Monday, September 7, 2009

To the Left, To the Left

We awoke from deep slumber at 6am to the blaring sound of horns chorusing...road switch, road switch! I didnt hear any of the promised church bells ringing ( or herald angels singing for that matter) But nevertheless -its official. Samoa is now driving on the left-hand side of the road. Whether you like it or not. Whether you protested it - or rushed out and started importing cheap cars from NZ. Whether you damaged road signs in some misguided attempt to delay the switch. Or painted the words "KILL TUILAEPA" on a speed hump. Its here.

I have been deliberately neutral on the road switch since its inception. Because Im a 'typical' ignorant housewife too busy with potty training a 2 yr old and unable to process weightier matters of international import? Or because on the scale of scary issues facing families in Samoa in this day and age - what side of the road we drive on ranks pretty low. Paltry stuff like the shocking state of education ( even in the most expensive private school in the nation)...or the fact that teenagers are dishing out suspicious white powder in schools...or the matter of all those pesky kids who keep trying to sell me matches at the McDonalds drivethru..or how about healthcare? How shockingly expensive private hospitals here can charge the earth, dole out HORRIBLE prenatal care, babies can die and nobody gets in trouble for it?

Enough of my soapbox. Back to the roadswitch. There was a carnival atmosphere in town at 6 this morning. Roads were lined with people there to watch and cheer and call out reminders to vehicles...."itu agavale!" Everybody beeping their horns as they drove ceremoniously around the town clock. Barbara Dreaver from TVNZ was there. Hoping for catastrophe and calamity. Sadly she didnt find any (today anyway). She'll probably have to slip someone a few tala so they can crash their RHD car into a banana tree on purpose - just so she can catch it on camera. There was no mass protests. No blocking of roads. Machete wielding matai marching on parliament ( or wherever it is that machete wielding matai march.) Thanks to all the new speed bumps, people are driving slower. (thank goodness). Thanks to all the new road markings, people are driving with more awareness of where and how they should drive. Thanks to all the emphasis on the death and destruction warnings, people are a little freaked out and paying more attention to what theyre doing on the road.

Thats right folks. After months of tension and precipitous anticipation and debate. ( and dire threats of doom and gloom...the sky is falling...the sky is falling) It happened. We woke up. We drove on the left side of the road. And that was it.

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