Cars in the Kingdom

If you imagine news footage of the average smoldering civil war in Africa or central Asia, you will see a bunch of guys with guns riding around in the back of a pickup. In Oklahoma we just called that “Saturday”, but that’s a different topic. The ubiquitous white four door pickup that has transported so many revolutionaries is the Toyota Hilux. It has such a reputation for durability, the brilliant team from BBC’s Top Gear tried to destroy one, and couldn’t. Search for “top gear killing a toyota” on YouTube and you’ll see the results. No television show or puppet government can stop this little truck.

The problem in the magic Kingdom is that I can’t buy one. It’s not the limitation of sharia law that argues against the inherent evils of charging interest; the banks have found ways around that (they always win, right?). Maybe they assume we can’t start a revolution if we don’t have any pickups. The barrier is that they are classified as commercial vehicles and regular citizens (or immigrant hired help like myself) can’t buy one. Along the same lines, you have to prove you have a family before buying an SUV. I wonder if you have to have 2 wives to get one with a third row seat…

Traffic rules here are easy to learn. The lines on the road are just decorations, don’t pay them any mind. Similarly, traffic lights are just suggestions, you really can drive through an intersection whenever you feel you can get away with it. The mass of cars juggle for position like a herd of camels trying to squeeze through a gate. Honking is random; I’m not sure if it means “the light has been green for 12 milliseconds, GO!”, “excuse me, coming through”, “go ahead, I’ll let you change lanes” or just “Listen to me honk. HONK! HONK! HONK!” In the next month or two I hope to update you with more on buying a car and driving in a very foreign land. Most likely followed with a post on what it’s like to have a fender-bender in said foreign land. Stay tuned!

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