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  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    Five subway lines, the only way to traverse traffic-choked Caracas quickly, are covered in shampoo ads and political reminders.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    At the Los Roques airport departure lounge, even a stream of turboprops arriving from the mainland isn't enough to distract fishermen from their task of netting bait.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    The Caracas airport is a world unto itself, a sealed colony of hotels and restaurants where baggage handlers offer the best black-market exchange rate in the country.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    Windsurfers, divers, anglers, and just plain loafers enjoy sunset drinks amid beached fishing boats on Los Roques.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    Venezuelans rate themselves among the happiest people on earth. A contagious smile and an arepa, or corncake, griddle-fried and stuffed any number of ways, is enough to spread the cheer.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    Caracas empties out at night. The murder rate is at least 26 times that of New York City.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    After 26 years as a painter working on the same street-corner in the Sabana Grande neighborhood, this former boxer has tough hands and plenty of memories.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    Young men in an Caracas auto repair shop are focused on the "Bolivarian Revolution" of Hugo Chavez—and the ever-watchful Che Guevara.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    In western Venezuela, opposition to Chavez runs deep amid Biblical fears of hunger, plauges, kidnapping, death, lies, and trickery.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    Venezuela is where the Andes meet the Caribbean amid fog and tropical foliage. Jeeps serve as public buses on the steep roads.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    Slums belt much of Caracas, but Mt. Avila's designation as a park—and the sheerness of its slopes—mean untouched forest lies next to urban density.

  • Photo: Patrick Symmes

    Even the skyscrapers built during the oil boom years of the 1960s and '70s shrink against the foreground of Mt. Avila in downtown Caracas.

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