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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Continued Adventures in Driving

I think that I might have to start an entire category of posts: Driving in Baku.  I missed out on driving in Egypt and so I didn't realize how much entertainment driving in a foreign country can provide.  There's always something that blows your mind - like the bus that turns left from the middle lane (in front of you sitting in the left lane while waiting to turn left yourself) during a red light, or the people that try to jump the gun and go straight while you have your left arrow.

And then throw in road construction, and it's an endless source of amusement and by extension, blog posts.  Thank you Azerbiajani drivers for giving me something to write about other than potty training.

This last week I had a Relief Society activity to attend.  Brandon was getting ready for Important Visitors and had to work late.  Naila was kind enough to stay late, and so I decided to take advantage of paying someone else to deal with my children and left early to pick up Brandon's dry cleaning.

The dry cleaners are around about two miles away, so I budgeted in forty minutes to get there, pick up Brandon's suits, and get to a friend's house in time to pick her up for the activity that evening.  The road out of our neighborhood is a two (maybe three?  sometimes one if lots of cars are parked and there are especially large potholes) lane road with a median dividing the road from the other two lanes.  One side has been closed for several weeks for repaving, and so when the cars get to the closed part, they just go through a gap in the median and drive on the other side of the road.  Simple.

So I drove past the construction, watched the rolling-machines have rolling-machine races, and then hit a parking lot.  So I pulled out my i-Pod and put on my book while the clock rolled by, figuring it was better than having to put the children to bed.  I crept down the block, engrossed in my story and made it to the next traffic light (and through road) to find this:

Every time my light turned green, the opposite lane of traffic was trying to get into their correct lane while 
my lane was trying to turn left or right since going forward was obviously not an option.  By this point, I abandoned all hope of getting Brandon's suits and just went to my friend's house - which is only a mile and a half from mine.  And it took forty minutes to get there.

After I picked her up, we continued our merry (and traffic-free) way to another friend's house for our activity.  We came a different way than I was used to and I decided to take a short cut that I had seen someone else take before, which involved turning off a main road into an alleyway that passes for a road in residential neighborhood.

As soon as I turned onto the unpaved alley, I realized I had turned one alley too soon.  I drove to the end and realized that it was not going to connect to the road I needed five feet down the hill and using my four-wheel drive wasn't going to get me over the gas pipe on the side of the hill.  It was time to turn around.  Only turning around wasn't an option - narrow alleyways that have a wall on one side and a gas-pipe laden hill on the other side were never intended to have Honda Pilots turning around in them.  Maybe a Lada but never an SUV.

And so I backed.  All of the way down the alleyway, past the children watching me, over the rocky ruts, and down the hill into oncoming traffic.  As I watched a road patrol BMW drive past me, I was thankful for my red plates so that if I was doing something illegal - and I doubt it was - nobody was going to stop me.  Nobody did.  And we made it to the activity with no more adventures.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Driving in Baku.


Nisa said...

I wonder if it will be this bad in Skopje. Probably not. Hehe!

PaulaJean said...

Hmm. Makes Bogotá traffic look absolutely wimpy!

Bridget said...

Ugh, I can't even imagine. You are so brave. I tend to break down in situations like that.