Where did everyone go?

March 18, 2023 Comments Off on Where did everyone go?

The first thing I noticed is how quiet everything is. There are no people outside. Everyone is inside a car, a building, a house. Whatever activity they are engaging in, they’re doing in secret.

I miss the noise, but most of all I miss the sight of people. Seeing other humans is very refreshing; they are infinitely interesting, unpredictable, comforting. Yet the quiet is nice, too. I never, ever thought that I would return to Los Angeles and consider it a silent place. Compared to Tijuana, it’s a graveyard.

The second thing I noticed was the space. Bicycling in Mexico requires A-level skills and awareness. The roads are just wide enough for cars and trucks. Not one extra inch has been devoted to bicycles. You’d think this makes for deadly riding, it doesn’t. What it makes for, in conjunction with uneven and often damaged surfaces, is careful drivers. Not a single angry or impatient honk in three weeks even when, at one point, I was holding up about a hundred cars as I labored over a bridge.

I wondered about this, and concluded that Mexican drivers spend so much time paying scrupulous attention to all the things that can cause a crash, a flat, tear off the front end of a car, snap an axle, puncture an oil pan, smash a transmission, that bicycles are only one more obstacle, part of the road environment to avoid. No one expects to drive unimpeded at 60 mph, or at any speed, therefore no one is angry at you.

Another kind of consideration I experienced when it rained: cars intentionally avoided splashing you, even when they had to change lanes or wait behind until clear of the massive puddles.

Still, the space on our side is liberating after the narrowness and the constant intense awareness of every aspect of the environment. Even close passes, the few that occurred, felt distant and completely safe. Whether they were or not is a different question.

I got up this morning for a few quick minutes of jump rope. No cars, no people, just the sound of the plastic cord as it beat the pavement.



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