The way people drive in Lebanon is the opposite of anything orderly. And yet, I think they find comfort in creating their own rules. I have to admit almost every time I get in a car with someone, and definitely every time I am subjected to the torture of driving up the narrow winding mountains, I want to die.
(First get in the car)
Where’s the seat belt? Ah, stuck so far behind the seats like it never existed. Probably hasn’t been used. (Aloud) Hey, the seat belt doesn’t work back here? (They reply) What, you don’t trust me? Don’t worry, I’m a great driver!
We’re moving through traffic. Red lights mean nothing, I’m convinced the country is color blind. I keep breathing, we’re still in the city, can’t accelerate that much that far.
We’re on the highway. It’s starting to rain, at night. We accelerate faster…because that makes sense? I’m recalling my first driving lesson when my dad told me I should stay double the normal length behind a car when it rains because it’s hard to stop. We haul ass for about 2 seconds, slam on the breaks, and wind in and out of cars. Doesn’t seem like we’re getting anywhere faster.
We’ve hit Jounieh and are getting off the highway to climb up the mountain. The higher we go, the faster we are moving. Now the rain is picking up. The narrow curves of the mountain seem to excite this guy. This isn’t a woman you’re driving, be careful around the curves! I start to lose my breath. He is literally slinging the car around blind turns with oncoming cars going just as fast. Now I’m recalling my brother giving me driving lessons telling me that going 15 miles faster only saves you like five mins in the long run. FIVE MINUTES MAN!
I thought this kid, less than half an hour ago, was such a nice guy. So calm and smart and a little bit funny. Very smiley. I liked him! Now I hate him. He is a reckless douche, a little boy, oh I wish I could slap the shit out of him. Do you realize, boy, that you’re not just putting yourself in danger!? My boyfriend, your girlfriend, and I are here! What about us, motherfucker!?!?!?!?!
I grip Matias, I tell him I love him, and I prepare to die.
I’m getting nauseous. I want to vomit and die and I’m raging mad. I have to stop looking at the road now. I’ll close my eyes and let death come at me. They say when you’re not expecting it or if you don’t tense your body you’ll probably live so I try to stay calm. I hope Matias is too.
I gave up religion and all the accompanying beliefs whenever ago, but I CANNOT stop saying Oh god, please god, oh my god oh god oh god. At the same time I’m battling myself for saying these things in my head and having an existential religious crisis! Does my real true self believe in god while my normal self doesn’t?! You guys have to coordinate here!!
At the most unexpected moment we literally slingshot into a garage built into the side of the mountain and exit the car. My Lebanese comrades don’t seem the least bit affected. I’m about to vomit, I have to lie down. The driver’s girlfriend jokes that he was driving slower than he normally does. I’ve got to cool off and take a couple Panadols. Bless me, I’ve survived another car ride.