Friday, September 10, 2010

Things That Go Bump In The Road

Not a bra! Slow down!

Full stop!
Anyone familiar with driving in Mexico knows what "topes" are: speed bump barriers to excessive velocity as well as tranquility. There are various forms of topes, ranging from the basic raised ridge to metal plates set into the pavement and the elegant "reductor de velocidad" along Morelia's Avenida Camelinas. Then there's the racy "vibradores", a series of corrugations sometimes known in the U.S. as "rumble strips". In ritzy Montclair, NJ, they have "speed humps".

But there are lesser known variants of topes, which I'll describe. Poor communities, which don't have the funds to install raised barriers, sometimes just make a short and steep ditch, a negative space I dubbed a "nope". That's pronounce "NO-pay". In the hardscrabble outlying burg of Tzurumutaro, the back street sports concrete tank barriers that could be called "golpes", Spanish for "hit" or "blow" in the hurting sense. Those are best negotiated by flanking maneuvers when possible and when that's not feasible, a slow aproach at an angle may allow your vehicle to pass without damage. In pleasant contrast, the highway bypassing Tzurumutaro to one side has two of the most gradual and gentle tope mounds ever seen. Crossing them is like eating Mallomars candy.

In a labyrinthine colonia in lower Pátzcuaro, the not recommended route to the Panadería La Espiga includes a horrendous tank trap with a vicious, protruding reinforcing rod. Other routes are advised, or foot travel only. I recommend hiring a knowledgeable guide for your first visit to the Panadería. Contact me.

Possibly you like topes; maybe you want to experience the "Real Mexico". If that's the case, I recommend a drive to Morelia's International Airport, close to the town of Álvaro Obregón. There are something like 27 topes between the turnoff from the main highway out of Morelia and the Airport entrance gate. What's not to like?
After a reckless encounter with topes, you may need this Tope's Auto Repair.

I have now found what I think is the ultimate topes nightmare.


norm said...

My theory is that they are status symbols, your not important till you have a tope out front of your house. I have run over topes in places that get two cars an hour, where the road is in such bad shape that ten miles on hour is way too fast and yet there is no shortage of the dreaded tope.

Felipe said...

Mallomars! I haven´t thought of those things in eons. Hot dang! I want one. Or more.

Calypso said...

Topes are a way of life here - something you get used to - I have to figure this in that I haven't HIT one for several years - even when traveling on uncharted roads.

The homemade ones around here in Veracruz are usually due to a marketing ploy - slow down and maybe you will stop and buy something.

There are still greater hazards - collapsed edges of road - jagged tire eating edges just at the edge of the lane (stay towards the middle when driving in Mexico - you WILL be buying tires if the center scares you.

Dead animals - live animals - construction materials taking up most of a roadway - most people do not have brake lights (what's up with that?)- driving in Mexico IS an adventure ;-)

Don Cuevas said...

Felipe, its not a good sign when you'd rather have a Mallomar than the Speed Bump honey in the 2nd photo down.

But maybe Lady Zapata can bake you some Mallomars. (Personally, I never cared much for them. Nor Malted Milk Balls yuch.)

But this is another topic for another day.

Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

They are getting creative in some pueblos, they just paint them on and they seem to work except for the locals who have figured the ruse out. During our construction phase of the house, on the return trip from Dolores Hidalgo, guess what the back of the pick up truck was loaded with....
A very expensive lesson.

Dan in NC said...

Sr Cuevas,
Surely the last photo came out of one of Dante's 7 circles! If it actually existed, I could honestly believe it was the road to hell..
Dan in NC
Where we seldom have topes but our ladies have lovely upholstery and are well cushioned.

lorainefedder said...

We have our fair share of topes here in Cd. Mante, Tamps. About a year ago they were enlarging some, but they were so big and square that cars couldn't even go over them! They were removed pretty fast.