The Caraqueño Driver’s Handbook

IMG_20121203_124942After almost 2 and half years of hoofin’ it or taking a taxi everywhere, I finally got a car. Now, I’m sure most people would be completely excited about something like this, but having seen the way Caraqueños drive, I was ambivalent. I’ve driven in Port-au-Prince with no problem. Some would even argue South Florida roads are pretty crazy. However, none of that prepared me for the organized chaos that occurs on the mean streets of Caracas.


Four way stops are not really four way stops. They are intersections where whoever is bold enough, or in the most hurry will speed through without giving oncoming traffic a second glance.


As #1 implies, right of way is only a theory here. In practicality, it’s every (wo)man for her/himself. Paying attention to your surroundings means predicting what other drivers will do before they even know. Otherwise, you will make your home in collisionville (yes, I just made that word up ;-))


Always stop at the stop light when it’s red. Unless it’s night time. Or you’re in a hurry and don’t see any other cars coming.


One lane roads can sometimes be converted into two lanes depending on traffic. Two lanes into three, and so on. In case this happens, and you happen to be in the original lane, you better become agressive. Otherwise, you will not move. Ever.


Motorcyclists have their own driving handbook. I have yet to see it, but I’m sure it includes that they never stop or slow down in traffic and that they are supposed to flip you off *Italian style* if you get in their way. FYI: Getting in their way means stopping too close to another car and not leaving them enough space to pass through and run the red light.


Never, ever, ever make a u-turn. Really. You will be arrested. Not really. But, you will be pulled over if caught and will have to spend an inane amount of time explaining to police why you have made such a travesty of their law.


Do not park in a zone that’s painted yellow. Unless you see other people do it. Then, go ahead.  Note: The Venezuelan form of parking tickets is putting a really big sticker on the driver’s side of the windshield describing your infraction. Nothing a little Windex and scraper can’t fix.

Any questions? Good.


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