Traumatized

That is the word my wife used to describe my state of mind after having to deal with traffic… but not just traffic… wait until the end to see if you would also not get a little jolted.

Before I continue I would like to add that I hate traffic, not driving, just traffic. This is one of the reasons that I like Kansas City so much, traffic in Chicago is just not bearable. I know that the Grandview triangle gets bad, but imagine that kind of traffic all day long. Traffic to me is the idiotic way in which some people drive causing more hassle than it really needs to be. Also poor development of infrastructure in a city that grows too quickly. It has been said that if computers were to actually drive the cars, the flow would improve traffic tremendously.

I also would like to point out that most taxis in Colombia now run in natural gas and stations are available all over. It was impressive to see a developing country doing something before the US does something it needs to do to not depend on oil anymore.

I am not a fan of buses, specially in Colombia. The smell of diesel fuel being burnt is not a pleasant one almost always causes me to be nauseous. I was not looking forward to being stuck in a bus sucking up fumes, but we had to visit some family and a taxi from where we were at was just too expensive. So Bea and I ventured into the whole bus riding thing.

The bus was moving along pretty fast until it got close to the bus station in our destination. The last 5 miles of the trip took about 30 minutes in not just stop and go traffic, but break your neck accelerate to cut another bus off and stop inches away from the other vehicles. We had to catch ourselves from hitting the sit in front of us a couple of times. Nauseated and tenderized we thought that getting to the bus station and taking a cab the rest of our trip was going to be the easy part.

We get on the cab and the guy is not the friendliest, but whatever. We exit the bus station and at the first light which was at the top of a little hill, the taxi starts rolling backwards and it hits another taxi with enough force to startle us.

The cabbie says nothing, just puts it back into gear and starts driving. I grew up in Colombia and at this point I am expecting the worst, the other guy coming and chasing us in a road rage frenzy. Bea actually looked back and saw the the guy waited until the next light to get out of his car, check the front and go on his merry way.

Bea was pretty calm about it, but my nerves were on alert after that. The taxi zoomed in and out of traffic getting us to our destination. My city had changed so much in the past five years since I had seen it that it was hard to feel at home. There were just too many cars on the road and people were driving more aggressively than ever before. Even though it was a mixture of the shock and rush hour my first trip back to the city was just not too pleasant… but this is not what traumatized me.

I had seen people riding pedal bikes hang on to other vehicles to get a “free ride” in the past. However it seems to have become a trend down there. I had seen it all day in even mayor roadways. We were back from our odyssey and were actually back on Bea’s families car heading from her Grandma’s house to her Mom’s condo when a dude on a bike put his shoulder on a motorcycle dude.

My first instinct was to open my big mouth to comment on the scene. I said how irresponsible and dangerous it was to get a “lift” that way, and how easy it was for the pedal bike to get caught on the motorcycle if either of them lost balance. I had not finished my sentence when it happened… exactly what I was talking about…

The motorcycle went around a pothole and the pedal bike lost balance, he did not let go and ended up getting tangled with the bike and the motorcycle. I do not want to get graphic, but there was dragging, blood and just overall mayhem. As I always do with my big mouth I started to give a play by play of what I saw without realizing that Bea’s Mom is very sensitive to those type of things because she lost a son to a motorcycle accident. After Bea snapped me out of my stupor with well placed scream and explanation I sat there traumatized by what just had happened.

We tried to get help for the guy but after going to the police station and coming back to the scene both people were gone. I slowly recuperated, but we kind of stayed home for a couple of days until the shock of re-encountering the madness that its traffic down in Colombia kind of wore off.

8 Responses to Traumatized

  1. Jeesh, I woulda freaked out. That is NOT cool. I mean I think people here are fools for risking their life to be 35 seconds ahead of another motorist, but I haven’t seen anything to compare to this.

    I was just glad You or Bea (or your families) were not the ones injured.

  2. I think of all that now, and I feel like laughing hysterically. Especially after people in Colombia tell you they never get to see that kind of action… ha ha ha!

  3. For me, something like that would be all too surreal. We grow up in an age where we are bomb-barted with graphic images such as the one described. No, the true scarry part of it is when we deep down start to secretly CRAVE these kinds of images.

    Tho thankfully it sounds like the cyclist’s got taken care of quickly. Rather than having to physicaly track down police man these days, you can usualy call 911 on a cell phone right at the seen. Saving precious seconds.

  4. Parece que las carreteras de Cali son aún más locas que las de Bogotá. No lo habría creído. Nunca he visto ciclistas haciendo eso en Bogotá, pero sí muchos en las carreteras que llevan a Ibagué, en especial la que va desde Espinal. Ahora, lo que pasa en Bogotá es que se siente pánico absoluto cuando se maneja cerca de un bus o un taxi. Están dispuestos a cualquier maniobra para cortar camino y recoger pasajeros. Además, pareciera que después de las 9 de la noche los semáforos dejaran de tener significado alguno.
    Pero bueno, lo que quería decir era que el muchacho/la muchacha de arriba tiene razón. Mejor llamar a la policía por teléfono en caso de accidente para ahorrar segundos. Por si vuelves a Colombia, el “911″ criollo” es 123.

  5. We did call 911 (or 123 like it is in Colombia) but there was no answer, that is why we drove to the station that was a couple of blocks down.

  6. Sounds a lot like Matamoros, Mexico.

  7. Oh, usualmente las historias que he escuchado y que involucran al 123 terminan en una asistencia efectiva de la policía. ¿Algo le pasará a la policía del Valle?

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