Out the gates and onto the roads the first thing you notice are the young trees. There is not much shade, if any, on some streets in this town. Consequently, the kids and I spend a lot of time in the sun, much to my detriment. I try to remember the sunscreen but most often it is forgotten at the bottom of my backpack. Our family is probably the only one that uses it and so I seem to have gotten out of the habit of slathering it on. Fortunately for us, the sun is not very hot these days, as it is the Fall, but I wonder what it would be like during the long summer days. I will have to remember to use it then.
The other thing you notice is the sidewalk and crosswalk situation: some roads have them and some do not. More often than not the kids and I find ourselves walking amidst the cars and praying that we do not get run over. I make that choice at times because I find it easier to push the stroller on the paved street than having to maneuver it up the high sidewalk and down again every time I need to cross the street or dodge a narrow passing.
There are some sidewalks that magically disappear too; now you see it, now you don't. So I avoid the disappointment and just take the road. I honestly do not think that the urban planner had mothers with strollers in mind when designing the streets around here, but I could be wrong.
The crosswalks are a hit or miss and so again, the kids and I find ourselves pretending to be cars and making our way through them crossing sideways in the middle of the street to get to where we are going.
Our walk is rather short and usually uneventful. Some days we are accompanied by the stray dog, others we find ourselves alone: few people are seen around during the day and the roads are not totally busy with cars. We pass a corner amass with men; these are the day laborers waiting to be picked up.
Many times we meet up with other moms in the community and walk. Whether anyone needs something at the marché or not we walk; there is little else to do. Usually, however, someone is shopping for something. Sometimes we are offered a ride from a faculty member going to work late, we decline; it is the journey we are after not the destination.
Along the way there are a few construction sites. Some people like it here so much that they are building their own houses from scratch. The builders use mortar, concrete blocks and bricks here; there are no prefabricated wooden material and sheet rock. They use tree trunks to hold the ceilings up and orange tubes for electrical wirings. It will be rather interesting to watch these houses grow from the ground up.
There is also trash and animal waste along the way. Sheep, horse and donkey leftovers can be seen on any given day. Entire bags of trash or just empty bottles, napkins, yogurt containers are strewn here and there. As you approach the marché, you can even spot a skull or a skeleton or two.
We are now halfway to our destination. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes to get where we are going. If I am "hustling" I can do it in 10 minutes but I am usually out for leisure. At this point in the walk, JR consistently asks about a landmark that seems to be consistently closed: a fair-type playground. You have to pay to enter the grounds but the gate is never staffed and the hours are not listed so it is difficult to try and plan an outing there.
A few steps past the playground JR yanks me out of my daze to point to something far up on top. "Animals," she points. I am not sure what she is talking about. Look up, though, and see what we see.
When you are done trying to figure out why someone would perch wild animals on top of a hill, look to the other side of the street and marvel at the carvings on the wall. I wonder how these came about but admire the work it took to leave a mark there.
We are now approaching our destination. Over the curb, down a step, and around the corner. Look for the ramp and stride inside. We are here. Next we will take a look inside.