Samir, my driver from Amman to Baghdad, did not speak much if any English. We had originally been scheduled to depart from Amman at 2:00 am on last Wednesday morning, but were not able to leave until about 4:30 because of yet another delay in getting my luggage. I had explained to Samir’s boss, who spoke a little English, the reason for the delay. I am not sure how well his boss conveyed this information to Samir, because at every stop where he found someone who spoke English, Samir had a translator tell me that next time I make this trip(!), we should start earlier. He did not say why, and I thought that it was because of the afternoon traffic in Baghdad, which seemed to raise poor Samir’s blood pressure.
Throughout the trip, Samir would point off to a direction, sometimes making a motion like a missile, and say "Ali Baba"—which is local slang for bad guys. I have just heard that the Ali Baba are much more prominent on the roads after 2 pm. If we had left at 2 am as originally planned, then we would have been in Baghdad before the ever important 2 pm, but because we left at 4:30 am, we did not arrive until 4:00 pm. Samir was therefore justified in his concern.
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