The Belizean name for speed bumps? Sleeping policemen.
The first trip to Belize was filled with days of silence.
“Why,” you may ask, “would an otherwise talkative, gregarious woman, be left speechless?”
All the energy I would have expended making conversation, was used in absorbing the landscape. I spent a lot of time on Belizean roads, winding my way in the valleys of the Maya mountains and across the marshes and lowlands. Deep green hills filled with palms and hardwoods were dappled in light. The environment was vastly different from my home and what I had imagined in my mind’s eye; this was the tropics, and it was lush, verdant and full of life.
There was something however that woke me from the dream that was cruising across the landscape: Speed bumps.
Belizean speedbumps, or “Sleeping Policemen” take the cake for world’s best traffic control. The are famous around the world, and it is rumored that during the last visit from Queen Elizabeth II, she made a special request that the “bumps” be removed from the route she would travel, to avoid any royal roadside unpleasantness.
The rest of us aren’t so lucky.
The bumps and the subsequent, “Argghhh! OUCH! Yahhhh!” from the passengers in the cars provides a jolt and even potential damage to the car. I have watched cars bottom out, pop tires and scrape bumpers by taking on the bumps too fast. They are extremely effective speed tools – you need to know how to navigate them and take your time getting over them to keep yourself, and your cargo intact.
Here’s a quick guide to the bumps of Belize:
1.) The Double or Triple bump- a sign post that bears two or three half–moons that look dangerously close to buttocks or breasts. These sneak up fast as they are well worn and the color to the pavement. Best to slow down, grip your steering wheel tightly and warn your passengers.
2.) The Speed Hump – more a small land mass than a hump, the trapezoidal shape of the speed hump resembles climbing a small mountain. Best to slow down, grip your steering wheel tightly and warn your passengers.
3.) The Multibumps – the sign that looks like the ripples of a lasagna noodle. Roadwidth bumps are spaced 2 meters apart. Usually there are five in a row. You can slow down, open your moth and say, “Ahhhhh!” and get a nice reverberating, “Ahyah Ahyah Ayah” as you make your way across.
4.) The unpaved road – not actually a bump, but certainly has holes, rifts and divots that make for adventure driving. Many roads in Belize are packed dirt paths due to weather conditions and the cost of pavement. Most dirt roads are grated seasonally, while others can provide entertainment to and from your adventures. Best to slow down, grip your steering wheel tightly and warn your passengers.
Speed bump sign at Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City, Belize