Friday, February 21, 2014

Where Would Jesus Park?

Behind the fence.

I don't know how many times I walked right by it, unseeing, but it was there.

People here take their parking seriously.

They have to.

There is nowhere to park.

Well, of course that's exaggerated idiot-talk, really. Because there would be no way to take parking seriously if there were no parking. But there are so many crimps to vehicle use that, for those who do have vehicles, each trip is like a major military campaign.

Streets here — choose your description: Charmingly narrow. Pathetically narrow. Laughably narrow. Until you watch a full-sized city bus make a turn, and you are standing anywhere nearby. Whenever a bus turns, at least two street corners are in imminent danger. You don't laugh then, when you see that bus coming for you — you back away and stand off. Well off. To preserve your life.

The bus's blunt front plows toward the far corner while one of its heaving, thundering rear wheels lunges for the near corner, and misses. This is a good day. When the driver is paying attention, and hits it right, and the bus is compliant.

At other times the bus's front swings wide or goes long, tries to get at and destroy everything out there, and the rear cuts it short and tight, crushing whatever is within its reach — bollards, curbs pedestrians.

Navigating in a small car, you would think, is different, but no, it is very nearly as difficult, because every fit is a tight fit.

With most streets barely wide enough for cautious driving, and being one-way affairs, parking is also out of the question.

Off-street lots are used for parking, but they are not like North American lots. There are no acres of flat, wind-swept, asphalted emptiness with myriads of entrances and exits. Here, parking lots hide behind walls, inside the enveloping embrace of colonial architecture, out of sight, and they are stingy affairs, themselves cramped for space.

And then there is the Parqueadero de Jesús. It is different, in two ways.

It is open and airy, though behind a fence. Everything not behind at least a fence is subject to theft. Even, I think, the Parking Lot of Jesus. But that is a minor difference.

Being outside the city's central core, snuggled against a church's side, its topographical distinction may be due only to geography, with no deeper significance, but for the sign.

The sign does set it apart. To the eyes of those from elsewhere in the world. Definitely.

The sign alone would cause a major ruckus in Cleveland. Bet on it.

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