Driving in Colombia: a detailed break-down of matters.

Like most people my age, I am incredibly excited by the prospect of driving. Over the last couple of weeks, I took driving lessons, which (sadly) ended today. I remember the first time I got behind the wheel, no more than a week-and-a-half ago. I was incredibly nervous, driving this thing that could run someone over or crash into another car, or do a lot of damage.

Lovely thoughts, huh?

It didn’t help that I was (and continue to be, and possibly always will be…) surrounded by insane drivers. Here, in Bogotá (Colombia!! 😉) people have a unique way of driving (and generally behaving on the road… *coughPedestianscough*), as far as I’ve been able to observe.

Allow me to break it down:

The Bus Drivers

Public transportation is really a very important form of transportation for a lot of people; as a result, the number of buses in the streets is fairly high, even for a city the size of Bogotá. The Bus Drivers are perhaps some of  the most reckless drivers I have seen. Although, personally I haven’t had to deal with them a whole lot in my ten hours’ experience, I have seen them commit some pretty impressive infractions. They like hitting the brakes unexpectedly, and you know, swerving like crazy. Oh, how I would hate to be one of the passengers…

The Taxi Drivers

They’re kind of like The Bus Drivers, save for the fact that they drive regular-sized cars. Like Bus Drivers, they crowd along the entrances to malls, and airports and such. Unlike buses, though, you’ll have a much harder time finding a free cab during peak hours, or (ironically) outside malls.

Today I actually saw a cabbie reading the newspaper in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic just off the highway. HE WAS READING THE NEWSPAPER! IN THE MIDDLE OF TRAFFIC! WITH SOMEONE IN THE CAR WITH HIM! (ZARQUON!)

The Bikers

Of all the people on the road, they are perhaps the ones you should keep your eyes peeled for. Since they don’t have actual cars, but still transit on the same roads as cars, they are able to do things cars just can’t. Such as  weaving between lanes and (by default) cars. Especially on the highway, where everyone drives very fast, these bike-riding-people try to make headway by cutting cars off, and crossing across lanes. I’m always afraid I’m going to bump into them while taking an exit on the highway or something.

The Normal-Car Drivers and the Normal Car Drivers

These people drive normal cars. They aren’t necessarily normal drivers, although they necessarily aren’t abnormal drivers. They’re just your run-of-the-mill people who drive cars. Some of them make you wonder how on Earth they got their licences. Some of them make you wish you were them, with their ability to come to a stop oh-so-smoothly, and not-letting-go-of-the-clutch-pedal-so-quickly-that-the-car-turns-off-in-the-middle-of-the-street.

The Pedestrians

swear some of these people have a death wish. It’s here that I’ve seen some of the most outrageous cases of jay-walking ever. Not even in New York City or in the Latino part of Union City where we once went to a really good Colombian restaurant and nearly ran over some lady who appeared out of the blue, have I encountered such carelessness, for lack of a better word.

I’ve been told about a dozen times already that anybody who manages to drive here has no trouble driving anywhere else in the world (except, I think, India… if movies like Slumdog Millionaire and The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel [the trailer!] are anything to go by…). I’m excited to get my Colombian license ..,after a few more classes, and then my American one… when I’m eighteen…♦

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