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Friday, January 20, 2012

Driving in Baku (from a passenger's standpoint)

While researching Baku, I kept stumbling on the same comment: "The traffic here is horrible."  Every time I read it, I laughed.  I lived in Cairo.  Twenty-two million people, and lots and lots of cars with drivers that follow the third-world driving principle - if it is physically possible, it is legally possible.

Then my sponsor took me to her house, the embassy, and the grocery store one day.  She picked me up at two, and we got home at five.  The embassy is only three and a half miles from our house, she lives about halfway in between, and we didn't spend much time at the grocery store, which was also close to her house.

This past week we had a Relief Society activity, which started at 7:30.  When the president told me about the time, she said that with traffic, everyone usually got there in time to start around eight.  I rode with my neighbor, and we left at 6:45 to pick up another sister who lived three miles away.  By the time we picked her up, got scraped by another car in a turning circle, and made it to the same neighborhood my sponsor lives in, it was actually past eight.

I have been at a light and watched as two lanes turn into four, or five and leave the opposite flow of traffic barely enough room to squeeze by.  Random holes are dug without much warning.  Roads are closed, causing snarls that take half an hour to get through.  We drove down the wrong side of a divided road because the other side was closed, and witnessed a real live game of chicken.  When the snarls in intersections get bad enough, the drivers get out of their cars and start directing traffic and telling people where to go in order to unsnarl everything.

Our car gets here in a little over a month.  I'm already excited to join the fun.


PaulaJean said...

Wow, Baku makes Bogotá traffic look absolutely serene! People stop at lights, stay in their lanes (more or less)and generally follow the rules. Driving in Baku sounds really fun!

UnkaDave said...

Your mother has a weird perception of "really fun." On the other hand, at least here, the traffic eventually moves, and the speed of advancement at many times can best be described as "exhilarating" (or terrifying).