Guatemalan “Road” “Rules”

There is probably no more succinct argument for the viability of anarchy as a system of social organization than the Guatemalan road system. Consider the state of the roads and the vehicles, the near-complete lack of police and licensed drivers and then consider that there are barely enough chicken bus crashes to keep Nuestro Diario in front page photos on a daily basis.

But still. Some foreigners appear to be taken aback by what goes on, and they should be aware that, running parallel to the Ley de Tránsito is a whole other set of Rules. We elaborate:

Insurance: Nobody has any, and everybody knows that nobody else has any. Accidents are therefore avoided at all costs.

Roadworthiness: If you can get it on the road, it’s worthy. Next question.

Indicators: Not to be used for ANY turning-related activity. If used for something else, leave on for rest of journey.

Right of Way: (1) The larger vehicle shall always have the right of way. Pedestrians and cyclists: watch your back, front and sides. (2) Inserting any part of the vehicle into the traffic stream immediately establishes right of way, requiring all oncoming traffic to come to a screaming halt. Note that clause (1) overrides clause (2).

Merging: To avoid unlawful use of indicators, express the wish to merge by waving arm out of window. Wave frantically to express the fact that you have a sincere desire to merge and are not just playing around.

Overtaking: Wherever, whenever. The double yellow line in the middle can be used as a guide for the center of your vehicle should you decide to overtake on a blind corner and a chicken bus appears in the oncoming lane.

Roundabouts: Much like the G spot, everybody is fairly certain that these exist but very few people know what to do with them. Continuing the analogy, enter with caution, proceed gently and try to exit without major mishap.

Breakdown: In case of vehicle breakdown, half pull your vehicle off the road just around the next bend and leave some twigs on the road to warn other drivers. DO NOT for any reason pick these twigs up later.

Hazard lights: The “Time Out” of the Guatemalan road rule system. Use these to denote that you’re about to do some completely random shit that nobody else has ever even thought of, like reversing around a corner at 50 miles per hour onto a busy street while sending an SMS.

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