Thursday, April 28, 2011

To get to the other side

The driver who picks us up every morning is lovely. He struggles with reading and writing so whoever sits in the front seat fills out the vehicle log for him. He's a very cautious driver, which is something to be cherished, but most of the time he's a little too cautious; almost coming to a complete stop to go over a little bump in the road. This is a bit of a problem. When we head out of our little compound onto a dirt road, there's quite a steep step up onto the bitumen main road. Normally that wouldn't be a problem for a big old four wheel drive, but it is here. You see, it's a four lane road. We need to cross two lanes to get to the other side. There are no traffic lights. There are no stop signs. It's a matter of pulling out when there's a bit of a gap - people will stop. So for our dear driver, who seems to be a bit hesitant about going over bumps, the step up to the road is a tough one, particularly when as soon as you've made it over the bump you're in a lane of traffic. The past couple of days a lovely bus driver (I couldn't say whether it was the same guy or the same bus) has stopped for us, waving his hand out the window to signal the other lane to stop. That's very nice, we can at least get to the (almost) middle of the road. But that's when the next challenge arises. Our dear driver won't put his foot down and get into traffic. So we sit, waiting, in the middle of the four lane road, blocking two lanes of traffic while he waits for a gap big enough, or someone takes pity on us, flicks on their hazard lights and in we go.

It's an adventure, the 10-15 minute drive. We pass yellow taxis packed with women dressed in bright colours, pass men in ties waggling their hands to hail the taxi, pass children in brightly coloured school uniforms holding hands on their way to school. I watch with nervous anticipation as pedestrians dart out in front of cars. Two days ago we saw a man get hit by a car. By the time we were level with where the accident had happened he was standing up, brushing himself off and looking for the shoe he'd lost. It was a very lucky escape. We pass some great billboards and signs, telling us to "pay taxes to develop Mama Liberia", and a church which demands that we "win the lost at all costs." At 7:30 this morning the temperature gauge in the car said it was 33 degrees outside and I internally urged the driver to go faster to get a breeze come through the window; a particularly important luxury when I'm in the sideways facing seats in the very back.

When we pull off the main road back onto the dirt we get back to the jerky braking of our driver as he goes over the bumps. I look into the houses and see mothers hurrying their children out the door, chickens pecking in the grass, and a yard full of broken down cars - one that has been cut in half and is standing on its nose. When we pull up to the big green gates at the office and beep the horn we wait for the guards to come out to check who it is. More little children walk past and wave and smile.

It's an adventure, the 10-15 minute drive.

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