Monday, June 29, 2009

A driving lesson from my Ethiopian son

Contrary to popular belief, the traffic in Ethiopia (specifically the capital city of Addis Ababba) does NOT look like this serene picture (below).


It looks like THIS ... with cars and taxis (and all manner of goat herds and donkeys) converging at each intersection and somehow navigating the chaos. When we were travelling in Ethiopia, I caught myself repeatedly gasping as we swerved to avoid another car, or a goat, or a pedestrian. At one point, we actually bumped someone, and our driver and the pedestrian exchanged a few heated words and then everyone was on their way again. As the saying goes in Ethiopia ... "If you can drive here, you can drive anywhere!"



So a few days ago, I'm driving with a few of the kids and we briefly get stuck in traffic. Traffic was really backed up for several blocks around the traffic lights, and I was at a stop sign trying to turn left, against the traffic. I ended up sitting through about 3 stop lights before we were able to merge into traffic.

After waiting for awhile, Jayden started looking around and trying to figure out why we were stopped. "Mom, why no go?" he asked. So I pointed to the stop sign and explained what it meant. Then I pointed down the street to the traffic lights and explained what the red lights and green lights mean. He took it all in, and then with a little exasperation in his voice, he asked again, "Mom, why you no go?"

What the heck, I had just gone through the whole stop sign, red light, green light explanation. With a sigh, I started to explain it again. Instead, he pointed to the lane of oncoming traffic, which was empty for a moment because the light had not changed. "Why you no go there!?" he asked. "Or there?" he asked pointing to the median and the gravel along the side of the road.

"In Ethiopia," he explained to me, "you just go."

Kids ... they make it sound so easy!

1 comment:

Erica said...

Okay, I will admit that I have read this post several different times because it just cracks me up! Thank you for sharing!