Quarterly Quotes III

I completed 3/4 of my project year a couple of weeks ago.  Some of the interesting things I’ve heard between January and April:

  • “They’ve had the visit from Enrique Peñalosa” – A research officer from the African Centre of Excellence for Public and Nonmotorized Transit, on why Cape Town decided to start constructing a Bus Rapid Transit system.  Bogotá’s charismatic former mayor has helped convince cities around the world to implement BRT.
  • “Their niche is the preservation of apartheid spatiality” – South Africa’s Deputy Transport Minister, on the minibus industry, which he described as being “riddled with warlordism.”
  • “South Africa is busy with a transport revolution” – The CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Society of South Africa.  He went on to compare the Gautrain with the first Ford Model T to arrive in Cape Town’s harbor; it has little effect on transportation per se, but it signals a paradigm shift.
  • “I don’t think people realize how much guts you need…Maybe it’s better you don’t know up front” – Johannesburg’s Member of the Mayoral Council for Transportation, on the threats and attacks she faced as a leader of the Rea Vaya BRT project.
  • BRT in Buenos Aires is about “the socialization of public space” – The Minister of Urban Development for the Municipality of Buenos Aires

With under three months of travel remaining, I’m departing Buenos Aires and heading through Patagonia to Santiago de Chile, where I will be settled until the end of June.

Halfway Home

(No, not halfway house)

During my recent month-long radio silence I entered the second half of my year abroad.  While “blog time” still has me back in Nicaragua, I have actually traveled in the last three months through Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Austria, Italy, Tunisia, Dubai, Tanzania, and Zambia before arriving here in Cape Town, South Africa.

I will get caught up soon with stories from all of those places; doing so just was not feasible in Dar es Salaam.  The electricity would go out, on average, every other day.  And when the electricity came back on, there was no guarantee that the proprietors of nearby internet cafes would return to work.  I couldn’t even go snooping around the neighborhood for a wi-fi signal; anyone who needs reliable internet pays for cellular data usage (much more easily obtained than a plan in the US), leaving simple wi-fi users like me in the dark.

I liked marking the first quarter of my trip with a few quotations, and I’ll do the same now to mark the completion of my second quarter.  These quotations can serve as a sort of sneak preview for upcoming posts.

  • “A los arquitectos no les importa nada la ciudad | The city doesn’t mean anything to the architects” – lament by an architect in a meeting of a professional group of architects and urbanists
  • “Panama Viejo, Multicentro, Multiplaza, Paitilla, Panama Viejo!” – shout by me hanging out the door of a bus, listing the bus’s route for potential riders
  • “The big challenge for the world is cities in Africa” – statement by a retired World Bank transport expert
  • “South-south collaboration” – description by the same transport expert of the assistance provided by Colombians to Tanzanians in the design of Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit system
  • “You don’t expect anybody to bring a new daladala [minibus] here because the fare isn’t fair” – consultant for Tanzania’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Development
  • “We must advise each other with my brain’s supreme committee” – subtitle translation for the Swahili in a movie shown on the Dar Express bus between Moshi and Dar es Salaam.

Quarterly Quotes

Today marks the completion of one quarter of my year abroad. Some quotations that have stuck with me in the first part of my travels:

“I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering far more bearable. I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold.” – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, p. 96

“Home is behind, the world ahead, and there are many paths to tread through shadows to the edge of night, until the stars are all alight.” – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, p. 115

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Caroll

“It’s very sad to say that in the past, [the Transport Board of Belize] ruined many bus owners, and today it is doing the same.” – Froylan Gilharry, bus owner in Corozal, Belize

“We end up recycling the trash from the United States.” – Ravei Gilharry, Froylan’s son

“We have a politics of transit of affordability and accessibility…to favor the people with the least means in society.” – Ing. Francisco Alvarado Díaz, General Director of the Managua Transport Regulation Institute

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.” – Lao Tzu

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey, environmental author