…I’m staying on the wrong side of a 10 lane motorway with no mediums or pedestrian crossings. This means I pray every morning as I cross this street to get to work. Here the drivers’ first instinct when you run in front of them is to honk rather than brake or swerve.
My first attempt at doing this saw me running in a terrified zigzag before diving onto the opposing pavement leaving my left sandal still out in the middle of the road.This provided much amusement to a group of soldiers looking on.
I’m learning that the Arabs here think very little of you if show any fear. You must walk in a way that oozes with bravado that borders on stupidity. Men do not run, ever. Girls run.
I’ve watched many locals making the crossing and have tried to model them. I’m proud to say that in the last week my daily adrenaline rush has evolved into a slow, carefree, and masculine stroll in a diagonal direction.
The soldiers are becoming more respectful now. Today they even invited me over for shay (tea). Fortunately for me they cannot see what’s going through my mind as I skirt within centimetres of speeding traffic (because actually, I’m terrified!).
Alan is an engineering graduate who spent four months in the Middle East on a WEC Trek. He was involved in research and English teaching.