So driving is pretty much crazy. Here, driving is on the right side and everthing is in kilometers. My first experience of the driving was driving with my padre, José; madre, Patricia; sister, Patricia María; and cousins, Paulina and Sebastian to a house in Guayaquil from the airport. We took off in the blue SUV like we were trying to reach lightspeed in the Millenium Falcon. I was pretty swept from the flights, but I was still clutching on to my seat a little. We got to the house then left again to eat at a nearby restaurant. This time Mamá drove. A little more relaxed but still less structured than in the U.S. We were passing cars, pulling u-turns, and crossing/blocking traffic some.
The next day we left for Machala, so we had some highway driving (with Papá). Now these highways could maybe pass as a 3-lane highway but (sometimes) there´s only one line in the middle to separate the direction of traffic. Despite this line being there, we still were on the left side of the road maybe 30% of the trip, passing slower cars. I´m pretty sure my eyes were as big as half-dollars (used quite often here in Ecuador) a couple of times when we went to pass a car and there was oncoming traffic (fairly close). Fortunately, we made it home safely (and I didn´t have any cardiac problems).
In the city, I am mainly driving with Wacho, the driver for my madre who also works at the Municipio (city government building). When he drives, he goes pretty fast. On a road that is maybe for 30 mph, he´s going like 50. I asked if the police pull people over for speeding, and he said that they don´t do that too much.
One caveat to this speed driving is that speedbumps are commonplace. When one of these comes up, we slow down to maybe 5 mph to cross it then kick it back into high gear.
In the downtown area, cars are everywhere, as well as bicycles, tricycles (the back end of a bike with a front end of two wheels and a large basket to carry food and goods to sell), and especially motorcycles. Even in these tight quarters we pass cars, sometimes barely making it back into our lane before an oncoming car comes, and pull u-turns.
Pedestrians aren´t allowed to cross the road on a red light (they can be fined $10) because there have been so many accidents. When I´m walking, my Ecuadorian companion (Johnny, Araceli, Mamá) usually stops me from walking in the street. I then follow their lead, sometimes running across. Kind of like Frogger. The streetlights are also a little different. The colors are still green, yellow, and red, but there are times when the green and yellow are lit at the same time and when the yellow and red are lit at the same time. I have not yet seen a green and red lit, nor a green, yellow, and red lit, but I´m keeping my eyes peeled for them.
I´ve driven also with Johny Morocho quite a bit. On our journeys to Pasaje, we encounter several roundabouts. These are all throughout Machala and some have stoplights. Sometimes it´s really difficult to see the streetlights because of how far back the lights are positioned.
With everyone, I think it´s mandatory to use the horn at least 5 times per ride. Once I was sitting in Mamá´s office downtown and there wasn´t 10 seconds without a honk. Unlike the U.S., the horn isn´t to send evil vibes to others, but more of an announcement. They usually give a tap or two if they pass someone or see a vehicle/mode of transportation entering traffic. It is also prevalent for the driver to give a couple honks to some friends on the road (this happens a ton with driving in Pasaje with Johny).