Last year we both walked to work. I left around 6:35, whereas Sharon left the building with Kristina 10-15 minutes later. Walking to work here has its pluses. I tended to walk through the AUB campus. This is one of the largest green spaces in Beirut. The hillside campus provides a peaceful walk through tree and flower lined pathways that also provides some spectacular views of the Mediterranean. The other option is to walk the Corniche, along the sea, obviously a good option also. The problem with walking was that it took 15-20 minutes to get to work, and for me especially, it meant I arrived at work either dripping in sweat (Aug- Nov and then April-June) or a bit tacky (Dec – March). This year we both opted to take a taxi, thus allowing us to leave the apartment at 6:45. We leave together, and arrive at school cool, calm and collected within a few minutes.
Our cabbie, Mohamad picks up three groups from our building each morning. Sandra, the elementary principal and my buddy Phil get picked up at 6:30, Sharon and I go at 6:45, and the couple that live next door to us go at 7:00. Mohamad speaks fluent English, having lived in the states for many years. We enjoy talking local politics with him, particularly these past few weeks as the troubles in Syria spill over into Lebanon.
And boy, do we ride in style. In a Mercedes, no less. There are many, many beat up, white Mercedes in Beirut that serve as service (rhymes with niece) taxis that charge 2000LL ($1.33) per person/ride to go anywhere in town. Mohamad’s Mercedes is no exception to the rule. We often joke with him about the guy he has locked in the trunk as the car bangs and clunks it way down the road. Like most drivers in Beirut, Mohamad feels free to run red lights when he knows no one is coming. At the same time he gets upset when someone else runs the light when he has the green. Intersections are quite exciting each morning. If nothing else, our rides to work this year are entertaining.