Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fortaleza Can Be Treacherous

I don't want to appear negative, but there are always some cultural adjustments when living in a new country that can cause pain and injury until you adapt - some major, some really minor.  I'll start with the most minor, though daily, things that can cause us bodily harm if we are not careful.

This is the door to our stairwell.  There's no room to turn the key and push in (won't open unless the key is in and being turned) without us scraping our knuckles, and no way to shut the door without pinching ourselves if we're holding the door handle.  We were a little slow to remember at first, but we haven't had bloody knuckles for a while, and now we just slam the door shut rather than hold on and quietly shut!
Judging by the dings it looks like we aren't
the only ones who have had problems!
That door frame has a sharp edge! 

The door to our apartment is still really tricky for us - there's just no way to comfortably unlock it and open it, as the key hole and knob are inside the frame!
Seems like there are easy solutions to this,
but so far nobody has asked us for them!

Out on the street we have to be careful!  The Omnibuses go so horrifically fast and are so wild.  If we are waiting on a street corner to cross they like to see how close they can get to us.  Or are they trying to hit us?  Hum....  Being ON them can be more dangerous than being on the street by them.  They are so crowded and you can get off only through the front door.  One time Craig was with another missionary and didn't know his stop had come and he had quite the experience crawling over everyone to get out - they stop for about three seconds, so you have to be FAST.  He's also fallen on some poor unsuspecting passengers while standing up and trying to hold on for dear life. (OK, I will admit I have never experienced these first hand, as my dear husband has determined he won't let me on one!  But I hear wild stories!)
Literally - Kings of the Road!

While walking on the sidewalks (such as they are) we have to be on our guard for things besides the Omnibuses.  The scariest are the cars that come bolting out of hidden condo driveways and don't stop or look until they are on the street - with no regard for anyone who may be on the sidewalk.  Since most streets are one-way, once they are on the street they look only towards oncoming traffic, so if we are walking against the traffic it can be super dangerous.

Another sidewalk danger is that when repair work is done it is not well guarded or even marked...
Hope that fallen transformer isn't live - you can't see them, but
repairmen were working to the side - but no warning for that!

A new section of sidewalk... this little brick barrier was
protecting a 4-foot deep hole!!!!!!!
Even with a decent sidewalk, there are some stores or homes that don't support the idea of a sidewalk, so as you are walking along you all of a sudden are forced to walk into the middle of traffic.
Something about "Where the Sidewalk Ends..."

This is a trickier thing to describe, but it can really be potentially dangerous. As I said, most of our streets are one-way.  There are VERY few intersections with cross-walk signs.  If we are walking against the traffic, we can't see if the light is red or has turned yellow until we are half-way into the intersection and then look back.  We do a lot of sprinting.
This is a small intersection - the bigger the scarier!

One fun thing about the one-way streets - the whole one-way thing doesn't apply to motorcycles or to cars if traffic is low, which can be dangerous if you prefer to walk in the street, as opposed to the sidewalks, when you are facing what should be all the oncoming traffic and think you can see all the cars that are coming.

So all this brings me to the sad story of the week.  The gutters that run in the major streets are very deep and the sides are not equal.  Craig was alone and hustling across a very busy intersection and his foot caught in this.  
To see what it is like to be him, cover one eye
as you walk along uneven surfaces and see how
difficult it is to judge heights!

He fell HARD.  He came back to the office very banged and shaken.  He has broken a few ribs and has a sore and swollen hand and arm and is in a lot of pain.  We are VERY grateful, though, that he didn't get hit by a car.  It is a busy intersection with no light, and cars race to get across when there is the tiniest of breaks in the action.  After months of extreme pain (which he didn't want me to talk about) he passed his nasty little kidney stone last Sunday - so in the last four months he had four pain-free days, and now a new brand starts all over again.  I am so sad for him!!!  But as I said - it could have been MUCH worse!!!  As missionaries we really are protected - like the people of Limhi and Alma, the Lord has not taken away our trials, but they are manageable, and we know we are blessed daily.
Not his favorite accessory
Our love to all!

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