I can barely remember where I was going when I sat behind the wheel and drove on my own for the first time. But I remember the sheer nervousness. Last Thursday, I felt those same feelings back from my teenage years. Prof thought it would be a good time as any to drive on my own.
After safely securing Linus in his car seat, I sat on the right side of the car. I checked the mirrors, adjusted the seat, rechecked the mirrors. I habitually reached behind my left for the shoulder belt but felt nothing but air. Then I made the switch to my right. I turned on the ignition switch, and then had to make the mental switch again to use my left hand to change the gear into drive.
Off I went. I knew the local roads pretty well since I walked it many times. But when I got onto a larger four-lane road that was a bit more intimidating.
I did my grocery shopping and was ready to back out, but another car was backing out too. He pulled back in, and I was slowly pulling out the vehicle like an old grandma. He said, “Ella, ella,” which translates into “Go, g0”. But I still went as slow as molasses. I couldn’t rush the process of backing out for fear of damaging either of the two Mercedes next to me. He zoomed past me when we were on the road, and I was perfectly happy to let him pass.
Then I entered through a roundabout, which is not like the roundabouts I am used to back on the east coast, or maybe I have just forgotten how to drive. You need to stay on in the inner circle for as long as possible before moving out to the outer lane to exit. Check out the example here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundabout
Then I got to a signal intersection and waited to make my right turn. For those back home, it’s like waiting to make a left turn. And when you make a left turn, you usually wait until all of the vehicles have crossed the intersection before making the left. Not so in Cyprus.
The traffic signal turns yellow before turning green, so you can prepare yourself and go. Cypriots and maybe others take the opportunity to start moving at yellow and make a right turn before the oncoming and opposing traffic moves. It beats having to wait, but I didn’t want to take a chance of getting into an accident. Nevertheless, I got another beep from the car behind me subtly informing me that I should have gone.
I got home and even parked the car in the tightest parking spot known to man – for the first time without making a thousand-point turn. Since then, I haven’t driven the car, but maybe again soon.