transport | urbanism | adventures | pontification
The motto of Caye Caulker, a small island with about 1300 residents, is “Go Slow.” People abide by this motto in their eating, socializing, and driving. Other than a few pickup trucks that haul lumber and garbage, and a small tractor used by the local Coca Cola distributor, the only vehicles on the island are bicycles and old golf carts. Even if they were not limited by the golf carts’ top speed, island drivers would be encouraged to go slow by Caye Caulker’s rope speed bumps and two traffic police officers.
The Go Slow modus vivendi, although not explicitly extolled, seems to be present in Belize City as well. Buses and water taxis often run slightly behind schedule (if they have one at all). Instead of using established stops, many Belize City buses will stop wherever a passenger is waiting. When I rode the bus back from Ladyville, the bus made multiple stops literally twenty feet apart. To me, it would make sense for passengers waiting so close together to gather in one place, so that the bus would only have to stop once; but maybe such an increase in efficiency is not in keeping with the Go Slow philosophy.
Unlike in Belize City, Caye Caulker’s pedestrians and stray dogs are relatively safe from traffic. Sand crabs seem to compose the bulk of the island’s traffic fatalities. I talked with the owner of one of the island’s golf cart rental shops. The carts are bought used from the United States, and the total cost for each cart, including transportation to the island and import duties, runs to about $4000. Even with the cost of replacing corroded parts with new parts ordered from the United States, these expensive carts can be a sound investment. The plastic bodies can last more than eight more years after being purchased used, and rental agencies can charge steep prices to the tourists for whom walking around the island is too slow.
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