Reporters on the Job

The Road to Caracas: Staff writer Sara Miller Llana arrived in Venezuela earlier this week to report today's story about the country's presidential elections. She had been told that traffic was bad. But as a resident of Mexico City – where the major ring road is dubbed the World's Largest Parking Lot – she didn't give it much thought.

Ten minutes into her ride from the airport, she was reminded of the warning. In January, a 50-year-old bridge on the main road to Caracas was closed after it started to collapse. Since then, the traffic has slowed to a crawl as three lanes become one. "At first, I thought it would be a 20-minute wait, but it turned into three hours," Sara says.

She fretted about missing an interview that evening, and wondered how much productivity was being lost, and how much the lost time was costing someone – businesses, government, and even this newspaper.

But as she looked out the window, it was clear that her concerns were a minority view. "In the other cars, people were chatting away, listening to music, and laughing. Next to the road, an entire cottage industry has sprouted – with people selling food," says Sara.

"I guess one might call this an American mentality, but I couldn't get over how much time I had had to waste – and yet people here do it every day. And do it with a smile," she says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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