Choosing the route we do (mountain dirt roads in the middle of nowhere) we usually manage to stay away from cars, but sometimes roads are unavoidable. Starting at the Artic Sea, we have been constantly and consistently warned about the drivers with whom we will have to share the road further south.Â First were the â€œextreme truckersâ€� on the haul road, whose loads are double long and oversize, and who literally own the road.Â Then the â€œcrazy cannucksâ€� whose country is so sparsely populated the mere idea of traffic paralyzes them, and therefore donâ€™t worry about little things like lanes and turn signals. Â Next, â€œthose Americansâ€� who drive too much and too fast, â€œand they all have gunsâ€¦.â€� Â Followed by â€œthe Mexicansâ€� who â€œhave no laws down thereâ€� and so on until we learned to tune it out, as we do a large percentage of the advice we receive: â€œdonâ€™t go that way â€“ the road is terrible â€“ youâ€™ll never make itâ€� etc.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Sure, drunk driving is a national past time in Mexico, and first time RVers up in Alaska, tend to leave their steps down (blocking/sweeping the shoulder), but the vast majority of drivers we have encountered have been competent, and courteous.Â â€œSouth of the border,â€� drivers, forced into awareness by the condition of the roads, and used to sharing them with non-cars, are in general good drivers. And thanks to the cost and relative novelty of cars, drivers are much more likely to be professionals. Â People who drive for a living, tend to be good/safe behind the wheel. In general, our pavement experiences have been much mellower than the advice-givers would have us fear.Â Safer that is, until we hit Honduras, and the Pan-American Highway.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Forced onto the â€˜carreteraâ€™ by a tropical storm that flooded us out of the Caribbean coast, we were initially optimistic; the main roads in Mexico (the last place we had ridden highways) were nicely paved and equipped with generous shoulders, a little boring perhaps, but at least safeâ€¦no reason to assume Honduras would be much different.Â The Pan-Am was nicely paved and provided reasonable shoulders. Unfortunately however, these factors didnâ€™t add up in our favor.Â The smoothness and width of the road just seemed to encourage recklessness. Drivers clearly didnâ€™t feel constrained by the two lanes the engineers and road painters had provided for â€“ thanks to the shoulders, there was plenty of room for a center (shared) lane or two if you didnâ€™t mind squeezing, which they clearly didnâ€™t.