I set out to run on Sunday, either over toward the Paraná River and along the bluffs on the shore for a bit, as I've done before, or maybe taking Blvd. Oroño in the other direction, toward Parque de la Independencia [map]. But I found that the boulevard is closed to vehicle traffic on Sundays from 8:00-1:00, so I stayed right there and ran in a loop. No, I didn't run in crazy circles (though I did recall an old friend's reference to Quito's Avda. Amazonas as the tontódromo; think hippodrome, then insert "idiot" in place of horse), but it did make me happy.
|Blvd. Oroño; no cars, plenty of people|
There were still a few pauses at intersections. On corners with traffic signals, most of the assembled strolling/running/biking/ambling/skating/stroller-pushing crowd dutifully waited for the light to change; other intersections had police directing traffic, so cars wouldn't gush right into the non-motorized stream.
|Change the air! Recreational street.|
The air seemed cleaner than when I've run on weekdays, though that may have been an illusion. The sun was out. One of the first things I did on arrival was to buy a pair of black sweatpants to run in, so I blended right in with all the other women of a certain age (i.e., mine ± 25 years). A girl on a little pink bike with training wheels pedaled madly after a teenier dog leashed to her handlebars. The occasional driver wondered how to get his car out of a corner gas station. Unlike some pools where the swimmers can be quite fierce about sharing lanes for lap-swimming, there was no particular directional regime; folks went up and down both traffic lanes and the sidewalk median.
I went back later with my camera. I liked the green and white signs the city put out. I wanted to capture the flow of people. But I never feel comfortable sticking my camera right in someone's face--aside from family, I take a lot more pictures of flowers and buildings.
|You go ahead; not your car.|
And it wasn't that crowded. It was open. People had hours to take advantage of the car-free zone, and did. I don't know how long the initiative has been in place or how long it might last. Maybe there was controversy, maybe it's someone's crazy plan, maybe it's a tradition of long standing. I'll have to ask someone. I've met a couple of women who love to tell stories, so with any luck, I'll get an earful.