Tuesday, August 12, 2008

magic in the making

Factor # 11 -- living outside of a car

Fifteen years ago, I bought a house in Salem within easy walking distance of my office. I sacrificed living in Portland because I could not stand the commute, and I liked the idea of living in a downtown area where I could walk to almost everything.

For three years my plan worked well. I walked to work. Saw my neighbors. Got to know a lot of the detail about my little capital city.

Then along came Jiggs. Because he was a very small puppy when I got him, I had to let him out every noon. Great. I now had an excuse to get home to have lunch and play with the dog. The problem was that I did not have enough time to walk back and forth to work.

So, I started driving my car to and from work for my lunch break. Jiggs soon developed a strong bladder and bowels, and I did not need to make the drive. But I continued to drive to work.

In 2001 I had a very bad car accident. Car totaled. I was without a car for almost a month. At one point, I decided I would not get a new car. I would walk everywhere in town and rent a car for trips.

That notion lasted a week. But it planted a seed. I now spend very little time in my truck around town. It is 7 years old and I barely have 50,000 miles on it -- mainly from trips to the coast with Jiggs. I find that I notice a lot more when I get out of the truck. I do not want to lose that in Mexico.

Is this factor still important to me?


Grade for Melaque:


Melaque is small enough that it is possible to walk everywhere. The only reason I do not rate it higher is that the markets are a bit far from the house to buy very heavy loads.

And I know the answer to that. If I buy my daily meals on my shopping trips, I should not have that much to carry. I could probably do that in the States, as well, if I did not buy a dozen 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke at one time.

Next post: offering help to others graciously -- accepting help from others


islagringo said...

I bet that even in Melaque, you could easily find one of the tricycle drivers who would ferry your heavy loads for a minimal fee. (like 10 pesos or less!) Plus you get to walk along and have a nice little chat with them...another chance to practice Spanish! I even see the little baggers kids from our grocery store pushing the grocery cart to deliver stuff to tourists at their hotels here. The real reason, in my opinion, to have a car is FREEDOM.

islagringo said...

I forgot to ask...can you explain the picture? Advertisement? Toy? Very interesting whatever it is for.

Islaholic Trixie said...

I was going to ask about Mr Jiggs, but I just read the beautiful post about him. If we listen to our pets, they teach us "simple" lessons about life.

Steve Cotton said...

Brenda -- Jiggs is doing a bit better. The injection on Friday has perked him up. But there is not much muscle mass left. Without some muscle, steroids do not work as well as they should. But it is a joy to have him moving about again.

Wayne -- The horse is a piece of "art" made out of driftwood. The little shop puts together interesting pieces based upon drift collected from the beach.

Thanks for the tricycle tip. I did not notice any while I was there, but I was not looking, either. Cars do provide some freedom. I just do not want to get stuck in one for all purposes.

Nancy said...

Paul and I have a car - a tiny one perfect for the small centro streets. We're glad we have it, too - mostly for weekend trips out of town or exploring new places.

But it stays in the garage I imagine 6 days out of 7.

If we wanted to we could do fine without one, it would just change the way we shop. Now, if we are going out we plan our trip to stop everywhere we need to go. If we had to taxi (or pulmonia, here) we'd have to rethink that.

You'll enjoy using your car less, but I still would want to have one.

Steve Cotton said...

Good point, Nancy. I should clarify that I do not intend to go carless. After all, how would I get to all of those small archaeological sites I intend to visit? No need to pretend I am living in a Cuban dictatorship.

Babs said...

The times I've stayed in Melaque I didn't see the tricycle guys Wayne is talking about but my last visit there two years ago I did see a couple of taxis! I stock up on groceries so I only go to the store maybe once a month and then buy veggies and fruites on an as need basis....I buy the boxed milk which is my greatest discovery! It lasts a LONG time!
I only use the car when I go out of town - it is such a GIFT! Many, many people live her and have never had a car.....GREAT public transportation!

Brenda said...

We have a car; but seldom use it. We use the city bus service almost all the time. We probably put 200 pesos of gas in our car once every month and half if that often, lately less than that.
We use the car to go and get our water jugs filled about every week and a half and we wouldn't need to even do that if we didn't want to. (It is cheaper to fill them yourself than get it from the delivery trucks)
You will find you walk more down here than you do in the USA because the tiendas are closer to home than in the USA.
Our mexican neighbors, by the way think we are crazy for taking the bus and walking, most of them take their cars everywhere lol. Someone once asked us if our car was broken lol. If they have a car they use it all the time.

Calypso said...

We have been taking our HUGE Ford F350 truck to Mexico since 2004. Staying no less than six months each of those years.

The truck is a hassle on the small quaint streets in our area - don't get me started on that.

But, we drive very little, more often walking and some bus rides. I think the last 8 month stint we filled the gas tank four times or about every two months.

With high energy costs (not as bad in Mexico) not having to drive a lot is a real Bonus - give that an A+ ;-)

glorv1 said...

You are truly covering all your steps before the big day and although I just recently started reading your blog, I feel as if I've known you and Jiggs for some time. You are definitely going to be well prepared when 2009 rolls around. I'm happy that the Professor is doing a little better. You know, Chorizo was on steroids as well and they did help her for quite some time. I got her meds from Canada. Anything for my girl.
When I saw the picture of the horsie, I thought you were planning on riding it out of town. (haha) I like to end my posts with a smile.

Steve Cotton said...

John -- I should have mentioned saving energy costs and decreasing my girth -- both noble goals.

Brenda -- Other than my trips to see the countryside or to go snorkeling, I doubt I will use the truck very much. I really liked your observations about your Mexican neighbors and their dricing habits. I saw the same thing happen in England. In the early 70s, a car was a luxury. In the 80s, a necessity. I suspect Mexico will have to follow that same cycle.

Babs -- If you can deal with the hills of SMA without a vehicle, I can certainly deal with the flates of Melaque. One of the main modes of transportation around here are ATVs with teenagers strewn over every available space.

Steve Cotton said...

Gloria -- I guess you could say it is my hobby horse.