Friday, July 04, 2008

Another Kosovo Post - Driving

Imagine a place where the roads are either partially paved or unpaved, you're as likely to share it with a troop transport as not, and there are more new drivers than experienced ones. That's Kosovo. The roads in Pristina are probably the best, with the main arteries from Pristina to the other major cities being almost as good. This means they're paved for the most part, probably flood when it rains, and are still under construction.

The other roads, like you can barely see in this picture from the Sharr Mountains, are usually unpaved and full of hairpins. It doesn't stop KFOR and UNMIK Humvees and trucks from patrolling them. Of course, even they have to avoid the numerous local cars with driving school placards on them. About one in ten, maybe more, cars on the road are of that type. It's not just cars people drive on the road, though. Tractors are popular as transportation, and it's not unusual to see horses or mules pulling carts on the road. Not along the road. On it. Taking up the only lane. Obeying road signs is optional. Traffic circles are a free-for-all.

There is a pecking order, though, to the traffic. Everyone makes room for KFOR vehicles. This includes the gendarmes and carabinieri, too. They run around in their own vehicles, but are part of KFOR. Next come the diplomats and their black plates along with UNMIK vehicles. Diplomats barely edge out UNMIK, but UNMIK's vehicles are usually bigger, so... it's a tie. Then come the Kosovar governmental SUV's and black sedans. Lastly come the regular Kosovars, driving everything from brand new BMW's to tractors. It makes for an interesting and strange drive even just to the grocery store.

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