1-800-POT-HOLE and Other Road Stories

Rainy season has taken its toll on the roads here. The potholes are too numerous to count and I’ve been wishing for a hotline number to call like we have in Baltimore during the winter! I think we’re at the point where there are potholes in potholes! A new round-a-bout which was completed at the start of the rainy season is probably the worst place in the city–even the big buses and trucks have a hard time. Since it rains everyday, there is no way to fix these things–other than putting rocks in them to fill up the deeper ones.

I travel to from our main office to our other two offices by contract taxi. My taxi driver is very reliable and a safe driver, but I don’t know how his car keeps running, other than that he is a good mechanic–any maybe some bubble gun and baling wire!. A case in point–I was coming back from Kolfe a couple weeks ago and the car sputtered to a halt. Fortunately we were still in a relatively untravelled area, so we didn’t cause a traffic jam. Ato Alemu got out, opened the hood, and fiddled around with hoses, took the carburetor apart and put it back together, but no luck, took it apart again, took the fuel pump out, took that apart and put it back together, put it back in, and the car started–and the carburetor pieces were thrown in the back seat and off we went!

The 5-7 minute walk from my apartment to the office could be interrupted by a number of things. Just outside the compound where I live, I could buy shoes, purses, socks, underwear, clothes, belts, barrettes, head bands, scrunchies, jewelry, oranges, avocados, car parts, hair care items, get my hair cut, have a dress made or buy fabric, buy bread, coffee, lunch, eggs, milk, juice, vegetables, water, oil, and various other items. Then there are the umpteen beggars, who multiply whenever the Orthodox church up the hill has its monthly saint’s day. And also all the kids who want to greet me and shake my hand. Oh, and I forgot to add that these days I could buy a chicken or a sheep to take home for dinner, especially because Ethiopian New Year is September 11th. It will be 2002 here.

Ato Alemu and his trusty Fiat taxi

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