Friday, February 13, 2009

Driving me crazy

There is no way for me to convey the full experience of driving in a city such as this on a blog. I will do what I can. We have often compared the system of roads and rules between here and there as a dance. In the US we drive like a ballet – well-timed, organized, everyone in their spaces. Whereas driving here is more like a Latin lambada – not about rules, but emotion with competition for space and very fluid - every inch counts.

Anyway, it took me a year or more when we first moved to overcome my anxieties and learn to drive a stick-shift on the LEFT side of the road with potholes and no lines within inches of many other drivers. This time around it was shocking to change ‘dances’ so suddenly, but I was trying it out on Sunday mornings (least traffic of the week) again during our third week. This week I did most of the driving as Kent was still exhausted from his travels. On Saturday I missed an unmarked speed bump and took it at almost 30mph. Oops! We were all fine. After that Anna started saying, “Sorry!” every time we went over a speed bump. =)

Then on the way home on an unknown road, there was a small herd of cattle walking on the other side of the road (normal during dry season – where else do you find good green grass but in the city!?) when one sizable black and white one came charging across the road. I was going pretty fast, and hit the gas and swerved to get past her! I narrowly missed a charging heifer on the road – that’s a first! Kent started calling me ‘safari mama’! I guess I’m comfortable driving again.

Then Tues. morning I was late for the inter-mission Women’s Bible study across town (on Esther btw, very good) because the car was being washed when I arrived to pick it up. Anyway, I wasn’t rushing too badly, but wasn’t going to sit in a traffic jam either.

There are so many mini-buses (Toyota vans with 14 passengers that work like a bus system more or less) on the road that we’re very accustomed to someone driving in front of you and suddenly pulling off to the side of the road to pick up or drop off a passenger. Traffic flow continues whenever possible even if it means crossing into the oncoming lane. I was following a small truck closely and he suddenly pulled off to the side of the road. No problem. I’ll just pass him. As I swerved around him I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting a car full of policemen, lights flashing, sirens blaring, in my lane. Oops. I guess that’s why everyone pulled over so suddenly…

Thankfully they were in a hurry to get somewhere and just went around me and everyone continued merrily on their way. It took a few minutes for my heart rate to drop though. Hitting a car full of policemen - another first. So is it places like this that formed the phrase ‘driving me crazy’?


Michelle said...

Go Safari Mama! I'm proud of ya!

The Six of Us said...

Way to go!

I got the same impression of the "dance" illustration in regards to driving and pedestrians.