Driving in the US is so straight edge. I spent the last week of my travels in Marrakesh, where streets are overrun with motorbikes, donkeys, fruit carts and horse drawn carriages. They are also notably absent of street lanes and mandatory stop lights (stop lights DO exist but seem optional so long as you look both ways and proceed with caution). My friend Nish and I decided to join in the cirucs and rent a motor bike to get us out of town to nearby waterfalls. Six kilometers outside of the city, the motor bike broke down. The repair shop — that happened to be 10 meters away from where we stalled — informed us we had an unfixable dead battery. Naturally, we had come to expect such fortune after our van died on the way to the Sahara the day before. In lieu of a better idea, we walked the bike back the six kilometers and swapped it for good ‘ol fashioned bicycles and resigned ourselves to seeing local parks instead of lush waterfalls.
On the heirarchy of the roads we were near the bottom and navigating the traffic flow just enough to reach our destination AND stay alive was thrilling! I learned to anticipate cars jutting out of parking spots, donkeys racing by with fruit carts swerving behind them and men on nearby scooters pulling up next to me and cheering or patting me on the back for being the only white woman they’ve ever seen on a bike in Marrakesh. The video game of navigation quickly became a part of me. I quickly made my way across four lanes of traffic and eased into the crowded roundabouts just like the locals (though I think they were giving the white girl a little extra space for good measure).
I actually felt safer riding a bike in Marrakesh than I would on a bike in New York, just because the locals were more forgiving of mistakes than a cab driver would be in the Big Apple. Yesterday when I hopped in my steel Jetta and put on a seat belt, I felt my options were restricted. I had only one carless lane ahead and a stop sign at the end of the street that I had to obey. And instead of horses grunting in my ear as I rolled along I had nothing but Pink energetically blaring through every radio station telling me to “raise my glass”. I guess being back in the states will take some readjusting. I’ll have to come up with new ways to add excitement to every day. I don’t think adding extra rum to the eggnog counts.