One of the biggest things I’ve noticed over my past week of South American travels is the pace of life. Originally I noticed how slow people walked in Quito, Ecuador. They just seemed to meander or wander around. No one is ever in a rush when on foot.
There is a whole lot of traffic though, and that is a different story! Both in Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru, the music of blaring horns reaches your ears and startles you regularly. People beep to say hi, they beep if they are mad, they beeb to let you know they are coming up behind you, they beep if you haven’t moved fast enough, they beep and yell with road rage. It is a constant stream of little beeps.
And, you don’t have to search for cab drivers here, they are more than happy to track you down … by beeping of course! If you are walking down the street and a taxi driver sees you he will beep to try to make eye contact and you can nod yes or no. It makes it really easy to get a taxi! Then you just have to negotiate your price before you get in so there’s no surprise at the end.
Once again, walking through Lima today I was reminded of just how slow paced life is here. People aren’t rushing to get past you. They aren’t stepping on your feet or weaving in and out of people on the streets. No one is getting annoyed at the slow walkers in front of them, everyone just kind of minds their own business and strolls along.
It really is a beautiful reminder to slow our minds down, be aware of what’s around us and stop rushing to get everything done. I definitely feel the difference. I’m not stressed here, despite all of the mishaps I’ve had, I feel alive and happy. I’m not on a specific schedule, no deadlines, but yet, I’m still here working.
Slow and steady …
Now, when you are in a vehicle, that all goes to hell. There is mucho traffico here. With 10 million people in the city of Lima, there are a lot of cars on the road all of the time. Rush hour traffic last night was still happening at 8pm. Drivers are like mad men pushing their way into crowded streets, inching past cars parked on the sides of the roads, making two lane streets into three .. and all at a nice little pace! It can really be quite terrifying.
Even though slow and steady is the way of life when you are on foot, as soon as you take that step off of the side walk, you are all of a sudden in transit. That means you’d better move as fast as the cars or else they will run you over!
It is totally different here than even in New York city. At least in New York it is often the pedestrian’s fault for not paying attention to walk lights, but here in Lima, it is like pedestrians have no rights.
You just wait and wait for traffic to pass you by until there is a really clear bee-line for the other side of the road. Take a deep breath and jump off that sidewalk … don’t trip, just get to the other side!