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.

16 thoughts on “Butterflies

  1. Mick

    Two questions: How has the FOREX debacle affected the supplies in the local stores and how much rain is falling in the areas feeding the Guri dam?

  2. Mamarracho

    The butterflies you write about are sulphurs and whites. They have been migrating for about 3 weeks. Present day migrations are but a fraction of what could be observed 50 or more years ago. There is a tree on campus called garbancillo and they seem to love its flowers, and they are also congregating on urine puddles in the campus cattle yards. People from temperate climes that live here frequently miss the change of seasons that is so apparent in latitudes further north and south, but if you keep your senses open, seasonal change is also apparent in the tropics.

    1. sapitosetty Post author

      I have seen the sulfurs migrating the Gran Sabana, but had no idea they passed through Caracas. It’s the first time in my three years here that I’ve seen it. Maybe I’ll post some more butterfly photos since people seem to find it a relief from all the doom and gloom.

  3. firepigette

    “The butterflies don’t care about any of it. ”

    Funny but I used to think the same thing about the birds in Caracas.There is a state of mind that rises above or is oblivious to certain concerns.

    Nice post.

    1. sapitosetty Post author

      Yes, beautiful. If you are looking for historic architecture, classy plazas and thousands of years of history layered up, stay where you are. If you are looking for cleaner air, visible mountains, mountain biking and birdwatching all over the city, goofy 70s architecture, and rich tropical culture, come on down. There’s a lot of beauty here for those who are open to it.

    2. Marlboro Man

      Setty, I don’t want to be negative, but I have been to Caracas several times, and my memory is of dilapidated buildings, garbage in the streets, hillsides covered in barrios, and choked roads. People told me that Caracas was once one of the most beautiful cities in South America, and while I could see the potential in the layout, the plazas, and the architecture, I am afraid those glory days if they existed, are now long past.

      Again, apologies if I cast a pall over your musings re CCS.

      1. sapitosetty Post author

        Just for that, I am now going to post pictures of beautiful things in Caracas on every Venezuela-related post.

        I think you couldn’t be more wrong. The layout, the plazas and the architecture in Caracas suck major donkeyballs. It is the worst-planned, least plaza-infused Latin American city I can think of, and its architecture competes with the Soviets for dreariness and improper use of concrete.

        However, popping out of those dismal buildings, you get profusions of orchids and palms from every balcony, you get brightly colored macaws flying by at dawn. Down the ill-connected, unnecessarily congested one-way streets, you can see the mountains, topped with steamy forests. And in those few plazas there are, you find the 50% of Venezuela that is younger than 24, playing, laughing, and generally getting along to a degree that belies the crime rate.

        Beauty, sí hay.

  4. firepigette

    I agree that Caracas is beautiful in many ways.The mornings are often pristine with a lemon/ green sparkle that uplifts even the most gloomy souls.The sounds of parrot -squawk mingling with people’s cheery light banter – the neighbors, the egg-man, ” el zapatero”, or just children playing on the street, give it a beauty that inanimate architecture cannot rival.It is a chaotic beauty where anything wondrous is just about to happen.It is the beauty of untamed nature and human spirit.I have never seen its equal.

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