Public transport makes up the majority of traffic in Valparaíso. Horns form the bulk of noise pollution. In my mind I ask the bus drivers why they are beeping, do they really think people stop in the middle of the road just for fun?
The bus drivers are timed how quickly they do their route. This is obvious once you’ve ridden in a bus. Interestingly taxis seem to feel the need to keep up to the break neck pace.
This brings us to traffic lights. There are numerous places to cross with the safety of lights. It’s common for drivers to run amber lights and only a fool would step onto the road before the lights turn red. There is only one time that I’ve seen motorists slow down – and I can assure you that it’s not when Australians are jaywalking. Little old ladies are the Alpha Males of the road. When they step onto a road while the traffic is flowing, the sound of skidding tyres and crunching glass quickly follows. Armed with nothing more than inch thick glasses and a fold-up-pull-along-shopping-cart, little old ladies have the ability to part traffic and hobble across the road in safety.
We have developed a new sport: Shadowing. When a little old lady steps out onto the road we jump out and cross the road in her protective shadow. As with all extreme sports there is an element of danger. The rules of Shadowing are simple. Only cross with old ladies, old men don’t have the same traffic stopping abilities. Stray dogs seem to be as powerful as old ladies when it come to stopping traffic but they lack the directional sense of an old lady. When an old lady crosses the road it’s because she wants to get to a street vendor on the other side. When a dog crosses a road it could be for any reason. If the dog U-turns and heads back to its starting place that leaves you, the gringo, standing in the middle of a road with bus drivers trying to get to Checkpoint Zulu in record time.
We’re writing to the Olympic Committee to see if Shadowing can be included in the next games.