Manzanillo Sun article

Manzanillo Madness

2012 Kirby Vickery Living in Mexico October 2012

By Kirby Vickery from the October 2012 Edition

Dear Dan,

Another month has gone by and everyone is starting to look into the cooler months down here in Manzanillo. I know up where you are there a little bit of a water shortage. But, doesn’t that happen every year. Not bad for a Rain Forest. Down here we get what they would call Monsoons in Arizona. We get lots’ of water and usually all at once. Sometimes in the summer when you go out to make a run downtown or something, you want to put on a diving mask with snorkel. Flooding is not all that uncommon. However, with any area that gets flash flooding, the water usually recedes fairly quickly with very little damage done and the driver’s all know where these places are and have learned to avoid them when necessary. Now when a full blown hurricane roll through it’s a horse of a different color and like anywhere else the roads become a disaster.

There is one road down here which is, what I call, a continuing disaster. Boulevard Miguel de la Madrid is the main through fair and I think it’s an experiment the Federal Mexican Government had placed here initially to see how it worked and then forgot about it. Better let me explain if I can how this street is supposed to work after I describe it.

First of all it is a divided; mostly four lane road with most of the access from cross streets controlled by very elaborately timed traffic lights. The center medium is a tree studded, elongated, raised and curbed, grass planted, concrete laid, or cobblestoned, pedestrian trap. I’m sure you know the kind. Going with the light you just run out of time trying to get all the way across the street and become trapped on the island while taxi cabs, deranged bus drivers, and testosterone loaded truck and SUV owners, each take pot shots at you with their rear view mirrors as they pass in both directions. Yes, Dan, the same metamorphosis takes place in people here as much as anywhere else in the world. Subsequently these islands and not the tropical paradise Michener and Hemingway talk about and overly large people don’t stand a chance.

The road itself is made up of elongated blocks which is just fine as the straight traffic tends to move through town at a pretty good clip and the lights are too far apart to be timed. I’ve made it through with only two stops while I’ve heard of other people making it all the way without stopping. I think they probably did it early in the morning before the traffic got up.

No, the disaster part about this road happens should you want to turn left at any intersection. Cause what you have to do is turn right first. Nope, it’s not on to what we would call a ramp or said access road. Boulevard Miguel de la Madrid has a set (one on each side) of roads which run parallel to it and their called ‘Laterals’ in English. I think the Spanish for them could sound like the Spanish for ‘Headache.’

The Laterals consist of one to two lane, potholed and or cobblestoned, narrow lane, roads which can substitute as temporary parking lots. The smart businesses located on this street have built their establishments well back from the road with a parking lot or, at least, parallel or diagonal parking slots well painted. The majority of businesses haven’t. At this time, in places, you can be traveling down the outside lane on a lateral only to come to a car parked in it.

The real fun happens when you’re on the main road and want to turn left. Remember earlier when I told you about the elaborately timed lights? Well, this is where all that timing comes in. To turn left at the next intersection you have to manoeuvre right through two or three lanes and drop onto the lateral on your side of the street. Please remember that these laterals are not maintained or paved the same as the main road. In some placed there is as much as a five or six inch cliff you drive off to hit the lateral. Some places have the drive off lanes marked with metal cap lane markers. Mostly what they do is cause a race between you and the guy already one the lateral who wants to turn left where you do. Ever play chicken? Freda did once although it was with a parked bus. Yes, Dan, there are some places with Yield signs. But I haven’t figured out which line of traffic is supposed to yield. And, judging from what I’ve seen, I don’t think anyone else has either.

Now, if you’re in a left hand turn lane while on a lateral, it’s best to be second or even third in line. The first guy is faced with: Right turning traffic from the main road, traffic coming from the main road crossing in front of you or going straight on the lateral, cross traffic coming from the other direction’s lateral, and the idiots from the right hand or middle lane of the lateral trying to make a right hand turn too either to go back the other way on the main road or that direction’s lateral, or just trying to make a left hand turn onto the intersectional road.

Just when you get all of this down and somewhat used to it the traffic division comes out and relocates all the traffic lights at one or two of the intersections. At that point it becomes a free-for-all. That why, when asked, I usually tell folks that I would rather ride and absorb some of the ambiance of the area. And yes we’ve come across intersections from time to time where the conversation in the car starts with, “Find me a green light . . . anywhere!!”


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