one way traffic in my Mons neighborhood. At the time I was still settling in to our new neighborhood, new house and new country and only knew of a limited number of streets that allowed me to move from one place to another. Since then some things have remained the same and others have changed and I'm embracing it all.
What is the same? The road construction. A few roads have reopened but they have been countered by even more closing. It seems that as soon as I figure out how to maneuver through the neighborhood another key road closes and I'm back at square one. Now however, rather than approaching it as a deterrent, I'm using it as an opportunity to explore. After all, it really is not possible to get completely lost here. Confused and driving in circles, yes. Lost, no. And whether on foot or by car I'm discovering even more of the quaint streets, hidden alleys and surprising architecture that Mons has to offer.
And of course, the main road that connects our house to our garage remains closed. I had naively returned from our summer in the States expecting it too be reopened to vehicle traffic. Of course it wasn't and it doesn't appear like it is going to reopen any time soon. (Maybe before we leave in 2017?). So over the past few months not only have I developed some pretty strong bicep muscles but I've gotten really good and figuring out how much I can buy at the grocery store and carry home in a single trip. Which is a good thing because things are getting even more interesting; hence the what has changed.
As of Monday morning, the street in front of our house is completely closed to traffic meaning that for the next couple of months there is no way to drive through our neighborhood. In typical Belgian form we were notified of this closure the morning it occurred. But this time, instead of thinking about how we might be inconvenienced by this change, I shrugged it off indifferently. After all we've gotten really good and carrying things up and down the hill. And besides, with the road closed the steady stream of cars--from parents dropping off and picking their children up at the music school across the street from our house; from drivers seeking shortcuts, and those lost soles who aren't quite sure how to get out of the one-way maze that is Mons--has all but ceased. No longer are cargo vans squeezing between the parked cars and our living room windows giving a whole new meaning to the term "reach out and touch someone".
So at the moment I'm enjoying the forced walk on the car free streets. When I do think that it might be nice to have the convenience of being able to pull up to my front door I quickly realize that having that luxury is such an American ideal. Here in Belgium, as is the case in so much of Europe, people of all ages, from the youngest toddlers to the frailest elderly, make their way up and down the streets going about their business. A lack of parking, convenient or not, rarely deters a European from going where they want. Its actually quite liberating to not worry about where you can park your car; you find a place or better yet, rely upon public transportation.
I'm sure the traffic on my street as well as the neighboring ones will return. But at the moment I'm going to enjoy my little traffic free world.