Saturday, July 26, 2008

Road Signs

Recently we made a road trip from our town, which is located atop a 4,500 foot plateau, to the capital city of Abuja. The view during rainy season is breathtaking. The rolling horizon stretches for miles, the green hills growing darker until they meet the huge African sky. The hills are pocked with grazing cattle, hosting endless fields of towering corn stalks, sugar cane, and the elephant ears formed by the casava tuber. Driving through village after remote village composed of mud huts and thatched rooves, there are no big cities along the 4 hour journey. No tall buildings, no restrooms, no fast food places to grab a burger. No Discount Tire in case of a flat, no WalMart if the kids forget a toothbrush. No gaudy bill boards boasting a national obsession with aquistion. But there ARE a few Road Signs.
The two-lane road winding down the plateau is treacherous to say the least. Mini-bus taxis overstuffed with travellers speed down the sharp inclines. Ancient lorries belch exhaust as they struggle to climb the narrow road. A few modern sedans and SUV's race around these lorries, unwilling to wait in the long line that crawls behind the smokey, sputtering contraptions. Every corner of the road is a blind curve with no shoulder, and the carcasses of victim vehicles are a frank reminder to the wary that patience is a lifesaving virtue. Every kilometer is marked with past wreckage, stripped of anything valuable, but left as a planter for weeds. If the old cars were not enough of an eye-opener, the government has posted many road signs, reminding the travellers to drive carefully. Although there is nothing jocular about the frequent loss of life on the highway, I am very amused by the bluntness with which the people are cautioned. Here are a few:
"Have a friendly day and don't die."
"Many have died on these bends. Only the living can celebrate."
"You have been warned: Slow your driver down before he kills you."
In Texas, the law states that a defensive driving course may be taken once a year to exsponge a moving violation from a driver's record. I used to be ashamed to admit that I took Defensive Driving every year of my life from the time I received my license at 16 until moving to Nigeria in 2004. Now I know that nothing is ever wasted, and that the Omniscient God was preparing me for a life in the land of offensive driving!


Anonymous said...

Kel, That is FUNNY! All of those years of Defensive Driving are paying off. God has a sense of humor;) Love ya, :D

B&M African Adventure said...

Keep writing I love your stories... Bill