Monday, March 23, 2009

Caracas in time and space

The first thing to do in a new place is work out where you are and find out how to navigate.

Caracas is in principle very simple, as the city spreads out east to west pinned in by mountains on either side. The picture above is from Google Earth (not having a helicopter to hand) and is looking east, so the sea is to the north of the city, separated by a mountain range (the one with the cable car to the top).

Trying to use my natural navigation skills I looked at the sun and at this latitude and time of year it goes pretty much overhead from east to west, so in theory could work out one's orientation by knowing if its morning or afternoon. But alas it was often too cloudy to spot the sun.

Hence the white bits in the Google image are clouds not snow as the mountains are high, but at 2,175m not that high. To the west of Venezuela there are the end of the Andes, where there are really high mountains that have snow all the year round.

As a Londoner feel that the best cities are those that can be explorered by train and walking, and luckily Caracas is no exception. It has a rather good Metro that mostly runs east-west along the valley, connecting up the main places. In rush hour this morning it was very crowded!

If you've ever been to Washington DC, well Caracas has exactly the same trains and layout as there. I almost expected to hear "Red line to Shady Grove: doors open on the left" but of course didn't and not sure exactly what they did say (language problems again).

The other thing about Caracas is that it is in a half hour time zone: this is the first time I've ever been in between the hours and it feels slightly wrong some how. No doubt will get used to it!

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