In N’d, drivers in cars and motorcycles are very generous with their honking. They will honk every few meters, to make a turn, to announce their arrival, to speed up, to slow down, and to do a number of many other things I have not figured out yet; they have their own code. But most of all, they honk to tell others on the road (cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians) to get out of the way…because they are not going to change direction or velocity.
Since it is Sunday, we decided not to bother our gracious “benefactors,” Dr. F or his amazing assistant B. Instead of asking for a driver, we took a taxi to the business section of town, for a bite to eat and to get on the internet. The ride there was normal, with its near misses and close calls. The ride back is a completely different story.
It was four of us, Chris, Gabe, S, and A, an aid organization’s new program manager, who will work out of Abeche; she arrived early in the morning. Our taxi driver was young, and his car was old. Chris negotiated a good price for our ride to the guesthouse, and we all piled into the small Datsun-like auto, Chris getting in the front with another paying customer and the driver. When the car took off in what seemed like the opposite direction of where we should be going, S asked if he knew the way. The driver stopped the car, turned around to look at S, read the address on the card Chris gave him, and said something like “that’s where I’m taking you.”
Well, it wasn’t long before we were sure he had no idea where he was going. We went off-roading into some of the, let’s say, interesting neighborhoods of N’D. S began to be very concerned, or at least she was the only one showing it, since I know that we were all wishing we had bothered Dr. F’s driver.
The young driver stopped and asked for directions, but it did not get any better. We kept getting deeper and deeper into what seemed like a labyrinth of dirt roads, in a large community of mud houses. The car was ready to literally fall apart at each of the considerably large bumps on the road. S’s door would not close, so she had to hold it with one hand and hold on to the front seat with the other.
We finally told Chris to tell the driver to take us back to where he picked us up. We eventually made it back to a paved road and then to the internet cafe, from where we walked to Dr. F’s office. Always smiling B showed up a few minutes later. With B, anything he does for you seems as if you are the one doing him the favor. He’s a good guy, and riding back “home” with him and his driver felt like heaven.