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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Transportation

Taxi’s.  Now that subject will get a lot of tourists chiming in with their horror stories.  Some downright scare people, but it doesn’t bother me.  They drive wherever they want, straddling the centerline for example, and STOP signs don’t mean diddly squat to them.  As long as no one is coming, they just keep going.  The time you want to cover your eyes and pray is when they penetrate a traffic circle (they’re all over here) amongst a dozen or more other cars whirling around the circle and no one knows where the other guy is headed. 

Amazingly enough, you just don’t see accidents.  I think I’ve seen 2 in both the times I’ve been here.   And, RARELY do see a damaged car driving the streets.  Traffic police are next to non-existent.  Unlike back home where you see a cop car every 3 blocks and likely ‘hiding’ to snag some irreverent person traveling 37 in a 30 mph.  OMG!!!!  It really ticked me off where I used to live (Bremerton) because cops constantly parked near the school zone to pick off people going more than 20 mph between and .  Doesn’t matter if there’s a SOUL in sight…you must drive 20 mph.  Geez, I can almost run that fast!!!   The many years I lived there, it was rare I ever saw anyone walking on the shoulder in that area.  And, it didn’t matter if it was a weekend, summer (school out), or a holiday.  By gawd, you better slow down to a crawl mister or the LAW will come down HARD!!!  Maybe there’s something to be said about applying common sense and not making so many laws…that it can work out just fine without being overcomplicated about it.

There are no Yield signs here.

Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way here.  Pedestrians take responsibility for THEMSELVES.

You don’t get in trouble for jaywalking.

You don’t get in trouble for crossing the street when you don’t have the walk sign.  If there’s no traffic coming, CROSS!!!   We don’t stand there like an idiot and no cars coming from anywhere and say to ourselves ‘we must obey the law and only cross when that little man turns green’. 

Big box stores are not required to provide 500 handicap parking spaces (ok, so I exaggerated a BIT!!).  I was always intrigued back home when I went to places like Costco and there’d be tons of cars parked in the handicap spots, yet I rarely spotted anyone in the store that seemed in genuine need of a special parking.  In fact, there is NO requirement for handicap parking here.  And there’s no such things as handicap placards for the cars.  Which makes me think….I rarely see any handicap people around.  Not sure I’ve ever seen anyone in a wheelchair.  Plenty of elderly people out about walking on disheveled cobblestone sidewalks and carrying heavy items cuz that’s what they do.  Things gotta get done, so they do them. 

(a few days later).  I saw handicapped parking!! OMG…right there in the below ground parking lot (TILED parking lot, no less) of the KyWi hardware store (sort of like True Value) I saw a sign hanging above a parking spot.   It said “Discapacidad” meaning ‘disability’.  I have to admit, though, I could’ve swore it said “Decapitated” and laughed.

But, I digress (again). 

I must say, though, I can’t stand all the horn honking Taxi drivers do.   If the car(s) ahead of you don’t start moving a nano-second after the light turns green, they are on their horns.  For cripes sake, it takes a second or two before the 8 cars ahead of you get going!!  Just because you honk your horn it doesn’t magically make everyone move, especially if there’s a REASON no one’s moving!!  They toot-toot when they’re skimming by another car straddling the center line to let you know they’re there, they’ll toot-toot to tell a pedestrian to get out of the way, they’ll toot-toot-toot-toot-toot outside your house gate to let you know they’re there and they’ll toot-toot-toot if you don’t appear at your front door within a nano-second from their original set of toot-toots!!! 

I would like to meet with the Mayor and suggest we BAN HORNS!!!

If you don’t own a car, which many don’t, you taxi everywhere or take the bus.  But, what if you want to buy some large items?  Many large stores also have a pool of pickup trucks and drivers available to load up your stuff and deliver it to your house for a few bucks.   So, no need to own a big behemoth gas guzzling monster (the kind you have to pole vault to get into) like so many love to own back home…not because they really NEED them, but more because it’s a status thing.  My toy is bigger than yours!!   LOOK!! I’m an UH MAR E CAN!!!!

I was at the airport recently and was really taken aback by how small it was.  I mean, you turn off the main boulevard and enter the airport and, bam, you’re there.  It’s not like entering another city or megalopolis.   One reason for the inauspiciousness is; neither Guayaquil, Quito, nor Cuenca (the 3 largest cities in EC) have massive parking structures or a sea of asphalt for parking.  You get in and you get out….period.  If you’re going to be gone for awhile, Ecuadorians are not about to spend their hard earned money to simply have their car parked at the airport.  Instead, they’ll taxi to and from and leave the car at home where it’s FREE. 

But, I digress (again). 

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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