Yes, there are some careful drivers, but it’s all a bit chaotic for my liking

Yes, there are some careful drivers, but it’s all a bit chaotic for my liking.

28-10-2021Peter Clover

Mancor de la Vall nestles in a sleepy valley on the sloping foothills of the Sierra de Tramuntana Mountains range. The main road into Mancor from Inca doesn’t really go anywhere once it reaches our village, apart from winding onwards and upwards to the Sanctuari de Santa Llúcia. We are literally the end of the road. And once off the main drag, like most small towns and villages across the island, a network of small roads within Mancor spider off into winding lanes which get smaller and narrower with each turn.

I forgot to mention, we also have a one way system which sometimes throws people when visiting the village for the first time. They often find themselves driving straight in, then straight out again as the ‘one way’ kicks in, directing newcomers in circles before sending them packing.

Luckily, because of Mancor’s geographical location, the majority of traffic in and around the village is mainly local, and well practised at manoeuvring a car through the narrow, winding streets, with their blind bends and dead ends, especially when you come across a car abandoned across your path, totally blocking the entire street ( that’s called parking here in Mallorca ).

Most locals are quite accustomed to navigating these narrow streets which crop up in villages everywhere across the island. It’s second nature to them. You simply have to observe the one local rule – wing mirrors in, then foot down flat on the accelerator. You would think a lesser speed would be more appropriate when driving through such narrow mazes. But no! About 100mph seems de rigueur, especially if you are one of those younglings who imagine they are driving through a video game with one casual hand spinning the wheel as their car careers forward completely out of control. Vrooooooom!!!

In all fairness though, some of those youngbloods do seem to be very good at parking, even in the tightest of spaces. “He’ll never get in there! Oh, yes he has!” It’s the older generation who appear less apt at those specific driving manoeuvres which involves complicated things like eyesight, clutch control and space awareness. But that’s where the infamous Majorcan ‘bump’ comes into its own. When you hit the other car, both in front and behind, you know you’re in! There doesn’t seem to be much respect for neighbouring bodywork in situations like this. But then that’s what bumpers are for, apparently!!! And driving in Majorca is always going to be exciting!

Some years ago, we had a friend visiting from UK who thought he was a confident driver (well he was when he was back home). Yet in the entire week of his holiday, his hire car never acknowledged 3rd gear. Poor thing was terrified of all the narrow streets, and crawled everywhere in 2nd. He still managed to loose both wing mirrors though, and went home a nervous wreck.

I must admit I don’t like driving here much either. And to be completely honest, I simply don’t trust the unpredictability of the average Mallorcan driver. Yes, there are some careful drivers, but it’s all a bit chaotic for my liking. No-one seems to bother with rear view mirrors, indicators or whether or not there is anyone in the lane they are about to swerve into! It’s a random free for all, like some reckless dance, with everyone doing different steps and driving to their own speeding rhythm. Luckily Other Half has nerves of steel when it comes to facing the perils of the open highway, so I am blessed in that department.

I don’t mind short, local journeys from A to B, or even the straight longer leg of the motorway once I’m actually on it. But the thought of driving into and through the chaos of Palma is a veritable nightmare.

Many moons ago I was doing just that, and struggling against heavy traffic and inconsiderate drivers whilst trying to move safely, at speed, into a different, elected lane. All this was happening in seconds with no-one willing to give way. The lane I was inevitably stuck in suddenly swept down into an underground car park. There was no avoiding the outcome. With no other option but to go with the flow, we were forced to take a ticket and enter the car park. Then we had to park up and find a ticket machine to pay and validate the ticket in order for us to get out again. The car park exit threw us up into a completely different district of Palma than we wanted, so I had to drive all around the one way system and start again.

When we did finally get to where we were heading in Palma I couldn’t find a place to park, which was totally ironic as I had just parking-paid on a passing through Palma only basis.
Some time ago, after considerately parking the car in Inca, another driver rather cleverly parked their car right up against my rear bumper. Someone else then parked their car directly in front of mine, reversing so closely that even Kate Moss would have had trouble squeezing between the bumpers.

This mindless, inconsiderate style of parking is a common trait here in Mallorca, and meant that no way could I possibly drive my car out and away! Had I been driving Thunderbird 2, then no problem. I could have simply employed the vertical jet thrusts and risen above the occasion. Unfortunately, the car wasn’t streamlined with such futuristic technology, so I was well and truly fudged!

Luckily, two supercool policemen swaggered by, looking the part with their glossy gelled hair and designer sunshades, yet sadly not looking for or concerning themselves with the frustrations of commonplace local parking.

After bringing the immediate problem to their waning attention, the policemen struck a pose, then simply shrugged, as they do, which in Mallorcan translates as, “I couldn’t really be less interested!”

Surprisingly, they then proceeded to physically bump and rock my car in such a manner that it miraculously and triumphantly un-parked itself. When I asked if they were going to leave tickets, or at least a social reprimand for the two inconsiderate parkers to digest, Starsky and Hutch just glanced at each and shook their handsome heads. Obviously I had suggested something tantamount to bringing down the entire Majorcan driving community! “It wasn’t done with any bad intention”, they said. Then raised their golden faces to the failing sun and swanned off in a fantasy of acceptable policing.

Basically, if you are Majorcan you can park anywhere regardless of any consequence. In most marked parking areas, it seems the accepted normative is to park your car at a jaunty angle across as many parking spaces as you can manage, making sure that you NEVER actually settle your car within the allotted guide lines. This common practise is either sheer bloody mindlessness, abhorrent laziness or simply total disregard for common courtesy. Or maybe the Majorcans have a serious ocular problem and literally don’t see designated white lines. Or zebra crossings. Or ‘no parking’ signs!

We recently witnessed a driver leap out of his beaten up van in an Aldi car park and race towards the supermarket without securing his brake. The van rolled slowly from its badly parked space, yet fortuitously came to rest, safetly, without hitting anything. The driver glanced back over his shoulder, saw what happening, and just carried on! As it happened, the van re-parked itself much better that the driver had in the first place. A risky operation, yet not done with any bad intention! It’s a good one that isn’t it? You can literally get away with murder by using such a cavalier rhetoric. But then that’s Mallorca for you. Park well and happy driving!

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