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Back in Africa, Part 9 – “Traffic Hell”

Usually I am up by 6 am (I know my co-workers at SAP Business Objects won’t believe this), downstairs for breakfast by 6:30 am, in transit by 7:15 am, and arrive at the class by 7:45 am. My daily commute is chaotic and stressful because I have to travel through the downtown core to get to the site. Competing with all the other cars, bicycles, motorcycles, large and small buses, and pedestrians for the congested roadways is a daily adventure. I marvel not only at the ability of drivers to create four lanes of weaving traffic out of two lanes, but also the ability of pedestrians not to get run over. Signal lights are routinely ignored as cars barge their way, inch by inch, into lanes. If one were to obey the traffic signs and signals, you would not be able to move as other vehicles and pedestrians would get ahead of you. As we stall in the backlogged streets, the black exhaust from large diesel buses spew into the air and into our lungs. I still have not quite been able to complete one commute without closing my eyes, as we come within mere inches of hitting another car or pedestrian. Pedestrians in particular cross at any point on any street and dodge lanes of traffic by running across one lane, pausing, and then running across another lane. While I dread this daily kaleidoscope of near death experiences, the evidence is there to indicate that “it works”. I just need to have more faith in it. Still, I am very cautious when I cross a street, even to the point of looking right, left, diagonal, up, down, forward, and backwards on a one-way street. It seems I cannot tell where a vehicle may be coming from.

My best friend emailed me this link to a news story about the traffic in Nairobi:

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