Cris in Ethiopia

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The Language

Posted by Cris on March 29, 2007

We in the Northwest use our car horns fairly conservatively. There are about three words in the Northwestern car-horn vocabulary: the insistent “beeep!!” which translates as, “Get the @@#$ out of my way,” the friendlier “bep bep” of recognition (“Hey, youre on the sidewalk and I know you!”), and the “beeeep beeep!” which says, “Im waiting…”

Here in Addis, my eyes have been opened to a whole new language of car horn use. The taxi drivers are fluent in this language as I would never be. There is the beep saying, “Hey, youre white, do you need a taxi?” as they slow down and pause, causing a bottleneck in the road. This is usually responded to with the good ol’ “get the #%^ out of the way” beep, which they know here too. Then, when youre actually in the taxi, there is the “beep beep” that tells the other driver in front of them that theyll be passing on the left/right/sidewalk. There is a shorter, quicker succession of beeps saying, “watch out pedestrians, small children, and animals- Im not slowing down for anything.”
The best thing about the majority of these it theyre not angry beeps, just communication. It seems the roads are a lot more dangerous here (ok- they are), but at least the drivers know to talk to eachother as theyre accelerating towards stopped traffic while driving between two lanes.
My favorite store/business names here:
Y-Me Bridal Wear
Weeding Town Bridal
G-Unit Pool Hall

Talking to people after our very intimate massages the other day (Amy’s was eye-opening as well) it seems that its the norm here to have more *comprehensive* massages than at home. So we didnt commit a faux pas by not tipping her afterwards.


2 Responses to “The Language”

  1. mom said

    i always have said that you pick up languages fast, but, taxi? maybe if you don’t find a teaching job when you get home you can drive. and about that massage…the last time i viewed your butt up close and personal it wasn’t hairy, but very soft and cute. amy- goodluck on the run, what an undertaking. at least cris will be able to pick you out of the crowd:) (i just now got on your site this week, so have to comment about everything.) love to you both xxxooo

  2. Rob said

    That is funny! You’re observations are spot-on! I was sooooo annoyed in France with them constantly beeping me when I was at a red light and the light just turned green. That was until someone told me that it was a polite beep… “hey the light is green” type of thing. You see, in France, the stoplights are often on the same side of the intersection you stop on and the French often stop way over the limit line so they can see around the cars parked right to the corner. It’s the second guy in line responsibility to tell the first car that the light is green because he can see it!

    Let us know how the run goes and have a joyous Easter!

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