In case you missed an earlier post, I will mention to you again, I haven't driven a car since June 14 of this year. I got behind the wheel today. It felt strangely invigorating. It felt good. And I felt free. Until I drove 200 meters out of the parking garage and turned right out onto the street.
Pedestrians, everywhere, everywhere, like giant ants. Not even walking in any kind of pattern. Zigging and zagging every which way, and they with their own agenda behaving as if my main course is to avoid them. And unlike ants, I am unable to just drive right over the top of them.
They dart out from nowhere. They aren't watching where they are going. No wonder people who drive cars tend to get a little... angry. Disgruntled. I cautiously stepped on my brake as I waited for what felt like 5 minutes on the parade of neighbors on their way to work, school, home, and to the store. And then the dogs, oh the dogs. I can't even see them when they are on their leashes, don't people even care? I might drive over muffy's head! I haven't even made it to the stop light at the end of my street. Gah! And when I do finally arrive, there is a rather large coca-cola delivery truck double parked. Because that's what they do here, they double park. Good heaven on earth, will I ever make it off this street? Will I accidentally drive off the road? Will I hit these self absorbed human beings as they meander between the cars? Will my diplomatic immunity save me? Really? Oh my. The stress.
When the light turned green, one normally might think that this was a clear and evident sign to proceed onward. And for some it is, but for those of us sharing the desire to make a right hand turn, FAT CHANCE! You must once again WAIT on those beloved, annoying and unending stream of pedestrians. They criss and they cross and they walk really really slow. They taunt you as they fidget with their cell phones, and the light turns yellow and you still haven't moved one single inch. Good Lord, please help me. I can still see my building and I am not off the street, will I even make it to my destination?
I turn. For a fraction of a second I am able to concentrate on the bad music playing on my radio. I change the station. Madonna, in English, oh, there's a change. So I listen, I almost sing along. Almost, but my attention is rapidly diverted to the bus who is coming into my lane. It is ever apparent that he wants to be here too. Only, there is no room for both my car and this HUGE bus. I cringe, I look to my left, a line of cars. I look in front, oh duh, more cars. And then I just squeeze over a tiny bit. A very tiny bit. The bus didn't budge, nor did I. But my heart was pounding, as he was making his presence known. Why oh why am I even here? What was I driving for? These people are slightly C-R-A-Z-Y! Oh thank heavens, the person in front of me speeds up, and I gun it, thus allowing me to pull safely ahead of the bus. Only moments later, the bus takes over the lane fully. !@#$%@ Yah. He was. And how dare he. Doesn't he know that this is my first time driving in like months? And my first time driving in Santiago, like, EVER??
I'm a little sensitive right now. Geesh. OK, so I'm driving. And there is a car in the middle lane of the 3 lanes that exist on this road I am driving on. He (or she) is stopped. Nice, very nice. I think to myself as I quickly maneuver to the left lane to drive around this person. And then quickly notice that this left lane that I just entered into is a lane that turns only left. Goodness gracious. Really? You honestly can't make left hand turns in Santiago, well not very frequently, and they are few and far in between. So I quickly drove back into my lane and kept on course. More buses, and more praying on my part that the big ones don't decide to take over my lane again. Or worse, hit me in the process, because they just don't care, or because they can, or they assume that I will move. I assume they will stop, so someone is going to lose. Anyway.
I must not forget the motorcycle that appeared out of nowhere. And if I rolled my window down, I could probably reach into his pants pocket and pull out his wallet. Or scratch his back or something weird like that. I could see the dirt in his fingernails, and his elbow was touching my side view mirror. How nice, we could chat. Or not. He probably speaks Spanish. Duh. It could be small chat. Yo quiero dormir. Y tengo hambre. I laugh to myself. And then I worry for the motorcycle people who creep up on unsuspecting motorists who don't see them, who are unaware, like I was only moments prior, and then get hit. They get hit because the motorist in the car was not expecting that person to be so close, or to be weaving through the cars, and then decides to change lanes. I honestly never saw him before he came up. I'm sure that's what they all say.
I finally made it to the embassy. I went to get my mail. And it felt good to have braved the streets, well sort of. I feel like I am not cut out for this hard driving. Maybe not yet. I'd rather go back to Miami, and drive down I95. If you haven't ever done that, well it's really something. And they usually drive pretty fast there. Pedestrians beware.
I won't go into my drive home, it was a little bit more of the same. I will tell you also, that I didn't appreciate the guy trying to strong arm me into buying his bag of strawberries. I guess he didn't get the memo not to scare your customers. But then again, I must keep in mind that I am in South America. And the guy is trying to make a peso or two. I suppose I can't fault him there. This country is a bit harder than I'm used to. I miss Dillards. And Barnes n Noble. I need a mocha frapuccino something fierce.