I arrived in Joburg yesterday.
Driving back from the airport I am always elephant-shrew-in-the-headlights silent. Jaw dropped. Breathe. All those billboards! Just breathe. There is so damned much to take in. The cars! Everyone seems to know what they’re doing and where they’re going. And there is so much stimulus, I feel like a four year old at a strobe lit disco.
And on the way home we stop off at the shops. Man! How many washing powders do they actually make? Do we really need so much choice? A whole aisle of biscuits? All those neatly wrapped veggies, all looking perfect. My first two days in a big city like Joburg I just walk around like a head injury victim. Dazed and amazed.
And I say hello to everyone. And people look at me weird.
And then I get right into it and forget I am a country bumpkin, pumpkin, and turn into a straight-ahead-staring-cell-phone-talking-bump-into-strangers busy person. Kinda.
One thing I have never conquered though, is driving in town. I learned to drive at a very young age – as soon as I could reach the pedals - propped up on cushions so I could see over the steering wheel. This was in the bush though, on the abandoned airstrip, through the dongas and on dusty back roads. I am good at driving in the bush, in the mud, four-wheel drive, all that stuff. Town though, is another matter. The first time I drove in town – in Lusaka – I was with Shadreck in Cairo road, the busy centre of town. Shadreck pulled over and said, “Okay, now drive”. “Wha? Nononono I can’t I’ll cause an accident. I’ll kill us all. Nonono!” He would hear nothing of it. So I nervously took over and within the first minute a taxi shot past me and yelled out the window, “unapunzila kuti ku endesha galimoto iwe?” (Where did YOU learn how to drive) and I yelled back “Mfuwe!” And all was understood. Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny. Anyway, now that I live in a town I am better at traffic driving. In fact driving in Arusha is taking life into your own hands. There are no rules. I am not exaggerating. A car will overtake an overtaking car on a blind bend and you must just get out the way, into the ditch if needs be. Its true, ask anyone. But. The thing about that is people are terrible drivers and make mistakes all the time so they are prepared when you make a mistake. In joburg though, as I said before, everyone seems to know where they’re going. There is no hesitation, everything flows so smoothly and so fast!
But. Since I am here for a over a month I shall try and get over my silly traffic fear and get out there. Drive.
If you hear nothing else on this blog you’ll know what happened.