I’ve been driving in Dar es Salaam on the left side of the road now for about 1.5 weeks now, and I’m feeling fairly comfortable in the small radius in which our lives take us on a daily basis around here. Sure there are bajaji (a.k.a. tuk-tuks) and motorcycles zipping around on both sides of you… and pedestrians constantly walking in the narrow roadways… and completely unmarked massive speed bumps… and potholes the size of small sheep… But it all feels fairly expected & a manageable level of “big city craziness” thus far.
Which is why I’m slightly embarrassed to admit… do you know what’s been the biggest surprise for me? MULTIPLE PEOPLE have flashed their headlights at me to signal that I am welcome to either a) make a right turn in front of them, or b) turn left & pull into their lane in front of them. Just to make clear what I’m saying: drivers here sometimes voluntarily give me the right of way (in my obnoxiously-huge beast of a Land Rover, nonetheless!) while accruing no benefit of their own.
Sure, for every one of these people, someone else will cut you off, but the fact that it happens at all is worth noting. This has been slightly mindblowing for me coming from several years in Northern Virginia (and previously Mexico City), where letting people merge into your lane is only done under extreme duress, imminent collision, or maybe if you blacked out for a few seconds.
I saw the perfect article tonight in my favorite Arlington, Virginia hyper-local news source (ARLnow) to crystallize the extreme end of the spectrum in DC: Crime Report: Driver Flashes Gun After Getting Cut Off. Lead sentence: “A 52-year-old Arlington man is facing charges after police say he got mad and brandished a gun at a driver who tried to merge into his lane.”
Yep. I probably still have a couple weeks to go before I’m ready to consider letting someone turn right in front of me. 🙂