I am not crying!

By March 21st, 2014

Family & Friends,

I will never, never ever drive in Rwanda . . .  until tomorrow.  Tomorrow came on Sunday.  It was beautiful and traffic very light.  I remembered all the correct turns and arrived at church early.  Then I saw the gas needle pointing to “empty”.  Was that mostly empty or completely empty?  (Princess Bride was helpful here)  I knew of one gas station that seemed light years away.  I arrived not knowing that I did not have enough money to fill it up.  Thankfully, you have to tell how many francs of gas you want.  I guessed an amount, but the gas tank door was locked.  I could not find the release.    I fumbled for the car manual, but was sure that it did not exist.   It was right in the glove compartment like it should be!  Then I discovered the manual was written in German and some language with Ümlauts.  Before I could sweat through my Sunday clothes, the attendant lifted my floor foot pad to reveal the hidden lever.  I arrived home safe and sound and a little over confident.

Unfortunately, Monday followed Sunday.  I needed to drive a mission staff member to the bank to solve a few problems.  The bank was in downtown Kigali known as chaos central.  Here there is less space and more cars so people are naturally more anxious and risky.   We found a good parking place.  Then I remembered, I can’t parallel park.  My blind eye distorts distances.  I tried anyway at the subtle encouragement of my passenger – “Hurry, hurry, get in!”  My eight point maneuver resulted in success, but created a line of unhappy Kigali campers.  Two hours later my bank problems were solved according to the bank.  Then I remembered, I can’t unparallel park.  My windows were all fogged up after a surprise shower.  The street parking guy took my money and demanded “Go quickly, quickly.”  I wiped the windows, lurched, stalled, and I was going to cry, but my passenger said, “Go, go, go!”  The eight point reverse maneuver now had people forcing their way past as I tried to get out.  Then I faintly heard a gentle African accent say, “Do you want me to drive?”   I said firmly, “No, it’s my car.  And no, I am not crying!  That is sweat.”   I am pleased to say that nothing got killed, but a little over confidence. 

Rwandan Rookie, G

gfriesen@multnomah.edu

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