Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Friday, February 11, 2011


What is it about every country in the world that we visit, other than our beloved Switzerland or Canada, where people refuse to drive in a sane, slow and orderly fashion?

Ah esta Latin America! Entiendo!

Case in point Mar Del Plata: Imagine New York City and all the criss-crossing avenue As, Bs and 1st and 2nd Streets etc... but with maniacal taxi drivers. Now imagine this without the benefit of a) traffic lights b) stop signs or c) worse: a civic agreement about what to do at a four way stop.

Drivers thus race through intersections with full abandon. They avoid full on T-Bone crashes by an unusual manouver of suddenly swinging to the left or right side of the road (depending on the one way direction) and doing a 50 km an hour California stop... a ´sorta´slow down kinda thing and when they see the other car slightly hesitate or no immediate traffic, gun it to next street only a block away. This goes on for blocks and blocks and blocks...

Being a pedestrian (forget being a passenger) is difficult as a result. I found myself cowering behind women and men with baby strollers because when crossing by myself, tanned old blonde women with skins like dried leather seemed to relish turning right at 60 clicks just to run me over. Cowering, however, behind un parenta con infante gave me some kind of unpsoken though shameful, protection.

Back in Buenos Aires I was happy that there were at least some traffic lights, though largely ignored. The problem is, that as in Cairo, no one seems to care what constitutes a lane. Traffic flow is a bit like a pinball machine with you in the car as the ball, and all the other and very large trucks and buses the bumpers.

Then the last question: Does every single taxi driver purposefully disable all the working seatbelts in every car or does it just come that way?

I imagine an advertising campaign selling new cars to taxi companies. When setting out each model´s features, the brochure reads as follows: "The new X-RS taxi model comes standard with a completely disabled restraint system. In the mid range model taxis come complete with short shoulder safety belts which can only fit into cleverly concealed latching mechanisms, that we have buried deep within the bowels back seat of the car and cannot be be accessed by passenergers. With the prestige model we have included state of the art rosary beads and a medallion of a saint to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle and journey of its occupants."


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