Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Being with kids is an amazing and fun thing. Going to school in the morning becomes an adventure. In Louisiana, there are no tunnels. I say this for those of you who may have been to New York/New Jersey, Baltimore, etc. and think everywhere in the US has tunnels. Louisiana has none. There are bridges, lots and lots of bridges. But, you can't have tunnels (or basements). That's one of the effects of having half a state below or at sea level. You don't dig down because the water rises to meet you. So, ButterBean has never actually been in a tunnel before moving to Amman. So, now, every morning on the way to school, we go through the tunnels on Zahran Street. And, each time we reach the tunnel under the fifth circle, ButterBean says Whhheeeee! Of course, I'm obliged to join in. And, you know what? It actually makes the experience more fun. I'm serious. Okay, I can see you are skeptical. So, try it. The next time you go through any tunnel, punctuate it with a Whheeeee! Now you have to make the sound last as long as the tunnel does. (I consider this vocal breath control training for ButterBean.) Tell me if you can honestly do that without smiling. I can't. So, I start every morning with a smile.

Today, however, coming home, I encountered the down side of the tunnels. Now, for those who haven't seen these tunnels, they are wide enough that in the US, two lanes would be clearly marked. Here, however, no lanes are marked. That isn't meant to imply that the tunnel is a single lane. It just means that the government of Jordan doesn't want to box in motorists. Think of it as interpretive driving. Some people make it two lanes. Some 2 and a half (don't ask), some one lane driving on the right, some one lane driving on the left, some one lane driving in the middle, and some one lane wandering from left to right to middle. So, like interpretive dance, there is no way to anticipate what might happen next. Apparently the lady in the spanking new, super fancy 2 seater Mercedes failed to anticipate the next move of the guy in the Hyundai 4 door sedan. An unfortunate accident involving bumpers and lights ensued. Now, the Hyundai guy probable has a couple of hundred dollars with of damage. Unfortunately, knowing parts costs on Mercedes, I suspect her bill will run over $1000. What a shame.

I hadn't noticed how much my driving has changed since being here until I had another American in the car. Our entire first trip was punctuated with exclamations of shock and surprise as we had one near miss after another. Driving in Jordan is a bit like an obstacle course. The goal is to sidle along as close to the guy in front and beside you as possible. you being to think that 4 inches off your side is plenty of space. In the US, I am a Mommy driver, you know super-cautious, super-safe, super-lane conscious. Here, what lanes? what signs? do those mean something? You mean 2" from the guy in front of you isn't normal? It's amazing what we become used to and how quickly it happens. As I've mentioned before, I find it quite fun. Unlike my non-existent dancing skills, I rather enjoy interpretive driving. So much is left open to the imagination. Oh, and the road belongs to the bold and I've become quite bold. I only hope my boldness remains when I'm driving my own car instead of a rental...



At 11:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to say "thank you" for this post. I needed an attitude adjustment about driving here, and your enthusiasm is infectious. I have uber-first-child-stick-to-the-rules-syndrome and I get mad at other drivers to see them not following the rules that we follow in the States. I guess it's just like cultural adjustment. I don't expect people here to speak Enlish like America; I don't expect them to follow the same cultural practices as Americans; I guess I should expect that their driving will be unique as well.

Anyway, thanks for your insight into "interpretive driving". It's been very helpful to me.

At 4:25 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

I'm so happy to help. I have to admit that driving is one of the things I most enjoy about living in Jordan. And, I certainly agree that as Americans we have to reschool our expectations. I'm glad you're still reading and enjoying. I appreciate that someone out there is listening :).


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