How unfunny things get funny

Janelle asked me to paint her in a flattering light, but it’s really not a matter of flattering or unflattering. To begin: The streets here are just bananas. Scooters (motos) zoom to and fro, with no actual lanes, stop lights, etc. Also the sidewalks are parking lots for the motos, and there’s no way you can walk down them. You kind of have to walk along the edge of the street. You also have to cross at intersections. This is mostly done by wading into the stream of cars and trying to time it so that you slip between vehicles, which are generally four or five across at different speeds.

Today Janelle and I were crossing a small street when a man with a bicycle taxi stopped us in the middle of the road and asked if we need a ride. No, no, we’re walking, we said, and continued onward. Except that the distraction was too much – a moto riding against traffic knocked Ms. Janelle over. She tumbled gracefully to the road. Other motos swerved around her. I took her by the arm and we staggered to the side of the road. She was unhurt, just bruised and scraped.

This was bad. It could have been much worse.

But after a few drinks, some chocolate cake, and a bit of shoe-shopping, things are much better. She is icing her ankle and hip, alternately. And it is now so, so funny that she got hit by a moto. I am trying to figure out why we find this so funny. Maybe it’s because it is amazing that neither of us got hit by a moto earlier. Maybe it’s because we’re very, very white and very, very inept and of course the local transportation would strike us down. Maybe it’s because it’s been a long night, and moto is a funny word, and she’s ok.

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