Monday, November 15, 2010

Cameroon: Crossing the Street

Cars have the right of way here and it’s no surprise. They’re bigger, heavier and traveling way faster than you are. Face it: in a fight between you and a car, you’re totally fucked.

I tried my best to avoid crossing the street but there came a time when where I needed to be was on the other side of a line of angry vehicles. Danger be damned. I was getting to that cookie shop. 

Taking my cue from the locals, I darted in front of two stopped cars. They seemed to be lined up in front of some invisible or implied red light. In-between cars two and three the imaginary light turned green and that’s how I found myself trapped in the middle of an intersection, dodging death and feeling more than a little like Frogger. I never believed this sign until I was in it, I mean, what kind of person would actually plow down a pedestrian?

Amazingly, an SUV aimed itself directly at me. I was about to become that stick figure: arms flailing, blood starburst explosion at the contact point. Do I dive under? Leap the hood ninja style? Pull a Gandalf? I opted for choice three and turned to face the maniac driver, scowling my best shall-not-pass face. But he kept coming; I lacked the power. At the last moment, I sucked my stomach in and turned sideways allowing the SUV to barrel recklessly through the space I had just been standing in. Until now, I always thought the 10 points game was just for kicks. Here, they’re playing to win.

Caution! Crossing is prohibited. And we really mean it.

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