Driving on the Left

Driving on the left side of the road is weird as crap!!!! Mind you, with my occupation, I have had a fair bit of driver training.  EVERYTHING has been on the right.  All my training has been “keep right”, “pull to the right”, “escape right”.  With that in mind, I have done some things that are unusual for my own driving techniques:

  1. Minimize distracted driving:  NO texting, NO eating, NO talking on the phone.
  2. Slow down:  NO speeding (Like I need a ticket over here!)
  3. Both hands on the wheel at all times:  The current training modes says keep your hands at 4:00 & 8:00 (as opposed to 3 & 9 or 10 & 2)
  4. Pay Attention!  Don’t be looking off at the view as you drive by

If you can mirror write, you can get the hang of driving on the left without too much difficulty. Keep Left at all times.  Turning right is weird because you have to cross traffic.

The people in Barbados love to let folks go in front of them.  So, if you are in a drive way or side street, you must pay attention to folks who slow down or stop to let you out.  Now, this was a bit disconcerting for me, as I wanted everyone to go in front of me – I have found it easier to stay on the side of the road that goes against all my training if I can follow someone.  You might be driving along, when the car in front of you stops for no apparent reason – only to let someone out from the side.

The roads – there are a few “highways” – which really means, they are main thoroughfares.  Some have limited access with the “exits” being the round-a-bouts. But there may be a side street at any unannounced moment.  The other roads are about 1.5 lanes wide with cars going in both directions.  Sometimes you have to slow down and creep by the other vehicle – and sometimes that other vehicle is a HUGE public transport bus who has no regard to anyone. Pot holes are the standard.  Some are shallow, while some seem to go to the ocean.  Remember the cartoons where someone steps in a puddle up to their waist?  Yeah, that’s what these are like.  You might find some holes that have been repaired – which then become speed bumps.  Like moguls.

I grew up in Atlanta. I know how to drive 80+ mph 6-lanes wide. I know how to go 80 to 0 in .75 seconds.  I know how to merge.  These folks blow my mind.  Most of them are nice enough.  But my first day out, I was in my second round-a-bout and, i’m pretty sure I was in the right, a dude almost hit me.  His passenger just about fell out of the window as he leaned out and told me to go F* myself, flipping me the bird.  I just waved and smiled.

Oh – and traffic will be bumper to bumper; just creeping along, and then BOOM! Nothing.  All of a sudden, there is no one in front of you and you can hop up to the speed limit.  It’s weird as anything.  Not even like a bottle neck that clears up, then you have the traffic in front of you that starts to go.  No, this is creeping along, stop and go traffic and then – it’s empty.  Wide open.  Very weird!

Enough about that.  I hope all ya’ll had a very Merry Christmas.  I send you love and peace for the upcoming year.

Peace – from Barbados

 

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Monday 18/12/17

Well, after driving all day, I discover it seems I need a license.  Oops!  It’s $10 (us) for a 2 month visitor license.  I’ll be getting one first thing in the morning.

Today, I hopped in the car and took off.  I was only almost creamed in my second round-a-bout (very popular here!  Many more round-a-bouts than actual traffic lights).  The passenger hung out the window and told me to go do something that is physically impossible.  I just smiled and waved.  All the other drivers were nice.  What’s really funny here is that most drivers will let others out into traffic – VERY unlike Atlanta.  In fact, some people will just stop as they’re driving along to let someone out.  Lots of horn usage, too.  Usually in a polite way.  “Please feel free to go” “Thank you” “Any time” “See ya'”  If you can mirror write, it’ll be easy peasy driving on the left – just takes a little practice.  It did help when I followed another vehicle.  I got TOTALLY lost, but did manage to stay on the south end of the island. I stopped once in a shopping center to try to figure out where I was – but I was clueless.  Then I stopped at a church to try again.  That worked well, as the church was listed on the map I had.  I got an idea of the general area I needed to head to make it back home. I found the airport!!!!  Not that anything other than the airport looked similar, as it was dark when I arrived – I recognized nothing. So, by finding spots on the map and figuring out where I was, I was able to gradually shrink my area of travel until I found the house!!!!  Yay!

While I was driving around, I found Soul Touch Tattoo.  So…maybe I’ll add something to memorialize my travels.  Not sure I could ever find it again.

I also found The George Washington House.  This was on my agenda! That was very interesting.  I was able to traverse a section of the tunnels that run under the Garrison.  The troops dug trenches in the limestone (which makes up the island), then added ballast bricks from the ships to make them deeper. Finally, they quarried rocks to build an arched cap, closing the tunnels in. The tunnels are 2′ wide by 7’6″ on average.  The house was built in the early 1700s.  George Washington and his older brother Lawrence visited Barbados and stayed there in 1751.  While he was visiting, George contracted Smallpox.  The Bajans take pride in that.  Stating had he NOT contracted Smallpox, he would not have been able to lead the troops to victory during the revolutionary war.  The reason he couldn’t have led them was because many of the soldiers got smallpox and were very sick.  By having had it previously, George was immune to it.

Now, I’m off to finish my journal and relax.  That driving was a bit stressful for the first day.

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