Monday, July 12, 2010

Driving in Belize

As it turns out, I actually like rules. But especially ones that pertain to driving. Stop signs mean stop and people actually stop…for bicycles to also follow rules…and for pedestrians to care enough out their lives that they wouldn’t walk in front a car in a moment of arrogance. I like that round-abouts are sort of fun but that they do have a natural regulated flow. I like that I can enter the round-about when there are no cars and signal to leave. It seems like a good system and I guess that’s why I stick to it….even here in Belize.

You see, here in Belize, the rules of the road are just a guideline. And depending on the time of day, people may or may not follow these guidelines. And its really no big deal because the traffic police don’t REALLY care. They simply stand in the middle of the road, blow their whistle, direct traffic and check for valid insurance and drivers licenses. But what do these plastic cards mean anyway?

I’ve spend some significant time in my life driving. I’ve driven in other states in the US and even other countries like Belize. Each place has a certain way of being when considering the rules of the road…but Belize…Belize is in a league of her own.
A friend commented to me the other day, “I can’t wait to get to Chetumal (Mexico) to drive because people actually follow the rules of the road there.”

Hmmm, what a concept….that others also look upon the law for consistency.
I am often one to look for consistency in my life….for people to say what they mean…for actions to follow…for a traffic light to actually dictate a stop or a go. It’s pretty simple really some folks haven’t really caught on just yet.

These are observations really, nothing major. I’ve been driving a lot you see….borrowing a friends car and exploring the city. I do errands, go to lunch, get a choli…and drive. I like it …I like the freedom. And, I must admit that it’s sort of an adventure. But I go slower here and I let people cross the street. I follow the rules of the road despite the honking horns and sometimes I have been known to add in a rule of my own.

Last year I heard a story of a man who hit a child while driving on the road. I can’t remember how the rest of the story went…if he got out of the car or took off and ran. But I heard that people in the neighborhood killed him. The whole reality of vigilantism in Belize is scary…which makes me think that rules should be followed so that people aren’t compelled to take the law into their own hands. That, and maybe the judicial system could be consistent and dependable as well…but that’s just a suggestion.

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