Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Streets of Puebla

At times, being a pedestrian in Puebla can be quite dangerous. It seems as though the taxi drivers have a death wish for anyone who would even consider walking across the street. It's especially interesting since most of the streets are one way and thus only have two traffic lights and no crosswalks. At night it's even more exhilarating . . . with practically no one on the streets the taxi drivers often disregard the traffic lights, choosing instead to use their horn to warn others that they are about to fly through the intersection without even thinking about taking their foot off the gas. Speaking of horns, Mexicans love them. Sometimes I think they just honk them because they haven´t used it in 30 seconds. But most of the time they honk their horn because the person in front of the traffic light actually waited for the light to turn green instead of going once the opposing traffic's light had turned yellow. Below are some other observations:
  • Traffic lights in the US go from green, to yellow, to red. Here, in Puebla, they go from green to blinking green to yellow to red. The opposing traffic starts to go when the light turns yellow instead of waiting for their light to turn green.
  • Pedestrians do not have the right of way in the crosswalks. If you go to cross the street and a car is trying to turn across the crosswalk one of two things will happen: if they are nice they will slow down (not stop) and honk their horn really loudly so you have a chance to get out of the way or they will just run you over.
  • Two important verbs to know in Spanish: Atropellar- to be run over by a car. Salpicar- to splash like when a car drives through a huge puddle and gets you soaked as you walk on the sidewalk.
  • Crosswalks are rare, even more rare are the crosswalk signals. Although the ones that do exist are quite entertaining. In the US we have a white man and a red hand. The white man is illuminated for a few moments then it switches the blinking red hand and eventually the red hand. Here we have a walking green man. When the countdown clock shows 20 seconds he begins to walk. As the countdown clock reaches 10 seconds he begins to jog. When the countdown clock reaches 5 seconds he breaks into a run. Then at 0 it switches the red hand. How awesome is that?!
  • When I was riding the bus to go horseback riding this past weekend, I noticed the driver had a goat foot hanging from the ceiling. Definitely not rare here as animal feet seem to bring good luck. However this goat leg was a multitasker. As well as being good luck, it sounded the horn when it was pulled on. Brings a whole new meaning to "Are you pulling my leg?"


Kate said...

Ha ha ha!! Here in NYC people cross if the street is clear; don't cross if there are cars; and otherwise pay no attention to the flashing red hand. Bicyclists live in their own little world where there are neither pedestrians, cars, or traffic lights... hence why I hate city bikers!! Do you have bike issues in Pueblo in addition to the driver troubles?

Adventurous Twenty-Something said...

Nope, not a single bike here. The streets are way to narrow with too many potholes. Not to mention it would be a surefire way to die.

Paige said...

I love the idea of the flashing crosswalk man! I can't believe he actually jogs and runs! Stay safe!

Bill said...

Oh man, hilarious! At 5 seconds, you best book it!

Jess said...

I love how the dude is running, like Paige said. It would be funny if at the end he was hit anyway. Or maybe not funny, but you know what I mean.