Living in London you don’t necessarily ever get used to commuting, but certainly you would expect to be travelling for about an hour each way to get to and from work.
And most of that would be at less than 5mph, sitting in the car, watching other motorists picking their noses, applying make up, and talking on their mobiles. So, given that we could drive from our house to Palma in about 20 minutes, when we first arrived in Mallorca we felt as if we’d come to an island where traffic jams didn’t exist. Our evenings out were often in spent in the city, but encouraging other people to join us wasn’t so easy. ‘Palma’s too far, why don’t we go somewhere closer?’ was a frequent response to our invitation for a meal out in the old town. Baffled by this attitude we would try to argue the point, repeating again how quickly we would be there, but oftimes to no avail.
But we did agree that the Mallorquin attitude towards roundabouts was just a bit too scary. Without the common agreement of driving on the inside lane until you needed to leave at the next exit I felt like yelling ‘BUNDLE!’ everytime I hit a roundabout. (And mentally make a promise to myself to look up the Spanish motoring laws to see if the habit of driving around the outside lane and cutting up other cars was actually taught to the novice drivers on the island). And then, thankfully, I’d make it unscathed through yet another game of chicken with a beaten up Axim. Soon we discovered the practice, or perhaps that should be non-practice, of indicating. It seemed to be a sign of weakness, by indicating what you were planning on doing seemed to give an advantage to your roundabout opponent.
There were also the legalities to be mindful of, keeping the right papers in the car, and having all those bits and pieces you’re supposed to use in case of a breakdown. But, living in the kind of disorganised chaos that we do, I doubt that I have ever had all of the right bits of paper in the car at the same time. Which was a bit of a problem when I was recently pulled over by the local police, strangely, at a roundabout in Palma. ‘Where are you going?’, ‘Where do you live?’ ‘Where is your job?’ and then, the question I was dreading, ‘Where are your papers?’. I managed to find the insurance documents, the log book, and my residency card, but not my driving license. Thank god the ITV certificate is physically stuck to the inside of the windscreen as if not then I would have been in even more trouble. Wondering how much the fine might cost me, I smiled uncertainly at the copper. Wearing a helmet it was difficult to see if he was smiling back. ‘I’m really sorry, I haven’t got a clue where they are’ I covered, hoping for some sympathy and going for the ‘hopeless woman’ image. Which seemed to work. ‘I live in Andratx, next time I see you I want you to have the papers,’ he told me. I asked him what his name was, Victor, promised to do as he asked me (although mentally picturing the cardboard box full of paperwork I had got in the neverending ‘to do’ pile and hoping I might find it in there) and went on my way. It’s an odd state of pressure when your local policeman knows where you live, and is expecting you to sort something out and pronto. I don’t want to let him down.
Until I’ve found my driving license, when we’re invited to eat in Palma, I might just baulk and suggest somewhere a little bit closer….
You should keep the following items in your car:
Valid driving licence; residence Card, passport or European Citizen certificate; ehicle registration document;ITV, or MOT inspection certificate; proof of current vehicle insurance. A yellow, orange or red reflective jacket which you should be able to reach without getting out of the car; two red warning triangles; spare light bulbs and the tools required to fit them; a spare tyre, inflated and the tools necessary to change it; approved child seats for children under 12 and/or 150cm, and if you need corrective glasses for driving you must keep a spare pair in the car.