Instead of a silver spoon, it is claimed that Californians are born with car keys in their mouths. While I wasn’t born in California, I did grow up there, and the automobile was a big part of my life. Like many of my fellow Californians, I found myself going most places in my car instead of walking. In fact, much of my life was centered on my car.
Unlike many Californians, however, I began to wonder if there wasn’t another way. I wasn’t getting any exercise, I was seriously adding weight and I was appalled at the cost of gas every time I went to fill up.
W hen we decided to move to Peru, I resolved to make some important changes in my life. I believe that moving to another country allows me the opportunity to start a new life. Therefore I can make changes that were difficult to make previously. It is a second chance. So, among other things, I decided to change my relationship to cars.
I decided to put the car as much out of my life as possible
Yes, I did lose the argument to my wife and we did buy a car soon after we arrived, and I did get a driver’s license. Nevertheless, I have pretty much stuck to my guns regarding the car.
I walk as much as I can rather than ride. Every chance that I get, I walk. When I leave the house, I look at the car and walk right past. No regrets.
Fortunately, we live in a neighborhood where most services are close. Also it is a very pleasant and a generally safe area to walk. I know that that cannot be said for all parts of Lima.
My two dogs are my frequent companions and together we enjoy our excursions around the neighborhood.
What do I experience on my walks?
First, I see lots of things that I wouldn’t ever see riding. I’m always discovering something new in the neighborhood.
For example, when a door is left open a crack, a beautiful hidden garden is revealed to me. Or I notice a house with an ornately carved doorway that I have gone by many times.
I hear and see the birds.
I know all the street people, and they know me
I can observe all the changes over the past year by our new mayor to beautify our neighborhood with new plants and flowers.
I know who sells the best popcorn in the neighborhood.
I see the school girls in uniforms clustering together outside their school, twittering like birds with laughter and chatter.
I see the graffiti appear on the walls. In one instance I also saw it disappear when I met an intrepid couple who were scrubbing the marks off a beautiful mosaic wall.
I see old buildings being knocked down and new apartments being built.
I know most of the neighborhood dogs by name and even some of their owner’s names.
I know on a nodding basis the policemen and women who walk our area.
Thus I feel part of a recognizable community.
My walks are relaxing , enjoyable and the only cost is a little wear on my shoes.
An additional benefit is that my waste-line has shrunk considerably since I started walking. For the second time in two years, I have had to get my pants taken in.
We all have a choice. Walk or ride. There are so many reasons to choose to walk. If enough of us did so, we could make a positive change towards health, our enjoyment of life and maybe even do something to improve the environment through cleaner air.
Walk or ride. Now It’s your choice. I know what I’m going to do.