Transportation in Senegal is incredibly complicated and incredibly interesting. As we were careening down the road yesterday at a high speed (a road with no lines nonetheless), with a tire that badly needed repair, in a car that someone else graciously borrowed us for the week (with absolutely no seat belts), I was thinking about how many of my students would have loved the experience! :) Everyone here is so wonderful to give us rides in borrowed cars and motorbikes; we could not be more grateful. Today, I rode 15 miles on the back of a motorbike to my hotel after we were finished for the day at school; hands down one of the best experiences yet in Senegal. To see the African countryside so intimately, the people so in their element, the enormous baobab trees dotting the landscape, the sheep crossing the road with no care in the world.......so amazing!!!
Although these situations may frighten some of you (my mom included) it simply is part of life in Senegal. Most people cannot afford a car so motorbikes, taxis, buses (that people hang off of), and carts pulled by horses or donkeys are common sites on the streets (and really fun to ride on!). The roads lack maintenance and often time have potholes that are so big traffic stops so the car can drive in the other lane to avoid them (and you thought the potholes in Grand Rapids were bad!). Apparently the government does not allocate many funds to maintain the roads and even if they do, the money rarely reaches the communities to carry out the repairs. The villages and cities are almost totally dark at night because of the same challenge; my host teacher pointed out that the area where the government officials live is lit up by street lights and the rest of the areas exist in darkness after the sun goes down.
For travel on the road, no one has the right away except for when you beep your horn for pedestrians and others to move. These modes of travel look challenging to outsiders like Americans but people and vehicles move very fluidly amidst the chaos. And let me also mention quickly, that along with all of the above mentioned frenzy animals are also crossing and walking alongside roads at the same time; goats, sheep, cattle, and chicken are common sites (the baby goats are SO CUTE!!).
This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State blog. The views and information presented are the grantee’s own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State.