Thursday, June 28, 2012

Horn Happy

Ethiopia has one of the highest death rates for car accidents in the world.  But it’s not from cars hitting cars.  The cars in the city don't go very fast.  The roads are too crowded and rocky and muddy.  The death rate comes from cars hitting people more than two-vehicle accidents.

First of all, hardly anyone owns a car.  Here’s why:
(by the way, that 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser with $120,000 car he bought would be about $25,000-30,000 American dollars here in Ethiopia)

Second, there are no working traffic lights.  I have seen traffic lights at two intersections, but they don’t look like they have ever worked.  At those two intersections I have seen a traffic cop a couple times.  Other than that, it’s just your horn that does the driving for you.  Blinkers are non existent and most cars are really old and may or may not run well, but they ALL have working horns.  It’s a necessity. 

In Ethiopia, you honk your horn for the following reasons:

1)      I’m going first at this intersection.

2)      I’m moving over now.

3)      I’m passing you.

4)      I’m going to hit you if you don’t move, people, because I am not slowing down for you.

5)      Look up, person crossing the street, because I am not moving over to let you cross.

6)      You can go first. 

7)      Don’t park there.

8)      Move your car.

9)      I’m backing up.

10)  Since you’re backing up, I want to let you know I’m here so you don’t hit me.

11)  Run, little person crossing the street, because I am about to hit you now!!

12)  Move and let me go, person selling stuff during traffic slow downs, because you are annoying me with your begging.

13)  Move, cows, sheep, or donkeys, or all of the above, so I don’t make you roadkill.

14)  Get out of my way, man wearing sheepskins like a backpack, so you don’t become a person-skin.

15)  Guard, please unlock the gate so I can let these people in their house.

These are just a few of the reasons you honk your horn.  It really is unlimited.  If your mind thinks it, your hand responds by laying on the horn, baby. 

This is our driver, Bahilu.  He has been such a blessing to our family.  He loves kids, is very good and patient with them, and knows some English, so he has translated for us on many occasions.

This is the inside of a taxi we rode in.  There are no seatbelt laws for passengers, only for drivers.  Most cars are so old they don't have working seatbelts.  Taxis cram as many people into their un-airconditioned insides as possible. 
We are going to have to teach the "buckle your seatbelt!!" rule again to our children once we get home.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I love your blog post. It made me miss Ethiopia something awful! Thank you for blessing your life with a beautiful little Ethiopian girl. We have three Ethiopian grandsons and we love them DEARLY. They have changed our lives forever :)