How to survive in Merida Part Two: Driving in Merida
If you choose to drive in Merida, be very cautious. Grab the wheel with a firm grip, buckle your seatbelt and go into battle with confidence because there is no room for the weak of heart on the streets of Merida.
As a general rule, the people of the Yucatan are known for their relaxed nature. However, when they get into their cars, their fast and furious comes out. Not only are you dealing with other people’s aggressive driving nature, you are always on guard because of the unmarked speed bumps that will set you flying if you don’t notice. Two-way streets turn into one-way streets in the blink of an eye. For any outside, you need a set of guidelines and warnings to heed when venturing out on a trip across town.
In Merida when you ask for directions normally people don’t tell you street names and numbers, they give you reference points. They give you references to monuments, statues, roundabouts, stores or famous houses. This can be very confusing if you don’t know Spanish or you aren’t familiar with the sites of Merida. You may want to invest in a GPS system.
Also called “glorietas” is supposed to be an organized way for traffic to flow but is actually a mass circle of chaos with people switching lanes and stopping in the middle of the road. Keep to your lane and know where you are going when you get to the other side of the circle. People will rush up beside you and cut you off so make sure you have on your seatbelt and are aware of your surroundings here. A great rule to follow is people to your left always have the right of way! If a car going the same as you begins to go, never assume if you go with him you are clear of other vehicles…NEVER!
Two-way streets that become one way
Keep your eyes open at all times and make sure you look at the small, old falling down road signs with a straight arrow and a circle with a line through it. This is an indication that those two-way streets are turning into one-way streets. This seems like it would be obvious but trust us, it’s not.
The Centro and some of the older neighborhoods (Colonias) of the city are easy to maneuver because the streets are on a grid and the numbers are organized in a logical way. Everywhere else in the city leaves you with a deep feeling of uncertainty. As you leave one Colonia and head into another, the name or number of the street may change. The reason for this is that each Colonia has different street numbering. The best thing you can do is check Google maps and check out your real location. Also, learn the Colonias. You can figure out what Colonia you are in by looking at the street sign and the small name at the bottom is the Colonia.
Unmarked speed bumps
There are speed bumps all over town. Some are marked and others no longer have visible markings. Most have a sign that signal a speed bump is coming but many are old and not very visible. The best thing to do is not drive fast in the city. This way, if you hit an unmarked speed bump you won’t leave pieces of your car on the side of the road.
If you must drive in Merida, buckle up and stay safe out there.