Driving in South Africa

I have just returned from South Africa, where I witnessed the Lord working in many ways. While there, I was tasked with driving for the first time. I hope that you will enjoy my experience, as I describe the 600-700 miles that I drove from the right side of the vehicle on the left side of the road. I had to constantly tell myself, drive left and pass right. Fortunately, my first drive was short. As we arrived in Johannesburg, I had to drive from the airport to the place where we stayed for the first night. The windshield wipers would receive a workout on a dry windshield, due to the controls being in the position of our turn signal control.

Day two would be a challenging day, as it would be the first long drive that I would take. Moments after departing the place where we stayed, I would find myself on the equivalent of the interstate, where the speed limit was 120 km (72 mph). I forgot to tell you that the vehicle I had rented was an automatic, since I could not imagine having to focus on a clutch and left-handed shifting. We traveled for about eight hours on this day, with many unique driving challenges. There were scores of police out that day, running radar or just performing traffic stops. I have shared in the past that the police pull you over by stepping out into the highway, and pointing at you to pull over. The one officer that stepped out in front of me pulled the vehicle behind me – that was close.

Once we arrived in the village where we were staying, many of the roads would be dirt. I commented several times whether or not this constituted normal driving. In some cases, I was following the missionary, but that soon ended, and I was on my own for a few journeys. As I said before, the windshield wipers got their daily workout, and my team would laugh each time. There are many things to watch out for in Diphagane, like deteriorating shoulders with huge jagged drops, the epitome of speed bumps, people walking on the shoulders and in the road, animals crossing, and the dreaded roundabouts.  It becomes more dangerous at night, and though most of my night drives were short, one involved a 70 km (42 mile) one-way drive.

My most unnerving place to drive was in Jane Furse. Imagine a place where the road was used for everything, including vehicles, as well as more people than space, plus road construction. On top of this, there is one main intersection in Jane Furse, where you must literally take the bull by the horns to get through. Everyone is in a hurry.

I was never so happy to return a vehicle to the rental place as I was this one. Incidentally, gas was about $6 a gallon. May I say that I was thankful for a vehicle that got good gas mileage. Some of you might say, why would you take on this responsibility/liability? The answer is that it is a part of my journey to become self-facilitating in our work among the Pedi people. It was important for the missionaries that we serve with to see if a volunteer team driving is a viable option. We safely made it everywhere that I drove, praise the Lord.

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