Thursday, September 15, 2011

Running on Sunday

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.

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