Michael, our best friend Stephen and I returned to Philadelphia last night after 2 weeks in Ecuador. I’ll write more about it soon and will also post photos to my Flickr and Picasa albums, but I want to start by highlighting a recent entry in Mary’s Travels blog on Eucadorean driving habits: Driving Ecuador. I don’t know Mary and it is just a coincidence that we were in Quito at the same time; however, I am adding her to my blogroll because I like her style and enjoy well-written travel accounts. Her notes on traffic rules in Ecuador are right on. I would describe it as a national pastime, a competitive game that combines Leap Frog and Russian Roulette. Luckily, we had a driver, Miguel, who did a great job of keeping to a reasonable speed for the conditions and exhibiting slightly less suicidal tendencies than everyone else on the road. Since we spent most of our time on the slopes and in the high Andes I would add a few more things to Mary’s list:
- Conceptually, a sharp curve is the same as a straight away.
- Dense fog is the same as sunshine, and dry roads are no different from wet ones.
- It is customary to drive as close to the edge of the road as possible, esp. if there is a 1,000 ft. drop off and the road looks like it has already begun to wash away.
- Fences are decorations only and horses, donkeys, and cows are free to roam the main roads at will.
- Road construction crews don’t use caution signs but they might, just might, cut a tree branch and put it in the road to let you know that the road ahead is a single lane. Of course, that does not mean that you have to slow down. It does mean that you then have as much right to drive in the left lane as the opposing traffic does.
- If someone passes you on a steep, curvey, cloud enshrouded road, you are obligated to catch up to them and pass them back.
- And, as Mary pointed out, if you want to pass someone, and the guy behind you wants to pass, it is customary for you to both attempt it at the same time. The faster car wins.
Nevertheless, we did survive two weeks in the Andes. Stephen popped valiums, Michael pretended to sleep, and I played games on my phone and only looked at the road when absolutely necessary.