17 September 2011
One thing I appreciate so much about having studied language in France is that I don’t feel as though I am in a COMPLETELY foreign place. The road system and driving rules don’t seem that strange . . . I know what the products in the shops are . . . I’m familiar with many of the name-brands.
I’ve been trying to observe some traffic rules. So far, like in France, whomever is on your right side has the right-of-way. However, I also think He Who Has the Loudest Horn Goes First. Round-abouts are tricky enough when driving, imagine trying to cross one on foot. This morning I went to Le Petit Marché with my new favorite Kiwi. As we made our way from the car to the market, we found ourselves at the corner of a very busy traffic circle needing to get to the other side. I looked both ways and started to cross . . . do you remember that old computer game, Frogger? It was a lot like that, but worse.
It seems that here in Niamey the primary roads are all paved, but the secondary ones are dirt . . . or in many cases, sand. Driving in sand is much like driving in snow. It’s easy to feel a ‘skidding’ or ‘swerving’ of the back tires when turning . . . and it’s VERY easy to get stuck. Which is what happened to us this morning. Thankfully there were three little (and I mean little . . . about 8 years old-ish) boys begging on the street corner. When they saw the car come to a stop, they jumped at the occasion to ask for money. We asked them to push. When that didn’t work, I hopped out and joined them, first in the front as L. put the car in reverse, then in the back . . . after just a few seconds we found ourselves running behind the pick-up laughing. We paid the boys a few hundred CFA and were on our way again. I can only imagine what they thought of us silly western women.
The afternoon was a bit less adventure-ish. We drove quite aways to the other side of town to the Wadata Artisan Center where my furniture will be custom made. It had been suggested that I bring pictures with dimensions of what I would like to have made, so I went shopping on Ikea.com as I figured it would all be simple designs . . . pretty hard to get wrong. So we went in, sat down, looked at some of their photos of previously made furniture, then pulled out my own. We were there half-an-hour tops. It would be no problem to have them all made . . . even a futon! We just have to go back tomorrow to negotiate price and pick out some chairs for the kitchen table!