A walk to work-1

Sometimes I walk to the rehab center from my hotel, when the traffic jams are so bad that it would take forever for my ICRC colleagues to pick me up.

The early morning traffic jams are usually created by the morgue which is between my hotel and the hospital. In a big city, and with only one morgue, there are lots of deaths and each death requires people to pay their respects. If it is a high level person, then people from the presidency come to pay their respects. Now the traffic is snarled for miles up the road.

I walk out of the hotel, across the poorly maintained grounds of the Palais des Congres (the first ladies are gone and cleaning stops instantly it seems) and then cross several side roads leading to a roundabout. I pass the Tunisian International University which must be on summer recess because I never see any students there.

I try to walk on the newly laid sidewalk but the tiles slanted sideways and it hurts my ankle, and so I return to the cement blocks that cover the gutter. I do look for cracks as falling into the gutter would be very bad; it is filled with a smelly dark brown goo.

The fancy tiles are laid for the president, and only on this stretch of the road that connects the president’s home and the airport. It is more of a decoration of the side of the road than a true sidewalk.

The road is swept, I am told, during the night by poor women who get paid 1000 CFA (less than 2 dollars) for delivering the road clean and neatly swept just in case the president passes by. This way he can proudly say that his country is truly joining the ranks of the richer countries – what with those pretty sidewalks.

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