Now that I’ve been a bonafide Dakar driver for three months without having an accident (it’s okay – you can hold your applause), I wanted to share my observations from behind the wheel.
When in doubt, the hierarchy of who has priority goes: 🚚 big trucks, zooming scooters 🏍, skinny cows 🐂, sunglasses vendor who couldn’t see you 🕶, slow guy taking his time to walk across the middle of the road nowhere near an intersection🚶🏽… then you. If it helps you feel better, you do have priority over chickens. 🐓
The right lane is for parking. Or pulling over while you take a bathroom break on the side of the road.
Blinkers are for decorative purposes only. Or if you are on the autoroute they may indicate ‘you can pass me on this side’. Or they may not.
The Senegal version of the thank-you wave is the thumbs-up. 👍🏽
The more bling, the worse the driver. Carpeted dashboards, golden tissue boxes, fuzzy seat covers, Mardi Gras beads and/or prayer beads dangling from the rear view mirror, bumper stickers * galore. Watch out for this guy.
(* When we first moved back to Dakar, ALL the car raapides had one of two stickers on the back: Madonna in a bustier circa 1985 or Osama bin Laden. This week I noticed many have TOUBA décor across the top of their windshield.)
Forget driving with hands at 10 and 2. Just keep a finger on the horn at all times.
Lanes are just suggestions.
Gendarmes with rifles whistling at you to pull over are not.
Not having to pump your own gas is really nice.
Eye contact is a sign of weakness. Just pull on out into the intersection as if you don’t see their vehicle at all.
The horn is not just for alerting other drivers of danger. It’s also used to communicate, “Yoohoodle, neighbor! Passing you on the left. Please don’t run me into the median!”