I find that exercise in the Western World is a chore. I don’t love to do it but that chocolate bar that I just consumed (or two or three) tells me it needs to be done. However, in the developing world, exercise, I find, is a battle. The elements that I have to wage war against are in order to maintain my shapely self (ha ha) are both natural (extreme heat, dust, wind) and man-made (crazy taxi drivers and renegade trucks, amongst other things). Oh, and throw in occasional angry livestock (mainly goats) and you get the idea of the chaos that can ensue.
Here in Dakar, I run twice a week on the ocean-front main road called the “Corniche”. Sounds idyllic and occasionally is, but most of the time, I jog with the constant threat of an out-of-control vehicle or horse-drawn cart barreling into me. Yes, horse carts compete with cars for the best spot on the road. And believe me, it happens. Cars, trucks, and carts regularly take out the palm trees that line the street, reducing the once-majestic trees to sorry stumps of charred wood.
Taxi drivers here are the worst. The rule for driving here is that there ARE no rules. And that person on the sidewalk better watch out. Okay, in their defense, there are times that a taxi driver isn’t intentionally trying to run me down. That being said, his car IS. No brakes, steering wheel doesn’t STEER, gas pedal gets stuck, and on and on. And the exhaust coming from these vehicles is enough to send me into a dizzy coughing fit. Nope, no vehicle emission inspections here at all.
I often find myself jogging right behind a dump truck as well. Now, a garbage truck in any country is not pleasant, but in Africa, it’s another level of yuck. No regulations for safety, cleanliness, or order. You get the idea.
Despite all of this, I fight my way against the odds to healthy living every day. Yup, I am the crazy foreign lady doing jumping jacks and lunges on the side of the road. All right, so maybe not every day. Anyone wanna join me?