Whenever we took students overseas, we always had to have a lesson on cross walks. Most people don’t really think about having to cross a street unless they are heading to a major metropolitan area where foot traffic is exceptionally high. Jaywalking in foreign countries can be dangerous AND costly if an officer sees you do it. This is because in most places, cars are king. While traveling with students, we also had up to 50 people in a group. There was no way we would all make a cross in one group, so it was super important to instill in our students that they had to wait for the little green man. He became a symbol of international travel for me.
So when I got to Montevideo, the first thing I noticed was the lack of green men. In fact, there are almost no light-based cross walks. One simply looks down the street and prays that a car doesn’t come whizzing around the corner – a big possibility in this city. There are also very few stop signs or traffic lights at intersections. It’s as if the people of Montevideo naturally know who has the right-of-way.
I went for a run this morning along the Rambla. (That was a struggle in and of itself, but we won’t go into that now.) I dashed across the street when the traffic seemed to ebb a bit. Again…no cross walks. Once on the Rambla, I was fine because it is all foot traffic. However, there are breaks in the path where cars merge off of the street. At one point, I though the man waiting to merge into traffic had looked my way, so I started to run across the street. Nope, he had no idea I was there, and I had a nice little panic attack as I quickly contorted my body, trying not to get hit. Note to self: make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
Later, I went to explore the place around my new apartment with some of the other new teachers and noticed there were actual cross walks in Punta Carretas. I have never been so excited to see little green men! However, they don’t mean a whole lot since a bus flew right at us even though the green man was up. Another note to self: Don’t trust the green bastard!