Posted tagged ‘autobahn’

“Speed, it seems to me, provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.”

October 25, 2011

Rain is coming later in the week, but for now I get to enjoy the sunshine and the coolness of a beautiful fall day. We did get out for a bit yesterday, but I ran into friends whom I haven’t seen in ages, and we chatted for a long while so I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. Today Gracie and I will go down Cape; yesterday we went up Cape. For those of you wondering what directions I’m describing down-Cape means toward P-Town and up-Cape means toward the bridge. If anyone asked me east or west, I’d be hard pressed to answer.

When I visit Colorado, I ask how far to get somewhere, and they always answer in miles. Here when asked the same question we answer in time. How far to Boston from the cape elicits the response of about an hour and fifteen minutes, but it could be longer depending upon the traffic. In Colorado they’d tell me about 72 miles.

When I traveled in Ghana, the distance was measured in kilometers. I had no idea how far away anything really was. My mind worked only in miles so I always had to convert kilometers to miles. I learned to multiply by .6 so I’d figure out how far away I was from my destination.

Ghana, like Massachusetts, is also a time place. I had no idea the actual distance between Accra and Bolgatanga, but I know it takes 16 hours by bus. I know because that’s what the Ghanaians told me when I asked how far between Bolga and Accra. Later I looked it up and found it was 810 kilometers which didn’t make sense until I figured out it was 486 miles. It may seem like it takes forever by bus, and it does.

Once, when my parents and I were in Germany, my inner race car driver came out while I was driving on the autobahn. There I was driving at 80 MPH and getting passed. I knew this was my opportunity to be Mario Andretti without risking a ticket so I drove between 90 to 100 but I still got passed. My mother commented we seem to be going really fast and kept looking at the speedometer. I told her it was in kilometers, a bold face lie with good intentions, and explained how to convert and I mentioned that we were being passed by other cars going much faster. That seemed to calm her, and I got to be Mario for just a little while.


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