Going In Reverse
Upon arrival in Dubrovnik, Croatia, it is
impossible to miss the beautiful mountainous scenery. Up and
around each of the large mountains twist narrow roads; most are under
construction during the winter when it is the off-season for
tourists. I had heard stories from my mother, who had been to
Dubrovnik thirty years ago, about the signs that you can see from these
roads, memorials to those who died in buses and cars that tumbled off
the edge of the road. She still recommended that I head up into
the mountains, and so I did.
I dared to take a window seat on the
bus. When I looked out the window I could see no road, only a
steep drop down to the tiny towns below. On the other side of the
bus there was no visible road either, only a steep wall of rocks.
I was thrilled with my decision to experience this until we came to a
stop. I peeked out from my seat to the front of the bus, where we
were faced head on by a construction truck. The two vehicles sat
facing each other until the bus doors squeaked open and the driver
climbed out. After a few quick words with the other driver, our
driver climbed back into his seat. The construction truck was
backing up around the winding road at full speed.
Getting around in Croatia is not as difficult or
dangerous as jumping out of moving buses in Cairo, as Farha Ghannam
describes in “Remaking the Modern,” unless you are a foreigner behind
the wheel. My tour guide informed us that in Croatia, when a
person learns to drive, one of the major lessons is to drive in
reverse. On all of the roads, even one-way streets in the small
towns, it is common to find a car driving in reverse back to the last
intersection to make a turn. In the mountains, they are taught
that when faced with a situation like the one described, the larger
vehicle has the right of way, forcing the other to back up until there
is room for the larger vehicle to pass.