I had my first real drive on the new scooter today. I took it down to the lake and back a couple of times. On the way back from the second trip I got a bit adventurous and drove it all the way to La Colonia! It was pretty exciting. It basically is like riding a bicycle except there’s no peddling, it’s much faster, and weighs a lot more…which are all pretty important factors making it, although as “easy”, quite a different animal to deal with in traffic.
There are a few Granada-specific elements to traffic that will take some getting used to before it’s second nature for me. Because the city is so old and not built with automobiles in mind, the streets are very narrow, which means many of them are only one way. Figuring out which street moves in what direction isn’t always an easy thing, especially when you’re streaking around at mind-blowing scooter speeds. There are also no traffic lights in Granada, or none that I’ve yet seen, only stop signs. Atop each stop sign is an arrow showing what direction the cross street traffic flows.
Another factor adding to the sensory overload of a maiden scooter voyage is the traffic. As I’ve noted before, traffic here is insane, but somehow manages to work very well. Traffic is a very Darwinian endeavor here. It’s not up to the big vehicles to look out for, or yield to, the smaller vehicles or pedestrians, but for the smaller vehicles and pedestrians to get the hell out of the way.
Part of this is a lot of horn honking and sirens. In the U.S. when someone honks it’s because they’re pissed. A honk in the U.S. means “The light turned green you dumbass, GO!” which typically causes a reaction from the honk receiver along the lines of “It just turned green you dipshit! Give me half a second!” Here, the intent is largely different and less aggressive. Most of the honking here is done to let people know where you are. For instance, it’s typical to honk as you’re passing a car, or going through an intersection. I guess the honking as you go through an intersection makes up for ignoring the stop sign, which is also common.
The point I’m getting to here with the honking is, as a driver forged in the U.S., I found myself instantly outraged and defensive at every honk I heard as I scooted around town, although it was all courtesy / warning honks. It will take some time, I think, for me to shed my American honk rage. Side note: that will be the name of my next band. American Honk Rage.
I mentioned sirens. Some cars here, primarily taxis, also have little sirens and chirping whistle things. In fact, it’s really these that you hear most of in Granada, not horns, per se.
The kid really, really, REALLY wants me to take him on a scooter ride, but that won’t happen until after a few more practice rides. Of course, there is a storage compartment under the seat he might be able to fit into.