Caracas is a mix of opposing forces. It has great beauty, and great poverty. Beautiful old buildings and new modern skyscrapers. Highly safe and super dangerous areas.
There are some parts of Caracas I can openly walk around with my camera and other parts where I have to hide my camera and not speak (to hide the fact I’m American…because I not only will be robbed or kidnapped, but I can bring danger to the wonderful family that I am staying with). Its sad to me that a place with such beauty is also so dangerous. In many ways, the dangerous parts of Caracas remind me of Detroit…you don’t stop or show any objects of value because you will be robbed blind at best.
But the dangers of Caracas should not deter people from coming here. There is so much art and culture that avoiding Caracas and Venezuela is missing out on some amazing food, views, and most of all, absolutely amazing and beautiful people (and I’m not talking about the fact that Venezuela is known for their beautiful women…yes the women are beautiful but that is because the beauty of the people on the inside radiates thru and makes them even more beautiful on the outside.)
In some of the more dangerous parts of Caracas I am quite alert to the stares that I, in no way, can blend in.
(I am a white American female, who speaks almost no Spanish, and has a giant scorpion tattoo between my shoulders and a giant dragoon ribcage tattoo that takes up my entire right side and part of my back. I am quite obviously a foreigner).
There are obvious stares at me, and at my backpack, and mutterings of
‘”Look American. She is rich.” (but in Spanish of course)
If I was alone in the city, in certain parts I would be in much obvious danger of being robbed or kidnapped.
But in other parts of Venezuela people don’t seem to care who I am. And everyone I have met is more interested in how I feel about Venezuela and Caracas and if I am having a good time. They all want to make sure I am also seeing the GOOD side off Venezuela.
I am currently staying with a family I found on Coushsurfing.org and they are amazing! They have been bringing me all around Caracas, showing me good and bad areas, and hoping I have a good time and convince others to visit…which I hope to do as well.
Caracas does not have the tourism it deserves. Because of the high crime, the bad reputation (some of which is deserved…but that is only in certain areas), the seeming instability of the government, and lack of budget hostels…many people do not visit here. It’s a catch 22…if more people visited (especially backpackers) there would be more hostels, more safe tourist areas, and more businesses catering to tourism. But without the hostels, tourist areas, and business…tourists and backpackers will not come. I think that people need to start visiting here to make the city more open to foreigners and backpackers. There are many wonderful, beautiful people on Couchsurfing.org that are more than happy to open their homes and hearts to visitors, because many many people are proud of their/this city (good and bad) and would like to share the beauty of Caracas with others and show that it is not all bad, as it has a reputation to be.
And I feel that this is the right thing to do, This city is absolutely gorgeous! The views are amazing. Hills covered in lush, green forests surround the city. There are free museums filled with amazing local art. Yesterday; while out, we stumbled upon a free contemporary dance show being held in the theater building (the show was in an open air part on the way back to the parking garage) and saw some amazing performances by local Venezuelan contemporary dancers.
Also, THE FOOD IS AMAZING!
Me voy aponer muy gordo en Venezuela! (I am going to get so fat in Venezuela).
You have to come here and try the arepas and taquenos! (Taquenos are like mozzarella sticks but fried or backed on the outside with a thicker, crispier crust and sometimes dipped in a chocolaty-ish sauce. I never thought id like cheese and chocolate together..but they are amazing!)
I highly recommend a trip to Caracas. Yes it is dangerous. But the beauty it hides within greatly overpowers the fears one may have. I do recommend finding a local to guide you around through Couchsurfing.org or the university. I hope one day soon, Caracas becomes more open and available to backpackers, travelers, and tourists…and the more people visit this hidden gem of South America, the quicker this will happen.
Caracas is definitely worth the trip! I cant wait to see what beautiful things I will see today!