How To Cross The Carretera—And Arrive Alive!
By Ed Tasca
As everyone who has been to Chapala lakeside knows, there is only one major roadway that encircles the fabulous lake. Known affectionately as the carretera, it is the only artery to thread through all the many small villages that surround the lake, and, as a result, is almost always choked with traffic, traffic signal breakdowns or cement trucks breaking the sound barrier.
That said, one of the small, essential journeys required of any lakeside resident is to go from one side of the carretera to the other as a pedestrian. And arrive with all limbs and wits intact. Often, the crossing even requires some advanced planning to complete it.
I myself give the journey a lot of thought before taking it, regardless of the reason I’ve decided to cross. Before I do anything, I seek the advice of a trusted friend, asking, “Do I really need to cross the carretera?” If he becomes morose and asks me to have a drink with him, he’s probably going to try to talk me out of it.
The point here is that after having discussed the subject thoroughly, if one still feels he or she has no other choice but to cross the carretera, then be sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before and consider the following guidelines to help you arrive and return safely.
First, wear bright clothing. Red is best. Other useful clothing options include a large white-plumed hat and a pair of luminescent running shoes with good traction.
Second, avoid crossing at spots where there are flowered shrines commemorating an accident. Avoiding these areas can add to your probability of arriving safely on the other side (of the carretera, that is).
Third, arrange to cross with a friend. In this way, if one of you becomes light-headed from the fumes and the long wait for traffic to clear, the other can call for emergency assistance.
Fourth, if you have taken any medications that could make you drowsy, delay your crossing for at least four hours. Pin your IMSS card to your hat (possibly at the base of your plume).
Fifth, as you approach the asphalt portion of the carretera, be sure to look both ways at least three times. If you see that there are no cars or trucks coming from either direction or from hidden side streets, take out your white surrender flag and wave it briskly over your head to alert everyone in the area that you will be making a risky maneuver.
Sixth, if you decide to look for polizia controlling traffic before you cross, make sure the person you see in the intersection IS a traffic officer. Someone signaling with his arms could mean he has been stuck in the middle of the carretera for hours and is gesturing for help or has decided to do Tai Chi to help him relax.
Seventh, leap across in long bounds, shouting the words, “Please don’t run me down! Please don’t run me down!” until you are safely on the other side. It pays to train for such a run several weeks in advance with a good fitness instructor.
Eighth, once across, be sure that you have accomplished every possible chore. If you are going on a shopping trip, also add in a trip to your doctor and your lawyer. If the church is there, stop in and thank God that you have made it across and pray for the safe crossing of others. If you are considering a sex change operation, try to have it done while you are there, also.
Ninth, plan carefully for your return trip over the carretera by retracing your steps and following the exact same procedures for re-crossing. If you are carrying heavy groceries or other purchases and they are unbreakable, throw or roll them across the carretera before you cross. This will make it easier to race across between raging cement trucks.
Tenth, update your will.
Finally, once you are home safely, remain in your home until you have the cement dust and emission fumes out of your lungs. And always, as a Good Samaritan, make yourself available for counsel to others who are thinking about making the trip.