Big day, guys. Today, Al and I became the proud owners of a 2008 Toyota Yaris. We went to the “car dealership” (full disclosure: it’s a repo lot) this morning and then I attempted to drive myself back home, following Al.
But first we had to get gas at a specific gas station, because the dealership/repo lot had given us a voucher for 100 R worth of petrol at a nearby filling station. They told us the station was easy to get to: “You just go right, then right, then right.” That seemed easy enough. I got behind the wheel of the new car and Al drove the rental and we set off to find the gas station.
Next thing we knew, we were driving through Alexandra (known as Alex), a township in Joburg. This was not ideal. It was my first time driving more than a block on the left side of the road (and on the opposite side of the car) in South Africa, and I immediately was forced to navigate through a sea of people, trucks, motorcycles, and general sketchiness. Our GPS was chirping at me in an Irish accent to “turn left” and “enter the roundabout” but I couldn’t turn left and didn’t see any roundabouts, so we ended up doing several, highly stressful laps around Alex before we made it to the gas station.
After we finally found the filling station, I followed Al back to our apartment building and we managed not to end up in any more slums.
Before leaving for his office, Al told me I did “great” except to watch for left-hand drift. Huh? Apparently, being accustomed to being on the other side of the car while driving, I tend to drift over to the left while driving here, which is probably a nerve-wracking experience for anyone in the lane next to me. Not for me, though – I was blissfully unaware of any such drifting, and will probably continue to be.
There were also a couple times while I was driving, especially after turns, where I had to remind myself, LEFT SIDE. I want to be driving on the LEFT SIDE.
I’m sure all of this will get easier. In the meantime, since it’s raining lions and dingos today, I have big plans to take the car to the gym, which is one block away. It’s good to have wheels!