Thursday, February 17, 2011

From Spain to Bahrain - Two Old Fools and Cars

by Vicoria Twead

Neither Joe nor I have driven a car in six months. Not since we left El Hoyo, our beloved Spanish mountain village to work for a year teaching in the Middle East. In Spain, our little jeep was essential. The nearest shops were half an hour away over the mountains, and we needed the jeep to collect everything; bags of cement, bricks, logs, chicken grain as well as groceries.
No, we don’t need a car here in Bahrain because the school provides the teachers with a bus to work. And Jalal, our driver, ensures that our journey is never dull. His time-keeping is appalling, but his driving is lightning-fast and creative. Every morning we are treated to a white-knuckle drive.

With a cellphone clamped to one ear, Jalal is forced to steer with one hand - unless he has two cell phones, in which case steering is accomplished with his knees and elbows. And being one of the largest vehicles on the road, Jalal asserts right-of-way at all times scorning junctions and traffic lights. Our near-misses are frequent. It is not unusual for our bus to screech to a halt so that Jalal and the other driver can question each other’s parentage and call each other castrated camels amidst much arm-waving...

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