Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Driving in Japan

So as all of you *should* know, Japan is a nation of left-side drivers. This was not one of my main anxieties when we were still stateside. Only because I had far bigger fish to fry at that point. However, now that we're here, it's a priority-one neuroses. As stated in another post, we walked the equivalent of about 8-12 Mt. Fujis while waiting to get our driver's licenses. While we b*tched and complained the whole time, I must say that had it not been for the painful amount of walking, I may never have conceded to try driving here. But it's darn hot here and I was finally ready last week! So my sponsor put her life in my hands and gave me her car keys. I think maybe she trusts me too much, but we'll get to that later!

She was lovely enough to take me around base and not laugh too much when I tried to signal my intent to turn with my windshield wipers. All in all, it was not too bad! But, I had only driven on base! Saturday, I took a crack at driving out in town. And for the most part, I did great! I did not hit a single car, pedestrian, or biker! Which, if you've ever driven down a one lane back country road and had the entire tour de France bearing down on you, you'll know is quite an achievement. Except that I was not on a one lane back country road -- no no, this was a two lain main drag in back-country-road disguise! But like I said, we got to our destination in one piece! My confidence was squashed however, when I couldn't find the courage to try parking in the insanely tiny spaces in the parking garage. I had about 25 Japanese cars in queue while Tim and I switched seats so he could park us...

Just so that I am not leaving you with an image of me at my incompetent best, I'll tell you the story of Tim's first drive out in town! (Though this story still doesn't make me look good...)

We decided to take the short cut home (pause for you to roll your eyes), and of course we got lost. In Japan. Where we speak only enough to tell someone we cannot speak Japanese (soo glad that was the first phrase on our "Learn Japanese" tapes). Tim eventually figured things out, while I cried in the front seat (that's the part that I'm not proud of). But, we did end up on the wrong side of the bridge, which sounds sinple enough, right? Just cross the bridge. Well, to get to the other bridge, you have to drive down a VERY windy road with tall trees on either side that is about wide enogh for 1 1/2, MAYBE 1 3/4, cars to fit through. And it's windy, so visibility is not so great. And everyone driving down the road is going 40 kpm. So, Tim pulled over, and I cried again. Eventually we decided to turn around. On the drive home, I closed my eyes and let Tim deal with getting us back, which he did.

So, you tell me who the better driver is!


Anonymous said...

my poor baby.. you were such a natural driver, i never flinched with you at the wheel. now to read this my heart breaks for you! BUT, you will get used to it....or back to hoofing it!

i love you guys and miss you beyond words!

mom/mimi ily

The Ceelens said...

Oh Sara!! Don't worry, it'll get better!