Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Proceed without Caution

When I found out that I would receive a complimentary rental car during my time in Jordan, I was equal parts thrilled and horrified. Thrilled not to have to depend on public transportation, but horrified by all of the potential pitfalls of driving in a foreign country -- what would I do if I got in an accident or got lost? What would the traffic be like? Which side of the road do they even drive on?  I needn't have worried ... mostly. Driving in Jordan is easy ... mostly. I'll provide some tips for those situations not mostly covered.
For today's tip we'll start with an easy one: lanes. There really aren't any. Yes, there are often some faded lines painted on the road surface that you might occassionally feel compelled to pay attention to. But basically a road is as wide as the number of cars that can squeeze into it. So if the paint says there are two lanes, there's really probably three or four. Now you might think that coming from the U.S. where lanes are respected that this would be frustrating to deal with and for some drivers I'm sure that's the case. For me, I find it freeing. The trick is to not fight it, just embrace it and use the lack of adherence to lane division to your advantage to manuever your way through the traffic. The car in front of you has left space on the shoulder? Go on, squeeze on by. Looking for a store and not sure  it's on the right or left? Easy, just drive down the middle.  Basically it's like you are constantly driving as if you have just left a toll plaza, in the big expanse of space before the road pares down to marked lanes again, trying to keep tabs on cars coming from all sides while jockeying for position.

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