and didn’t know it until Guy told me.
How exactly does that happen you might be asking? Well if you’ve driven in downtown Dakar, you probably have no problem imagining how this might happen.
We were returning from south of Dakar (Nianing) and I missed getting off the ‘highway’ to head towards the airport. That’s the way we headed out-of-town. I stayed on the ‘highway’ and ended up somewhere in what I thought was downtown Dakar. Since there are NEVER road signs anywhere, your guess was probably as close as mine. Roundabouts, speed bumps, police, horse-drawn carts, and those dang motorcycle drivers! In Dakar, a motorcycle seems to give the driver permission to not follow any kind of sensical traffic rules–they drive on the wrong side of the road (sometimes cars do that too), they weave through traffic, both moving and traffic jams with little regard for anything but getting where they are going. It is a death wish on two wheels.
We had made it through several roundabouts and were on what should have been a two lane road.
There were four lanes of traffic, two going in each direction. There were also parked cars, those crazy tata mini-buses, men pushing hand trolleys laden with goods, vendors going car to car to try to sell you things-nuts, phone cards, oranges. Motorcycles were going both directions-trying to stick as close to the ‘center’ of the road as possible. The road was not evenly divided though as the ‘lanes’ flexed left and right depending on how big whatever was that had pulled off the road. Pedestrians were also in the streets as the sidewalks were taken up by little stalls of items for sale.
In these crazy traffic situations, the name of the game for me is 1-don’t try to go very fast, 2-stick to the same lane, 3-try not to get hit, 4-just keep moving until you see anything that looks familiar.
I was very focused on following my first three rules. The kids were in the back with instructions to be on the lookout for anything that looked familiar. Guy was watching for hidden obstacles.
Unfortunately he assumed I saw the taxi driver with the broken down cab who stuck his head out into the road to assess the situation.
Nope. Never saw him. Didn’t know I hit his head with the side mirror (which fortunately folds in). Big. Giant. Oops!
I was busy trying not to hit the three motorcycles coming at us down the middle/our side of the road who were swerving around each other.
I would have apologized. I would have stopped to make sure he was okay. But by the time Guy got the words out, we were a block away with more than 100 people/vehicles between us and there was no going back.
Sorry taxi guy. I really didn’t mean to hit you, especially in the head. Good thing I was only going 2 miles an hour.