When I still called the Island my home, I did a simple calculation to confirm my suspicions. Given the weekly mileage I logged on to my car’s odometer while factoring in the average speed limit and the usual delays for traffic, I realized that I was spending about 10 hours a week stuck in my car going somewhere, mostly alone. I had become so used to this I never questioned whether it was worth it while I kept the radio tuned to NPR to pass the time.

Driving on Martha’s Vineyard requires planning, strategy and patience, especially during certain months of the year. Some delays can be unexpected though. While headed home from work one night after midnight, I discovered that the drawbridge was up. At a distance, a sailboat was motoring in the direction of the Lagoon. Since it was going to be awhile, I shut off the motor and waited — and then promptly fell sound asleep. When I finally woke up the bridge was no longer raised, and I found myself parked in the middle of Beach Road in the wee hours.

I eventually sold my house and left the Island for good. It has been more than five years since I have driven a car or felt the need to. I let my driver’s license expire. Living in Central America and North Africa has given me back those lost hours.

One of the places where I found what I was searching for was Essaouira, a walled medina perched on Morocco’s rocky Atlantic Coast, a patchwork maze of narrow alleyways and a wide boulevard constructed in the mid-18th century. The open-air shops and market stalls form a vibrant pedestrian place without a single car. Things move at a pace much more suited to my temperament these days. No one is stuck in traffic or searching for a vacant parking spot. Instead, people gather around small café tables over pots of sweetened mint tea. The aroma of grilling fish wafting from makeshift charcoal braziers mixes with bread baking in the communal, wood-fired oven. After nightfall, the boulevard fills with people strolling amongst the fishmongers, wheeled carts stacked with freshly-baked bread, fruit stalls, pomegranate juice sellers and the improbable hodgepodge of vendors of all sorts.

After circumstances conspired for me to be in Cambridge for several days in August, I decided to board the bus to Woods Hole. Getting around the Island was going to be a challenge. Hitchhiking turned out to be an immediate flop, so I got myself a bus schedule and eventually deciphered how to get from one place to another.

I also walked a lot. One day, I decided to walk to Menemsha from Fulling Mill to eat some oysters and then walk back. Cars barreled past me along the way, and I felt sorry for them since they were missing the smell of the native shrubs in bloom that filled the air. Wait, smell is not the right word. It was closer to a subtle, intoxicating fragrance.

Along Middle Road, I detected the sound of water from the hidden brooks that run alongside the roadway, unseen and unnoticed by motorists. I decided that when you bother to listen, brooks really do babble. I passed cattle grazing just over the other side of a stone wall, pastured at the Keith Farm. I stopped and took a photo of them, pond in the distance, a patch of ocean beyond, peeking over the tree line. The gentle

animals seemed spooked by a lone pedestrian, so I continued on my way.

At Beetlebung Farm, I spotted a truck with a familiar logo, so I took a small detour and located my stonemason friend hard at work on the new building. It was an unexpected surprise for us both and we talked about all sorts of things before I headed down the Menemsha Crossroad to Larsen’s.

On the return trip I walked towards the Chilmark Store, but the frenzy of the parking lot resembled the pit area at the Indianapolis 500 so I quickly turned around and continued back up towards Fulling Mill, about eight miles in all.

In the days that followed, I took a cue from Thoreau and spent two weeks at a friend’s 1930’s-era beach shack nestled in the dunes overlooking Dogfish Bar in Aquinnah. It was a trip to both a bygone era and a lost world as the days blended seamlessly, one into another.

I’m happy to report that being alone is not at all the same as feeling isolated. My walks during those few weeks allowed me to retrieve something I had lost along the way. It also brought back the memory of the days when my Island interactions were often limited to that lazy Vineyard wave we use to acknowledge a familiar face behind the wheel of an oncoming car. I reflected on those brief moments just before we’d speed past each other on our respective paths through life, isolated from both each other and the world around us, with just the radio to keep us company.

Robert Skydell lives in Essaouira, Morocco; and Antigua, Guatemala.