Arusha Tanzania 2006 Day 11 - Transportation
Getting around town is a little tricky as while the main road is tarred (asphalt) many of the offshoot roads are not just dirt, but truly rocky and bumpy. It asks a lot of any car, especially the suspension.
We're driving a '93 Mitsubishi Pajero, which is a basic SUV. Petrol (Gas) is about 1200Tsh (Tanzanian Shillings) per liter. In the US, gas is about $2 a gallon. So, doing a little math converting liters to gallons and Tsh to USD...
1 liter = 0.264172051 US gallons so 1 US gallon is 3.7 liters. Coincidentally, then we end up paying about US$3.7 per gallon for gas here if my math is correct. If you consider the average income for car owners, it's easy to see that gas is a significant portion of one's monthly expenses, sometimes out-pacing all other expenses short of rent. We'll be spending about US$300 for gas in two cars to and from Ngorongoro Crater next week.
Sometimes it seems that there are "rules of the road" that apply everywhere but the States. After driving in Europe a few weeks ago, specifically Spain and France, and now driving in Tanzania, I've noticed that folks really use their turn signals to communicate a lot more than Americans typically do. I've been to Africa a number of times, but only driven a bit in RSA (South Africa)
Here's some examples that make sense when you think about them, but aren't obvious to Americans who haven't noticed or asked:
- When it's dark and a car is coming towards you, you turn on your inner turn signal (the one nearest the middle of the road) to let them know where the edge of your car is as they pass.
- When someone wants to pass you, you can turn on your inner turn signal to let them know you don't want them to pass.
- When someone wants to pass you, you can turn on your outer turn signal (the one nearest the curb) to let them know that it's safe for them to pass.
I have yet to see a traffic light or stop sign of any kind. These things are apparently just understood, although there are a number of roundabouts. The traffic situation is very fluid, much like in Asia...there's no lines in Arusha (there are in Dar es Salaam) so folks just push their way around with some deference to pedestrians.
Interesting aside: The main roundabout in the middle of the Arusha town is the "wedding roundabout" and every weekend there's parades of cars going around and around. They'll park (inappropriately) in the middle of the roundabout and run to the middle to take pictures next to the large fountain. I'll try to take photos next weekend.
Also, it took a few hours, but I've managed to get a few photos up at http://www.flickr.com/photos/computerzen, but they aren't correctly tagged or in the right set. The feed for photos is here.