Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to our newest guest poster, Sheika Djibouti!
She’s a whip-smart sassy britches originally from small town Texas, now living in the Middle East. In addition to being our new writer, Sheika is ALSO scouring the desert for the fabled PIZZA HUT CHEESEBURGER PIZZA (Only available in the Middle East.) Let’s wish her happy pizza cheeseburger hunting and give her a hearty grouchymuffin welcome! Without any futher delay…I now present her debut post!
Cars are NOT Camels (And Shouldn’t Be Driven as Such)
First of all, I live in Bahrain. It’s a tiny desert island kingdom just off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, and southwestern coast of Iran, in the Arabian Gulf. That says enough… Right? I’ve lived here off and on for 3 years, once as a single soldier stationed here, and now as a Marine wife with 2 young Weapons of Mass Destruction. (They do exist, I swear!) Apparently, I like the desert and its ridiculous heat and stifling culture; I brought my husband and our kids back here for round 2. They do have some cool stuff, but for all intents and purposes, we’ll skip over the things that I can count on one hand that could possibly be deemed “cool”… Cheeseburger pizza doesn’t count since I have yet to find it.
My last home was just south of DC. Anyone who has ever been to DC and driven around knows that the Capitol Beltway istheworst. In all reality, I’d take it any day over this madness. With a fox in a box in my passenger seat, and goat in a boat in tow.
When we moved out here, my husband bought a BMW M3. It’s zoomy. When he’s out of the country, I pack up the kids’ car seats and “borrow” it. It’s fun to drive, and a *little* speedier than my Jeep. But, it’s also a sports car, and what happens when someone sees a sports car here? Doesn’t matter if they’re driving a Ford Fiesta or a souped-up Toyota FJ Cruiser with Saudi license plates, they want to race.
Traffic: You have people from 3rd world countries that are the first in their families to have licenses. (My great-grand pappy had a car… That makes me a 4th gen driver. It’s gotta be in my genes by now.) There’s also a lot of odd construction patterns and last-minute signs. There are no real regulations, no annual car checks to make sure you’re not polluting or about to fall apart mid-trip, no police officers to pull you over if your taillight’s out. I’ve even seen a wooden license plate.
Add in the Saudis, who, though they may be from a “pseudo-industrialized nation,’ they drive way too: aggressively, erratically, fast, obnoxiously, dangerously, etc. Not enough words to describe.
There is a causeway from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, and since the Saudis are so oppressed in their own country, they flock to Bahrain to party on the weekends. Women can drive here, there’s alcohol in most hotels and a handful of restaurants, and women don’t have to cover up. Saudis come over and they drive around in their SUVs (how stereotypical of them!), take up 3 parking spaces with said SUVs, and ogle all of the half-naked women. (Which really means that most people here are still conservatively dressed; half nekkid could mean a pair of jeans and a t-shirt!) But anyhoo, it’s like they haven’t evolved from riding camels. And a gentle reminder, cars are NOT camels, and if you a driving at a high rate of speed, and you bump into something or someone, it’s not going to be a “Hey, watch where you guide your camel” and a “pardon me”, there’s going to be a potentially fatal accident, or at the very worse, a few weeks’ worth of local BS and a month of repairs. True story. Ask me when I get my Jeep back.
Let’s just say I’m no Mahatma Gandhi. I could probably use (all at once) some yoga, meditation, a Xanax, a shot of whisky, and an extra protein bar; I have colorful language and terrible road rage. 3rd world country drivers, Saudis who think their cars are camels, and odd construction patterns… It’s like F1 or NASCAR, only with vehicles that are one last-minute merge away from falling apart, or so huge, the laws of gross tonnage automatically make any challenge a win for those ridiculous SUVs. What does that seemingly sound like? Hell.
So back to the souped-up FJ Cruiser with Saudi plates, ‘cause he’s the main point of this story. He pulls up next to my car at a stoplight and starts revving his engine. He’s already kinda sorta in my lane as it is, and that already makes me mad. I like my space. He doesn’t have on his turn signal, which bothers me even more, and he’s revving his engine like he’s going to try to wedge his vehicle in between my car and the van full of workers in front of me. Uh-uh. I move forward, and he revs some more. I pull up just enough to be able to make eye contact with him. The revving stops. It’s like he’s never seen a woman behind the wheel of a sports car. And maybe he hasn’t. Or maybe he decided that, with my poufy short hair (thanks, inept hair cutter person!) I’d make a stellar 4th wife and he was just in awe of my beauty. I’m not entirely sure. The light changes to yellow. The van in front of me wearily pulls off. The FJ pulls up and starts moving in on the van. And then back into his lane. And then back towards the van. And he rolls the window down and starts having a conversation with the folks in the van. While he’s driving. At 50 mph. And then back into his lane. The van passes and FJ starts to get into my lane, so I honk, because he’s dangerously close to my car.
He gets back into his lane, and slows down, just in time for traffic to start slowing down due to construction. (Whew!) We come to a stop. He’s right next to me now, with a jumbo-jet amount of space in front of him. Again with the revving… It’s just creepy. By this time, I’m annoyed that I have some weirdo getting too close to my car intentionally.
It’s either weave in and out of traffic as soon as I have the opportunity to get away from Sheik Mc Creepy or risk getting into an altercation. Zoom, zoom? Challenge accepted.
– Sheika Djibouti
*I arrived home safely, in one piece, without altercation, and still married to my Marine.