Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Driving Miss Daisy

Okay so I haven't actually been driving anyone named Daisy, or chauffeuring anyone really, except for our children, but I needed a blog post title that had to do with "driving" and that's all I could come up with.
(If you've been around here for any length of time, you've likely already discovered that titling posts creatively is not a strength of mine)
But while I have not been driving Miss Daisy around, I have been driving!!

When my older sister learned of this, her first response was "but I thought you said the drivers there were crazy?!?"
She's absolutely correct.
A) I have always said that
2) they totally are crazy

I just channeled my crazy and joined in.

For our first several months here, the cars on the roads completely overwhelmed me. 
Even a ride in the taxi with our trusted, calm, safe driver could leave me jilted because of the chaos going on around us.

Two sets of friends here, who drive around on a daily basis, have both previously lived in Egypt, and they both have remarked that driving here is much easier and more organized than driving in Egypt. And I'm all like...Lord, please don't ever move me to Egypt!

I remember when Dave and I lived in Mexico, even though I was only there two and a half months, I began to notice a rhythm to what had first appeared to me as chaos in the streets. 
When first there, it felt like everything was a near-miss. I could not believe how many accidents *almost* happened. But the longer I was there and observed things, I began to realize there was actually a flow to it all...almost an understanding amongst all the drivers and pedestrians and bicyclists and stray chickens. It may seem insane and completely without order, but it works for them.
It's been a similar story here in Kuwait.
And while I'd still prefer the order and safety and laws of driving in the States, when some friends generously offered up their car for a month, enough time had passed here that I'd started to recognize some rhythm to the driving here as well.
So we said YES, and I've had the freedom of OUR OWN CAR for the last month!!!!!

Our friends were headed home to Europe for a month and said there was no use their perfectly good car sitting around gathering dust while they were gone. They were so kind in sharing it with our family, and so relaxed about the whole exchange - it was such a blessing. I was nervous in accepting their offer at first...what if something happened to the car while in our possession? It's a very nice, newer Prado Land Cruiser. 

They were quick to assure us that it's "just a car" and not only were they not worried something would happen, but it was replaceable if it did.
Pretty amazing attitude, right??

So, we took them up on their offer, buckled up, said some prayers, and off we went!

My first trek out was to the nearest grocery store, and I practically needed a nap when we got back.
I was SO tense from being hyper alert.

Each outing I went a little further, and soon enough I was cruising all over Kuwait like a boss. 

Similar to the last eleven months, there was a lot of "when in Rome..." kinda mentality to my driving. 

Is this a two lane street? One lane? No one knows...until a car passes you, on either the right or the there are zero lane markers. 

Most the roads so have some sort of lanes distinguished, thankfully.
There are also Stop signs, which judging by the drivers here, are merely suggestions. 

Speaking of signs, the exits on the highway are all labeled. I mean, the sign may be well after the actual exit, but it will be there. Lots and lots of catching the next exit and turning around. 

Once I was driving on the highway and approached four lanes of brake lights. I, of course, started to slow down, thinking there must be some sort of accident. As we inched closer, I was able to see that, nope, there was no accident, but instead a bus in the far left lane was needing to be in the far right lane so he could catch the exit. Naturally, he just halted his driving, and stopped all traffic while he crossed all four lanes and took his desired path.
Not a single driver honked or expressed frustration at him.
Because, KUWAIT.

Sometimes the "lane" you're in, just flat out disappears...

...that, my friends, is a four lane highway. Or it was, before the line markers simply vanished. 

Need to fill up? Easy peasy. 
And cheap.
Filling the tank of an SUV costs 7Dinar, 500 Fills...$24.89.
Hello Land of Oil.

Sometimes you're driving along, minding your own business, and you learn something new. Like that the emergency lane that is on the left often doubles as a passing lane in Kuwait...

And no more parking spots? 
No problem.
Just pull your car up on the sidewalk and park where ever you'd like...

Most roads here are one way, with a heavy divider in the middle. This eliminates the crossing-traffic-to-make-a-turn, and offers up multiple opportunities for u-turns and really fun near-death-experiences of merging and trying to exit in these roundabouts...

Our friends returned to Kuwait, and we returned the car, and I gained more confidence in my ability to navigate life here.
And I again reminded myself to never say never, as I'd previously stated I'd never drive here. 
I also declared I'd never acclimate to the heat here, but as I dropped the car off at the airport a few evenings ago and waited for a taxi home, I couldn't help but appreciate the breeze and that the day had cooled down...only to look at my phone and learn it was 111 degrees.



  1. You are a beast and I am super proud of you!

  2. And this is what I call winning, my friend! You are the man. :)

    I totally hear ya on the weather front. Walked to our bakala last night to buy a phone card and came home to tell David, "Would you believe that I didn't even break a sweat? It feels like it's finally cooling down a bit." Then I checked the weather, and it was 45 Celsius....

    Also, I cannot wait to get my drivers license! We've only been driving (well, David is driving, I'm just co-piloting) for about two weeks now, and it's been a game-changer. So glad you got to have your friends' car for a month!