Topes Y Cenotes - Tulum, Mexico, Part 3 - Topes!

The topes get their own post, because they're something that we marveled over and talked about every time we were in our vehicle.

Ok, so imagine with me here...

Imagine that you are driving down I79 south, towards Pittsburgh.  Imagine that you are traveling at about 65 miles per hour, because... well, because that's all the faster your car will go without feeling like it's going to shake apart.  You're on a major four lane highway, two lanes in both directions, with a divider in the middle.  You're cruising along, enjoying all of the scenery, when suddenly you see this sign...

Topes.  (This particular sign is missing the S, but you can see where it used to be.)

Topes are the worst part about driving in Mexico.  If you're lucky, you'll be warned with the sign that you see above, but sometimes there isn't a sign. That's when it gets really exciting.

The first time we encountered a tope we were traveling around 100 kph (equates to about 60 mph.)

Holy shit!  Those topes rocked our world.  Our poor little Atos by Dodge by Hyundai didn't even know what to think and the shaking got even worse after that.  We suddenly deeply regretted not spending the extra money on the car insurance.  We were pretty sure that we just killed our cars shocks, and possibly the alignment.

So yeah, if you can get back to your little daydream from above...

Imagine that Interstate 79 had enormous, killer speed bumps all along it.  Remember, this is FOUR LANE HIGHWAY!!! With randomly placed speed bumps... that force ALL traffic to come to a COMPLETE STOP. And they're not just any speedbumps, they're rock-your-world-like-crazy speedbumps.

Most of them look like this.

But some of them are all metal. Some are covered in plastic. (See the pictures above? There are metal topes in the upper right hand corner, and the rest are plastic, or rather, probably metal covered in plastic.)

Sometimes you'll see a topes sign but then it's just an enormous concrete speed bump.  It's always exciting.  Sometimes, if you're lucky - and going slow enough to notice - there will be some topes missing in the line so you can navigate your vehicle through these gaps and you cheer with excitement! Yay! We showed THOSE topes who's boss!  (An example of such a gap is also available in the picture above.)

Topes ahead!!!

When they're wet, the tiny 13 inch tires on your Atos by Dodge by Hyundai will literally just slide off of them, sending your steering wheel into a tizzy and adding a whole new element of excitement to your driving experience.

Sometimes, there are even topes stations where you might encounter two or three sets of them in a row, and often there are police officers manning the station, watching you pass.  Sometimes the only way that you know a tope is ahead is by the flashing lights of a police vehicle, so you automatically slow down.

If you're really lucky, you might even get to see a topes graveyard off to the side where hundreds of discarded topes (although many of them look better than the ones on the road) lay discarded in a pile.  Or maybe they're just spares.  Who knows?

Sometimes you'll see a sign warning you of topes ahead and so you immediately slow down in anticipation but then you never encounter one.  HA! Tricked you!  It's like they're mocking you....

Topes are an amazing way to control speed - through total and utter fear of completely destroying the shocks and alignment on your vehicle.  We hated them, but upon reflection they did add an element of excitement to our driving - it was almost like navigating obstacles in a video game, only it was real life.  And while they give me great fodder for writing about, I pray to god that the United States never decides to adopt the "topes system" of speed control.

If that happens, I may look into moving to Canada.


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