April 15, 2006

Anatomy of a Street

Examine if you will, exhibit A: a busy city street in Kinshasa.

Distinctive features:
(1) sporadic electricity. Look towards to middle of the picture. You will see three lamp posts. Two are actually lit! They have never been lit in my whole year of being here. The middle post has unfortunately had a little accident and is folded over. Who knows when it will be fixed.
(2) Informal bus stops. On each side of the roads, you will notice a large strip of brown sand. This is where masses and masses of people congregate each evening to wait for the "taxis". As a driver, you have to be VERY careful when you negociate around stopped taxis, stalled cars and ferocious SUVs, and not hit a person.
(3) Green! Despite this being a hot city, the rainy season and intense moisture keeps it green. There are few green spaces in Kinshasa, nevertheless, little patches of grass and tall trees are some much more enjoyable that a sandbank (as Dakar was).
(4) Sewers. At the bottom of the picture, you can spot a little man in a blue shirt walking right over the sewers. These are some of the rare sewers that are covered by concrete slats. Good thing too, or else my wheels would get caught in the pits everytime I tried to leave my building.
(4) Cars going way too fast. Self-explanatory (please note the little man in the middle of the street, running for his life).
(5) Wall with barbed wire. It's sad, but pretty much every building/house has barbed wire around it. I should also add that during work hours, traffic there is bumper to bumper, even on Saturday.
(6) Puddle as seen in the top, right corner of the picture. Despite the massive sewers, water still manages to puddle is inconvenient places, due to sewage gunk.

Voila! All in all, not a bad place at all. There's just way too much traffic.


Victoria said...

Madagascar has the same sewer system... I always get pretty nervous when I have to walk over those!
Kinshasa looks pretty. I wish you'd include more photos, so I could picture where you live! (Not that I'm one to speak, mind you)

giovanni.cristofano@tin.it said...

well done Congo Attorney . Happy Easter. Raining here on the Italian Riviera. strudel

Anonymous said...

That's a cool picture, you really get the impression of fast-moving cars!

TheMalau said...

The evidence is compelling!!! I have thought some of the same things about downtown too...

Now if we talk about Kalanu, or Barumbu, that's another story.

Elizabeth said...

Hm. It's a great picture, but frankly, I don't see any cars. At least, not compared to Kabul. In fact, it looks totally empty compared to Kabul, in which every last street usually has a traffic jam on it for six hours out of the day (I mean- traffic STOPPED).