Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Driving Me Crazy

As some of you may know, as a fellow I cannot drive due to liability issues. What you many not know, however, is that it is VERY difficult to get around without a car! I know in a previous post I talked about Angola driving- part of me is glad to not have to worry about crazy minivan taxis, wild motorcyclists, and children who dart across the street without even a look in either direction.

During the week, I get a ride with Tito, my coworker and neighbor. He is just a few yards away, so it is quite convenient- he usually takes me in the morning, at lunch, and at the end of the day. However, if Tito is out in the field, then I am out of luck. I can usually get a ride with another coworker who lives half a mile from me, but he rides a motorcycle home for lunch, so I can’t go with him then. And frankly, a lot of coworkers forget that I can’t drive or assume that someone else is taking me.

Going shopping is also difficult. Unlike other places where I have lived and work, there aren’t really any corner stores- bodegas or pulperias- that I can just run out to and buy something when I need it. (This is another result of the war- the mom and pop places were abandoned due to violence or had to close because there simply wasn’t any food to sell.) Again, I must rely on coworkers to take me to stores. For me, this is difficult for a variety of reasons. Although they have all insisted that I call them whenever I need a ride someplace, I still feel like it is an imposition to ask someone to drop what they are doing (on their days off, because that is the only time we have to go shopping, really) and take me places, especially because it is considered a personal expense that people pay out of their salary. (Not the biggest deal, given that gas is only US $0.50 a gallon here, but still...) Also, it is very difficult to go from completely independent to being completely dependent. It’s frustrating. There are rumors of a mountain bike in one of the warehouses, but it has yet to materialize. They do sell bikes here, but they are ridiculously expensive (around $350) and of horrible quality (no shocks!). Collective taxis- little minivans- are around, but I have been advised against taking them because of safety reasons. (For the usual poor-driver reasons, but also because some ex-pat women- wives of coworkers- have been harassed and robbed on them.) So basically I don’t go a lot of places other than the area where I live. This is okay, because I live in a nice neighborhood, but it does start to feel claustrophobic after a while.

1 comment:

sir_chancelot said...

Hi--I am back from Colorado. I will wrie a real email soon. I think you should take advantage of your co-workers' generousity and ask for rides. It's not like you want them to drive you to another city. Just plan ahead with them where you want to go. Because it sounds like you are not going to get a car, and I would be afriad of motos as well. Scary!