Friday, September 11, 2009

Traffic laws and Rain storms

Recently, I have started walking around my neighborhood at night with my host brothers, which has been a nice change of pace. Normally, I just hang out at the house, but visiting neighbors and just dropping in to say hi is pretty much commonplace here, and my family told me I need to go out more! Last night I went to the pharmacy with one host brother, a walk that involved crossing one of the main highways of the city at night, including the median in the middle. Crosswalks don’t exist here, neither do streetlights, or any sort of law indicating right of way. Or, if there is a law, no one seems to take note or follow it. This makes for some crazy drivers; or rather, all Senegalese are crazy drivers. Between the taxi drivers, who all honk at me because I am white so they assume I need a ride, the “cars rapides”, a colorful form of public transportation, and the lack of speed limits, walking the streets of Dakar always keeps you on your toes.

I am also always kept alert by the constant possibility of rain. Right now, it is the rainy season, which lasts until the end of September. We have had some pretty killer thunderstorms- it is almost as if they are happening right outside the house. As I was walking home from class the other day with another student that lives near me, we got caught in a storm, and by the time I got home I was soaked. My host family found it pretty amusing, and my host mother told me that I needed to shower immediately! Before the first clap of thunder, the sky was cloudy but also a shade of deep rose, possibly a sign of the oncoming storm. However, I love the storms. I also love how everything is so green and the flowers are in bloom because of all the rain. It does bring to the forefront another issue of underdevelopment: despite the predictability of rain during the rainy season (who would have guessed?), Dakar is lacking any sort of drainage system. The roads flood, and often an awful stench fills the streets- the smell of overflowing sewage.

Also, for once, I didn’t have rice with dinner last night! Instead, we had a pea-based dish. It was delicious, and the first time since arriving here that dinner has not involved rice. It was a nice change to get a little variety and a little color in my diet. It is impossible to survive here without vitamins.

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