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On a wall facing the Plaza el Venezolano, Simón Bolívar is quoted as follows: "Si se opone la naturaleza lucharemos contra ella y la haremos que nos obedezca" (If nature opposes us, we'll struggle against her and make her obey us). Nowhere in Venezuela is the legacy of Bolívar's defiant proclamation more apparent than in Caracas itself. Whether gazing at the city's sprawling skyline
from the 17th-story window of a high-rise hotel or strolling in the shadows of looming concrete edifices, one wistfully dreams of what Caracas might have been like had its sudden growth spurt occurred during any other architectural moment than the 1970s.
What redeems Caracas are the Caraqueños themselves: a diverse, young, and lively population that colors the grimy streets of the capital with music and enthusiasm. The sophisticated tastes of the nearly 5.5 million inhabitants demand the parades of boutiques and fine restaurants that crowd commercial areas. Hip, fast-paced, and altogether cosmopolitan, Caraqueños still manage to retain a warmth and amiability you may not expect to encounter in a city this vast.