Saturday, 26 June 2010

TIA: Traffic In Africa

"Traffic Jam, noun: a long line of vehicles on a road that cannot move or that can only move very slowly."

That is the definition according to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, my dictionary of choice when I was a University student. However, I feel this definition is somewhat lacking in the details when one applies it to the West African context.

"Traffic Jam, noun: a myriad of vehicles, anything from large trucks to small motorbikes, heading in any random direction without care for consequences. Throw into the mix a number of pedestrians walking around, the mandatory hawker selling his goods, and perhaps a goat or two for good measure, along with a two-lane road quickly transformed into a six-lane congested mess, and you have a recipe for chaos!"

That would be my definition for a traffic jam here in Togo - one of which I experienced earlier today. Now any Mercy Shipper worth their salt knows that Friday is Ultimate Frisbee day. And any friend of mine knows that I'll do anything not to miss a game of Ultimate. But today we were forced to give up our frisbee aspirations.

So it was that we headed out to the field which is usually a short five-minute drive from the ship. An hour and a half later we were about 500 metres from the ship in gridlock traffic full of all sorts of vehicles driving in random directions looking for shortcuts away from the chaos - which, of course, increased the chaos. Traffic jams can be a source of much frustration to driver and passenger alike, but I was blessed in having some close friends with me for the journey, and we had some fun times playing games and keeping up the humour in a stressful situation.

We ended up parking the Land Rover at the local Seaman's Mission and walked back in the gloaming, arriving back at the ship later than had we gone to frisbee, played frisbee, and driven back from said game of frisbee. Back home in peak traffic I'd get frustrated. Here I laugh it off with good friends. It's just another way God is shifting my view of life while I serve here on the Mercy Ship :-)

No comments: