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Going In Reverse

Chloé Hirschhorn

    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.  

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