I used to think it was hilarious to see Taiwanese drivers go the wrong way down the sidewalk as a detour to 7-11;
I used to be enraged watching California drivers weave their angry selves through rush hour traffic;
I used to be judgmental of jalopies in Cuba with missing floorboards;
Yesterday I sat in a giant red van with peeling siding and flashing overhead lights and a cracked windshield and laughed myself into an dumbfounded stupor as I watched a school bus [public bus] plow down a one way [two way] street and swerve gracefully just as it seemed to collect us in its path.
The honks are adorable.
“Honk honk” means I AM GOING TO GOING KEEP DRIVING I DON’T CARE IF YOU ARE STILL DRIVING AND IF YOU DON’T LET ME IN I WILL HIT YOU.
“Honk honk honk” means I AM GOING TO KEEP DRIVING EVEN IF YOU’RE WALKING AND EVEN IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN AND EVEN IF YOU’RE OLD.
If there is no honk, you can generally assume someone is creeping up beside you, creating an improvised lane on the left, on the right – who cares? Sitting at the exhaust filled stoplights, men slide between the “lanes” selling plastic bags of water. Genius, considering it’s warm near the equator. Who knew?
This was in the city, in Tegucigalpa, the capital. (And it wasn’t easy or quick.) Outside the city, up and up a surprisingly well paved highway we saw the city disappear into the valley, surrounded by stack after stack of tin/concrete shacks, favela-esque. We stopped for shopping in the nearest village and I experienced the anxiety of the ditches: a foot wide, two deep, the perfect size for tires to die, flanking both sides of the unpaved street. Who thinks of something so sadistic, or grimy? (They are lined with garbage and green water.) Then we hit the mountain road.
The mountain road is not a road. It isn’t even really a trail. It is rock that somehow doesn’t have trees on it that somehow leads to villages that no one should really live in because it makes no sense to live somewhere with no road. But there are people, and as we drove we stopped and asked if anyone needed a ride: it’s the neighborly thing to do. (No takers yet.)
This van is a clunker. This is a road that should only be driven by no one. But we did, bumping like a covered wagon for over an hour, sometimes plunging into creeks and small rivers that made me put my head between my legs, imagining when we were going to have to get out and push. The van doesn’t have seatbelts. And the five of us just laughed, not even nervously after the honk honk fiasco, because it worked.
Don’t even ask me yet how any of this works.