Archive for the ‘Cars in Lebanon’ Category

The quickest way to disappointment is to come saddled with expectations.  I learned this lesson early in childhood (though not in so many words).  I think it happened when my favorite kindergarten teacher moved away or maybe the time my uncle told me he’d take me out to play tennis and never did.  (sounds like someone still hasn’t let something go!)  In any case, I learned early on about disappointment.

Another result of resisting expectations, is the element of surprise.  By not having expectations, I’m surprised when anything happens.  And surprise is a mild way to describe what I feel on the roads in Lebanon.

Before I came to Lebanon, I consulted a former co-worker, who hails from Beirut, in hopes that he would give me the low down on the country.  He let me pick his brain, and shared little tidbits here and there.  He dissuaded my fears about falafels, and assured me that they would not be my daily fare.  Don’t get me wrong, I love falafels, but a girl can only eat so many fried bean balls.

One observation he made was that driving would be different.  When I asked him to explain, he simply snickered and said, “Oh, you’ll see when you get there.”  I always exercise caution when something is so intense that a person defaults to experience over explanation.

Though Lebanese drivers speak confidently about the driving system they have devised, I describe it as an organized, yet chaotic game of chicken.

Their methodical system of bobs and weaves, on a highway where lane markers and the rules of the road are mere suggestion, all set to the sound of incessant honking, a communication method favored over rearview mirrors, always leaves my heart stuck in my throat.

I am then confounded by the glut of luxury cars, caught in the tangle of traffic. In fact, I just don’t get it!  Why would anyone risk their Ferrari or Bentley to the unforgiving roads of Lebanon?

I’ve begun to change my standard in identifying luxury cars, as Beemers, Mercedes, Land Rovers and Audis are so commonplace that they rival Hondas in America for their standard appeal.

I keep toying with this idea of the car in Lebanon, and I’m sure it’s a subject that I will not exhaust for a long time, as it seems to speak to a piece of the Lebanese psyche in a way I don’t yet understand.

I accompanied a friend yesterday on his hunt for his first car.

I was surprised at the sheer number of used car dealerships lined up, one after another, for a long stretch of the road, each jammed full of cars, looking for new owners.

According to www.nationmaster.com, a keeper of statistics, Lebanon is ranked #17 in the world for number of motor vehicles per 1000 people, with a whopping 434 per 1000, and our outing seemed to support this number.

Many come from within the country, though others came from outside of the country.  In fact, may of the used cars from America were still proudly crowned with their state license plates.

The Lebanese Autobahn will surely continue to provide me with clever observations about the Lebanese Glam Life, techniques on how to quickly maneuver myself out of an accident in the case of an oncoming vehicle located directly in my path and survival tips on how to simultaneously cover my eyes and brace myself, while breathing a final prayer of forgiveness.