Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Speed Bump!

Our new house is set on a major road. This road is a fairly new bypass around the city of Gracias, called the boulevard, so there is actually a divided highway with a median in front of our house. We've never had a traffic jam (except during the celebrations following major soccer games), but there is a pretty steady flow of vehicles during most of the day. Since this road goes right through residential areas, it was determined by the government that traffic speeds needed to be controlled. So, in the last couple of weeks, speed bumps have been installed at various locations along both sides of the boulevard. One of these bumps is right in front of our house.

Here in Honduras, speed bumps can be several different things. Often, a series of stones or humps of metal will be installed across the road to slow traffic. Usually, after a while, a few of these will be strategically removed, so that if you can line your vehicle up just right, you can drive through without bumping.

The bumps on the boulevard here are the more traditional long mounds of concrete, crossing the entire road. For the past few weeks, one side or the other of the boulevard has been closed while the concrete work was completed. Our bump, which so thoroughly crosses the road that we have a huge puddle on the high side after every rain, is exceptionally high. Even in our Land Cruisers, which are used to some pretty bumpy roads, they are a challenge. Others are trying to cross this barrier in cars, motorcycles, and those little 3 wheel taxis that are called tuk tuks in other parts of western Honduras (though no one calls them that here in Gracias, that I've ever heard).

Because these bumps are so new, and there aren't any signs or warnings about them - and they are so very high - we get to be entertained in our house day and night by the loud screech of brakes as unsuspecting motorists try to avoid launching their vehicles into space. Occasionally someone doesn't notice the bump at all, flying into it at full speed, and a loud crunch announces their unfortunate landing on the other side. Once in a while, some tailgater bumps into the rapidly decelerating vehicle in front of them.

Perhaps scariest of all is the long squeal of brakes followed by the screams of passengers in the backs of pickup trucks as they are tossed into the air.

All of this has added a new excitement in our house. We cringe at the sounds, but I have to admit we have come to find it a bit humorous as well. Members of the family, hearing yet again the loud sounds of sudden braking followed by the nasty crunch are apt to blandly reply aloud, "Oh, watch that little bump, will you?"


Beth said...

Is it wrong to laugh?
Thanks for giving me a visual image once again of life in Honduras.
Love you all! And watch that little bump!

Randall and Rachel Beita said...

Trish, this was so funny. I guess maybe because I have lived through it before. When a trailer bounced over the one in front of our house the whole house shook. The first few nights we feared accidents. Also the wires crossed the street right above the bump and often times for some reason the trailers pulled them down causing sparks and plunging us into darkness(our house had no windows and the walls were painted a very dark color. So glad we are out of that house as this was not the only problem.

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