Sunday, August 9, 2009

Topes! August 2009

Topes (tow'-pays)

Mexico's jaw-crunching, neck-snapping,
head-bonking, gut-wrenching,axle-busting
speed bumps that also function as an alternative to stop signs

AND, are highly more effective.

There are several different classifications of topes:

  1. The Homemade Tope: this is the one where some neighborhood folks get together and slap a little concrete across the road then stick a few rows of jagged stones into it. Pretty effective, actually.

2. The Compassionate Tope: this is the gentle sloping tope which encompasses
several feet from start to finish.

3. The Hidden Tope: shaded by trees or buildings or covered in mud or dirt.

4. The Painted Tope: thankfully someone paints SOME of them.

5. The Unpainted Tope: notice how slow traffic is going. . .effective little buggers, they are.

6. The Discriminating Tope: these topes are selective. They only apply to one lane of traffic.
So, guess what drivers do. . .they swerve into the oncoming lane to avoid the tope.
No surprise there, huh?

7. And last, but not least. . . the ¡Hijole!!! Tope: this is the one that will send you to the
emergency room strapped to a backboard
and your car to the mecánico with a broken axle,
if you miss it at a high rate of speed.

The reality is, there are only two kinds of topes.

The ones you see in time and the ones you don't!

Even if it means being known as a backseat driver, good friends will yell "TOPE!!" if it looks like you are talking too much, driving too fast or otherwise not paying enough attention and are about to miss an approaching killer looking tope. God bless 'em.

My Mexican friends tell me there are several steps to having the municipality install a legal tope in your neighborhood.

First you need to present yourself to the municipality and register a complaint. The municipality will then come out to your location and place a small sign on a post with directions for traffic to slow down.

Two weeks later when that has no effect, you must return to the municipality to complain again. At this time, the small sign will be replaced with a much larger one.

Two weeks later when that produces no results, you return again to the municipality and are told that a tope will now be installed at your requested location. You and your neighbors wait.

One day a crew will arrive and construct a tope. Upon completion, the neighbors will take up a collection and hand an extra 200 pesos over to the chicos that have just finished building your tope and for that, they will add an extra 2" peak of concrete to the top. Thus giving birth to the ¡Hijole!! tope.

Happy Motoring!


  1. Glad you did a post on this! I noticed the different "varieties" of topes when visiting last November. Honestly, it was difficult to ignore them :)

  2. Yes it is!!! When are you coming back? Barb's casita on the lake is really cool, so is the town, you'd like it, come back! Hurry.