Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life in Arusha - Really? You have to stop your car there?

Driving in Arusha requires a lot of cojones.  You have to be as bold and aggressive as you are defensive.  The majority of all roads (including the HIGHWAY to Nairobi) are technically one lane in both directions as noted by the dashed line down the middle.  But drivers generally treat the road as their own personal lane/road and don't really regard any other co-habitants, such as cars, people, bicycles and mkokoteni's.  Although we have adapted well to this new style of driving, I never cease to be amazed on a daily basis by some of the manoeuvrings I witness (or even pull myself!).  Usually what it involves is a  mini bus blazing up the center of the road to leap about 100 places in line of traffic.  It doesn't matter that the passage between the two lanes is narrower than the width of a mini bus, they'll find a way through.  In many ways, it's like a game of chicken.  It's simultaneously obnoxious and terrifying.

A particularly irritating manoeuvre is when a vehicle breaks down/gets in a wreck/has a flat tire, they will stop in the exact place the malfunction occurred and impose their personal inconvenience upon all traffic.  Last week while traveling up the bumpy dirt track to my friend's house, a sedan car broke down at a narrow point in the road (a point in which two cars can barely pass at the same point).  I was a couple cars back and thought maybe the car was just going slow so as not to bottom out.  But then what should I see?  The trunk pop open, a red tarp pulled out and very neatly laid under the front of the car (really? you break down so much you have a tarp in your trunk!?).

Since I had to queue up to attempt a passing of this [insert derogatory name calling here], I was able to reach for my camera and snap this (but no time to adjust the white balance, Dad!):

You will note how tight it was for that sedan car on the left.  Try stuffing our big fat 4Runner through there!  And to top it off, the pedestrians don't even move!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, ho ho-- the pleasure of driving our, at certain points, tini-tiny road. I completely sympathize. My favorite aspect of these tricky situations is that the pedestrians look at you like you're the crazy one for wanting them out of the way. They give you a look like "What's the problem here? Is there something you want me to do other than continue to walk in the *same exact* spot I am?" Urgh!