CARACAS (Reuters) – When Venezuela ordered a quarantine in March to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, real estate agent Berta Lopez was unsure how she would pass the time – until she by chance wandered up the rooftop of her building.
She found not only that neighbors were congregating to enjoy the sunset or listen to music, but also that they had struck up friendships with residents of adjacent buildings in the Los Palos Grandes neighborhood.
They first developed a tradition of sharing wine by pouring some into a plastic container tied to a fishing line, throwing it across to someone on a nearby building, and then retrieving the container to continue sharing with other neighbors.
That evolved into afternoon coffees and dinner gatherings at the social distance required by the pandemic.
“Rooftops were usually a place for maintenance (equipment), they’ve turned into a space to spend time with neighbors and with neighbors from other buildings,” said Lopez.
“It has motivated me to be more in contact with nature, to spend a little less time on social media and on my phone.”
The three buildings in the upscale Los Palos Grandes neighborhood of Caracas offer stunning views of the El Avila mountain that separates Venezuela’s capital from the Caribbean Sea some 25 miles (40 km) to the north.
They also receive frequent visits from majestic macaws, large bright-colored tropical birds whose throaty calls echo through the neighborhood as they move from balcony to balcony to be fed by adoring residents.
“In these 50 days we’ve had a chance to make friends,” Lopez said.
Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Lisa Shumaker