Saturday, March 29, 2014

I'm really learning to drive well in Mexico...

I must have at least 50 hours of driving practice now, mainly in Cuernavaca, and I think I am starting to get a handle on how things work in Mexico.  I can now almost completely ignore STOP signs, and my landlord (Raul) actually complemented me on it yesterday.  I was so proud.  I can't wait to get back to Canada and try it.

As I have mentioned before, although there appear to be lots of rules on the driving test itself, once you have your license, none of these seem to really apply.  The main rule of driving is to follow the flow.  For example, if everyone ahead of you comes to an intersection and plows right through, whether there are cars coming from either side or not, you do the same.  Don't try to figure out the rule, follow the crowd.

Another important thing to learn is to watch the other drivers eyes and body language.  I know this may be difficult as you are dodging potholes, topes, dogs, children, buses, taxis and a variety of other obstacles;  but when you meet another car and are not sure if you should go or not, look at the other driver.  If he has acknowledged you with his eyes and stopped his car - go.

One final important thing I have learned regards topes or speed bumps.  They come in a myriad of different sizes and heights, and each and every one of them has to be respected differently.  The long gently rounded ones are almost a joke, but slow down a little anyway.  The ones that are lined up in twos or threes and appear to be relatively small can trick you.  Make sure to keep your teeth clenched going over these because you will sound like you are shivering if you talk.

The ones about one and a half feet tall and about the same wide are the really nasty ones.  You must leave yourself just enough acceleration to get to the top of the tope with your front tires and slowly start to descend. This is when your braking strategy kicks in.  Slowly apply the brakes so that when your tires come back down to meet the pavement, your vehicle doesn't bounce.  This is the time you can do some serious damage to the underside of your car, or worse, the engine.

Then give the car a little gas to get the back tires up and over the tope gently.  This part is tricky because you don't really have time to hit the brakes as the back tires come down to the pavement because you are now having to accelerate before the guy behind you rams into the back of your car.  Plus, you have to get to the next tope, and repeat the process.  I sincerely think there is enough pavement wasted in these topes to pave all the streets in a small town.

Anyway, I've followed Raul's two main rules well, and haven't hit or been hit by anyone yet...

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