California Dreaming

Driving Passions

on February 12, 2012

At the risk of sounding oxymoronic, driving in Mexico has – so far – been a comparatively pedestrian experience.

I had assumed that drivers in the land of Macho would operate at the pinnacle of aggression, swatting the halt, the sick & the lame aside with as much compunction as a Mayan priest displayed while wielding the stone knife over his 83rd victim of the morning.

However, two factors conspire to confound them.

Firstly the traffic calming measures employed on Mexican roads are decidedly Draconian. Tyre-shredding metal lumps of metal laid in the rows and known as tope (tantalisingly close enough to the French taupe meaning mole for me to entertain the fond notion that their form was being compared to molehills) require negotiation from a standstill. Pedestrian crossings are elevated a clear foot above the road surface and can be scaled only at a walking pace if suspension is to survive.

Secondly, towns are laid out on a grid system with numbered avenues and streets running one way: south on one avenue, north on the next; east on one street, west on the next and so forth. Only the seriously baffled could be confused by such an arrangement, markely reducing the potenial for other drivers to spring surprisies, and thus making anticipation of  traffic movements ludicrously easy for anyone whose reflexes have been conditioned by the chaos that attends driving in most major European cities.

Notwithstanding, one must always be on the alert for adherents of the Juan Manuel Fangio School of Urban Motoring.

Normally these can be found piloting immense pickup trucks with jacked-up suspension, into which, the Mexicans being a diminutive race, their rabid owners are winched by block & tackle each morning.

Such vehicles are heavy armoured and laugh in the face of hazards that would destroy any normal car.

The rental company supplied us with a VW Jetta equipped with automatic transmission, something I am not at all used to. It is an odd experience just being required to point the car rather than to actually drive the thing, but it does give me more free brain runtime to lookout for the Fangios.

At their approach, my right foot finds the comforting rectangular shape of the brake, while my left flails around in a futile search for the clutch and my right hand gropes the unfamiliar gear stick trying to decide how on earth to change down. By the time I’ve remembered that I’m driving a dodgem and that it’s not going to stall, the Fangio is past, scattering elderly ladies and straggly chickens before him.




One response to “Driving Passions

  1. Flavie says:

    hello, la famille doust
    how are you doing?

    Can you dispatch the photo with you

    Biz Flavie Francis et Corinne

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