I can’t tell you how many times I have almost gotten run over this year because traffic rules are not the same here as they are in the States. For example, cars do not stop for pedestrians. Also, motor cycles, bikes and ox carts drive on the sides of the rode and between lanes. So you may think that since both lanes of traffic are stopped, you are home free, until you almost get run over by a motor cycles driving between lanes or an ox cart coming down the side of the road. Thus, you need to be careful but the problem is, if you are too careful, you will never cross the road. If you aren’t careful enough you get run over. Both cases being undesirable seeing as how you never actually arrive at your destination. Thus, I have decided that crossing the road here is an art form. There are several strategies I have found that can be put to use in mastering this art.
· When you see an opening in the closest lane, you can cross that lane and then wait between lanes for the other lane to clear as long as there are no motor cycles. If you are good, you can time it so you just pause in between lanes for a second and then cross the second lane.
· You can also wait until there seems to be an opening in both lanes that seems big enough to give you time to cross, though it can be hard to judge how fast the cars are going since there are no speed limits.
· The other option is to wait until the traffic is at a standstill and then cross, this strategy however, involves checking for motorcycles between lanes before just stepping out from around a car.
· If all else fails, the best strategy, and one I use most often, is to cross the road when you see a person near you starting to cross.
I have noticed, that if you do this right (like all the Malagasy people do), you do it smoothly with your dignity intact; as opposed to my halting/desperate attempts. This is an art form that I have been working on all year. Last week, I executed the perfect crossing. I did the ‘ambling carelessly’ alone the side of the road until the nearest lane had an opening that I thought I could make it across and then if I paused just briefly in the middle, there was an opening to cross the next lane. It was a perfect execution. Walking the whole time at a leisurely pace, no fear or desperation written on my face, and the ‘pause’ in between lanes was smooth and almost unnoticeable. At least that’s how it went in my imagination, if nothing else. I found myself glancing around upon arriving on the other side of the street to see if anyone else had noticed how smoothly I had crossed the street, until reminding myself that I am the only one who would notice this mastery of an art form since everyone else, even the little kids, are already highly skilled. Oh well, at least I think have mastered this skill before loosing all nine lives.