A Southern Girl in South Africa

A Southern Girl in South Africa

The Chronicles of a Southern Girl's Adventures of Living, Loving, Learning, and Traveling in Africa

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A left is still a left

November 26, 2012 , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One of the most interesting and nerve-wracking challenges of living abroad is driving on the other side of the road.  I learned how to drive on the “American” side and drove there for all of my life.  One of Fungayi’s friends calls it the “correct” side.  He feels that since an American invented the car, Americans have the authority to determine which side of the road is the correct one.  🙂 Even though I’ve visited many countries where people drive on the”other” side, this is the first time I’ve actually had to do it. And it’s a whole nutha ballgame. 🙂

Learning how to drive on the other side is like being right-handed and then having someone tell you that you have to write with your left hand tomorrow.  It feels unnatural and awkward at first but eventually you get used to it.  Some of the biggest changes are that the gear shift is on the other side (this was easy) and making a right turn where there is no traffic light requires you to look in both directions, not just one (still working on this one). When I first started driving, I felt like there was an angel on each shoulder – one was telling me to drive the “American” way and the other one was telling me to drive the “South African” way.  Thankfully, the voices have quieted down (at least on this topic) but every now and again, I doubt myself in a moment of panic and confusion but I quickly get my head on straight and remember where I am and what I should be doing.  Even though so much is different, a few things remain the same that I take comfort in.  A left is still a left.  And a right is still a right.  You might have to take different things into consideration when you make each one, but the direction is still the same.

I hadn’t realised how driving on the other side affects other activities when you’re driving.  For example, when you go to a drive-in window, you have to enter the drive-thru from the left side of the restaurant and you have to pull into a parking garage on the right side of the car so you can pull a ticket.  It sounds simple enough but it’s hard as heck when you’ve always done it the other way.

Also, other stuff is on the opposite side too. For example, rotating doors rotate from left to right instead of right to left and with an escalator, you go up on the left side and come down on the left side.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the wrong side of the car or gone to the wrong side of the escalator.

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Anywho, I’m getting more and more used to it everyday (thank goodness for all the other drivers and me).  Say a prayer for me and all of them too!  🙂

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Thank God you’re young and your mind is so sharp! Gotta tell you, I likely would need quite a few lessons on very lonely roads before I would feel comfortable “out amongst the people”!!! Still, it’s good to know a left is still a left.

Debra Stokes (@WomanofWisdom)

November 26, 2012

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