Posted by: Sarah | July 27, 2006

Rules of the Road: Barranquilla edition

It’s simple, really. Everyone is convinced that they, and only they, have the right of way.

If you are a bus, you are bigger than everyone else, and therefore all smaller vehicles had better get the hell out of your way because you will not hesitate to use your size to your advantage. Mere intimidation just doesn’t cut it.

If you are a car, you don’t care how big that bus is, you are small enough and quick enough to squeeze in between those two lanes, the gap of which is most likely no wider than a motorcycle. Want to make a left turn from the right lane? No problem – just cut in front of the car in the left lane.

If you are a pedestrian, be prepared to take your life into your own hands when trying to maneuver traffic because crossing the street has suddenly become an extreme sport.

I’ve already witnessed the not-so-discreet pay-off the cop in order to avoid a ticket and a messy taxi-motorcycle collision that resulted in a smashed-in front end of the taxi and the motorcycle upside down across the hood. Eeek. Oh, and the traffic lights change in the following order: Green to yellow to red to yellow and red combined. This means that you can actually be through the intersection before the light even switched back to green.

During lunch with a couple administrators of the language institute today, one of the men leaped up from our table and suddenly ran outside screaming and swearing at the tow truck that was about to haul away his car, which he had illegally parked in front of the restaurant. I mentioned to the other person left at the table with me that I hadn’t realized until that point that there were any kind of parking rules. No street signs that prohibited parking or listed limited hours, no curbs painted yellow, and certainly no parking meters. His response was, “Well, yeah. I guess there *are*…but people just do what they want”.

Strangely enough, I have yet to meet a Barranquillero who isn’t proud of the fact that the city is known to have the worst drivers in the country…

Still contemplating Ferkho’s offer of driving lessons while I am here… 🙂


  1. You put it so much better than I ever could. I completely agree! jaja

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