Monday, April 10, 2006

A narrow escape

Yesterday we went to the village of Rasnik, where my mother-in-law has a summer house. (Rasnik is between Pernik and Breznik.)
In the afternoon I went walking with my son and my husband's niece. We were on the right side of the road to the village center. It is a street without sidewalks (one of the few similarities between rural Bulgarian and American reality). There is a small river, and the road follows a bridge over it.
We had just passed the bridge when we heard a car coming from the center. The noise indicated a very high speed. I looked and, to my horror, saw that the car was in the wrong lane. It had to drive in the right lane and, as it was coming towards us, there would be a whole lane between it and us. But now we were in great danger. We rushed to the side of the road, but had time only for a stride or two, and I had to carry my son who was not understanding the danger.
The car was driving with about 100 kph, at any rate the speed was for a highway, not for a village street. They finally spotted us and understood they could hit us. The driver tried to move to the right lane (where he ought to have been all the time), but lost control on the vehicle. It hit the right fence of the bridge, turned leftwards, hit the left fence and finally stopped.
Nobody seemed hurt, but the car had lost its shape entirely. There was broken glass everywhere, the front registration label was on the ground. The bridge fence was also damaged. The driver and the passengers, all young boys, looked at the devastation and then tried to move the car again, to no avail. I was afraid that they would accuse me, but they paid no attention to us at all. So we left the scene.
When I told the story, my mother-in-law said, "Now, they'll say that you have suddenly crossed the street and you are to blame."
But Vassil, our neighbor across the street, had no doubts that the driver was wholly responsible.
"They must thank God that they didn't fall off the bridge," he said. "People here drive as if they're mad. There is no traffic police in Rasnik, so they are not afraid of anything. Especially the young people. They drive even if they don't have a license, and even when they are drunk. Don't think it's too early in the day to be drunk - they can be at any hour. Last year, two boys on a motorcycle failed to take the turn just before the central square. They had to undergo heavy surgery, their intestines were shortened, and they still use supports to walk."
So, beware the village traffic!

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