My first weekend in SA begins nicely with trying to sleep in past 6am. It barely worked since there are these birds here that sound like they’re being killed. Either way, I woke up and got ready to go to the Internet café. I met with Hailey and went down to the little shopping center only to see that the Internet café is closed…again. Oh well, I shall survive. Luckily, there was a WIMPY near by (close to DINKY Donuts, sweet names I know). Wimpy is an odd hybrid of McDonalds and a typical sit down restaurant. It is a sit down restaurant filled with waiters and bust boys, but McDonalds type of food. I got my usual chocolate milkshake. Hailey and I began to console each other on how much we miss our boyfriends.
When we got back to the house, the car was sitting inconspicuously outside…waiting for me. I was given a ten minute verbal tutorial by Boom Boom and Tulani (who both don’t have their licenses) followed by words of encouragement by Hailey. Sibongile (the mom) hopped in the front seat and the kids in the back. I pushed the clutch in and tried to turn the car on…no response. I tried this for 5 minutes thinking I am doing something terribly wrong. Turns out the car has to be in first gear when you start it. Either way, I was demoted immediately and Sibongile gave me a little tutorial. We drove around and I was expecting to learn on something like a parking lot…or a non-congested street. Nope, in South Africa we learn by driving onto the grass of a city park. I hopped back in the driver’s seat and was so excited to finally move. I slowly pulled the clutch out, waiting for it to kick in and pushed the gas…and start off with a stall. Thinking that was totally normal, I confidently continued to try again. Thirty minutes later, we haven’t moved. Becoming increasingly frustrated, I continued to try with a little more force. Finally, I moved once and was able to drive round the park. Thankfully, I can drive once I get going. After that, I proceeded onto the road and did a little test-drive around the neighborhood with great success. Wanting to turn left, I turned my signal on and instead turned on the windshield wipers. Great, everything is opposite! The road, the signal location, and up on the signal means left/down is right. I continued onto a hill (my worst nightmare) hoping I could go once I stopped on the hill. Again, another fail… even worse I was on the wrong side of the road. A bunch of kids started to gather and watch the catastrophe unfold. The sweat began to drip down my face and I could feel myself start to go into overdrive (no pun intended). Luckily, a neighbor passed by and gave me a step by step on how to drive on a hill (how basic). Like trying to release a beached whale on the shore, I gave it a big heave and finally took off hopefully never to be seen again. Obviously, I still have to practice my starting skills but I am slowly getting the hang of it.