Friday, September 24, 2021

when you walk through a storm

I was afraid I had lost another faithful friend.

This time to the weather.

One of my favorite offerings in Barra de Navidad is the walkway (the andador) that joins highway 200 with the town. A mile-long path dedicated to walkers and bikers -- with each having their own parallel universes. A perfect way for doppelgängers to show their various talents.

I remember when it was dedicated in 2014. My thoughts were not quite that sentimental. The designed pavement was quite attractive, especially when paired with street lights for night-time use and an army of saplings to beef up the landscaping. But I wondered what it was all for.

The two signs at the trailhead clearly state who the target audience was. Tourists.

Now, I do not know if that was merely a justification to receive grant money for an imagined flock of tourists who were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to strap on their running shoes or to mount their trusty pedal-steeds -- or if the designers actually thought those people were going to show up to use the paths.

It turns out that my sardonic welcome was not justified. Tourists -- Mexican and northern alike -- immediately started walking, running, and biking beside the road into town. The local Rotary even built an exercise station.

But it was not just tourists who used the paths. By my estimate about 80% of the users are my Mexican neighbors who have turn the paths into a stream of walking, conversing social groups. The answer to my "what is it all for?" is now obvious. It turns out there were a lot of people who wanted to exercise. They just needed a place to do it.

Whoever designed the project had an almost German sense of organization. The narrower eastern path is for walkers only. The broader eastern path is for bicycles only -- no motorcycles allowed.

We know that because the paths have been clearly stenciled to inform the unwary (or uncaring) -- with a bicycle symbol and a set of feet. The foot path is even divided to show which side of the path walkers should be on.

Looking at the division, the designer must have lived just outside of London.

The andador is now an intrinsic part of the 11-mile walk I have blazed through the streets of Barra. When I travel, I really miss the lack of traffic that makes the town a great place to walk.

That is why when Hurricane Nora hit last month, I was a bit concerned. When Hurricane Patricia blew through six years ago, a lot of the trees along the andador were young and stood up to the challenge of the wind. But, even then, a portion of the big trees were felled. In the process, their roots pulled up several portions of the paths.

Nora seemed to take a greater toll of trees on the road. My concern was how the pathway survived. It turned out the damage was not as severe as I suspected.

There were a couple of sections where downed trees pulled up sections of the concrete.

In one place, a new home was created for a young iguana.

But the andador is not unscathed. Most of the damage to the andador is old.

When the andador was built, the idea was to parallel the street. The downside of that approach is that concrete was laid over land subject to moisture. And moisture in soil means movement. Some sections of the path are tilted so far they are begin to move into the neighboring ditch.

And the landscaping that provides welcome shade presents another problem. The tree roots have lifted and separated several sections as effectively as a Maidenform bra, creating the type of tripping hazards that have proven to be a bane in my recent walking regimen.

Every time I pass this double-arrow marker, I laugh.

Someone (undoubtedly, with a marked sense of irony) apparently thought the small crack was a tripping danger -- while the larger gaps go unmarked. Just like some topes. Only the small ones have signs.

Robert Frost said it well in another context: "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." Nature is prone to chaos far more than it is to tranquility. Everything eventually rots. It is just a fact of life. And death.

Until it slips away into oblivion, I tend to use the andador as part of my daily walks. 

I do not know who J. Cipriano Ceballos Martínez was (or is), but the andador is dedicated to him. He must have been a visionary because the andador is not only a good addition to the community, it really is my friend.

Note -- If all goes well, I will write later about some creative art of he andador. I may even relate a tale that was a bit disturbing. But that is for later.

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