19 November 2006

A Word of Caution...

If you ever visit Puerto Rico, please be aware of one very important fact. The drivers are completely and totally insane.

I know. People say this about many places all around the world. But I speak as someone who has traveled extensively. I have never seen this level of insanity anywhere else I have ever been.

Example #1: The posted speed limit on the highway is a maximum of 65 mph with a minimum of 55 mph. Cars go anywhere from 20 mph to 90 mph with much swerving to avoid one another.

Example #2: Although there are very nicely painted lanes, they are for decoration only. There is no indication whatsoever that drivers actually care about the lanes and will drive anywhere on (or off) the road they please.

Example #3: I was stopped at a red stoplight. There were many cars crossing the road in front of me. And I had people behind me beeping their horns because I wasn't going. Red Light and Cars, People! I think I'll wait for my turn!!!

After driving about the island, I developed a theory as to the driving. I believe it is a result of two factors.

1st Factor: It is an extremely Catholic island. This has caused the people to believe that everything is in God's hands. Therefore, no precautions are necessary. If it is your time to die, God will take you. There is no consideration given for those around who may be inadvertently "taken" at the same time.

2nd Factor: It is inadequate to say that Puerto Ricans are an expressive people who talk with their hands. It goes far beyond that. Indeed, I saw many people talking with their entire bodies. Perhaps they talk while they are driving and this explains the erratic path they are taking?

Whatever the reason, it makes for very tense, white-knuckled driving. GLH and I took turns driving because it was exhausting. At one stage while I was driving, GLH tried to have a conversation. I said, "Please do not talk to me. I need to focus on the crazy people in the other cars."

There was one shining moment during our drive. A particularly aggressive and insane driver was swerving in and out of traffic, cutting other people off, tailgating and the works. He nearly ran us off the road. Ten minutes later, we saw him pulled over to the side of the road with a police officer writing him a ticket. Sometimes there is justice.


Expat Traveler said...

wow - that does sound insane. I think for now, we will stick to a few spanish speaking cities down there where we have relatives living instead!

Global Librarian said...

I would never, ever intend this to make others not travel. Puerto Rico is wonderful and I strongly recommend a visit.

Many of the other travelers arranged for tours (group or individual) in order to avoid the car rental and driving themselves. that is certainly another way to go.

I've traveled to a number of islands in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is by far the most interesting from a historical perspective.

Just keep in mind that if you are a nervous driver, you may want to look at other transportation options!