Driving in Dar
Driving in Dar reminds us of when we were teenagers learning to drive, except this time on the “wrong” side of the road. Matt and I continue to use the term “left hand turn” to indicate that we are crossing traffic, even though, technically, we are making a right. I knew exactly what he meant when, as he was turning left, he asked if he could make a “right on red.” The answer? Yes! Only one rule applies here and that is the bigger (and junkier) car has the right of way. As you can imagine, this encourages all kinds of interesting vehicular maneuvers.
A good portion of our driving excitement derives from what ex-pats call “the suicide lane.” The suicide lane is the middle lane of a 3-lane, 2-way road. In the US, you might use this as a left-turn lane, but in Dar, this is the passing lane. Anyone can use it at any time, traveling in any direction. If you see a car coming toward you in the same lane, you quickly judge how big your car is in relation to theirs. The smaller car (or nicer car) merges off. It’s like a dual (Don’t worry mom, I don’t use this lane, although Matt might).
My favorite thing about driving in Dar is the spectacle that unfolds along the street. You have the seemingly impromptu entrepreneurs who set up shop alongside the road. They operate just like the McDonald’s drive thru, selling all the things you’d expect: newspapers, fruit, bouquets. You also have the Sonic types (although unfortunately without the roller skates) who approach your window while you’re at the stop light. Unlike Sonic, the products they sell are highly entertaining unto themselves.
Below is a sample of what is for sale in the medians of Dar. I hope to keep a running list.
- a stuffed Tigger (i think), along with numerous other stuffed animals
- blue jeans (in every size, stacked 2′ tall and carried on a man’s head)
- light up toys (sold only at night…think Barnum and Bailey)
- cowboy hats
- coat racks
- chef hats and aprons
- life preservers
- satellite dishes and antennas
- pillows (thankfully still in the plastic wrapping)
- guinea pigs
- puppies (yes, puppies)
Despite my efforts, I really cannot describe what it is like to drive around here. So to help with the visuals, I made a short video (2:40) of some sights I’ve captured from the car. Enjoy!