BIT Blog

Driving in Mexico

Tequila Stories: A Unique Tequila Tale to Be Read in One-Sitting with a Sip!

After eleven months of driving around Mexico, I've learned a few things. Some of those things I can’t write about in this blog but it would be remiss of me not to mention the others that will make your time in Mexico more enjoyable. For example, a police officer near Acapulco told me that waving a hand up and down at an oncoming car is the universal sign for stop and should be obeyed whether or not one speaks Spanish. He was quite irate and it took a few pesos to calm him down.

I’ve since learned that when someone is waving a fluorescent flag or a dirty piece of rag at me as I approach an area of road construction it is a suggestion to slow down. This is good advice as the road may suddenly turn at a sharp angle causing you to squeal your tires if you take it too fast and scare everyone in your car, or the road may become very dusty, pot-holed, and rocky, or it may cease to be a road at all.

One detour I faced was a pile of dirt that seemed fit for a group of boys to play king of the mountain but not fit for a two ton vehicle to drive across. After watching the car in front of me nearly slide down the side into a ditch, and having no other options to move forward, I sent a few prayerful words in the direction of the Dulce Madre, gripped the wheel tight, and gunned the engine. 

You may be wondering just what the hell any of this has to do with tequila, but hang on, that’s coming, and it’s just around the bend.

I’ve heard people say that Mexicans drive with a death wish, but I think they understand and respect road rules more than they are given credit. I’ve never seen anyone drive through a red light without first looking and it’s a basic rule of physics that the more people you pack into the back of a pickup truck the less chance there is of anyone falling out.

And Mexican drivers are very polite. My van is underpowered and it takes me a long, slow time to go up a steep grade, or any grade for that matter. Whenever someone passes me, they honk first as a warning and then wave their hand in greeting as they draw even and our eyes meet. In the States, you can be sure a horn will be followed by the middle finger.

But getting back to road construction, if the flag is held steady above the head, it’ a suggestion to stop. I've never witnessed anyone keep going in this situation (though, I have seen some drivers cut to the front of the line) and think it would be a bad idea because there could be oncoming traffic in the lane, or a dump truck could be unloading gravel that needs to be spread, or there may be no road at all.

My wife has said that a person could do all their shopping sitting in their car while stopped, and this is true. People will come to your window selling just about anything you can think of - fruit, nuts, bread, fish, cold water, cold juices, cell phone cases and chargers, coconuts, wall hangings, fly swatters, frozen chocolate bananas on a stick, puzzle books, paintings, carvings, furniture, sweets, and if you like, a lizard to take home for dinner. Though, one thing I haven't seen sold along the side of the road is that nectar of the agave - tequila.