A lot of vehicles here are in pretty poor condition, but the one I rode in on Saturday takes the cake thus far.
I was standing alongside the road out of my village, waiting to catch a ride to the next village over. A Gogo (granny) was waiting with me, chattering on in Setswana, and I was trying to pay attention and surprisingly enough understanding most of what she said. Then a white bakkie (pickup) appears and barely makes it over the small hump in the road out of town. It finally putputs over the hump, with the driver madly twiddling with the gear shift, and pulls up next to us, and in we go.
This bakkie was tiny. If I had wanted to get into the back of it, I wouldn’t have had to climb up at all-the bed came only waist-high and was uncovered. However, the driver, gogo, and I squeezed into the front, which was impressive because it was so tiny. All cars here are stick shift, so sticking a third person in front is like playing human tanagrams or Jenga or something-an artform. My knees are touching the dash, which is amazing because I am short, that is how small the truck was! We finally get in and I go to close the door, but notice the paneling is gone, as is the window lever, and the door release is the only thing to pull on, which obviously won’t help me close the door. Luckily the window is down a bit, so I grasp the door frame and attempt to shut, and it won’t. The drive has to reach over and bang the door shut, then he wiggles the frame, checks the window, and decides it is good to go.
He then spends a minute or two revving the engine and wiggling the gear shift, until finally the truck gets into gear and we slowly move out of the village.
At this point I lose the thread of the all-Setswana conversation and try not to realize how crammed in and uncomfortable I feel. Part way down the road to the next village, the door pops open as we are driving along! Now, I am crammed against this door, and freak out internally a bit while being very grateful I didn’t fall out. That would have been an embarrassing call to PC. Anyways, I bang the door shut again, and decide that it’s probably not going to hold, so I crowd up against the gogo and hold the door shut by sticking my hand out the window and holding onto the roof. As we approached town, quite slowly, the door pops open again, but luckily I am holding it shut.
We eventually make it into the next village, with all our things and people still in the bakkie. I pay the driver and hop out to meet Lorato, and end up getting a ride to her house in a super-nice bakkie by one of her teachers.
Then we had the pleasure of riding in a ghetto kombi to Vryburg…it was gross, but it ran well.
Ahhh the adventures of rural African public transport!