I’m in my apartment on what’s known as the 8th floor, looking out at the creeping summer clouds against a pale blue tropical sky, clouds low enough to cover the top of Caracas’s Ávila mountain, and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of yellow and white butterflies gliding and flapping past on the breeze. The mountain is dark green after a month of rains, the cloud shadows a hazy olive, while the highrises here in the city are so bright in the summer sun that they seem to be illuminated from inside, burning the eyes. Construction equipment roars next door as a crew keeps digging and drilling and digging some more — three stories of underground parking for what will someday be a seven-story building, architectural memory of our period in which motor vehicles are used as savings bonds, bought and stored like gold bars, their value protected by exchange controls, import limits, industrial disinvestment. The butterflies don’t care about any of it. The rain is back, the insects are back, and Caracas, for all its hassles and stresses, kidnappings and killings, broken machinery and long lines, is once more a beautiful and magical place.