|View along the Caribbean side - for early morning joggers|
In the early mornings right around sunrise until an hour after, the roadways along the Caribbean side of the island are littered with people. People walking. People running. People cycling. Some are exercising for health, others are using their feet or bicycles to get to their jobs.
Groups of joggers are scattered along the route: three women, a man, two women and several solo guys pound along the roadways dodging stray dogs, and potholes. Decked out in the latest brightly coloured athletic gear with coordinating leggings, tank tops, hoodies, and footwear these folks are serious about their fitness routine. Their large iPhone or equivalent smartphones are strapped to a bicep, earbuds jammed into ear canals and music pounding out the beat as they run along the outer perimeter road to Punta Sur and back.
|Other bike riders in centro|
Four youngsters sharing two single-gear bicycles, each with a passenger balanced on the foot pegs poking out from the rear axle of the bike, slowly grind southwards headed to one of the numerous construction sites near Punta Sur. The rider stands straight and still, with hands resting on the peddler’s shoulders. It’s a way of getting to and from their manual-labour jobs. It’s hard to know which part of this duo works the hardest. The one peddling the bike. Or the one balanced on round metal pegs. As kids we did the same thing, but the goal was to get to the playground quicker, not to arrive at work six days a week by eight in the morning.
|Ab exercises at work|
A group of construction workers, in their twenties, trudge southwards towards their job wearing jeans, battered t-shirts and sometimes runners but more often than not cheap disposable sandals. They have a measured pace, arriving at the job for the eight o’clock start time. They will labour until sundown, and frequently later. It’s not uncommon to see workers toiling under inadequate lighting until late in the evening.
|Ab exercises on the beach|
Vehicles, golf carts, and motos are beginning to make their appearance on the roadways as parents make the frantic dash to school. If the child doesn’t arrive before the gates are locked, then the parent is stuck with sorting out childminding problems for the day.
Our friend, Yaron pushes past on his multi-speed bike, his muscular legs churning like pistons. He zooms up and down this road from first light until he finishes his routine number of laps, or time. His fitness level is impressive. He lifts the fingers of his left hand in a half-wave and smiles while fiercely concentrating on the bumps and challenges of the local road. Hitting a pothole or rock while piloting a skinny-tired bicycle can result in flying lessons for the rider.
|Early morning biker rider - selling tortillas|
The dog walkers generally have a more leisurely pace while the dogs sniff, pee, sniff, pee and repeat. A few walkers such as Ana have big dogs that set a faster pace. She almost jogs to keep up to her exercise mates. We routinely run across Melissa and Issy, out for their morning constitutional. And Carol’s seventeen-year-old Alfie is blind but knows his way along the sidewalks and pathways. Our Sparky likes to visit with him, but Alfie prefers his solitude instead of in inquisitive wet nose investigating his private areas.
|2011 photo - the navy groups use smaller trucks now|
A squad of Marinas from the naval infantry is on an early morning circumnavigation of the island. Riding in a grey truck they smile and waggle a couple of fingers in greeting, trying to look seriously bad-ass in their combat gear while grinning a hello.
An hour after sunrise the road in nearly empty. Even though it in now a week into December, the daytime temperature is hitting 30 degrees Celsius, or mid-eighties Fahrenheit.
It’s time to find a shady spot.
|Internet photo - we are waiting for our trees to grow this tall|