Saturday, October 06, 2007

Watch out for the drunk walkers

Today we were almost hit by a drunk walker. Driving in Zambia requires 110% of your attention....all the time. In the US we are used to dealing with other vehicles and drivers, but then you factor in the fact that very few people own a car so you have tons of bicyclists and pedestrians....everywhere. And, it's not like there is a nice little bike lane and nice sidewalks for the pedestrians to walk on. They're right on the road with you. People crossing 4 lane thoroughfares, etc. In the US the bikers ride with the traffic. Here, the bikers ride toward the oncoming traffic. I'm pretty sure it's because if they didn't they know they would be killed. At least if they ride toward the traffic they can swerve off the road if it looks like the car is going to hit them. Then, on top of the bikers and pedestrians and other vehicles you have to add in the mini-buses. I don't know what to say except for that I'm glad they are painted bright blue so that you can try to stay as far away from them as possible. I have yet to ride on one, I honestly think I would pass out if I had to sit in the back seat of one of those things on a day like today which was in the high 90's. The other day my house helper took me to an area of Lusaka called Kamwala. Our "mission" was to buy some material to have some shades made. I warned her that I had never been past the grocery store but she still got in the car with me. It was a hot day. Our air-con is broken so you feel the heat tremendously in the car. I could feel the sweat dripping down my back and I could feel my legs sticking to my skirt. We were stopped at a stoplight and in front of us was a tiny mini bus crammed full of people. There were 4 people sitting across the back row and every row in front of that. These buses are about the size of our Dodge caravan but they have 4 rows crammed into them. I was very thankful to be in my own car.
Today we were passing a pedestrian who literally fell into the road right as we were going by. Thankfully, Steve was 110% focused on driving and was able to swerve to avoid hitting the very drunk gentleman.

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