It is actually happening. I am learning to drive. After passing my theory (first try *high-five) I am now going to Driving School and will soon have to master “the cones”. It’s an adventure learning to drive in Botswana. Heck, I would imagine me learning to drive anywhere would be crazy… but add in a manual, a language barrier and yes, an additional test – and we’ve got a full-scale situation. Okay, okay I might be a touch over dramatic, but still here’s a taste of my afternoon:
I walk past chickens squawking in the ditch, through the car wash, where the blaring radio overpowers my “sorry, sorry mma” as I cut past a lady manning her table of sweets. I reach my destination: driving school. I join the other learner drivers under the tree to wait. All of the stools are taken, but a kindly gentlemen lets me have his seat. It strikes me as odd, it is unusual to be given a seat, but as I sit down and realise that to truly sit won’t happen. I balance on the tripod and laugh as my driving instruction takes out his ear buds, and from his squat on a brick loudly shouts, “Sheila”.
I look to the driving school, its cones errr… pylons, set up in a dusty field, a beater car shakes and stalls as another newbie driver lets out the clutch too quickly. I technically have an appointment at 3:00 to take my half hour lesson, though I am half an hour late, but no matter, a queue was already formed of 2 people. And so I wait patiently with a book in hand, repositioning every so often as my legs begin to burn and fall asleep. I wonder that if I have to get up I might just fall over.
I am jolted out of my reverie by the sound of vuvuzelas and people hollering, the instructor jumps from his squat and starts whistling. The Zebras, Botswana’s national soccer team, have scored the first point in the match against Tunisia.
Soon it is my turn, and I take my position behind the wheel.
As I stall the vehicle yet again, my instructor says to me, “Sheila, remember what you said about feeling it? You must feel the car!” He is referring to a time earlier in the week, where after getting yelled at about the letting the clutch out too quickly, I had murmured “I guess I just have to feel it…” to which he responded with a grin: “are you feeling it Sheila?”
Just another day in the life.