I am sure you are all familiar with the domino effect, line up a bunch of dominos, knock the first one over and it triggers a chain reaction that, if the dominoes are placed in close enough proximity, continues to knock down the next one in line until it reaches the end. Then there is the snowball, which starts as something small, but then as time goes it builds in size and momentum.
So picture if you will, a line of dominos across a snow capped ridge, high in the mountains, you hear the wind howl, then one dominos starts to fall, hitting the next one, and the next one until the last one is gently pushed over the edge, tumbling down the mountain, picking up size and speed as it goes, becoming larger and larger until……………… Well, you get the idea, anyway here is what happened.
We are on our way to Visit family in San Ramon, a small jungle town east by northeast from Lima Peru, and taking a short break from our bed and breakfast GringoWasi. We are currently staying in the families home in Lima and while doing some cleaning around noon, I hear an unusual amount of car horns and go to investigate, while I am not sure what the original trigger was, the traffic outside our apartment is a mess.
So I start watching this zoo and I notice that there are people in the intersection apparently trying to straighten out the situation by directing the traffic, or at least trying to. After watching them for a few minutes I realize that they are actually the bus cobradores (people that open the door at the stops, call out the destination and collect the money), theses cobradores are only interested in getting their bus through the intersection and as soon as the bus is clear, they are back on it and gone.
So you can imagine the comedy of watching as many as 12 different people in the intersection, each with a different agenda, trying to direct traffic. Now on several occasions the intersection would, almost get clear of traffic and then the domino effect would kick in. The domino effect in this case was started by the unknown reason for the congestion in the intersection, then there is the congested intersection itself, which caused traffic approaching the intersection to slow to a crawl, this caused people to get frustrated and impatient so that when they did reach the intersection, they would ignore the traffic light and whenever the intersection got close to being clear, all directions would rush into the intersection starting the cycle over again, in some ways this is almost a perpetual domino effect.
This domino effect then started to spread to nearby intersections, as drivers all looking for an alternate route, were trying to move to the next street over, these drivers would then have to cross the traffic that was stopped by the congested intersection. The other drivers being frustrated and impatient from there having to wait, we not to eager to allow the drivers seeking an alternate route, to pass through. This of course caused the routs exiting the intersection to start to back up, thus compounding the existing problem and snowballing.
I am not sure how this ultimately was resolved but around 3pm the traffic seemed to return to normal, thats right, this went on for over 3 hours. Coming from the US, the peculiar thing for me is that in all that time, I never did see one traffic cop. Oh well I am just glad I don’t have to drive in it.