I have lived in 8 countries and traveled to even more. One thing that is different between many countries is their roads. Some countries seem to major in roads with pot holes which other major in super highways. Others seem to major in little narrow roads, and other in extremely neat roads. Some countries seem to have crowded roads, and in other places, it is like you are the only person in the universe. I have decided to tell you about what kind of roads I have seen, and it could tell you a bit about the countries.
Many people recognize Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, but in Oklahoma, you can also find bridges out in the country on country highways.
One thing I can say about the U. S. is that their roads are very different from State to State and from country to city. When I was a little girl, I didn’t remember America very well as we traveled around, and my parents always talked about America like it was so much more modern than other countries. However, when we went to Oklahoma, and my Grandmother lived on a dirt road inside of a town, that didn’t seem so modern to me. That small town was in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has modern high ways like other states in America, but they also have a lot of red dirt roads. American highways are wide and spacious. Their city streets are also wide and spacious. There is a lot of country in America, more than almost anywhere I have been, and there are a lot of dirty roads in the country. America is big, broad, and very diverse in many many ways. When I came back from Nigeria, it really hit me how clean and well kept the roads in America are compared to the roads in Africa. When we came back from Romania, I was shocked to find roads in one American city in the north that had 9 lines going one way and 9 going the other all on one road. Not all American roads are that big, but they can get that big in America, and they can be scary to drive on. When I was in New York City, I saw more than huge multi lanes on their roads. After coming back from overseas, I saw cobble stoned streets, and in Marietta Ohio, what has been deemed as the most beautiful city in America, I saw cobble stoned streets lined with cherry blossom trees and huge bridges across the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. I have also crossed the Golden gate bridge in California, and off to one side, there was a mess where there was a lot of mud and wood off the bridge, and people were talking about how polluted it was saying people should clean it up. There are lots of hills in San Francisco like in Seoul, S. Korea, but the streets are broader.
In Nigeria, when we were there, most of the main roads were just small two lane roads where cars when one way or the other, that was most of the main roads. If you go in the neighborhoods, the roads will be made of dirt. There are also some broad highways that are completely made of dirt. I was really surprised when someone told me there was a nice new highway going to our friend’s house in another town, and when we went there, it was a wide dirt road. In Nigeria, they try to fix pot holes in the paved road unsuccessfully. They dump gravel and dirt in the pot holes saying they are fixing them, but when it rains, all that washes out, and there is still a pot hole. If you park your car and wait for someone while they go in the store, be read for beggars to come to your car asking for money.
I loved driving through the country in Romania. They had paved roads with signs that were so well organized that you wouldn’t need a GPS (Navigation) unit in your car. Just follow the signs. Most of their roads are just two lane paved roads going both directions. However, I did go to dirt roads in the middle of town with huge pot holes, so big your car almost fell in. They were good at fixing the pot holes. Every year, everything freezes, and in the spring, the roads are broken because of the ice. The Romanians fix the pot holes with regular black top type material. They don’t redo the roads because that is too expensive, but they fill in the pot holes, and it helps. They had one big four lane highway when I was there that went out from Bucharest, the capital city, but just abruptly came to an end out in the middle of no where. They ran out of money and quit building their one modern highway. It has been a few years since I have been there. I hope they have finished it. There are many winding roads in Romania because of the mountains. There are also certain stop lights in every city where you know the gypsy beggars are there.
In Mexico, the roads were basically the same as in Romania, but the roads weren’t winding. I didn’t see any big modern highways, but I saw a lot of two lane roads running throughout the country. They also have very desolate places along their roads, and bus stops out in the middle of nowhere, so someone must live there somewhere because there is a bus stop, but you couldn’t see anything for miles. If you go into the small pueblos, the villages, there would be paved roads on the main roads, but the other roads may be dirt roads. Inside of places like Mexico City and other big cities, there are broader roads downtown with perhaps four lanes. Be careful because there are kids everywhere wanting to wash your windows without you asking them to do it and then wanting you to pay. If you didn’t know they would be in the street, you could easily hit one. If you go to a border town, on the streets where you shop, things seem fine. There are lots of interesting shops, and the roads are paved. If you go back behind those shops, you are going to see some real poverty. You will be shocked to see the difference between the streets that are there for the foreigners to enjoy and the back streets.
In Japan, the streets are very modern and very clean. They have the streets with two lanes, but they also have the modern highways. They have small concreted streams close to some of the roads, and I think they are sewers, and there are fish in them. Often, you can find a park with a pond with fish in it in Japan, but there are fish in those streams too. There are the big super highways in the cities in Japan like in America. They have a lot of wide sidewalks, probably because many people walk or go by bus or train in Japan. If you go between cities, you go by train in Japan, but if you go further out into the country, you go by bus. They drive on the opposite side of the road than America, and that was hard to get used to. If you park in Japan, it is illegal not to back into your parking place. Everything must be unified, expedient, and clean, and they really pay attention to detail. You can also walk down smaller streets with lots of businesses, and sometimes, the street will have an awning covering the street because they expect the people to walk there.
Here in Korea, the biggest surprise I had the first time I came here was that some of their roads seemed so narrow I couldn’t understand why anyone would build a road that narrow. I came to learn that there is a reason those narrow roads were built. It is the astounding progress that has been made in Korea since the Korean war. They were the poorest country in the world, and all those roads were dirt foot paths. People didn’t have cars, but now, many people have cars, and those food paths have been paved to use as roads. They can’t be widened because there are buildings full of businesses or homes on either side. This causes you to have to do what I refer to as “dosey doe” with your car. In American barn dancing, there is a move called “dosey doe” where you and your partner walk around one another. If you meet someone on one of these streets, you must both decide who will go first. One stops, and the other slowly goes around them. It is the only way to go down one of the streets with your car. Otherwise, there are super highways everywhere in Korea. They really believe in upgrading. They upgrade things that don’t need upgrading. Everything must be beautiful and modern. One year, they build a place with flower beds in the middle of an intersection, and the next year, they dig all the flowers up and plant something else. They build medians in the middle of the road where they don’t need them. If you get on the highway going out of Seoul toward the airport by mistake, you have to stay on that highway until you get to the airport because there is no where to turn around and come back, and there are barriers between the lanes on the road. There are also lots of toll roads in Korea. I haven’t seen a dirt road here no matter how far out in the country I have been. The roads are smaller in the country, but they are paved. Everything is clean and modern, and then it is redone the next year to be even cleaner and more modern.
The streets in Rabat, Morocco were like the first picture, but much more crowded, and the street going out of Rabat toward our house was like the one on the right. If you went into the casba, the shopping area, the roads were so narrow the cars couldn’t fit, but you could see camels.
When I lived in Morocco, the streets were about what they are in Romania, but I never saw even an attempt at a super highway, but I lived there in the 1960’s, so things could have changed. I lived in England as a little girl in the 1960’s too, and at that time, I didn’t see much because the only places I went were home, school, to a local restaurant, or I visited a church twice. I only saw the small two lanes on the roads because I was in a small town and I was a little girl. There was lots of green grass and flowers. However, when I went back in the 1980’s, I went to London, and I saw super highways in London as well as the small streets where many people walk. When I was a little girl, we also drove through Paris. I had been asleep, and I heard we were in Paris, and I woke up excitedly to look just in time to see the several lanes going back and forth and looked up to see tall apartment buildings on either side of the street with rod iron balconies.
In Hungary, the streets were a little better than the streets in Romania. I didn’t see the dirt roads, but I saw several multi lanes on the roads in Budapest. The thing that really hit me about Budapest was how quickly it got dark. I often took walks down the road poking through the shops, and by 5:00 every evening, it was dark, probably because it was in October and November. There were a lot of trolley cars on the streets in Budapest, but there were also some trolley cars in Bucharest in Romania. In Hungary, as your drive out along the roads in the country, you often saw signs saying, “Pension.” In America, a pension is the money someone gets after they retire, but not so in Hungary. In Hungary, it means a small hotel. We also drove up into Slovakia when we were in Hungary once, and Slovakia seems very similar to Hungary.
The roads in the Philippines I saw were only the main roads of a big city. Things were bright. It was warm outside, and the streets were lined with palm trees. There were several lanes, and the streets were neatly groomed. The grass was cut. There didn’t seem to be many cars on the roads like in Korea. There were also these strange little buses cram packed with people, but I don’t remember what they were calling them.
I have also visited the Bahamas. There are several small roads with two lanes running across the island. Some go by the beaches. Some go close to open market places. There are several tour buses in the Bahamas. There are little shacks by the beaches. There are lots of hotels for foreigners. There are people walking down the street selling big shells in bags that they have been diving for. There are women trying to braid your hair if you go to the beach. Everyone is trying to sell you a timeshare, so you will be offered a free breakfast if you listen to their spill.
There is a different atmosphere in every country you go to around the world, and the roads tell a lot about a country. You can get an idea of how rich they are, how much land they have, and what they think is important. You can get an idea of how much they pay attention to detail or how many people own cars. Looking at the road teach us about the people who live there. As I look back at my article, the American one seems to be the longest, and that is because America is the biggest and most diverse country I have been to. In all the other countries, the people have been there forever, and there is a homogeneity in the population that is hard to find in America. Some of the diversity can be found in Mexico, but not as much as in the United States. In the U. S., it is often truly like several countries banded together hanging on to the same language, but the population is extremely diverse compared to other countries, and the types of roads from one state to the other can be just as diverse. If you visit America once and think you have seen it, you haven’t. You have only seen that one state. As the roads tell the personality of each country, so the roads in every state show the different personalities in that state in America.