “He would be able to participate in the debate that he helped to provoke worldwide about surveillance.” In a country where the government prides itself in illegally recording opposition members and broadcasting the conversation to smear them.
        I hate Glenn Greenwald.

    • Greenwald “thinks he would be free”. So, you mean, non-government journalists would be able to ask him what he thinks about surveillance inside Venezuela? And he’d be able to answer honestly?

      • That quote by Greenwald does annoy me, but I think he means: “Snowden will not be put in a prison cell there, as opposed to most of the world.” I tend to be charitable towards Greenwald though.

  10. I know someone who spent a year in Caracas in the ’60s, courtesy of his father’s job. He has come back to Caracas numerous times. While he is fully aware of the current crime and congestion problems of Caracas, he retains a fondness for the place.

  11. I am a die-hard Caracas fan. Period.

    I feel this forum is populated (please do not get angry at me) from people suffering the venexpat syndrome. I found that expats magnify the safety issue to a point that prevents them from enjoying the city (or anything). A city that can be safe and amazing if a few simple guidelines are to be followed. The article obviously falls short as this guys from NYC had an extremely limited experience of the city.

    I do feel like citizen (and in collaboration with local government) of Caracas are doing things to greatly improve the quality of life here. Just to mention a few examples:

    1.- Art: Caracas art scenes has increased vastly recently. many new galleries have opened and there are cultural events happening all the time. Los Galpones del Arte (must visit) is a great place and their outdoor playing of films is awesome (saturday evenings). Street art is taking over the city. Really beautiful graffiti is appearing everywhere. Chacao municipality has been promoting them. Many santa marias (how are these called in english) are painted over by local artist and some of them are spectacular.

    2.- Street life: There are serious movements to regain public spaces. To abandon the use of cars. Among them, but not limited to, Ser Urbano, Caracas Runners, Bici Mamis, Masa Critica. From local government Chacao started doing “Caracas a Pie” an event that has grown every year and it is wonderful. Others have followed the example and the Metropolitan Municipality organized noches gastronomicas in La Carlota and el Hatillo. La Carlota has been restored and at night the park is very lit, and filled with people, including old men playing chess and people doing sports, every night. Even Libertador has followed and organized a series of events called Caracas de Noche. Concerts and performances at night in Plaza Bolivar, Plaza de los Museos and Sabana Grande. La Plaza de los Museos is a great place to hang out, with tons of beautiful and hip bar/kiosks. And so is los Caobos and el Calvario (which has a very Parc Guel like feeling to me, don’t care what you say). Downtown Caracas is a combination of mess and beauty. If it only was cleaner.

    3.- Food: Caracas has unrivaled food quality and value. On the trendy end, El Cine at el Hatillo es incredible with a very unique proposal. Bar Basque is the best restaurant in the world hands down. I went there with a french and a few colombian friends a few weeks ago and each paid $10 for an amazing meal. Chinese restaurants, spanish tascas, Italian eateries provide really good quality stuff. I can argue with anyone that the best spanish food is in Caracas (not even in Spain). If you don’t agree with me you must go to Bar Basque, La Cita, or el Meson de Andres. My brother in law which is a pretty much a SF hipster type (great guy) told me that I had inflated Bar Basque so much that he was certain to be disappointed. We went, and he was extremely impressed. And last but not least, Caracas bakeries. Strong coffee + Cachito de Jamon and a freshly squeezed OJ. Venezuela has no starbucks nor coffee chains. We have a super strong coffee culture to the point that we have names for every type. Negro, Marron, con leche, tetero and of course, guayoyo. And they can all come with the ‘ito’ diminutive.

    4.- Bar. Here is Caracas biggest handicap. Crime does go gnarly at night and streets are deserted. Caracas is not a place where you can get a cocktail, but tascas and chinos offer cold beer at a very low price. At the end it is about the company, everything else is just a lubricant for the conversation. In spite of the risks, locals take the streets every night. Dancing is incredible (although not a huge fan of dancing) but going to el Mani is incredible.

    Next time you are in town, I recommend to take a naive view of the city. See it as if you had never been here. With an open mind. It is great. Like when you visit NYC or Oakland. Not being a pendejo, but with a sense of awareness as there is beauty all around.

    BTW. I live in LPG and I heart it.

    • Thumbs up. It’s not just venexpats though. Every time I come back to Vnzla, it seems much worse, but you can’t miss the good things too. It’s complicated.

    • Rodrigo,
      I live in Caracas too and and I agree on many of the things you wrote about what’s good in Caracas right now. However, I think that for many people, the issue with crime inevitably makes you unable to experience the city in a different light. I was recently robbed at gun point one week after my brother was robbed in the exact same place, probably by the same people, and it´s impossible not to become paranoid and uncomfortable around the city after experiencing something like that. I can only imagine the fear after someone goes trough something like a kidnapping. I remember being paranoid for weeks after thieves broke in into my mother’s apartment.
      I know that, statistically, I can go to many of the places you mention and that is probable that nothing bad will happen to me. However, the fear and paranoia after a bad experience with crime in Caracas can really takeaway your capacity to enjoy the city.

      • I agree. I have been a victim of crime myself (robbed at gunpoint and placed in my car’s trunk for like an hour), although I recognize that I was in a bad place at a bad time. That’s not an argument tho. All places and all times should be OK.

        All I am saying is to understand the risks, try to minimize them. Let them take your wallet, but do not let them take the joy out of you.

        • I used to do mountaineering: going to glaciers, climbing mountains here and there with ropes and all the stuff, wall climbing.
          I remember the thrill. People talk about a calculated risk. After some people I knew died I decided to have something I can calculate better. Caracas it not even the summit.
          Now I just practice hiking and trekking.
          I know we could all die from just eating dulce de lechosa de la tía María. Each one decides how far he or she goes.

        • The thing in Venezuela is that (specially for younger people right now and their parents) is the consequence of recklessness. You can get mugged anywhere in the world in Paris, NY, Rome, Barcelona for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The thing in Venezuela is that the consequence of lowering you guard anywhere can be fatal. There is a viciousness to murders now in Venezuela (people who are shot even when they do as they are told by the criminals) that can certainly make you paranoid.

          • I’ve been living in Barcelona for the past 10 years and I haven’t been mugged once, and I’ve been to the shittiest parts of the city at whatever time. Shady after parties bars and the like.

        • That’s what when we (expats) go, my family treat us like tourist and hang on with us 24/7, but during the day hubby and I walk a lot around chacao and other spots, and it’s okay. But yeah you have t hang out with locals who have the paranoid radar 100%+ sharp so they guide you around, if they say noooo we r not doing that, I say okay. Last trip my sis in law was telling me el hatillo have become too dangerous simply to be a nice experience and there you go that story of the German killed (was he related to Hansi?) but my sis was like nah it’s cool and she took us. Two sides of the city. The good and the ugly. The first time my gringo husband visited, he couldn’t believe how nice certain places were and the food (Rodrigo spot on with the Spanish food) but he noticed the other side too. We even went to the center city in that trip and he loved it. I am telling you he was so scared to go because of Chavez anti American speech, I forced him almost at gun point to come with me lol and when he came back to America he kept telling everybody what a great country it is and what a great country it could be (what we all Venezolanos always say), he is the biggest fan now.

          Having said that. when people ask me is it okay to visit I say noooo, only if you know people there and they will pick you up to the airport and hang out with you 24/7. I would never put a foreign friend who don’t speak Spanish or even he they do to travel to Venezuela alone today.

    • Rodrigo , Every person is a world.For some high crime is not a factor …for me it is the biggest factor…art and music i have in my own home, and nightlife does not appeal to me…i do however think that Caracas has some of the best food in the world…..butthe fond memories of my 35 years of life there have mostly to do with my wonderful friends and family……
      I wil always love Caracas !

      • And I respect that choice. Caracas is dangerous for sure. Specially for a 18 – 25 male (9 of 10 murders). Or if you live in marginal areas.It just pains me when people try to emphasize the good things about this city, and the only answer is: don’t go there is too risky, instead of: be careful! and you will have a blast!

          • I agree Venezuela can blow one’s mind any time.

            Cheers. Iris Varela is telling us to delete our Facebook account.
            Read her tweets:

            “Compatriotas: cancelen sus cuentas en facebook ya que sin saberlo han trabajado gratis como informantes de la CIA! Revisen caso Snowden!”

            That was NOT Chigüire Bipolar

    • I agree with you Rodrigo. I went to Europe in 2008 and spend a week in Italy and about a month in Spain. I visited several cities in each country and ate at many restaurants and I can honestly tell you that in my opinion I prefer the spanish food in la candelaria and the Italian food in las mercedes.Not to mention the chinese food in El Bosque. To me it tastes better and the rations are bigger. I enjoy a lot the bars and clubs in Venezuela. Im 25 and I have many friends in Caracas so when I go we spend a lot of time in those places. Theyre cheap and fun places to hang out. A trip to el avila is always great specially if you take a girl and La colonia tovar is a day trip from the city. The fact that its dangerous is undeniable but I know where to go and where not to and my friends even more so. If you take those precautions theres no reason not to have a great time in Caracas. I like it way more then Miami the city I live in. Theres more culture and way more things to do there then here. I spent all of January in Caracas and im planning to go back this December. La Sucursal del Cielo!!

    • -I would not recommend telling someone who has never been there to ‘take a naive view of the city.’

      Expats seemed extra focused on safety because they live in places where they don’t have to be conscious of where they are are, what they doing, who is around, etc, almost every time they venture out of the neighborhood. Caracas is the murder capital of the world and the consequences for committing violent crime are generally nonexistant that there is hardly a single person I know who has lived there for more than a few years who has not been the victim of armed robbery or more violent crime…in short, almost all are sooner or later a victim of the type of crime that is rare for middle class people to experience in most other countries.

      It does have charm, but I don’t think it has any more charm than a number of other cities in South America. And if it does have more charm, it definitely does not have that much more charm to make it worth the sad insecurity that accompanies it. The only reason I go there now is because I have family there. My friends in the US, i would never recommend a dozen other places in Latin America but never Caracas. That’s just the truth.

    • “4.- Bar. Here is Caracas biggest handicap. Crime does go gnarly at night and streets are deserted. Caracas is not a place where you can get a cocktail, but tascas and chinos offer cold beer at a very low price. At the end it is about the company, everything else is just a lubricant for the conversation. In spite of the risks, locals take the streets every night. Dancing is incredible (although not a huge fan of dancing) but going to el Mani is incredible. ”

      Maybe you just have low standards for nightlife?

  12. The piece is naive and irresponsible. You can’t put the words “serious crime” in quotes when a city has a homicide rate of 118 per 100,000 inhabitants.

  13. I have gone as a tourist to many countries in the Americas, a few in Europe and to Japan without knowing anyone in any of the countries I visited. And I didn’t speak the language of several of these countries. It was a piece of cake, arrived at the airport, went to the currency exchange window to get local cash, picked up a brochure showing the best tourist locations and took the the subway or cab to my hotel. As long as I didn’t go to the bad places it was a great experience Pretty straight forward.

    Traveling to Venezuela is not as straight forward and can be more expensive for a foreign tourist unless they want to take the risk of exchanging money in the black market.

    A friend in Boston thought about coming to Venezuela, but decided that Cancun may be more fun and less expensive. He paid less than $1600 for airfare and all inclusive hotel, while just the airline ticket to Venezuela would’ve cost him $1200-$1400.

  14. My (very unscientific) measurement about safety perception is the fact that I’ve heard from many Venezuelans that one of the things they enjoy about Bogotá is how safe it is (and coño, Bogotá ain’t no Stockholm).

  15. With all due respect for Rodrigo and others who have expressed positive comments on Caracas here (with which comments I agree), Caracas living is NOT, in my opinion, worth the risk, nor is visiting. The 5m or more homicides in Caracas alone yearly must be multiplied by up to 5x the number of (usually seriously) wounded in attempted homicides, as well as in robberies/rapes/kidnappings, etc. As an example of a horrific non-reported (as usual) recent case of a friend’s best friend, a 20-year old UCV student flagged a taxi at 7AM in Plaza Venezuela, was taken to non-destination Carapita, gang-raped for 24 hours, even after her father paid a hefty ransom, and was abandoned on the road to El Junquito. Her intimate organs were so severely damaged that they required painful/expensive reconstructive surgery, and she is still hospitalized one week later.

    • Malditos una y mil veces, I am telling you hell for a rapist will be horrible rape 24/7 for eternity, hope they will enjoy it as much as here on earth.

      • I hate the fact that living in Caracas has made me so cynical that my first thought while reading about that poor girl’s ordeal was “Was it a taxi pirata?”. Visiting Venezuela may be worth it for the more adventurous tourists who simply want an interesting getaway, but the tone of this coverage is simply irresponsible.

        • Agree. And did you notice it is directed to those aventureros with a certain affluence? “Someone’s” looking for $$ influx.
          That leaves Get a clue, or whoever is that wide-eyed Marxist troll, who wants to stay at the 23 de enero, out in the cold.

    • My earlier ditto is insufficient to express how horrified I am by this crime of the young UCV student in broad daylight. With so many of these crimes going unpunished and leaving an indelible mark on all strata of society, one wonders why there isn’t more anger from the citizenry.

  16. Ode to Avila Mountain

    Windward of Caracas lies
    rising from the sea
    a famous mountain shaped
    like a hyperbolic paraboloid
    a double peaked saddle for
    a giant rider

    The city of stones and saints
    Avila of the Roman walls
    gave the prominent mass its name
    Jurakan,the god of storms
    bounces his whirling balls
    against its bullwarks

    Sitting athwart the foothills
    Santiago the warrior apostle
    points his green and purple standard
    ever north, reminding
    the milling crowds below
    of the straight path

  17. Anybody that lives in Caracas and thinks it’s a decent city is delusional. Same goes for anyone that suggests people to travel there.

    I understand that people adapt to situations and you have to make up with what you have / the city offers you. It’s beyond your control, but spend a few months in a city without the crime rate of Caracas and you’ll get some perspective.

  18. Juan, may I detect a little bit of hidden Maracucho chauvinism in this post?

    The truth is that if Caracas were safe and had not as many cars, it would be an amazing city.
    Caraqueños have a special joie de vivre, are warm, fun and sophisticated.
    Caracas’ food is delicious, the cultural life is amazing, the weather is great, the Avila is beautiful and the city architecture is also beautiful.

    If you live in Chacao-La Castellana, get adopted by locals that can take you to the nice retaurants of El Hatillo and don’t get mugged, Caracas is one of the nicest places….and he didn’t talk about Chocolates or cachitos!

      • Nope, Cristina, it is not. The problem is that it is not preserved.

        The houses in Altamira and la Castellana had a “Beverly Hills” touch.
        The new buildings, usually in red bricks, are quite beautiful. The traditional
        houses of the old part of the city and El Hatillo, are very nice. The UCV is
        an amazing architectural monument. The Ateneo-Los Caobos-Teresa Carreño
        part of the city is charming. Even the old buildings in the west part
        of the city where we easteners never go (Las Acacias?) are very interesting.
        So are those at the entry of the Andrés Bello and the ones in Bello Monte.

        The problem is traffic and preservation.

        • Sorry Bruni but lack of urban planning and architectural coherence are part of what make Caracas an unpleasant city. There are exceptions such as the UCV, Paseo Los Próceres, a few blocks at El Centro de Caracas, El Parque del Este, a few buildings (Atlantic en Los Palos Grandes, Centro de Arte La Estancia…)

        • I’ve never understood this fetish with the UCV campus. I really, honestly don’t see what they hype is all about. To me they are just upscale 1950s buildings that have not aged well. And the 1950s were not the pinnacle of architectural prowess.

          (Gonna bet burned alive for that one, but there you go)

          • Whooot… I am the first who is taking you to the stake for this comment! Okay besides the fact you don’t love Modern architecture, the only reason you don’t see the beauty of the campus of the UCV is because it’s in not Maracaibo hehe Juancito you are not fooling me for a bit. The other more obvious reason like Bruni said is lack of maintenance, if this school (and the whole city of Caracas for that matter) would be maintained would be super beautiful. BTW great examples of Modern architecture in Caracas besides the UCV.

          • Juan, el deterioro es tal que poco se aprecia la estructura, toda impecablemente diseñada y construida en concreto armado. Los pasillos, por ejemplo, sólo tienen columnas de un lado y son anchos, observa el trabajo en concreto. El reloj es otro ejemplo. Las obras de arte son parte de los edificios y espacios abiertos, no fueron agregadas después. Fíjate en el Aula Magna.

  19. Caracas, born and raised there.
    Family keeps leaving the country, sad to say I have even less and less reasons to visit.

    Crime drove thousands out pre chavez, late 90’s remember? after 14 years of planned destruction crime is only 10x 100x worse and more vicious. Life and limb are priceless, as well as your sane mind and integrity. For me this makes any potential pro’s to be neutralized and makes Caracas a no- no.

    I miss the january skies and everything else BTW.

    • El Avila… 🙁 sad I don’t see it every morning… but hey I have a biiig picture of it in my bathroom so at least I see it everyday lol and most important, I feel safe in the city I live… wish all my family leave too, the safety thing is incomprehensible until you live it… that’s why the foreigners don’t get it much. What irritates me the most is that if crime would be targeted first priority it would be easily eliminated, yes, easily. Not with soft measures obviously but would be a problem easy to correct.

      • That is what’s incomprehensible to me about this travel writer’s report on Ccs, or rather, its safer northern segments. At no time does he mention that most majestic of urban monuments: la cordillera, let alone el Avila. As a writer, he couldn’t even grasp the changing colors of those mountains during the day and into the evening. Imperdonable! It’s as though his target market (risk-loving, single New Yorkers with dollars to spend) were from the Rockies. His write-up comes across too much like a paid advertorial with next to no descriptions of his actual experiences in night spots. There’s only one night photograph of a youthful, upscale crowd, taken who knows when, and by who knows who, from perhaps the distance of a ‘carro blindado’.

        My first cousin weighs in on the topic: Este hombre se movió en la zona menos peligrosa de Caracas (solo en el Municipio Chacao) el cual está en poder de la oposición desde hace muchos años y el cual no tiene sino un solo barrio. El ponderado Bistro Chacao es un pequeño antro sin aire acondicionado. Mi impresión: Pagado por la oficina de PR del gobierno tal y como hizo Chávez trayendo artistas izquierdóides como Sean Penn y Glover más una cábila de reporterios pagados del NY Times, y otros medios influyentes. Fíjate que en ningún momento comenta que salió por las noches!!! La ciudad a partir de las 9 pm es un desierto, aún en Las Mercedes donde está la mayor concentración de restaurants y bares en Caracas.

        • Just for the record:

          Bucaral (near Colegio Maria Auxiliadora)
          La Manguera (above Colegio San Ignacio)
          Pedregal (far above Colegio San Ignacio)
          Pajaritos (one block past CELARG)
          Bello Campo (in front of El Buen Pastor church)
          La Cruz (behind El Buen Pastor church)
          San José de la Floresta (at the bottom of Parque del Este)

          Show this list to your first cousin, please.

          • Thx, Gabriel. I’ve sent your list to my first cousin who has long lived above la ave. principal de Los Chorros, and who moves principally between that location and La Victoria. If I get a reply, I’ll post. I’m very familiar with el Pedregal, less so with Bucaral. I wager that Kaminer, who did not write his piece on Caracas, for free, was not exposed to any of these barrios in Chacao. Meaning, the aims of the revolution have changed … (i.e., we need greenbacks.)

            Btw, isn’t it *weird* that Kaminer didn’t describe the Avila nor his experiences at night? It’s like his directive was: make Ccs into a cool destination for NY single yuppies. We’ll drive you to these places, and provide lodgings. You write and have published the article where you see fit.

          • That first one has been around at least 35 years – it was down the street from our home in Altamira in the late 70s and early 80s.


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