Nobody walks in Amman, Part II

In one respect at least, things haven't changed since last year: public transportation still bites in Amman. This already significant problem is exacerbated in late July and all of August when Amman is invaded by visiting Khalijis - wealthy, gigantic families from the Gulf who drive enormous, street-clogging vehicles.

So now it takes forever to get anywhere for two reasons: inability to get a taxi and terrible traffic delays when/if you finally manage to get one.

We got a small taste of freedom this weekend when we rented a car in honor of my parents' visit from America (we decided that spending upwards of an hour a day waiting for taxis was not a wise use of their limited time here).

And let me tell you, my friends: having a car in Amman is a glorious, wonderful thing. The feeling of not being trapped within walking radius of my home or else being a slave to the whim of a chain-smoking taxi driver had me giggling with excitement. I even got up at 4am the night after we'd rented the car to check on it, just to make sure it hadn't all been a dream.

Driving a car here is not without its downsides, of course. The above-mentioned traffic delays do not magically disappear when one is in one's own vehicle. They are, however, rendered much more bearable: no more asking drivers to put out their cigarettes.

The biggest challenge has probably been the unforgiving nature of Amman's roads. If you miss a turn, you have to be prepared to to travel several miles farther before you can correct your path. And you can never be sure what form that correction will take: if it's going to be a U-turn, keep to the left "lane" (I use the term loosely); if it's a trip around a traffic circle, stay to the right.

Nevertheless, we loved it. Our only confusing experience ended up being filling the car with gas. We pulled into one station (cleverly named "Grand Central Station") and asked the attendant to fill it up. 15 JD later, when the attendant told us he was done, we were counting our good fortune that it was not as expensive as we'd expected. Then we turned on the engine and saw that the needle on the fuel gage was only halfway between E and F. Rather than lose face in front of everyone, we simply pulled out of that station with a smile and a wave and stopped at the next station a few kilometers down the road. It turns out that the total cost of filling the tank was more like 28 JD, not 15.

Now we're back to relying on taxis. But we'll always remember that special weekend in August when, for a few days at least, we were actually part of the traffic problem instead of just directly inconvenienced by it.

Out of commission

Live it. Love it!