We are currently driving to Thies. This year’s drive is much longer because there is a Muslim festival in a city that is past ours. The traffic is backed up for miles and we keep pushing forward.
Watching Mangone (our bus driver) and all of the other drivers navigate and negotiate around each other is amazing. There is a sense of patience that we Americans lack. At one point I joked that I would have probably used three choice words, started screaming, and held the car horn down continuously for minutes. And that would have only been twenty minutes into our drive.
The cars, horse-drawn carts, motorcycles, buses, trucks, and pedestrians all work together in
concert a beautiful dance with each other. Pedestrians weave around cars only coming within inches of getting hit. A driver’s quick wave of the hand out of the window and the car behind immediately lets that vehicle into their lane. Little Talibe kids who are no more than seven-years old stand next to the middle barrier (in between oncoming lanes) and a foot away from massive vehicles hoping to be given money. When traffic comes to a standstill, many vehicles begin driving on the side of the road. People ride on the rear tailboard and on top of the buses in a similar fashion to old-school firefighters. These are a few of the sights we see as we drive to our next stop in Senegal.
Patience rules here first because people are not in the same hurry as we are in the States. There is a cultural difference that creates this ease with jammed-up traffic. I think patience also comes from necessity. Our bus just drove two hours and we did not see a single stop light. Aside from a few roundabouts there are miles of unrestricted, open road that is semi-regulated. Patience and cooperation are essential or there would be a never-ending series of accidents. Whatever the reason, everyone makes it work successfully and I have yet to see an accident.
Here are some pictures from our first few days.