Never have these words rung more true than for me right now. The big news is, yes, we rented a car!!! And we have it for a long time! We knew we needed one for Namibia because it’s very difficult to get around on public transit. Then we decided we wanted a car for the Northern Cape area because there are several really awesome-sounding parks with great hiking and/or animals. Long story short, we decided to rent a car in Port Elizabeth and keep it until Windhoek, Namibia for a total of 52 days. It’s awesome having a car. We have the freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want. The world (i.e. South Africa and later Namibia) is at our fingertips.
There are, however, a few caveats to driving in South Africa that I will probably get used to right around the time we have to return the car:
1)You must drive on the other side of the road. Yes, the one that goes against all instinct when behind the wheel. It’s really been just a matter of constantly reminding myself which lane to be in at all times. The scariest parts are when you have to turn because then you have to think about it – left turns are now easy but right turns you have to look both directions before going or it could be the last thing you forget to do.
2)The driver’s seat is on the right side of the car. This sounds like merely a trifle after having to drive on the other side of the road, but really it’s not. It means that your spatial relationship with your car and where it is on the road is off kilter, most notably the entire left side.
3)It’s a stick shift. And yes, I did already know how to drive a stick, thanks to Anne who taught me on her car last year in Dutch Harbor. It’s just different here what with the speed limit being above 30 mph, there being more than five cars on the road at a time, all the traffic lights, and lots and lots of pedestrians. Also you shift with your left hand. The car has been a really good sport while I deal with all these nuances of driving. While I do tend to stall out occasionally, I like to think it’s usually just when I have to go from a dead stop on an uphill part of the road. This seems to occur with most stop signs that I’ve encountered but so far has not deterred me in the slightest!
We have a car and we’re going to use it!!!