Thursday, July 23, 2009


When I lived in Florida, I thought all the drivers there had been banished from their respective States for serious traffic violations and exiled to Florida where, upon arrival, they were welcomed with open arms and given a driver’s license for life! I really thought that, collectively, they were the worst driver’s in the world! Wrong!!!!

If you are driving in Merida, or almost any other part of Mexico, you must always be keenly aware of pedestrian traffic that jumps out at you from absolutely nowhere and everywhere. And then there's the intersection people who want to wash your windows, sell you flowers, roses, newspapers, books, magazines, CDs, telephone cards, toys, maps, candy, fruits, veggies, soft drinks, food, coconut flavored water, etc., and so on. Then there's other intersection people dressed in freshly starched white uniforms of sorts with small tin cans with pictures of The Virgin who collect money for God only knows what, the poor folks who are looking for a handout of a few pesos (and I always oblige and urge you to do so also), the folks that hand out fliers that you have absolutely no use for but take one just to be polite, and the jugglers dressed in clown outfits when it's 110°F in the shade hoping for a few pesos for their performance before the light turns green. But let us not forget to watch out for the commuters on skateboards, bicycles, tricycles (both manual and motorized), horse drawn buggies, mule drawn carts, mopeds, scooters, motorcycles, assorted other two-wheeled vehicles, collectivos/combies, buses, taxi cabs, trucks and the occasional fellow on horseback! I’m really hard-pressed to identify the worst of the worst.

It is obvious that stop signs and traffic lights are considered by many as nothing more than mere annoying suggestions. Yield/merge signs are shaped like pieces of pizza to remind folks to eat, not yield or merge. Speed bumps can be fun to navigate! A solid yellow stripe down the center of a roadway is strictly for decorative purposes only, and posted speed limits are there to be ignored and exceeded. Left or right turn lanes are a complete waste of time and money and never utilized, and the shoulder of the road, right or left, is reserved for passing. And, if you're not talking on your cell phone, you just aren’t driving. Turn signals are a worthless accessory put on vehicles that serve no useful purpose and are seldom, if ever, used. But when they are, don’t believe a word of it! All two lane streets are easily converted into three and even four lane highways and speedways with wanton disregard for any foreseeable consequence. It is absolutely acceptable to turn left from the far right hand lane and turn right from the far left hand lane, or any other lane you happen to be in. And, of course, it isn’t necessary to use turn signals or hand signals while doing so because no one would believe you anyway. Be mindful of the guy who is stopped anywhere he so chooses and has his emergency flashers on. This could mean almost anything that you could imagine, and then some.

And where are the police you may ask? Sometimes you'll find them at a taco stand having a few snacks and a few Cokes. When not doing that, they are patrolling the highways and byways with their red and blue lights flashing, almost always in the far right hand lane going slow enough to cause major traffic jams and assorted problems and even accidents, just biding their time until their shift is over. With their flashing disco lights of red and blue, they certainly aren't trying to be inconspicuous or sneak up on anyone! In my 14 years in Merida, I have seen only a handful of traffic citations being issued, but have witnessed thousands of infractions that would require a court date and probable jail time in most other countries. The police here are very understanding and tolerant until they stop you! The Government is definitely missing out on a great source of revenue by not issuing more traffic citations. And yes, if you are caught doing a no-no, you can still pay your “probable” fine to the nice policeman who is giving you a hard time. "Mordida" is alive and well and living in the Yucatan.

The moral of this little story? If you plan on driving in Merida, or any part of Mexico for that matter, be sure to drive aggressively defensive! Keep your seat belts fastened and your insurance premiums up-to-date. You’ll be a survivor.

That being said, I have to go out now and drive around and do some errands. Wish me luck!


  1. Cuidado, Mikey. Vaya con dios.

    You did a great job with this post. Very well written.

  2. " sure to drive aggressively defensive! Keep your seat belts fastened and your insurance premiums up-to-date. You’ll be a survivor."

    You may be a survivor - then again... Driving is similar in Xalapa, Veracruz - bumper cars and insanity.

  3. I am not the kind of person to offer a bribe, but I did here and got away with it. The day Buster was found, I probably shouldn't have been driving. After I picked him up skinny, freaked out and injured, he cried all the way home. It upset me and I was sobbing, so happy and so sad at the same time. I stopped on 62nd St at 59th for the red light, but then I just turned. In front of a policeman directing traffic, I might add. He pulled me over....two hundred pesos later I promised to never drink and CRY at the same time again!

    Great post, Mikey!!!!

  4. Oh oh. I meant I should never DRIVE and CRY at the same time. Let me clarify that I had not been drinking!