Go Baby Go!

Most Hondurans don't drive, but those that do, they don't play games. When you get on the road here, you're acknowledging that you're on the road to WIN. I'm not sure what the goal is, or where we're all going so fast, but unless your vehicle is loaded down with 3 times its maximum weight capacity (also plenty common), you'll need to be absolutely flogging your chosen steed. This applies to any road, in any condition, in any weather, in any vehicle, on any day. What's that, you've only got an anemic 3-wheeled mototaxi? DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT. Oh, I see, your truck's almost is 35 years old and the last oil change was in 1992. IT'S BASICALLY A FIGHTER JET.

Although all the roads here are clogged with pedestrians, they understand the game and magically part accordingly. Granted, not all drivers here are completely suicidal all the time, but the 50% that are push the rest of us to drive like we're on the final lap of the Indy 500. Two lane roads immediately transform into three lane roads as drivers pass into oncoming traffic, on the inside of turns, and in the middle of town.

These road rules are not expressly Honduran, as anyone who's spent 5+ minutes in a developing country can tell you. But to help express our particular experience, I'd like to recount a recent trip "down the road" with a notorious local driver, let's call him Pal. On this particular trip, I learned two interesting facts.
  1. The words "turbo diesel" translate here as "rocket sled."
  2. Brand new rental trucks are probably good for about 1 month of "normal use" in Honduras before they need replaced. There seems be no requirement to return them in the state they were received. 
As we pulled out of the garage (launch pad?), a particularly unfortunate teenager hopped in the bed of the truck; I said a quick prayer for his eternal soul. Pal moved quickly through our pueblo on its dirt roads as its people dodged for the side. The edge of town was there, now gone, and we moved into the mountains. Having driven this road several times, I waited for us to slow down as the roads deteriorated. Pal was having absolutely none of that. As the ruts deepened and holes became craters, Pal accelerated like the devil himself had started chasing us. Villages ripped past, and I waited patiently for something important in the suspension to explode. But, the moment never came. Emboldened by his lack of obligation to the poor rented machine, Pal slowed to sublight speed only to whip the tail around the switchbacks. 1/4 mile drag track or rutted mountain trail, all roads were the same to Pal.

We arrived at our destination in literally one-third of the time it takes me driving aggressively to get there. I hesitantly checked the bed, expecting our young friend to be either missing or tenderized beyond recognition. But, miraculously, he scampered out of the bed, looking a bit like a squirrel in bad need of Prozac. He headed for the hills, anxious to leave his experience behind.

In this country, there is now a man that will raise his children, and his children will never understand why daddy won't ever let them ride the truck taxis. But I know.

1 comment:

  1. HA! The last 2 lines killed me! I also am now car sick just reading this. Amazing.