Sunday: I drive into town before church to pick up a young couple who requested a ride. First I’m delayed for ten minutes at the railroad crossing up the hill from our house, where cleanup is underway of the wreckage created when a truck drove into a train the previous afternoon. I subsequently spend twenty minutes at the entrance to the market watching two trucks dancing back and forth, attempting to navigate the sharp, narrow curve. Finally I pass through the market to the couple’s home, and we arrive at church only a few minutes late. (I’d left early!)
Monday: My car starts making a loud clanking noise just as I arrive at a meeting on the other side of town, so afterwards, instead of heading home for supper, I ask Bonifácio to meet me at our organization’s headquarters to examine the problem. But I’m delayed for an hour in a horrific traffic jam, nerves on edge at the harrowing experience of gambling on which side I should veer towards as I inch along in the confusion. My phone, which is about to run out of battery charge, dings with messages from our arriving house guest saying that he’s nearing the bus station where I promised we’d pick him up — on the other side of the traffic jam. I text Bony a request to send a taxi to the station. I finally arrive on our property, where Bony examines the wheel and informs me that the problem can only be addressed the following day. After I’d had a relaxing swim, the taxi drops off our guest, who, as Bony begins driving us all home in our car, warns us that the clattering means the vehicle shouldn’t be driven. So we leave it in town and call another taxi to take us home.
Tuesday: Just as I’m leaving work on foot, Bonifácio calls to say that our car is repaired, so I take it to visit friends and buy groceries on the way home. But the dirt road out the back side of the market has soft spots which were worsened by that afternoon’s rain, so the car sticks fast in the mud. I turn on four-wheel drive, overdrive, and power drive (yes, you too would need all three if you lived here!) and step on the gas, but the car still won’t budge forward. Thankfully, though, in reverse, the car gains enough traction to climb out of the mire. A passerby then shows me which side of the road ahead has firmer ground under the puddles, and I make it safely home.
Wednesday: The workday begins with suspense to see how badly my director’s daughter’s car was damaged by her driving it the previous evening without oil valves, not realizing there was a problem until it suddenly stopped. Our mechanics had been repairing it, and I had accurately communicated to her that they had fixed everything essential for it to be driveable; but what neither she nor I knew was that in the subsequent process of fixing periphery matters they had removed essential parts from the car. After the mechanics spend that morning towing and checking the vehicle, we all cheer to discover that God has answered our prayers and the motor is undamaged!
Thursday: On my way home from work, a police officer on foot at a checkpoint signals for me to stop. She asks whether I’m American and where I live, then requests to see the vehicle’s documents. She finds a grey stripe on my SUV and indignantly demands to know why the vehicle is registered as being white when it is in fact white and grey. She mentions that this infraction merits a fine, but instead of slipping cash to her to avoid it, I congenially thank her for pointing out the discrepancy and ask how we can correct the registration. Uninterested in that route, she eventually announces she will write me a $15 ticket, so I obligingly hand her my ID card to facilitate the process — calling her bluff. She quickly changes the conversation topic, and after I cheerfully chatter for a few minutes about my home and work life, showing her a family photo on my phone, she returns all my documents and bids me goodbye.
Friday and Saturday: I’m sorry to disappoint you, but Friday and Saturday brought nothing more than the normal African driving experiences. Yet don’t you think I’d already had enough vehicle-related escapades between Sunday and Thursday? These adventures were all in a week’s driving!