Logbook to a disease. Entropy

Caracas, and the rest of Venezuela, is slowly decaying, falling down to pieces. You can see in the streets and you can see it all around you, in the shape of structures that are slowly losing their battle against entropy. One tragic sign of that are the streets, riddled with pot holes and, conspicuously dangerous, traffic signals that not only don’t work, sometimes are not even there. The roads and driving conditions in Caracas are so difficult that I start noticing a strange pattern: I would guess that at least 50% of all vehicles have one or all back lights not working, making it a difficult job to guess when the driver ahead of you is actually braking. At night, the lack of streetlights makes driving a job for the young, still with good enough vision to triangulate the car ahead, the potholes on the road, and the innumerable other factors. I start joking that GTA should come up with a version called GTA CARACAS, a myriad further difficulties included in the game to make it a verifiable Demolition Derby within a city.

My mother’s home does not escape that. Because water is always being shut down (the entire Metropolitan water system is slowly collapsing too) and it is not infrequent for the house to be without water, she has installed a small, emergency water tank for those days in which the water is not flowing. It is a burgeoning industry in the city, as it is a city-wide issue. Actually, country wide, but as I am not in the provinces, I can’t tell the details. Because of all that, I spend a few days fixing things here and there: the shower head that is clogged, the leaky faucet, the toilet flusher that does not flush and at the same time leaks. I fixed my sister’s car’s back light, due to my mom’s disease her car had not been started in too long and I had to replace the battery. It is like that all over, and one has to wonder how much longer the country can withstand this neglect from the government.

People, in their homes, can keep up doing all the fixing, but the city overall crumbles. There is no maintenance for common areas and, in a tropical country, that means that wild grass blooms everywhere. On sidewalks, on the sides of roads, on hills and parks, the grass slowly covers everything, perhaps a preview of what will happen in a few more years of this negligence.

Venezuelans therefore are growing used to having everything fixed over and over again. The lack of money makes it, again, for ridiculous situations. In a country in which a Toyota Corolla is quoted at $70,000, the automotive pool is simply a collection of crumbling cars that do not ride the roads as much as crawl towards the next place where they will breakdown again. Another industry that flourishes is that of tow trucks and home mechanics, making everything a complication. In a city where there is no real public transport system (a collection of random buses cannot be called that), not having a car has consequences that cannot be understood until you live them.

On and on, entropy shows it consequences all over, and no one ever beats entropy totally. Caracas is battling the two things that never sleep, gravity and rust, and there is only one outcome in that fight. Rubbish and dirt do not pile more and more because garbage collection has been privatized, but it will take a complete change of all policies and all entities before Caracas will be able to escape its final fate and not resemble the Russian City of Chernobyl, the famous Atomgrad that now is being slowly covered by vegetation as it has been abandoned. Caracas may become, in some future, the first Rubblegrad in the world, further lessons for future cultures of what happens when countries fail in such a strepitous fashion.