The Curse of the Caribbean: Cars

Why rush in such a small and beautiful paradise?

speed racer!
Midnight Rush Hour
drive faster!
Faster! Faster!
Puerto Rico is a beautiful tropical island. A green Caribbean paradise warmed by the sun and cooled by the sea. And yet this island of perfection has the same cancer, the same degradation of the Cayman Islands: Cars.

Yes, in a place that should be governed by the speed of walking, which should be a car-free delight, is awash in a sea of automobiles. American, Japanese, German, Puerto Rican vehicles mimic the mainland USA in their style, size, and ubiquity.

And, unfortunately, in their pollution.

The cleanest, freshest ocean breeze, anywhere but on the seashore, is tainted with a hint of carbon monoxide. San Juan drivers are the worst offenders, but even on little Veiques, with its lower incomes and less exhaust system maintenance, the smell of tainted air was in the wind.

And the lay of the land is defiled by a design for cars. Only Old San Juan is anything close to walkable, and that’s only because it was built so long ago. Everything else, from San Juan City to even little Vieques is built for four-wheeled machine transport.

Which makes me sad. How can such a perfect temperate climate, one that needs not air conditioning or automobiles, be cursed by too much of both?