Monday, July 2, 2012

To Shift or Not to Shift

Oh hello, how did all of you get into my blog!? Well, while you're here, let me introduce myself. I'm Ryan and this is my first post and this actually isn't my blog. It's our family's blog, of which my wife (Kayla) will be the first author. I will be the much less frequent, so much more mysterious almost like a ghost, second author. At any rate, my two cents will get dropped in the bucket o' blogosphere every so here I go.
The first time I drove a manual car in a foreign country was in Italy during our honeymoon. The first time I thought I might die in a car in a foreign country while not actually driving was in India (i.e. car off the road in a tree (someone else's car)!, a person on a bus sleeping got bounced completely off their chair and onto the ground!). Cyprus oddly falls somewhere between the two. To start, they drive on the wrong side of the road (a new experience for me) and they drive on the wrong side of the car (also a new experience for me) and our car for the first few days is stick (never owned a manual and haven't driven one since Italy). Between Kayla and I, I'm the only one that can drive a stick (thank you to all the friends who let me practice on their cars throughout the years). What I mean to say is that I know how to drive a stick, but it is by no means second nature and with all the other factors to consider in Cyprus I'm not sure what is actually natural about it. Nevertheless, off we go into the hills of Pissouri.

View from our temporary home!

Oh, there's hills, huh!? Yes, a most-of-the-time-one-lane-windy-road takes us from the coast to the villa we are staying at and then on to the town of Pissouri. Like India and Italy, people drive fast and crazy and, moreso like India, lane lines are merely a navigational suggestion and are purely there for reference, if you so choose. However, there are no lane lines on the windy roads I've been driving for the last few days, so what reference do I have again? Oh, the road; let's stay on that. But wait, do I dodge left or right to get out of someone's way? And does uphill or downhill have the right-of-way?

The answer to the first question is that you dodge left (your side of the road). It makes sense, huh, but in the heat of the moment (i.e. a large tractor is driving on the one lane road towards you) you rely on habit, which is to say that you dodge right. This is wrong and is punishable by a death stare by the man on the said tractor. The answer to the second question is that I still don't know. My more passive nature says that I always dodge going uphill or downhill, which when driving Kayla, our nanny and our two kids, is probably always the right answer. But wait, is it possibly the wrong answer?

Lastly, technology or at least my access to this technology has improved since I last drove stick. The toyota we're borrowing actually has an indicator light that tells you when to shift. I discovered this the second day of driving here. Thank you helping hand of technology that takes the uncertainty of thought and feel out of driving a manual. Normally I watch the RPMs and listen and feel the engine. Now I don't have to. And now I can focus more on staying on the right side of the road!

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