Friday, February 27, 2015

Driving Myself Crazy

There are many things that have made transitioning to life in South Africa fairly easy. Everyone speaks English, the weather is warm and the dollar is strong. There are also things that seem extremely foreign and challenging. One such thing is driving. I have now driven a few times and I seriously wonder if I'll ever get the hang of it. Mr. Deep on the other hand would think nothing of taking off right now on a five hour road trip. He is perfectly comfortable. I guess we are just different that way.

Here are some of the things that I think make getting used to driving here extremely difficult  for an American.

1) Which side? We've been here a week and I am still about half the time walking around to the wrong side of the car to sit in the passenger seat which here is the driver's side. Old habits die hard! When you sit in the passenger seat you can't see yourself in the rear view mirror because its turned completely right toward the driver. Then when you are driving you have to stay in the left hand lane. Not a problem on a straight route but make a turn and you might fall into old habits and get in the right lane. That is until you get yelled at by your husband. Making turns when other cars are present also seems overly complicated. If you had to turn right onto a street in the U.S. and a car was stopped at a stop sign waiting to pull out from the street you were turning into, you would pay that person no mind at all. They'd just be way over on your left. Here, you have to go all the way around them so that you are staying left. And don't even think about making a right on red. You'll cut across traffic and die! So let's say you've got all of this down and you are ready to make your turn. You're going to flip on your windshield wipers to signal your turn because the windshield wipers are where the directional should be! Once you finally remember your directional is on your right, then it's all backwards anyway because you flip it up for left and down for right. All of this doesn't really matter that much because....

2) You are brand new to the area and have no idea where you are going anyway!

3) The roads and parking spaces seem overly narrow and the rental car we have seems overly wide. Someone who shall remain nameless already pulverized a side view mirror backing out of a narrow parking space where there was a pole.

4) No sidewalks and lots of pedestrians. And not just pedestrians. People walking double file, kids, people walking dogs, women balancing packages on their heads, people on bikes, some type of trash collection that looks like that large rolling canvas dumpster that people use in the states when someone leaves a job and all of their office contents get thrown away to prepare for the new employee. Only these dumpsters are piled high three times the size of the dumpster itself. 

5) How far and how fast?  I was that person in school who thought, "I'm never going to need the metric system." 

There is more that I could go into here. The traffic lights, the aggressive South African drivers, the hawkers. There is no shortage of content out on the roads. I'll save it for another time. 

Feeling good after driving and surviving! 


  1. I am planning on moving to SA one of these days and driving is probably the one thing I worry about the most. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so famous for car accidents.

    1. Don't let the concern about driving stop you from moving here. It's really not so bad although the traffic is terrible and the stop lights (called robots) often don't work. Thanks for reading!


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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.