Driving

10 Sep

I’ve spent quite a few hours traveling here in Rwanda and I still have no idea what the ‘rules of the road’ are.  The drivers seem to have their special language involving blinkers, beeps of the horn, and light flashing. It is not uncommon for drivers to wave and call out a greeting to each other. One of the drivers for Peace Corps informed me that when drivers honk at each other it’s usually a greeting. Blinkers do not function in the same capacity here, what’s more is that I’ve yet to figure out exactly how they work which can prove dangerous when I forget while trying to cross the road. I’ve seen vehicles use blinkers/hazard lights when they were the only vehicles on the road as if they were signaling something to the pedestrians.

The speed at which they drive is ridiculous. Imagine Mario Kart but instead of trying to avoid bad guys, it’s oncoming traffic. There are white lines marking lanes on the paved roads but they seem to be more suggestions than rules.  Drivers don’t really think more than fifteen or so feet in front of them. The roads here aren’t great and I’ve seen many a driver punch the gas after passing an obstacle only to have to hit the brakes 20 yards later. I’ve also been in a car playing leap frog with a giant diesel semi. We’d pass it as it crawled uphill only to have it barrel past us minutes later on the downhill. The last time I went to Kamembe I saw a truck and trailer that didn’t make one of the curves and was upside down on the opposite side of the road.

In many places it’s so rural and the roads so terrible that motorcycle taxis are the primary form of transportation. This is the case in my area, there are a few buses that come through at unreliable times but if I don’t plan it well I have a 30 minute moto ride to the nearest taxi station. Motos are also really common in Kigali which I think is even more terrifying than riding on a primitive dirt road as I see them weave in and out of traffic. PCVs are only permitted to take motos if absolutely necessary due to the rural nature of their sites, and forbidden to take them in Kigali except in emergencies.

More terrifying still is the women who take motos with their babies tied in blankets to their back. This is the default method of carrying children and frankly a genius cheap alternative to a baby bjorn. Except for when they’re speeding along on a moto. Thankfully there are surprisingly few traffic accidents (at least that I’ve seen) in Kigali and Rwanda in general.

Between the poor condition of the roads outside of Kigali and the ridiculous volume of traffic in Kigali, I am relieved that PCVs are not allowed to operate vehicles

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One Response to “Driving”

  1. Jill teVelde September 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Sounds like I’d fit right in on my moto! ha ha

    love you..
    yamahamallama 🙂

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