Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Driving in Panama City

This may be the most dangerous city I've yet driven in. It has nothing to do with criminal activity, just with the desperation of drivers. It's so congested that the competition for any open piece of pavement is vigorous. Motorcycles are expected to be constantly on the move, and if they're not, they're likely to get shoved aside. After all, we don't need that entire lane!

Anything and everything must be anticipated and expected. The way to cross an intersection is just going for it, and assuming others will stop. Standard practice. You never assume someone pulling out from a side street is going to stop.

Buses are free to use all three lanes of the thoroughfare, no turn signals required.
(The buses are air-brushed works of art. I'm told that old school buses are purchased in Florida and shipped down here where they get a makeover.)

Horns are so common as to be meaningless. Before the light even changes to green, the taxi driver behind you is blowing his horn.

If there's an accident, no one pulls aside to take care of insurance and reporting matters. It must take place exactly where it happened.

Throw in potholes, tons of pollution, and pedestrians who obey the same rules as drivers (none), it makes for an exciting time.

You have to "psych yourself up" before jumping into the streets in the morning. You don't want to do this feeling groggy.

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