The most dangerous ghetto in Caracas

Okay, so maybe it was not the most dangerous ghetto in Caracas, but I tell you it was pretty damn scary–even to the residents.

So, we are at the World Social Forum and we give our presentations. Amidst the participants was a group from a Christian youth worker organization movement. These folks were really nice and took an active part in the discussion after our presentations. They also invited us to a little social gathering back at their temporary domicile later in the week (they were from Costa Rica and Nicaragua). This is how they give us directions: get on the Metro subway and head to the Capuchinos stop (god, i hoped i spelled that right). After you get off the Metro our house is only about 300 meters away, but DO NOT walk. Immediately get a cab and give them x address.

At this point, I do not think it dawned on us exactly what this meant. Sure, we did take their advice seriously. However, I do not think it quite dawned on us what this meant: DO NOT walk.

Later that week, back at our temporary domicile we mentioned to one of our hosts that we would be going to Capuchinos. Her reaction: a deep inhale of breath, her hand covering her mouth, “Capuchinos, at night?” No, no we replied (she was worried about us the whole trip so no reason to let her know). At this point I think all of us began to see what we might be getting into.

Fast forward to the night of the social gathering. Undecided as to how we were going to begin the night, we call a cab to bring us to a nearby Metro station so we could eat. Out of curiousity we decided to ask the cab driver about how much it would cost to get a ride to x address. Too expensive, back to plan A. All of us pile into the cab and the cabby asks us, “where is that address?” We tell him it was in Capuchinos. His reaction: face turns ghostly white, hand covers mouth, “Capuchinos. Peligroso, peligroso“. That means dangerous by the way.

But, we are determined to make it to this event. After enjoying some dinner near the Metro station, we head off. Now, imagine 5 gringos heading to the ghetto. A ghetto we now know and understand to be very, um what is the word? Oh yeah, dangerous. So my mates and I talk and decide that if we can not get a cab right away we will turn right back around and get back on the Metro and find something else to do. Good plan, right? Wrong. Dumb SOB’s that we are, we have now wasted Metro time eating. What does that mean? It means that as we are approaching Capuchinos we are physically riding on the LAST metro ride of the night. Yes, you heard me correctly, it was almost closing time for the Metro and here we are descending into the 3rd ring of hell for all we know. The last couple of Metro stops were pretty quiet between all of us. Later we would all admit that we were making good with our creator and resigning ourselves to a horrible death in the beautiful country of Venezuela.

Metro stop, Capuchinos. 11 Pm in the ghetto. All of 8 people get off the subway car. And that includes all 5 of us. Not good. I wish I could know what the other Metro passengers were thinking of us as we got off though. Balls of steel or no brains at all? The escalator rises to the street and we emerge out of the Metro station in what can only be described as a scene out of armageddon, or escape from new york. To the left of us are old, beat up, worn down buildings, if you can call them that. Empty holes for windows, entire walls missing from structures, trash, debris, potholes the size of garbage cans. On top of one building is a group of people with a fire going. ON TOP OF THE DAMN BUILDING! Stretching in front of us is nothing but dark streets and inner-city madness. Not a single cab in sight. Oh shit.

Remember those crazy motor bike taxis I mentioned in earlier posts though? Yep. In front of us was a couple of those guys and boy were they happy to see us. Eager and ready to give us a ride wherever we needed. Eagerness in the ghetto is not typically a good sign. By this time, I am probably whiter than a sheet. There are 5 of us and only 2 moto-cabs. They try to talk us into going to our destination 2 at a time! But thanks to “Sex Industry Expert and Chief Negotiator” (one of my colleagues) we talked the moto-bike gentlemen into getting three more bikes so that we could all go at one time. The guy who looked in charge could tell I was a bit trepidatious and tried to reassure me that he was gonna take care of us. And with that, I tried to let go and enjoy it.

Not much can compare to that ride, on that contraption, with that driver, in that neighborhood. Our party hosts were absolutly right, the ride from the Metro to the house could not have been more than a block and a half. But that block and a half was the most exhilirating ride I have ever had. Just imagine a little bi-piston bike whee! wheeing! through this street of utter despair, trash, potholes and slums. Wow! It was great. The adrenaline was definitely pumping at full speed during the short trip and I would say a good 10-15 minutes after that.

Well, as much as this story seems anti-climatic, I am glad. The only thing that could have made this adventure any more exciting would have to involve either a mugging, an ass kicking, or a killing. I prefer it this way. The party went fantastic. Met some beautiful people and enjoyed drinks and music. Awesome. Thank you residents of Capuchinos.

One Response to “The most dangerous ghetto in Caracas”

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