Friday, November 27, 2009

Sights, Sounds, Smells

We have been here for five busy, exciting, confusing, challenging, good days so far. Wow, what a place! It's hard to know where to begin to describe it. The sights, sounds, and smells are all sooooo foreign to our home countries! There is constant noise here. Sitting here I can hear horns honking non-stop. They're irritating and can actually cause hearing loss after a while (!) but necessary to avoid killing people in the streets. There are no obvious road rules except get there as quickly as you can, as fast as you can, the most aggressive way you can. That can include using lanes that don't exist, of course, and you must never give even an inch to another vehicle. The roads are jam packed with vehicles and there are masses of people walking as well. So horns actually do have their place! I also hear a loudspeaker of a woman's voice down the road that has been going all day every day. I think the content is political but am not exactly sure!

The are a HUGE variety of smells as you walk along the street. You can literally take a few steps and smell kerosene, another few steps and smell spices, a few more steps and smell, um, something not so nice, another few and it's old garbage/rubbish, and in a few more something completely different.

And the sights.....many of them will break your heart. It's a city that used to be the jewel of the British Empire but it hasn't been maintained much since they left and a lot more people have moved to into the city as well. Every night we are filthy just from walking around and breathing the air but there are many children who never get to come inside for a shower and a soft bed. This afternoon I walked by a portion of road about 100 meters long where for some reason there were around 20 babies and children under the age of two with a few parents scattered among them each with their family's portion of broken cement sidewalk staked out. One baby girl was laying there smiling and waving her arms without anyone near her. The odds are that those sweet little children will never know what it's like to live with four walls and a roof.

It's important to have a clear focus as to why you're in the city or the needs would be overwhelming and you'd accomplish nothing.

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