Wednesday, February 15, 2012
While living in Namibia, then Russia, now Angola Sam and I have been primarily pedestrians. We walk. A lot. We use public transport. We've hailed taxis, taken trains and used the metro. As I walked home the other day from the school at Mitcha, I thought about how blessed we are that especially in the beginning of living in a new country we have not had the financial ability to buy a car. Yes. Read that again. It really has been a blessing. If you really want to discover a new town/city/country, do it on foot. While living in Saint Petersburg, a friend once told me that it really is like 3 different cities. One is what you see by car - things whizz by quickly, your attention is, or at the very least should be, on the road. You are anonymous. Invisible. Just another hunk of metal rolling down the road. Another is what you encounter by public transportation - buses, taxis, and metro station to metro station. The latter really simplifies the city to a network of underground tunnels, that spit you out into the daylight at or near your destination, without really uncovering anything you didn't already know. And finally, the city on foot. Here's where you'll find the REAL city. The everyday people. The sights, the sounds, yes, even the smells. And you become part of it. Gone is the anonymity of the automobile. You are one of those sights. If you're walking and you happen to look quite different from the majority of those around you on the streets, oh...I don't know...perhaps having black skin in Saint Petersburg or white skin in Lubango, You. Will. Be. One. Of. Those. Sights. Yes, but you will also really get to see the sights around you too. I don't want to lose that connection - that heartbeat I feel that reminds me, "this is where you live." And it's unfamiliar, but it will become familiar. Not because you change it into what is familiar. But because it changes you.