Thursday, July 9, 2015

Our Missionary "Set of Wheels"

When we first arrived to serve our mission 1.5 years ago, the CES Office issued a very nice 2013 Nissan Tiida 4Dr Sedan for us to travel in. To start with, it had 12, end with we had traveled all over the place....
Each month we were required to submit a Vehicle Usage Report.  From that report, we were billed for the vehicle rental of $150. per month, plus pay for the fuel.  
Traveling on the left hand side of the road, we covered a total of 34,500 kilometers which converts to 21,437 miles.   

Some of the intersections were quite congested, at the same time we found that most every driver was considerate of one another.  The only exception to that was the taxi drivers who do whatever they want...they can run stop lights, zip around you; no need to stop unless there is another car in the intersection, basically do whatever they want.  Without question...PEDESTRIANS DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY! You take your life in your own hands when crossing an intersection, stop sign or not!
So, from the huge, downtown city of Johannesburg (8 million proper)...
to the rural backroads of South Africa we were thankful to have a good, reliable vehicle.  
It was also important to maintain your attention to what comes toward you.  If it wasn't a huge Brahma, it could be a donkey or some other critter.  Quite often we would come upon one of many vendors selling their wares: hats, sunglasses, toys for kids, pecans, oranges, brooms, mops, bubbles, soda, etc. 
During this mission we travelled in our car to the countries of Botswana and Swaziland, all over the Joburg area to visit seminary & institute classes, church meetings, home visits, made our way to the temple or get some shopping done and so forth.
Last of all, it was important to have a small coin box in the car.  Everywhere we went, there was always someone to guide you to an empty parking space or to help you back out into busy traffic.  They always appreciated a small tip! 

When we return, Sister Davie will be the car driver for a while.  It took us a while to get used to driving on the left side of the road and will be the same when we return home to get used to driving on the right side.  Even now, we'll occasionally get in on the wrong side of the car, with the steering wheel on the left, instead of on the right...what we are used to doing in the U.S.

There are cameras everywhere you go...out in the busy intersections and even way out on the back roads.  These cameras will "flash you" and eventually you'll get a ticket (two months later) that needs to be paid.  During this entire time, I only received two tickets which is considered to be pretty good for foreigners like us: 1) for "sliding through a red light" and 2) going 5 km/mi over the speed limit somewhere, wherever it was. That would be similar to going 65 in a 60 mph zone at home.  All-in-all, it generates some revenue to pay for the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) force. We understand that if you pay them at the time...they'll motion you on, while the cash goes for personal use.  

To close with, the JMPD constantly set up "stop zones" and will pull you over to check for registrations, drivers' licenses and so forth.  That has only happened twice.  Once they see the missionary badges...they simply motion us on.

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