I appear to have done a lot more letter writing than blog post writing while I was away. The following is part of a letter I wrote on November 21.
I’ve talked about the driving here…well coupled with that is crossing the street. It’s like a game of Frogger. Even if you have a walk signal, you have to be 100% aware of your surroundings, because people do u-turns ALL the time. And not only do they do u-turns, but it seems normal to do a u-turn from the right lane, i.e. so you’re cutting off all the cars in the lanes to your left. I’ve decided that the driving here is a bit like a dance, with constant honking as music. And drivers (all men…it’s illegal for women to drive) don’t honk for the same reasons we do. It’s more of a “I’m right here, right behind you, two inches away from you” kind of honk. And no one gets visibly mad (it’s illegal to flip the bird). I say dance because you’ve got cars changing lanes, making unexpected turns, stopping, all without signal lights and all within inches of each other, and no one seems to crash. It’s quite amazing, really.
My eating experiences have been quite varied…from really bad Western fast food to an amazing meal tonight at a Lebanese restaurant — we had the meat grill and an appy platter. The appy platter had humous, tabuleh, an egg plant salsa that I don’t know the name of, grape leaves, tzatziki, tahini and a couple of other things I didn’t recognize. We ordered the meat grill “for three” and I think there were 15 skewers served to us — way too much food. In general I find the servings very large, and the food’s pretty cheap (apart from the hotel). There are a lot of kabobs, delicious humous everywhere, and
good bread. A couple of nights ago we went to an Indian place that had the best naan bread I’ve ever had. All the restaurants have a men’s section (no women allowed) and a family section (no single men allowed), always with separate entrances. Even Starbucks has separate entrances. The family section is also the non-smoking section, thank goodness. The fast food joints have two line ups, one for women, one for men.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been home for a week. It all feels like a long time ago. This trip was such a big deal for me, and it’s already fading in my memory.