Saturday, January 19, 2013


            After feeling so triumphant about my sleeping abilities the previous night, jetlag got the best of me last night. I woke up at 2am and couldn’t fall back asleep until after 5am. The good news is that I got some reading done, essential since I apparently packed 17 books to read during these four months. Really Scooter?
            This afternoon I was asked if I wanted to try driving for the first time—a driver had just come back from the weekly shopping trip, so I was going to drive him home, then bring the car back. While at home I had borrowed a neighbor’s stick shift to practice driving it a bit. I had learned to drive stick originally when I was 16, but after we got rid of our pickup truck I hadn’t driven one in probably 6 years. I knew that driving here would involve two fun changes: stick for the first time in many years, as well as driving on the left side of the road. I successfully drove us up to the health center to drop some items off, then one more stop at a person’s house. As the driver came back to the car it started to rain. He says “we must drive quickly because soon the roads will become too muddy.” I laugh because it’s such an African thing to say, plus how quickly will that happen anyway? Within another minute it begins to pour so hard I can barely see the road. And to answer my question: almost instantly. Suddenly stick shift and the fact that I’m sitting on the right side of the car become irrelevant—I’m more worried about seeing the road in front of me (did I mention that the sun went down instantly in the last 10 minutes? The black clouds may have had something to do with it) and sliding off into the bushes. In order to keep the windshield from fogging completely over we have to turn the heat on full blast and, rain or no, it’s summer here and freaking hot. We crack our windows but can’t open them too much without getting soaked. I make it all the way to his house, a couple miles down the road, but by this point he’s decided he’s not going to send me back alone, so we wait for another truck with two people to come get me and this truck. In the 20 minutes it takes them to come get me the roads get unbelievably worse as it continues to pour. Driven back by one of the volunteers, I’m assured that this is the worst driving he’s seen, and driving right now has nothing to do with a stick shift or the opposite side of the road. “Oh, the driver wanted me to tell you to be careful not to go off the road to the left side, because it’s a big ditch and you’ll never get the car out” I inform him helpfully. We get almost all the way back, we can see the mission ahead and we relax a little. Just as conversation moves to non-weather/driving related topics for the first time, lightning strikes directly to the right of our car, so close and loudly that we both jump to the left as if to dodge it. I return to my house to find the power is out and I’m assured that it probably won’t return until tomorrow at the earliest. Oh Africa, how I have missed you!

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