Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Driving in Botswana
The passenger in the front seat has the responsibility to call out: keep right, pot hole, donkey, cow, sheep etc, or walker. Some other things we have learned are that an overpass (over railroad tracks) is a fly, a robot is a traffic light and the streets have names but we are the only ones who know those names...because the streets have NO SIGNAGE! Here are the directions to our new apartment from our old apartment: Turn right on the main street by your flat, go straight through the round-a-bout and turn left at the four-way stop, then turn into your flat complex. (Of course we didn't know that it would take us about 20 minutes to get to the 4 way stop!)
There are interesting "robots"on the major streets here. Some blink red all the time, some aren't turned on and some actually work. The yellow lights are a "suggestion" to get ready to stop. However, NEVER go as soon as the light turns green. Big mistake. Someone always runs the red light and you don't want to get smashed. Don't stop at the blinking lights unless there is someone you need to yield to. If you stop too quickly someone will rear end you because they weren't planning on stopping.
Round-a-bouts are also a kick. These round-a-bouts are on major intersections and you can see them on the map as the small circles. People really whip through them and you have to be really careful not to smack the car next to you. Everyone is really aggressive and goes into the smallest opening possible. Horns are frequently honked. When a driver gets aggravate they raise both hands above their head and shake them letting you know that you are an "imbecile". (Both hands instead of a pointed finger)
As one of our assignments we are in charge of the cars in Botswana. Sounds easy enough. Yeah, right. We have been driving the "cow car" named because of the cow wreck that put it in the body shop. In our area we also have the "donkey car". The donkey was hit by a truck, which then flipped over the truck and was hit by one of our cars. The rule is that if you hit an animal during the day, it's your fault and you must pay for the animal but if you hit one at night, you can just drive on. Not your fault. We are still waiting for the left side rear view mirror for the cow car.
OK, so Sunday on our way home from Molepolole we got a call from the Sisters. They were in an accident. They needed our help ASAP because the police were taking them to the police station to get their statements. Their car already needed a new battery, we had jumped it that morning. Imagine our surprise when we found out that they had borrowed the elders car and wrecked said car. We got to spend our Sunday afternoon at the police station. The other driver was a grandpa with his daughter and wife. Oh my, they were unhappy! They wanted their car paid for immediately or at least given some pula (money) so that they could ride public transportation (Combies--a Toyota Van filled to capacity and then about 6 or more people). Now, the man had a point, our Sisters pulled out from a stop sign and broadsided his car. (It was raining pretty hard at the time). When we all got home, we went to break our fast but dad couldn't think about eating our crock pot dinner of potatoes and pork so he took most of it over to the Sisters to share. They were pretty excited for a hot meal and some comfort food.
Now, because of Sunday, our preparation day got off to an interesting start. At 8:30am we had to meet the elders (who had the sisters car) to get a new battery. It only took us 30 min. to find the battery shop. Remember no street signs, so the elders directed us and stood out front of the store until we found it. In the mean time the Labotse elders were having a problem with bad tires. We met them to get new tires on their car. Imagine our surprise when we saw the damage that had happened to their car when a beer truck had run into them. Oops. Someone forgot to file the accident report. Anyway, we took the elders to Broadhurst elders for the day. Next we went back to the police station to see when we could get a copy of the sisters accident report. It will take 3 days from when the fine is paid. The sisters came down to pay the fine, we found the line of people that were waiting to pay fines. Just as we arrived there, people started leaving. We asked where they were going. Apparently the person taking fine money had run out of receipts in his receipt book so everyone either had to come back the next day or find an other police station to pay at. (This was all before 11:00 am Monday)
Next, we went to Specialized Panel Beaters, the auto body shop the church contracts with to do their car repairs. We had our sisters there and Albert, the man they had run into. We left with calendars and pens for the new year. (All of this would have happened faster if we hadn't gotten lost several times.....once again, no signage!)
After all of that excitement we went to clean our new apartment. At 2:00pm While traveling there, we got a call from the elders that the tires were on their car however, the rims were bent so an alignment couldn't be done. Oops. We went to Tyre World to try to find out what the situation was. Yes, indeed the elders needed new rims. We called the mission fleet manager to see what we should do. 3 of the 4 hubcaps on the car were missing. The fleet manager told us to get mag rims for the car. They weren't much more expensive and we won't need hubcaps to keep the car looking nice. Imagine our surprise when the car pulled out of the shop with shiny silver and red mag rims! The elders were more than delighted. We were aghast! Another big Oops! Oh well, a greeny mistake. Next time we will check to see what the mag rims look like. We think they gave us a deal, the mag rims were cheaper than the standard rims, so they must have been trying to get rid of them. I'm sure that soon it will be the talk of the mission.
But to top off the day, when we arrived home, we found that my computer had been stolen. Arghh. Luckily we have Carbonite so it's more of a pain in the neck that a complete disaster. Thanks Russ, for downloading my files.
Tonight after we called the fleet manager about the "beer truck" car, we called the Lobatse zone leaders to find out about the accident because the fleet manager hadn't heard about it. SHOCK! We found out that the zone leaders car is being repaired from a second accident they had. Oh my. We didn't know we had a car in the shop getting fixed!
We are flying pretty blind. The Kimballs, the couple we replaced, left unexpectedly last week because of a serious illness of Sister Kimball. There is so much we don't know but I'm sure it will all unfold in time.
We are meeting with the Stake President, President Clement Matswagothata (pronounced Mat-swa-hotata) Sunday to see which ward or branch he would like us to work with. You would like our Stake Pres. He's 32 and totally amazing. He was the bishop of the YSA ward in Gaborone before his call to be the president of the first stake in Botswana.
We are happy and loving the work.