Boston, New York and Cotonou

What do they have different in common?  Yes, I meant to say that.

I grew up, and learned to cross the street in New York .  In New York, when you want to cross a busy street, you stare at the oncoming driver and give them a look that says “If you hit me, I know a really good lawyer and oh, how you’ll regret it!” and they slow down or stop to let you pass.  A few years back I tried that in Boston, and was told it didn’t work there.  In Boston, what you need to do is act like you don’t see the oncoming cars so they think you’re crazy, oblivious or both, so they’ll slow down and stop to let you pass.

Which brings us to Cotonou.  Is it more like New York or Boston?  I’ve decided Boston.  It seems the pedestrians (and for that matter the moto drivers) here just walk or stand anywhere they want, and assume cars won’t hit them.  With my New York instincts, I’m afraid one day I’ll hit one of the Cotonou Bostonians.

To stay on the topic of driving and Cotonou, I’ve mentioned (several times) before that motos here seem to think it’s okay to drive the wrong way down divided highways or around traffic circles.  I’ve become more or less accustomed to it, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve seen two new variations.

The first is the first car I’ve seen drive the wrong way up the wrong side of the road.  Let me be clear.  This is not someone who turned the wrong way by mistake.  They just wanted to avoid having to drive a thousand feet out of their way to make a U-turn (or go around the block) before turning into a driveway.

The second was the woman on the moto who ran a red light from a side street, turned left into the wrong side of of divided highway, then stopped right in front of my car because three other motos passing me on the right already blocked her path.

The tide is turning.  People are still leaving for their next post, but some are starting to arrive as well!  The pace will pick up about the time I come back from training in two weeks.  BTW, I will be taking the flight from Accra nonstop to Dulles.  I don’t know if I’ll do it this way again, it depends on how it goes.

Finally, a friend from A-100 asked if they could post the last paragraph of my July 4th blog on their wall.  Of course!  But that motivated me to make it worth looking at.  Here you go.

1 Comment

Filed under Foreign Service Stuff

One response to “Boston, New York and Cotonou

  1. RE: Benin Road Traffic, from my short experience with it, I decided that it is this extreme version of, Chicken.

    At first, there is no discernable rules just chaos…then I noticed that within the chaos, that there is some sort of patterns. A code of soft beep-beeps (may I? I’m going first.), loud honks (I win! Look out, you idiot!) head nods (OK, its your turn), finger flicks (I haven’t figured out that one). But one would have to be a native (or lived there a long time) to truly understand how it works.

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