Monday, December 12, 2011

If You Want Something Done Right...

On Saturday my friend Ricky* and I were invited over for paella at the Spanish Ambassador's house, and we were running late. Desperately late. Absurdly late. Embarrassingly late. Part of the problem was that we had misunderstood the start time for lunch, but the majority of the problem was that traffic was desperately, absurdly, embarrassingly bad. There's a key intersection in Conakry that has been under construction since before I arrived, and traffic pile-ups there are not uncommon. This one was uncommonly bad though - after perhaps 20 minutes of inching forward and then a good 10 minutes of solid standstill Ricky decided to walk up to the intersection and see what was going on.

I stayed in the car, being the driver and all, and noted to my pleasure and surprise that the situation did seem to have gotten better. The traffic was still very thick but seemed to be moving along at a swifter and more constant speed. The reason for the improvement was made clear when I got to the intersection and saw Ricky right in the middle, directing traffic. There he was in his flowered swim shorts and pink shirt, gesturing emphatically with his baseball cap and getting rather pink himself from sunburn and the exertion of giving Guineans spontaneous hands-on instruction in the theory and practice of the zipper merge. I wish I had taken a picture.

Meanwhile, the policemen who were supposedly in charge of managing traffic flows sat comfortably on a concrete barrier on the side of the road and gazed in bemused amusement at the crazy fotĂ© who had decided to take traffic law into his own hands. Once my car made it through Ricky jumped back into the passenger seat, after handshakes (and tips in small bills) all around. I hope they learned something about effective traffic management. We'll consider it our own small contribution towards security sector reform.

*Not his real name, but he picked it out.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Guinea? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Guinea in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and a original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Calle Valencia, 39
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog, where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely