One thing that I learned on my recent trip to Peru is that Peruvians love walking. They only began using the wheel after the Spanish conquest. The ancients, pre-Incans, built beautiful, intricate temples, palaces and farming terraces right into the mountains; and they did it without the use of the wheel. It’s a good thing they have such a love for walking because their streets are so narrow many would allow no more than two horses to pass comfortably. The trucks and busses that have invaded the country since Machu Pichu was named a wonder of the world fill these streets leaving barely enough room for a person to stand against a wall as they pass.
Walking takes the Peruvians to and from work. It takes them out to the town square at night. It takes them as it did their ancestors, over mountains to spend time in the holy places they cherish.
Every evening people crowd the streets and the squares visiting their neighbours and listening to entertainment while their children play together until well after dark. What Peruvians give up in wealth, they gain in a feeling of community and peace of mind. At least so it goes in the villages, towns and countryside. We really didn’t spend enough time in Lima to get to know it. Mind you a city of eleven million people takes a lot of getting to know.
During our four day hike of the Inca Trail which took us over four different mountains, our porters carried all of the heavy packs. What’s more they jogged past us every day so they could get ahead to set up the next camp before we arrived. As they passed they were often chatting to one another on the trail. With very little weight on our backs we still laboured to climb the Inca steps at 13,500 ft. elevation. Interestingly enough, even though we were very tired from the climb, we often chatted as we went, stopping frequently to take pictures or just to enjoy the view.
Whether on the Inca Trail or at night in the square, a sense of community is forged through walking together.The pace of walking allows time for gentle conversation and reflection that automobiles cannot provide. Too often in communities across this beautiful country of ours people find themselves too tired, too busy or too afraid to go out to the park at night or to walk to work or to walk for the pure pleasure of walking.
North Americans have become so accustomed to our automobiles that many of us don?t even remember a time when we walked to school, to work or just for fun. This changing lifestyle along with its related fast food drive throughs have put a strain on our health and on our sense of well being. Technology has brought us many comforts, but it has robbed us of our sense of community that can only be found in meeting, talking and playing together.
On October 3, that’s tomorrow, Toward Balance Support Network, City of Kawartha Lakes and The Health Unit will join Green Communities across Canada to set the world record for number of people walking one kilometer at the same moment. We set off from Victoria Park at 12:30 PM but please be there as soon after 12 noon as possible so you can register for the Guiness Book of Records. We are required to start at 12:30 sharp. Every registered participant will share a place with a million other Canadians in the world record. Registration and the start of the walk will take place at the gazebo. The walk will run along Victoria St. to Peel, along Peel to Sussex, along Sussex to Kent finishing at the Armoury. It will provide a great way to stretch your legs and freshen up for the afternoon. Join us and bring a friend. See you next time.