Wednesday, November 01, 2006

6 kinds of bad road

It’s no longer enough to say “the road is terrible”. For the record, there are several kinds of bad road around here:
> The road with difficult geography. Even where the surface is OK, the road through Nyungwe has an unnerving number of sharp bends and very steep hills. We average 30km/hr on the tarmac. This road is notorious for people being sick in public minibuses.
> The tarmac road with potholes. You can never relax when driving on this, because you have to swerve or slow down at short intervals to avoid suspension-wrecking bumps.
> The stony unpaved road, which shakes your bones and introduces all kinds of creaks and squeaks to the vehicle. One version of this is the rutted road, where the water drains across, giving an effect like driving across corrugated iron sheets.
> The muddy road, where the tyres soon get a thick rim of compressed mud and lose almost all grip. Even with 4-wheel drive, our Toyota pickup slides going downhill and sometimes gets stuck going up.
> The “barely a road”, where there are unexpected slopes, dips and bumps.
> My least favourite – the road with scary wooden bridges.

This is not by way of complaint : I like driving here. Like many other aspects of life, it’s unpredictable. It’s also the most tiring work I do. It’s guaranteed that after a day with more than 3 hours driving, I will be falling asleep well before 10pm.

Finally, some travel advice for anyone planning to drive in Rwanda – the road from Ruhengeri to Gitarama is NOT paved for the whole way as suggested by the map. There is a large gap in the middle where you will find, as we did, at least 3 kinds of bad road.


Nodrog said...

I seem to recall my dad reminiscing about the roads in Kenya (where he was brought up) - the trick being, he claimed, to go fast enough that you 'flew' from the top of one bump to the top of the next without going into the intervening dip. This could have been hyperbole though!

Ian said...

I have tried this technique in a few places, but only with limited success. In the worst cases, the car's suspension seemed to hit some sort of resonant frequency and it felt as if we were bouncing along without actually leaving the ground.

Nodrog said...

Fair enough - it always seemed a bit unlikely to me (that it would be a successful technique) anyway!