Welcome to Mexico – February 2011

Welcome to Mexico

By Victoria Schmidt

Parking in Mexico


Nowhere have I witnessed the type of parking I’ve seen in Mexico on a daily basis. 

An old village near where I live has extremely narrow streets, streets that were narrow when two burrows passed each other 400 years ago. Now these same streets allow parking on both sides and maintain two-way traffic. In order to drive down the street, we must pull in our side mirrors, pray there is no oncoming traffic and hope that there is a spot to pull over if there is. Wouldn’t it be easier just to park on one side of the street and then make the street a one-way street?

And speaking of one-ways, it is often hard to tell which streets are one-ways. Well in the good old US of A, the cars park facing the same direction and everyone knows which way to go. But not in Mexico! Here cars are parked both directions on a one-way. No visual clues here!

The other day I saw a “smart car” parked, nose to the sidewalk, between two parallel-parked cars. Another parking malady is double parking. People double-park while the driver just runs into a store or they simply park in the middle of the street and wait for someone in the shop. Some just stop and engage in a conversation with a pedestrian on the street. I’ve sat behind drivers engaged in conversations that seemed longer than a politician’s speech.

Some parking lots are filled with those individuals who will find you a spot to park and then want to wash your car. OK, I do like that at some places, but I don’t like being hounded by these car washers. I told one man “No, Gracias.” When I returned there he was washing my windows. Now, I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, but I do know that the word NO is the same in both languages. The man may not have understood my scolding, but I think it was pretty clear he wasn’t getting a peso out of me.

Parking off the busy paved roads is always a challenge. As soon as one leaves the paved road, there is usually a “slight” dip of at least 3-5 feet, followed by other ruts and holes that the landowners never seem to repair. And if luck holds true and there is an available parking space next to the building, when we return, we’ll be parked in by two cars and a truck with no drivers in sight.

At our doctor’s office, not only does the receptionist know every patient’s name, but also what kind of car they drive. That’s because in a building with no less than 12 offices, there are exactly four parking places. So people park each other in, park on the sidewalk, and anywhere else they can create a place. It is not uncommon to be interrupted in the middle of an exam and be asked to move our car.

We live near a beautiful Malecon that becomes a complete carnival on Sunday’s. Since we live on a private street, no one can access the street, but it doesn’t stop them from parking blocking the street.

One crafty car wash guy commandeered the four-car parking lot at the office next door to us. He’d block off the lot and wouldn’t allow anyone to park there unless they allowed him to wash their car and buy him a beer.

Illegal parking rarely seems to be dealt with in Mexico, and I always wonder why? Just think of how much the cities could earn by enforcing illegal parking. Maybe even enough to create new parking areas.

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: chapala.com

Ojo Del Lago
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