Since moving to Mexico I have become a terrible driver. Well….terrible may not be the best discription. Perhaps “terror on wheels” would be more accurate….at least, when I employ my new found driving skills on streets in the United States.
As I’ve said before, driving in Mexico is very different from driving in the U.S. In Mexico driving is fast paced and aggressive. If you hesitate while driving, you are likely to get hit or cause an accident. You must, look fast, think fast and act fast. Let me give you a couple of examples.
I remember one day years ago while driving in Knoxville, Tennessee. We were on Kingston Pike, a major street in that town. The traffic was thick and I needed to merge left. Instead of slowing and gently merging, I noticed a gap between some cars ahead of us. Instinctively I floored the gas coming right upon the car in front of me. I then tapped the breaks and made a sharp 90 degree turn swerving into the left lane. “Perfectly executed!” Unfortunately execution isn’t what I should have been aiming for. Upon seeing the whites of my mom’s knuckles grasping the armrest on the passenger seat beside me, I immediately realized what I had done. “Was I insain?” This type of driving, that in Guadalajara keeps me alive, in Tennessee could easily cause an accident.
Speaking of accidents, I can’t count the times I’ve almost rear-ended someone who has stopped halfway in the median. In Guadalajara when turning left across traffic, you always stop your car completely out of traffic. You always maneuver your car completely into the median, NEVER allowing the trunk of your car to jut out into the lane of (still moving) traffic. This fact is so important that often many cars will stack up side by side in the median as to avoid getting hit!
And hitting someone is exactly what I have almost done while driving behind all those courteous drivers waiting their turn to pull left into traffic. I naively expected them to get their cars completely out of my lane. Instead of slowing, I maintained speed fully expecting them to move. “Oh my”, by the time I processed that they were……STOPPING, there was almost not enough distance for me to stop before rear-ending them.
(It seems I’m not the only one who has struggled with this problem, my husband told me that he has also experienced this phenomenon since learning to drive in Mexico.)
When we moved to Mexico over 13 years ago, I remember making the long drive across the state of Tennessee, then Arkansas and finally Texas. The closer to the Mexican border we drove, the faster and more hectic the traffic became. At that time, it was unusual and frightening to navigate all the access roads and avoid the aggressive drivers. But today, after becoming a terrible driver, I fit right in!