On the streets in Ethiopia......

  • Donkeys, goats and sheep meandering through streets (read: crazy traffic) completely unguided.

{We like the donkeys and take every opportunity we get to snap photos of them. Our Ethiopian friends think this is hilarious!}
  • No traffic signals
  • No lanes – traffic is very fluid – if the car in front of you swerves in your lane, you swerve, and the guy on the other side of you swerves too. In the states, we would consider this to be reckless, here it is just how people drive. And they keep smiles on their faces, too.
  • No seat belts
  • No car seats
  • Honking – all the time. For anything and everything. It’s how they communicate.
  • People everywhere. Crossing or walking in streets, within inches of moving cars. I have never seen so many people out and walking around, even late at night.
  • Stop-and-go” has a whole new meaning. I think brakes must wear out very quickly here.
  • At intersections, traffic going perpendicular directions merges in the middle of the intersection. No taking turns, everyone just goes. And somehow everyone makes it through.
  • Yesterday we backed down the street for 3 blocks because the driver missed his turn. Traffic going the right direction continued as if nothing was wrong. The car in front of us followed our lead and also backed down the street to the same turn-in.
  • There are lakes in the middle of roads occasionally. You just follow the car in front of you to make sure you can make it across.
  • The word “road” is used very loosely. I have never seen such rough “roads” as are sometimes in the middle of the highway.
  • The gas costs about the same as in the US – around $4/gallon, even though the average person makes so much less here.
  • Cars turn right from the left-most lane. Directly in front of oncoming traffic. And no one seems to care.   
  • Cars come to a stop in the middle of traffic. Everyone honks and squeezes past – even if it means driving into oncoming traffic.
  • It is illegal to talk on the phone while driving, or to leave a gas cap off. But feel free to drive while intoxicated or while chewing chatt (a mind-altering drug from what we understand). Our driver did this the other day. The other (Ethiopian) passengers laughed and told us how “out of his head” the driver was because of the chatt. It was slightly unnerving.
  • People come up to the windows of stopped vehicles to sell things or to beg.
  • Men pee in the streets. No biggie.
  • The smog is awful. It smells, is terrible to breathe, and leaves you feeling coated in grime.
  • We saw one working traffic light all week. It was a fiasco.
  • We went walking at night after dark. The people aren’t violent, so we weren’t worried, but we got plenty of stares and whistles. We heard the following from people we passed: “Ferengi”(Amharic for “foreigner”), “Mr. White!” “Hey whitey” “Hey, you doin’ OK?” “Come on, come on!” (his only English? Shouted very boisterously.)

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P.S. An update on our Lula-girl: We were able to move her yesterday to the foster home (which is the bottom level of our guest house), so we are able to keep a close eye on her and care for her some ourselves.  She is getting stronger everyday, but is still severely underweight.  The doctor who has been caring for her since birth told us yesterday that she needs to go to the US soon, and he and our lawyer are doing everything they can to make that happen.  Please keep praying!  
{Still can't post photos of their precious faces -- hopefully soon!}