Monday, February 11, 2013

My Head-On Collision With a Moto

It was supposed to be such a simple trip, just a little drive around the corner, a five-minute trip to visit someone's house, no more. I took the keys to the white car, affectionately dubbed "Old Trusty," and headed down the road.

About 1 minute from my destination, I turned off the main road onto a side road. I was going quite slowly--maybe 5 mph, though Old Trusty's dashboard is pretty useless at telling me any information. The spedometer needle hangs motionless at 0. The tachometer needle is stuck all the way over in the red. The odometer stopped clocking somewhere around 190,000.

Suddenly, a moto appeared, zooming around the corner, riding right in the middle of the road, and heading straight for me. I quickly slammed on the brakes and came to a complete stop. A satisfactory thrill came over me of having avoided an accident, which feeling vanished an instant later when he hit me. His reflexes were not as fast, and his speed was too great for him to stop.

Thud! His tire whacked squarely into the middle of my bumper, and the moto and driver collapsed on the road in front of me. The driver slowly arose, limping slightly and holding his crotch, which he tried to disguise by rubbing his leg.

I sat in shocked silence.

I was just in an accident, I thought to myself. What in the world am I supposed to do now?

I was white, I was a woman, I was alone in the vehicle, and I didn't so much as have a phone on me. (Mine died overnight, and I have been having a lot of trouble with my charger, which I plug in but it won't charge.)

What was Haitian protocol? Would I just leave? Would I call the police? How would they determine who was at fault? What did people usually do? The only accident I had seen was one where some driver hit a moto on the highway and kept right on going. I couldn't just do that.

A crowd quickly gathered, and everyone began angrily chattering in Creole, accusing the "blan" (white person) of wrecking this guy's moto and hurting him. The fact that I was white was a bad deal for me. Jackpot! Everyone was thinking. Milk this one for all it's worth.

A car appeared in the road behind me, so someone moved the moto from in front of me, and I pulled over to the side of the road to let that driver pass. Now I was tempted to just drive away. Would that be leaving the scene of an accident? Would I attract an angry crowd of people running after me and throwing stones? What in the world was I supposed to do? One thing I was determined not to do was exit the vehicle. So I just sat there in the car, with the engine running and my windows rolled up, watching the people and waiting to see what would happen.

A bystander came up to the passenger side and motioned me to roll the window down. I did. He said something in Creole and I caught the word "hospital."

"Is he going to the hospital?" I asked.

"Ok, great!" the bystander said. He waved the moto driver to come over, and was about to open the back door of my car for him to get in.

"OH, waaaait a minute," I thought. "They expect ME to take him to the hospital?" I said in broken Creole to the bystander that I needed to use the phone, and I had a friend just down the road. "I'll be right back," I said. I drove off. Was I doing this wrong? What could I do?

Fortunately, the house where I was headed was right down the road, and thankfully, some of the Haitian staff from the creche were there. I explained the situation to one of the guys, and he went to take care of it.

Later, when he came back, I thanked him and asked, "Were they really angry with me?"

"Yes," he said. "The guy said his leg was broken."

(The guy's leg was obviously not broken. He was barely limping.)

"What did you do? How did you handle it?" I asked.

"I gave him 1000 gourdes and sent someone I know to take him to the hospital," he said.

About 2 hours later, I was getting ready to go, so I got in the car and put it in reverse to back out. However, I noticed that the gates were closed. I asked the security guard if he could open the gate. He came up to my window and said a long thing in Creole, the basic gist of which I understood to be, "That guy is sitting outside our gate now, threatening what will happen when this white car comes out."

Oh my word! I thought. Here in Haiti you can't ever go back through the same intersection where you had an accident, because everyone there hates you. I imagined driving back by that fatal spot and having a hundred stones flung at the vehicle that was so obnoxious to them. "White woman hitting one of our Haitian brothers--how dare she?" (Excuse me; he hit me, not the other way around, but there's no way they will ever admit that.)

So the same Haitian guy from our creche came back to take care of him once again. This time the moto driver was demanding from us the cost of fixing the moto. But our Haitian staffer told him to go claim it on his insurance. The guy argued with him for a long time in Creole, none of which I understood. Then our staffer escorted me out of there until I was safely out of reach.

So that was my adventure of the day!

1 comment:

  1. Good grief! What a predicament! SO glad you were that close to someone who could help.


Thank you for commenting! I love comments! You have just made my day! :-)