Archive for the ‘Caracas’ Category

The Caraqueño Driver’s Handbook

Monday, March 18th, 2013

IMG_20121203_124942After almost 2 and half years of hoofin’ it or taking a taxi everywhere, I finally got a car. Now, I’m sure most people would be completely excited about something like this, but having seen the way Caraqueños drive, I was ambivalent. I’ve driven in Port-au-Prince with no problem. Some would even argue South Florida roads are pretty crazy. However, none of that prepared me for the organized chaos that occurs on the mean streets of Caracas.


Four way stops are not really four way stops. They are intersections where whoever is bold enough, or in the most hurry will speed through without giving oncoming traffic a second glance.


As #1 implies, right of way is only a theory here. In practicality, it’s every (wo)man for her/himself. Paying attention to your surroundings means predicting what other drivers will do before they even know. Otherwise, you will make your home in collisionville (yes, I just made that word up ;-))


Always stop at the stop light when it’s red. Unless it’s night time. Or you’re in a hurry and don’t see any other cars coming.


One lane roads can sometimes be converted into two lanes depending on traffic. Two lanes into three, and so on. In case this happens, and you happen to be in the original lane, you better become agressive. Otherwise, you will not move. Ever.


Motorcyclists have their own driving handbook. I have yet to see it, but I’m sure it includes that they never stop or slow down in traffic and that they are supposed to flip you off *Italian style* if you get in their way. FYI: Getting in their way means stopping too close to another car and not leaving them enough space to pass through and run the red light.


Never, ever, ever make a u-turn. Really. You will be arrested. Not really. But, you will be pulled over if caught and will have to spend an inane amount of time explaining to police why you have made such a travesty of their law.


Do not park in a zone that’s painted yellow. Unless you see other people do it. Then, go ahead.  Note: The Venezuelan form of parking tickets is putting a really big sticker on the driver’s side of the windshield describing your infraction. Nothing a little Windex and scraper can’t fix.

Any questions? Good.


The ugly side of humanity

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Unless you were on Neptune last week, you heard about Venezuelan President Chavez’s death. I have to say I’m one of those people who quietly expected it,

angerbut was still shocked when the announcement hit the news. It has now been added to one of those events, like September 11th and January 12th, where you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when it happened.

After watching the CNN coverage for about an hour, I decided to see what was being said on the social media sites. Twitter was as expected with links from different sources and people talking about how Venezuela had changed (for better or worse) over the past 14 years. What surprised me was what I saw on Facebook. People were actually celebrating the President’s death. I mean literally expressing elation from the news. Who does that?! The worst part is that these people aren’t even Venezuelan. They don’t have any family who are Venezuelan. So explain to me how their lives could be so negatively impacted by President Chavez that they would actually lose their decorum. I was speechless.

I realized that these are people with whom I’ve had pleasant conversations. We’ve laughed together. Shared stories.And yet, we can disagree politically without wishing each other harm, can’t we? I’ve never felt comfortable with this macabre idea of “justice”. If I wished death on all the people on Facebook with whom I disagreed politically…and got my wish…well I would have a lot fewer “friends”. I have no other way to describe this experience other than sad. Our societies have come to accept this type of behavior and people don’t think twice about posting this ridiculous and hateful rhetoric for all the world to see. Just sad.

In the meantime, contrary to popular belief (or at least what my friends and family are hearing), what I’ve observed here in Caracas is respect from all sides. Businesses have observed the days of mourning and people are getting back to their regular activities. So in order to get back to a place where people show some decency, I simply get off of Facebook and walk outside. Who da thunk it :|

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