Logistics for new students - part VIII: Getting around in San Pedro
Getting around in San Pedro
The very first thing you must learn about San Pedro is that the locals call the three main streets by names which are not their official names as seen on street signs. If someone gives you directions and says "go down this street until you get to Front Street", you will wind up in the ocean. Here's the translation, shown as unofficial -> official names:
Front Street -> Barrier Reef
Middle Street -> Pescador Drive
Back Street -> Angel Coral Street
The tourist map you get at the Information Center next to the Town Board (Town Hall) shows the unofficial names, but that's of no help because the street signs show the official names.
A better map can be obtained from "Monkey Business", an information office on the propety of the Banana Beach Resort, a ten minute walk from the school. It has two maps: one of "downtown" San Pedro, and one of the South End, which is where the school is. This map is contained within a booklet which contains many advertisements by local establishments whose locations are marked on the maps; this will give you points of reference in case you get lost.
If you do get lost, try to remember some tourist spot like a hotel or bar near your apartment. All the locals know where everything is, and they'll direct you to it.
On both of the aforementioned maps, not all streets are shown, and even many of those that are shown are not labeled. Even worse, most the intersections in San Pedro have no street signs, so it's really easy to become disoriented. The locals are used to lost tourists, so feel to engage their help.
The three main streets are one-way for most of their extent. This rule is strictly enforced, so be sure you're not driving against the traffic. Also, no motor vehicles or golf carts are allowed along the beach.
You can park your bike or cart almost anywhere. There are no parking meters, no snow removal zones (there's no snow!), no alternate side of the street parking, or any other type of restriction. Some businesses will have a sign on the door that says "don't park in front of door"; although such signs have no legal status, for the sake of good will you should honor them.
Traffic moves very slowly through San Pedro. Trucks, cabs, golf carts, bicycles, and pedestrians are evenly disributed in the streets. There is no concept of right-of-way (well, possibly there is, but you can't observe it). There are no traffic lights or crosswalks. A stop sign seems to be only a suggestion, but technically you could get a ticket if you don't obey them. People don't generally honk their horns, but there are always a few rude cab drivers and tourists about.
The roads themselves are strewn with potholes, which can become cavernous, so golf carts never move very fast, although cabs -- like cabs everywhere -- seem impervious to them. Traffic accidents are rare, but a policeman told me that that will change soon due to a population explosion over the last five years in which the headcount tripled from five to fifteen thousand on Amerbergris Caye.
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