Thursday, July 31, 2008

Driving Lessons

Less than half an hour after we saw the “Heavenbound Funeral Parlour” today, we passed by the scene of this matola accident. Apparently a front tire blew and the driver lost control of the minibus. Fortunately no one was killed—which is a miracle when you consider how flimsy the vans are, the speed at which they are usually driven and how tightly packed the people are inside. The injured had already been taken to a hospital when we stopped.

One of the nurses at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe told me that they treat groups of injured people from road accidents at least two or three times a day.

Before I left the U.S., I had planned to drive a rental car on the next leg of our venture—south to Mulanje and Neno. But after just a few weeks in Malawi I reconsidered and hired a driver instead for the part of the southern swing on paved roads and accepted a lift from Partners in Health for the section on dirt roads.

It wasn’t so much the driving on the left-hand side of the road that dissuaded me. I had done that in Australia. It’s the fact that there is so much to watch out for—the constant stream of people walking, biking, even running along the side of the main highway. And since there is no shoulder, they usually are right on the road until you come up behind them. And like youngsters everywhere, children have the worst tendency to suddenly decide to dart into traffic.

Add to that the cattle, the goats, the chickens and the occasional stray dog—each with its own predilection for suddenly taking a mind to cross the road in front of you. Well, you get the picture.

At any rate, we’re headed south tomorrow. Probably won’t have much luck connecting to the internet. But will keep filing offline and update the blog when time and access allow.


Esther Nakkazi said...

Hi Christine,

You sure are getting to the depths of your research article. I enjoy reading your blog and most of the issues you talk about are similar to what is happening here in Uganda. Keep it up and stay well.


Anonymous said...

Glad you chose to go with the driver and catch a ride with the "Partners." We just drove from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro and saw three large trucks overturned and one passenger car upended.Sobering.

You're doing some great work. I've made your comments on journalism and factchecking assigned reading for our writers here.
Thanks. Keep it up!

Christine Gorman said...

Thanks, Esta. Glad to know you made it back to Uganda safely. How has the transition been?

Christine Gorman said...

Hi Larry,

Yes, malaria and motor accidents are my two biggest worries. But am learning so much--mostly about what I don't know but that's okay too.