Friday, October 3, 2008

Driving in Bonaire: Crazy Kids, Asses and Playing Chicken

Here is my sweet ride. It has character. It's been around the block a few times and it wasn't a very nice neighborhood. With 4 alternating flat tires (I keep a SCUBA tank in the back in case I need to inflate any of them) and strategically-placed, structurally important bumper stickers but the bumper itself is not long for this world. no real bumper, it has some problems. It's not the most efficient ride which is costly (don't complain about gas prices, they're MUCH higher here....even though 100 miles away they're paying 17 cents a gallon in Venezuela -- Hugo...what a card.) But it's been getting me around with only slight groans of complaint and initial morning stubborness.

Besides my vehicle, there are numerous challenges and dangers to commuting in Bonaire (yet everybody is happy to go without helmets on bikes, scooters and motorcycles and without seatbelts--even US tourists--apparently peer-pressure, commercials, signs and fines work.). Fortunately, the people around here drive on their half of the road, unfortunately, it's the middle half. Trust me I'm beginning to understand and even adopt this mode of driving. Indeed, the sides of the road are full of (more) potholes, kids and asses. Starting with the crazy kids..... ...most of the people that live near the park seem to raise goats, but goats are everywhere on the island. Sure the roads are bad, but these kids have figured out that they're not full of cactuses and other thorny plants, so they run down the middle of the highway, straight at my truck. They also enjoy waiting until I'm just about to pass them to run across the road to join their teenage friends. Kids will be kids. Then there are the asses. They are the "big unknown" on the road (I nearly hit one last night). They are slow, stubborn and don't have any eye shine. They don't seem to be bothered by honking and they wander out on the highway all of the time. There are donkey warning signs, but never where I see donkeys. I also see people stopping in the middle of the road to feed the asses. That's what I want, donkeys that come down to the road MORE often. Great. The least dangerous, but slightly disturbing obstacles on the road are the lizards. Every morning I play chicken with hundreds upon hundreds of
ameiva lizards. As happens so often, testosterone poisoning makes males do stupid things. In the case of these lizards, they often decide to face off with my truck and start head-bobbing at me as I approach. I assume that this is all a show for the females and young males watching safely from the side of the road. There is no way to dodge these guys because they never decide which way to go until you can't see them under the front of your car anymore. Miraculously, they almost always get out of the way (fast glycolytic fibers, eh?) with only an occasional stubborn male failing to make it. If one does get hit, then they become dinner for all of the other lizards around. Then the greedy become dinner for yet more lizards. I had to stop trying to miss the lizards so that I don't go careaning into an ass. Truly, it's like trying to swerve to miss a fly coming at your windshield, it's just not possible.

Photo credits for the pictures of the donkeys, goats and lizards goes to my roomate, Patrick. If you read Dutch, then you can check out his blog and if you'd like to see more of his picture (largely from Washington Park) then check out his web album.

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