Friday, August 21, 2015

Driving in Mexico – It’s like a video game!

Driving in Mexico is a bit like a video game, a test of your reflexes and hand-eye coordination.  
It can be entertaining and fun if not a little bit nerve-wracking.  
The traffic is fast, signals or stop signs are merely suggestions and staying in one lane isn’t always the safest choice.  

Ya gotta keep your eyes open and go with the flow.  Don’t drive too fast.  Don’t drive too slowly.  Just go with the flow.  

Little or no warning - road closed.  Turn here!
Lanes narrow, or disappear without much notice.  Road work can appear suddenly without a lot of warning signs.  A typical construction zone might have one lonely worker waving a tattered piece of red cloth as you are about to run over him.  Watch out!  

And at the end of the workday an assortment of graders, rollers, and vehicles are parked on the dark roadside, with no flashing lights or warning signs. 

End of the day - park the equipment and go home.
On the highways cars, vans, or trucks pass anywhere it is possible to squeak by.  Recently on Isla we were driving south on Aeropuerto Road just starting up the little hill near Casa Cielo when the taxi behind, and the taxi behind the north-bound vehicle both decided to pass at the same time.  It’s an amazing feat of physics, or perhaps time and space, when four vehicles can pass without incident on a narrow two-lane strip of road. 

We drive a golf cart as our everyday vehicle - fun and easy - but very basic on standard equipment.  An island turn signal is your arm stuck out to the left to indicate you are turning left, or maybe to tell the driver behind you it’s okay to pass, or sometimes to tell the driver ahead that you are going to overtake him/her.  Your right hand pointing to the right is usually the indication that you are turning that direction, or perhaps just resting your arm on the back of the seat. 

Recently we were on a short and busy trip back to Canada.  We rented an average car, complete with standard safety equipment such as brake lights, seat belts, and air bags.  I enjoy driving and hopped into the driver’s side of the Hyundai Sonata.  Coming up to our first turn I indicated with my left arm that I was turning left – and slammed my hand into the closed window.  Oh, right. This car has turn signals.  All was well for a few more miles until I had a momentary glitch in my brain’s hard drive, and signaled right by slapping Lawrie in the face with my right hand. 

Internet photo - standard hand signal for right turn

I must admit we get a bit of perverse pleasure in confounding our Mexican friends when we use our left arm, bent at a ninety degree angle to indicate a right turn.  It’s the standard signal in most parts of the world …. just not here.   Other drivers give us a “what the heck are you doing?” look which makes us smile.  Small things amuse us!

Typical street in rural Mexico
In Mexico pedestrians do not have the right of way, as they do in USA or Canada.  

However, those wide yellow speed bumps (topes) are sacred!  They are typically located in extremely busy locations such as across from the passenger ferry terminal, near the schools, and at the Chedraui grocery store.  

DO NOT drive through these crosswalks while a pedestrian is crossing.  This is the quickest way to irritate the police, and for you to donate cash to the Policemen’s Benevolent Society. 

Good luck with your new video game: Driving in Mexico. 

Hasta Luego

Lawrie & Lynda

Juarez Avenue at sunset on Isla Mujeres

No comments: