Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Paraguayan Left Turn

Some intersections are quite busy in Asunción. They are so busy, in fact, that left turns become an exercise in right turns--three right turns, in fact. Instead of making a simple left turn onto the desired street, you must pass the street, turn right on the next available street, a right next on the following street, and finally another right onto the street you originally wanted to turn left on. Once you are finally on the street you wanted, you get to once again pass the intersection that you visited only moments ago. Fun! With rush-hour traffic a never ending stream of lights, horns, pedestrians, colectivos (buses), motorcycles, street vendors, and exhaust, what's one quick circle around the block? Unless that block turns into 12 and adds 30 minutes onto an already exhausting commute.

For those Michiganders who read this, you will probably notice that a Paraguayan left bears a slight resemblance to a 'Michigan left.' For those of you who happened to miss those wonderful creations of traffic engineering the last time you visited the only two peninsula state in the union, Michigan lefts are those wacky left turns that require a right turn followed by a U-turn, usually with a traffic light thrown in between. Here goes: Instead of turning left to continue your journey you must turn right and then immediately get into the far left lane so as to be prepared for the next step. Merging into the far lane after turning right is sometimes easy and sometimes virtually impossible, depending on traffic, the number of lanes you must successfully navigate, and how far down the U-turn is. Once you are in the far lane you drive to the designated U-turn spot and either wait for a) the traffic light to turn green, b) oncoming traffic to dissipate, or c) both before completing the U-turn. Once option a, b, or c presents itself you may then turn onto the street you couldn't originally turn left on. What could be easier? Oh, I know. Turning left.

A street sign indicating that to turn left onto Avda. Perú, you must make a Paraguayan left (i.e. pass Peru and make three rights only to emerge back onto Avda. Perú)


  1. Hello, you have a very nice blog. Hi Radka.

  2. Thank you. It's always nice to receive a compliment.