Our South African Journal

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Driving in South Africa by Elder Hind

I have been driving for many years now and feel that I am pretty good driver.  Well I guess that could be a problem here in South Africa.  The many year thing. After 50 years of driving on the right side of the road it takes a while for your brain to get used to driving on the left.  I have done this left side of the road thing once before in England about 15 years ago.

Getting in on the "right" side

Trying to get in on the wrong side
Not only do you drive on the left side of the road but the steering wheel in on the right side of the car. That takes some getting used to also. The problem both Sister Hind and I have is we are always getting in the wrong side of the car. When I make this mistake I tell Sister Hind I was just being a gentlemen and opening the door for her. When she goes to the driver’s side to get in we both just laugh.  Sister Hind is my navigator, and controls the GPS.  I just don’t know what we would do without Naggy Maggie (the GPS not Sister Hind). She gets us to places we could never find on our own. In the townships you can’t find places by address you have to use coordinates and even that might not work. It is always an adventure when you try to find a house in the townships.

The steering wheel is in the wrong place!
Our sweet ride
At times I am grateful for the small 4 cylinder Nissan car we have.  Easy on gas and does great on the narrow roads.  There are times it would nice to have a truck or what they call a bakkie. Because we do things like moving missionaries, doing branch clean-up, and more importantly driving around on the dirt roads in the townships.
Elder Tibbitts in his bakkie. He is going home to Kaysville in about a week. He is a bit of a ham.

Missionary Bakkie, Elder Hind covets this
There are plenty of traffic police here in Newcastle.  I have been pulled over 3 times in 3 months. One time, for no reason I could think of, I was asked for my driver’s license. The police officer gave me a questionable look and said, “Where is Utah?”  So I said, “Western United States.” He said nothing and gave me back my license and I was on my way.

The second time I was pulled over for going 13K over the limit.  I think she saw my name badge (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and decided to let me go. That is what we call here in the mission a “tender mercy”.

The third time I was pulled over was so the officer could check all my lights and such. Passed Passed and Passed, I just had a hard time understanding his hand signals.  When he asked for my driver license I received the same look as I did from police officer number one.  He looked me in the eye and asked, “Where did you buy this license?”, and I said,” Walmart”.  I think he was joking so I was going ask him if he would like me to get him one.  No, No better not.

The only old American car we have seen here
One of the hardest parts about driving here is pedestrians on the road.  A lot of people here do not have vehicles so they walk or they take taxis or buses. There are not many sidewalks around town so they walk on the side of the roads and sometimes in the middle of the roads. When nightfall come its even scarier because people often wear dark clothes.  So you have to be alert and aware.

This is a Taxi

They are everywhere
Taxis are all over the place and they are always in a big hurry. It is the only form of mass transportation around here. They often drive over the speed limit, stop in the traffic lanes to pick up passengers, try to pass everyone on the road and are generally just very aggressive drivers. The taxis are not the familiar 4 door sedan we see back home but are small to large size mini vans. I guess they call them taxis because people on the side of the road hold up a finger or wave them down when they need a ride. They are always packed with people.  If the missionaries do not have their own vehicle this is what they use when it is too far to walk. They have buses here but I don't think they run regular routes like they do in the US.

Taxi drivers are aggressive drivers but are friendly people

They like to get their picture taken. I told this guy I was going to make him famous.

I can say the only time I might have a problem in driving is when I am distracted, like finding a destination, or when Sister Hind wants me to hold her hand. 

The End


  1. Fun to read your post, Dad! Remember, you are on a mission so no frisky business! ;)

  2. And your Walmart drivers lisence story made me laugh.

  3. You're funny Dad! I liked "the end" picture.

  4. And the fact that you posed for pics showing you getting in on the left and the right side of the car. Ha ha!