Archive for September 28th, 2011

Change the World Wednesday 28th Sep

Tomato Icecream

Despite my hopes, my tomatoes remained tomato-flavoured, not a hint of curry. Experiment No.1 in GMOs – FAIL! This week I am trying for icecream-flavour…

Move over Monsanto, my GMOs are much more fun.

I was up at 4:30am today checking out the CTWW for this week. I do believe I have become derailed. I can assure you that I went back to bed until 7:30, a much more reasonable hour for a senior citizen’s first morning coffee, which reminds me, it’s time for the second. BRB

Back, ah, you’re still here…

This weeks Change the World Wednesday challenge on Reduce Footprints:

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This week replace at least one car trip with a bicycle or walking trip.
OR …
If you never use a car, please write a post about how you make a “no car” life work.
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Well, been done before, but that’s gone, so here’s my story for the second part of the challenge.
I got my license to drive at 15 (Yes, it was legal when I was a boy) and I rolled Dad’s car beyond recognition at 16. So yes, I support better driver training.

My first bike - 1951 Matchless G3LS

Until I was 41 I drove everywhere. I always had a car. My cars, after motorcycles, ranged from moderate types in the early years, a thumping great noisy gas guzzling V8 before I got married to sedate family saloon types as a responsible father. I have always driven, I did it for jobs, I did it for pleasure. I drove cars, trucks, taxis, fire engines (that was fun), army tanks, bulldozers, buses, Land Rovers (off road, more fun; boys just love mud). I could pull a reconditioned V8 motor out and have it fully reconditioned and back on the road within a week, that’s better than some mechanics can do (you’d know if you ever had to have it done).

So for 26 years a greater part my life revolved around vehicles of one sort or another.

Then my life changed. The week that I turned 41 I found myself in Rio de Janeiro en route to Europe. My first destination was Madrid… I never got there. The reasons are for another story on another blog another time.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a car. I was initially a tourist. From then on it was buses and taxis. In New Zealand I would never have considered a bus, the city services had deteriorated in frequency to way beyond pathetic. But, I found myself in a city where buses ruled, they may have been driven by retired Japanese kamikaze pilots (you have to do it to understand), but they went everywhere. If I wanted to go to Copacabana from Catete (where I stayed initially) there was a choice of buses and routes every few minutes. They were cheap, no parking, no gas to buy, etc. I discovered another world – public transport.

Uruguay Immigration Stamps

At Christmas that first year I wanted to go to Uruguay to stay with friends (also to get my visa renewed); I got a bus. Six hours across to São Paulo, forty hours from there to Montevideo. It cost like $60 and I didn’t have to read a map to find my way. I didn’t even have to worry about border crossings, the bus driver collected our passports when we boarded, and returned them all stamped when we got off the bus.

Now I have lived without a car for nearly twenty years. I don’t need one. I love the freedom of not having a car. No repairs, no insurance, no annual registration, no warrant of fitness (six-monthly fitness inspection)and best of all, no stress! I have more money for beer, and less headaches (because I don’t drink that much).

Since then, I have bussed, trained, boated and occasionally flown all over South America, covered thousands of miles, with the exception of Venezuela and Colombia, and loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t swap my public transport lifestyle if you gave me a car.

I bus to work every day in one of these

Now, I know that not all cities have great public transport systems, but if your city does, try it, you’ll like it.

Window shopping from the bus is great too. During the week, I saw a shop with reconditioned PCs for sale really cheap. Want one! If I had been driving through that intersection (busy, busy, busy) I would have missed it; you blink and you have missed your green light. In the bus you have time to relax and look, which is something that in today’s stressed out world there is no time for any more.

I would use a bicycle, if it were conducive to my health; unfortunately leg problems preclude cycling. In fact, before I was condemned to my walking stick, I used to walk to town each day for work it was only 25 minutes. I still do on occasion, but now it takes more than an hour.

A “no-car” life really works.

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