Thursday, September 1, 2011

on driving in Belize

So, I bought a car! (YAY!) I didn’t really drive much before, and the last month has been interesting.  The other day when I was stopped at a checkpoint, the police officer asked for my license, and I handed him my US card.  I’ve never bothered to get a Belize license because it is perfectly legal to drive on a US license.  The officer was kind of in a mood that day, and  told me I had to get a Belizean license.  I didn’t bother arguing, I just said ok and moved on.   I know better than to argue with a police man here, but I just think it is deliciously ironic that he wants me to get a Belize driver’s license.  In Belize, the possession of a license does not guarantee the person knows how to drive.  Not just in the US sense, where we yell about people who don’t know how to drive as they are going slow on a highway. In the US you at least need to take a written exam and drive around with some guy who makes sure you sort of know what you are doing.  Here, some people truly don’t know how to drive—and they buy their license instead of acquiring it legally.   A lady I know has had her driver’s license for 10 years.  She does not know how to drive a car in reverse.  This does not stop her from driving- she just makes sure she can always drive forward.
Interestingly, knowing that some people really and truly do not know how to drive makes me less likely to have a nervous breakdown when driving here. I drive with an attitude of expectation:  whatever is the most illogical and stupid move should be anticipated and expected from fellow drivers.  When I am driving down the highway, will the car in front of me stop and park in the road? Could happen.  When I turn onto a street, will there be a car driving in reverse down the street in my lane? It’s likely.  When I am stuck behind a slow-moving bus, will the guy three cars behind me attempt to pass all of us and the bus on a blind curve? That’s pretty much guaranteed.   All of these things have happened to me in the last month I’ve been driving. I’ve heard that the most dangerous thing to do in Belize is drive on the highway, and I believe it.  Anyways, off to get my license, requirements for which include a doctor’s exam certifying that I am mentally stable enough to drive… wish me luck J

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