So, I’ve been driving in Dakar for about 3 months now. I’ve noticed lately, that I can actually feel my cortisol level start to rise as I leave our driveway. If you drive with the assumption that everyone is crazy and rude, it’s not so bad but it does mean that for the whole drive you have to be 100% aware of your surroundings and drive defensively.
In the States, it seems, most people are either courteous or neutral and then you have a minority who are quite rude and aggressive. To know what it’s like to drive here, flip that so that the minority are courteous or neutral and most are rude and aggressive. You should have seen the roads towards the end of Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting) where people have had no food, no alcohol and no sex for a month. I had to drive to a grocery store that is about 15 minutes away and I was surprised I made it home without a scratch, although I had a couple of close calls. The roads were 10 times crazier than they normally are and people were just down right mean and self-centered (I guess who wouldn’t after a month long fasting?). The next week when Ramadan was over, the roads were so much nicer.
People who know me may have a hard time believing this next part, but I’ve found myself becoming rude and aggressive too at times. I just get so tired of the rude drivers that I have moments where I’ll be rude back and not let people cut me off.
They recently painted a whole bunch of pedestrian crossings around where we live. In theory, this seems like a sensible move because there are a lot of pedestrians in this area. However, I don’t think there is any education on what to do as a driver when a pedestrian is waiting to cross at a crosswalk (or standing in it near the curb) much less any enforcement. About a week after I started driving here, I stopped for pedestrians crossing the traffic circle (a popular bus stop) and was rear-ended by some guy who wasn’t paying attention. Since then, I have been leery of stopping for pedestrians and can’t really see the point of installing all of the pedestrian crossings in our area. It’s a nice idea though.