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Life in the Fast Lane

By Tom Wiseman

Buenos Dias!

Or Buenas Noches if you're on the other side of the world right now.

As documented in my last blog, my good friend and guide Eric has left San Luis but not before he taught me a thing or two about surviving on these streets...literally! He taught me what areas of town to avoid at night, how to tell if a dog is angry, and he also taught me how to drive.

Of course, Papa Wise taught me to drive in England years ago but here driving is...a bit different.

We have a VW Beetle (a "vocho") and it is absolutely perfect, as I cruise along in my smart shirt with the wind in my snazzy haircut I could be back in the 1950's...if I wasn't blogging about it.

The roads here are akin to those found on Mario Kart (including the mushrooms and shells!). Thankfully, before he ever sat me in the driving seat of Mama Wise's car, P.Wise ran a go-kart track, so I really hit the training ground early.

The road system here is unlike the super aggressive British roads. It is more of an American "live and let live" system, the difference being that there doesn't seem to be any real rules and there are even less road markings. The first thing I was taught when learning to drive was "expect the unexpected" and here each driver is equipped with their own unique sense of logic. My favourite thing is the use of hazard lights! Hazards are carte blanche to do absolutely anything. Want to park diagonally across Diagon Alley?! No problemo—just flip the hazards on! Sometimes people drive along with them on just to mess with you, they are quite mesmerizing—you are just waiting for the stupidest thing you've ever seen.

Some of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen include:

Children stood up in the back seat, children on laps in the front seat, and more heads getting cut up than in that Sweeny Todd flick. I even saw a man on a motor bike holding a baby! Thinks he's Rubeus Hagrid!

It's not just the drivers that are insane, the pedestrians are worse! It is not unusual to see a mother dragging several children and some heavy bags across 6 lanes of fast flowing traffic—directly under the footbridge!

I don't drive very fast, not above 80Ks even on the highway but some people do (the limit is 60). Nearly everyday we see a heap of twisted metal where someone has met their maker (not trying to worry anyone, just reporting the real). At first I found the Vocho really hard to drive—high pedals, small space and really uncomfortable (not to mention the brake failure thing) but I am used to it now and actually quite enjoy it. If I can drive a car that is allergic to water in England I'm pretty sure I can drive anything (true story, my old car “Lily-May” would cut out for a good 20 minutes if I went through a puddle too fast!). The Vocho's license plate (God, how American am I?!)—sorry, number plate, is 66 – 33. I take this to be a good omen.

My biggest problem is navigation, I feel I would be an excellent ship's navigator—just the ocean and the stars—but I am hopeless at a grid system! My main problem is that I just don't like to concentrate or pay attention to anything, I see it as a waste of good day dreaming time!

Despite all of this I actually quite like driving here, the system suits me well. I am not very good at being in the right place or the correct lane, etc., but whereas in England cutting someone up or getting in their way might earn some incensed threats and very aggressive behaviour, in Mexico it's a blast of the horn and business as usual. After all, what's the fuss? Every ones doing it!

So, that's the crazy driving, and there's been plenty of other things driving me crazy this week, but that mis amigos, is a story for another blog....

Until next time...


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