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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 12, Wednesday - Beirut

Yesterday I wrote about trying to cross the street, well there is also another interesting habit that I have noticed here: the regular use of car horns. Now, people do use them the way I consider “normal” which is to caution someone of immediate danger, although here that may be more like “You are going to be in danger if you don’t move your car out of my way because I’m coming.” Horns also mean, “You are going too slow,” “You are taking up two lanes and I want to pass you,” “You stopped right in front of me to let someone in/out of your car,” and also, it can mean that a taxi wants to ask you if you want a ride.

Quick note about taxis: if you want one, stand just next to or on curb, they will stop. Tell them where you want to go, if they are going that way they will take you, otherwise let them go, another will be along shortly. Don’t try to argue with them to take you where you want to go, they may take you in the end, but it will cost you $20 for a $1.50 ride. 

Most commonly, car horns simply seem to mean “I’m here.” They aren’t used particularly aggressively (unless of course you are stuck in a traffic jam). 

Back at the coffee house
Another fun fact: the way to tell the difference between police and military guys is by the colors they wear: police where black and white camo, while military wear green and brown camo. You see lots of police on the streets, mostly just hanging out, with some sort of automatic rifles (or something, sorry, my weapons knowledge is limited to TV and movies). It’s funny, in most countries it seems normal to have police and military guys walking around with big weapons, but in the US we are rather adverse to it so it’s weird for me to see, but I realize normal for most people around the world. 

Also, the military guys drive around doing patrols in Jeeps with big guns on them. Tonight, as I left the cafĂ© where I was having tea, there were a bunch of soldiers hanging out with a couple of these Jeeps parked half on the curb. I tried to take a picture without being too obvious, since I didn’t know if they would care or think I was weird. I’ll have to crop it and post it later. Again, it is normal here, but interesting for me to see. 

In case you were wondering, I feel perfectly safe here. No one has bothered me, uniformed or otherwise. It’s mostly the cars you have to watch out for. ;)

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