Being an expat means that I’m used to being different. I don’t look Arabic even with having adopted the practice of wearing a head scarf. It usually gives me anonymity until I get up close and then my eyes give me away, and even if people don’t look at me that closely as soon as I open my mouth any hope of being taken for a local is gone.
My way of doing things a majority of the time is different to the cultural norm here in Wadi Musa, sometimes my way is a complete affront to the norm, and then there are the times when it’s so left of centre that people don’t know how to respond, or in this particular case they come out to see.
So what’s so different that I’m causing the locals in this normally quiet country village of Wadi Musa to drive their cars across town and along roads which they really need not drive? How do I know that they need not be driving on these roads? Well the area of town where we have built our house is a new area of town. There are not many houses currently here in the area. The road where we have built our house is a road that doesn’t go anywhere. You don’t need to drive on it unless you are coming to ours or one of the other 6 houses that are on that road. I know everyone (related to by marriage) that lives in the 6 houses on our road. I know all the cars that they drive. Hence it’s pretty obvious to me that there are lots of locals deliberately detouring along our road.
Image courtesy of Google Earth which shows just how new our area of town is as I have had to draw in the road in red. I have indicated where our house is by the blue square.
So let me tell you what I’m doing between 4:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon that is causing our once quiet little road to nowhere to become clogged with lots of extra cars which are full of people. I’m going for a walk!
So what you say I’m going for a walk. People walk everywhere, every minute of the day. Well not like I walk and not here in Wadi Musa. For starters I’m walking to exercise and not to get to a certain destination. When I’m walking to exercise I’m walking with purpose and get up a fair speed – some might say it’s verging on power walking. In Wadi Musa it is extremely rare (in fact I have never seen anyone or know of anyone) to walk for just exercising. In fairness the general topography of the town and the climate don’t really lend themselves to going for a walk to exercise (think steep hills, scorching hot in summer, freezing cold in winter, no footpaths).
People do walk here as there are lots of people who don’t have cars but it is always to get to a destination and if you are walking to get to work/school/home then 9 times out of 10 as you are walking along someone (typically a relative) that has a car will stop and give you a lift. In fact this is so much the case that where we lived before building our house I couldn’t go for a walk to exercise as I would get stopped up to a dozen times within the space of a kilometre and each time decline the lift and then have to explain that I wasn’t actually going anywhere and that I was just out for a walk which was always met with the response of “Why?”. It was just too frustrating so I gave up.
On the occasions, such as in the evening during the summer months, that people do get out to go for just a walk to enjoy some fresh air then at best the speed of such walks could be described as a stroll. It’s leisurely (it’s slow) and it’s social (you would never go by yourself).
So are you getting the picture that me out walking (power walking) is not something that the locals see very often. But wait there’s more to add to this picture. The addition of a three-wheeled, all terrain, on the larger size pram with Alia inside.
Again you are saying so what? For Melbournians who enjoy running/walking around The Tan there is a real risk of having one’s shins decapitated by any one of the dozens of mums pushing their little ones around in such contraptions. Not so in Wadi Musa. I can categorically state that I’m the only Mum in town with a three-wheeled pram which makes it not just something that is left of centre, but a complete and utter novelty that has never been witnessed or seen by 20,000 people before. There are the very few mums that have strollers which are about the size and quality of a dolls stroller (flimsy, useless, potential death ride for any child unfortunate enough to be inside). Also refer to comment about topography and climate as to why prams are not common.
So here I am endeavouring to shift a few extra kilos by pushing Alia around in her pram up and down the 1/2 kilometre stretch of road that runs in front of our house. Enough of a challenge as it is without now having to avoid being run over by the numerous cars that are making the trip to see the latest attraction in town!
Oh and I upped the anti just one more notch the other day. With it coming in colder heading into winter I put the rain cover over the pram which doubles very nicely as a wind breaker. Alia loves going out for our walks perched up in her pram nice and snug and warm, looking out on the world (and all the cars)!