Sunday, June 28, 2009

living outside of a car

Saturday evening I was sitting on the balcony, leafing through The Economist, thinking about today's post.

I knew the topic (Factor # 11 -- living outside of a car). A very important factor for me in choosing where to retire.

I looked up, and a sail boat was coming directly at me from the horizon. It then tacked right in front of the house. What could be a better symbol of escaping the confines of a car than a sail boat?

Well, feet for one (or two, I guess). And that is what I had in mind when I put "get out of the car" on my list.

According to The Economist, the average American spends 45 hours a month in a car. That number seems extremely low to me.

But it is not just the time lost or the lost exercise opportunity that bothers me the most. It is the sense of isolation.

On one of my trips to the dealer in Salem to have the truck serviced, I decided to walk to work rather than avail myself of the courtesy van. I was amazed at the life that was missing as I sped by in my truck.

I made two decisions that day: 1) I would get out of my truck as much as possible while I lived in Salem, and 2) when I retired, I would live somewhere I could park the truck and walk.

Melaque fits the bill perfectly. I can walk to almost everything I need for daily living. Grocery stores. Fruit and vegetable shops. Butchers. Barbers. Restaurants.

And these walks give me an opportunity to practice my Spanish on unsuspecting people I meet on my way to and from the main part of town. It is just over a mile into the shopping area. Just right for early morning and evening jaunts. Fortunately, almost everything is closed during the heat of the day.

Saturday evening was a perfect example. I needed some lunch meat. So, off I went into town. Along the way I greeted several people, had a longer conversation with three people, stopped in the jardin to watch a political party set up a stage for a political rally, chatted briefly with a restaurant manager, bought my lunch meat (all in Spanish, thank you vey much), and walked back to the house. I was going to stop at the restaurant where I take my Spanish lessons to listen to a country-western band, but I needed to get my meat in the refrigerator.

I know there are many areas in Mexico where this type of interchange is possible. Some may even be superior. But I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to experience this part of Mexico on a human level -- outside of a car.

Of course, I would not turn down a day or two on that sail boat, either.


Paul said...

There are many reasons for my happiness in Mexico. Walking and being car-less are major ones.

Darrel said...

Wow. It sounds like your comfort level has increased greatly since I abandoned you in your Brave New World a month and a half ago. The Spanish lessons (and a bit more courage) must be helping already. That and the fact that no one is dissecting every word you speak to prepare a rebuttal. You’re retired. It’s OK to occasionally say the wrong thing in Spanish. I do it all the time in English.

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

I LOVE walking to and around town. Here in Tulum it is very flat and easy to walk everywhere.

Riding our bikes is our main form of transportation and I had forgotten how much I loved riding a bike. I lived in Munich Germany for a while and worked as a bike tour guide! It is a great way to find lots of cool new spots in town.

There are times that I really miss not having a car. Like this morning- we had a earth cracking thunderstorm and I was not about to ride my little bike 2 miles to my yoga class. Oh well. I got to sit in the window with my 4 year old and count how far away the storm was. And really... that was better! I am really glad that you are enjoying your retirement so much.

Steve Cotton said...

Paul -- And I intend to take full advantage of them.

Darrel -- It is a good life. After all, I am living your dream.

Steve Cotton said...

Rosas Clan -- There is a bicycle at the house, and I love biking. But this little beach town has enough road hazards bthat I would feel a bit exposed on a bicycle.

Islagringo said...

Ah. Sounds like another Mexico Moment to me.

Anonymous said...

I have reported your anti-capitalist remarks to the American Car Manufacturers Bund. I suspect you will be hearing from their people shortly.

A Patriot Car Supporter and Member of the Car Owners' Existential Philosophy and Racing Club,

All Revved Up

Constantino said...

Steve, you could have stayed and enjoyed a half or full hour or more without worrying about refrigeration.
One of the things that is beaten into us NOB is the obsession to stick stuff in the refrigerator. Americans have convolutions over seeing flats of eggs sitting in a store unrefrigerated. For personal consumption it is not a big deal to have stuff at room temperature for hours, if you intend to eat the product the same day or even in the next few days. Yes refrigeration arrests, but not curtails the growth of certain bacteria, but not enough to warrant you getting more enjoyment than worrying about if or not your lunch meat will give you the scoots.
Besides, you need to develop some immunities to local and regional bacteria. So, next time don't let that stop you from doing what you want.....
I sense just a glimmer of the hope in you starting to slow down....we will see if and when you post your blog, a little later, or maybe tomorrow, or maybe not....if you get around to it...But for now you are still on a well defined possibly denied schedule..

Steve Cotton said...

Islagringo -- A great day it was. Of course, I managed to confuse the Spanish for turkey and breast. But it could have been worse.

All Revved Up -- You think that is a violation? Wait until you see tomorrow's post.

Constantino -- I would usually agree with you on refrigeration. I am not obsessed with the ice box. But there is something about deli-sliced lunch meat. It seems to go bad at the drop of a sombrero -- here and in the States. And I do not know why. But when it goes, it goes. My last purchase was in the refrigerator for three days. The last bit was so slimy, it would slip out of my fingers only with the force of gravity. I will confess that I ate it, any way -- in scrambled eggs disguised with a nice layer of tarragon. After all, I paid good money for that meat.

glorv1 said...

Oooooh slimy lunch meat? Yuk! In any event you are still alive and doing well. I was thinking that maybe one day in the near future you may be the owner of a sailboat. I can see you doing that, and if you sure to wear your life jacket. Enjoy your problem free week. Regards to Jiggs.

Julian in SC said...

Neat post... I'm enjoying living your life with you as you are slowly finding footing in your new location.

I was hoping to begin something similar next year -- until my wife told me that she may not be ready to retire when she turns 62 next year, finding that she really enjoyed her business and liked going in to work... hmmmmm That will slow down your plans a mite... so we'll see.

Meanwhile please say hi to the shaved one!!

Felipe said...

Constantino, keep in mind (regarding leaving stuff out of the fridge) that Señor Cotton is in the sweltering tropics while you and I are in the cool mountain air. Makes a difference.

Steve Cotton said...

Gloria -- It is easy to see watch the ravages of time here on the coast. If things are not enjoyed at the moment, chances ae they will not be there later. More dog philosophy.

Julian -- Tell your wife that the work excuse will keep her frozen at her job until the clammy hand of death beckons. Get out while you can enjoy the true joys of retirement. Even at 60, I am feeling the warranty beginning to run down.

Felipe -- Good point. I keep forgetting the difference between our environments. I left a cracker on the counter for 30 minutes. When I returned to it, there was not a bit of crispness left in it. The mountains would not take pleasures from me with such rapidity.

Croft Randle said...

You are fitting right in Steve! I envy you.

Steve Cotton said...

Croft -- Things are beginning to tick. Ialmost feel as if I have joined A Real Nice Club.

Hollito said...

"Patriot Car Supporter"

Whoaaa, amazing! :-)
Is there also an organization for "Patriotic Teethbrush Supporter"? Or maybe one for "Patriotic Toilet Paper User"?

Over here in Krautland there is a famous sentence by Kurt Tucholsky, which translated to English says:
Germans! Buy German bananas!

;-) ;-) ;-)

Steve Cotton said...

Hollito -- Guten tag. Great to see you (or hear from you) again.

Hollito said...

Howdy, Steve! :-)
Oh yes, I´m still following your adventures, and also am a regular reader of Wayne´s blog.
Good luck with your transmission! :-)

Steve Cotton said...

Hollito -- Thanks for the good wishes on the transmission. I need to get to the mechanic. Todeay -- I hope.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on making what seems like pretty good progress in Spanish!


Kim G
Boston, MA

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- The Spanish is going as well as -- or better than -- I could have anticipated. The random Greek or Italian word slips in now and then, but no one seems to mind.