December 28 to January 3, 2010



When you're sitting around the cocktail table after a hard day on the road, there's one subject that always comes up - topes. They say that the Eskimos have dozens of ways to say snow, because it's an important part of their lives. Well, now we Mexican RVers have our own 14 ways to describe what often becomes, however briefly, a very important part of our lives.

The following is courtesy Bruce and Linda DesChamps. Most of the season each year finds them on the La Peñita RV Park north of Puerto Vallarta.

Mexico’s Topes (speed bumps)

No trip to Mexico would be complete without a commentary on the TOPES, or, as some would call them, “silent policemen”. We have found a number of obvious differences in the types of topes, their effectiveness, and the irritation level they bring to the drivers of vehicles passing over them. Thus we have created a naming convention which, in most cases, will rhyme with tope (toe-pay).

1. POPE TOPE: (poe-pay toe-pay): One you pray you will pass over unscathed. One motorhome was seen to ‘high-center’ on one of these.

2. HOPE TOPE: One step down from the pope tope but of such magnitude as to cause significant vehicle damage and dislodge microwaves and TVs if not taken slowly.

3. LOPE TOPE: Easy up, easy down; piece of cake at normal speeds.

4. NOPE TOPE: Basically a non-tope. May be the result of removal during road rework, a misplaced sign or a sign to intimidate a driver into slowing down.

5. POKE TOPE: (O.K., so it doesn’t exactly rhyme): Could be your worst nightmare as it contains stubs of rebar sticking out just waiting to put a hole in your tire.

6. DOPE TOPE: An inverted, not protruding, tope otherwise known as a ditch.

7. JOKE TOPE: Call ‘vibradores’ by the Mexicans - think of a washboard, six to ten feet in length, made of concrete, and you get to drive the whole length.

8. POKE LOPE DOPE TOPE: Yep, this one puts the others to shame what with its protruding rebar, ruts, and ridges. Try the shoulder or the other lane to avoid these monsters.

9. GROPE TOPE: Usually found without warning signs at the bottom of a steep downhill run which leads into a hairpin turn. A real ‘white knuckle’ event.

10. SLOPE TOPE: Any tope at a bias to the flow of traffic. Normally at a 20 degree angle so only one tire goes up and over at a time. As the first tire comes off the tope the second one starts up causing severe rolling action. Note: a slope dope tope is a ditch at an angle; got it?

11. ROPE TOPE: Also known as a TEMPE (temporary) TOPE or a PORT-A-TOPE: Usually a rope about 2 ½ inches in diameter, they are usually laid across the road by military folks. As the tire starts up the rope, the rope begins to roll under the vehicle and as the tire passes over the top of the rope the rope unwinds helping to catapult the car off the rope.

12. MOPE TOPE: Any tope that causes damage to your vehicle.

13. DOBLE TOPE: A double set of any of the above topes.

14. DOLLY PARTON TOPE: Cantaloupe size half domes made of steel, usually painted yellow until the paint wears off (third day). So it doesn’t rhyme, you get the idea, right?

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