The city today is a traffic-choked, graffiti-smeared, hyperbolically violent capital where spasmodic bouts of modernization over the years have left little of the colonial charm of some other South American cities. Yet Caracas is also an urban palimpsest, where its past character can still be read amid the concrete.
Here buildings have names instead of numbers. Yet street names are unknown to many people, including, at times, the name of the street they live on. As a result, asking directions can lead to a long recitation of landmarks, like a Hemingway short story: “Go past the pharmacy to the top of the hill till you see the big tree and turn right. …”
And in one of this city’s most endearing quirks, the street corners themselves have names, often ones that point to a colorful history.