One of the first things we will have to acquire when we move to South Africa is transportation for our family. When we spent time there in 2008, we were fortunate to have made a connection with a lovely couple that was going to be visiting the USA for almost the same amount of time that we would be in South Africa. We were able to rent their vehicle from them for a much better rate than we ever would have found through a rental agency. To make this deal even sweeter, the car was an automatic. Yes, I am one of those people who has never mastered driving a stick shift. I've tried, many times in fact, but as many people know, sometimes it's just enough that I am able to keep my automatic on the road!
There are many, MANY reasons why it would be better for us to by a car with a manual transmission. First off, they cost way less to buy and maintain. Automatics are not very prevalent in South Africa, which means the ones they have cost more and it's harder to get parts for them. We also might have a harder time finding the kind of car we want with an automatic transmission, so we will have less choice, which usually means more money will need to be spent. They also cost more to fill up with gas. So money is a huge factor. Huge.
On the other hand, there's the whole issue of safety. As I already said, I am not the world's best driver. Not the worst, so please don't think you can't get in a car with me, but when it rains (or snows) my eyesight takes a terrible turn for the worse. I feel much more comfortable if I know where I am going. Otherwise I tend to freak out a bit. I like to know when I have to turn about 5 minutes before the turn comes up. It's just how I am. I don't like there to be a lot of pedestrians or bicyclists. The less stuff I have to pay attention to, the better. Especially when my kids have decided that the van is a great place to have a shouting match.
So, now imagine me, a person who likes to know where I am going and what to expect along the way (pretty easy for me here in West Michigan) moving to South Africa and driving there. First, I'll have to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road. Yep. I already have images of accidentally turning into the wrong lane and being squished by a truck. Second, there are also a lot more pedestrians on the roads. Sometimes they are even standing in the middle of traffic trying to sell you things. It is also not unusual to see cows, goats and other small animals on the side of the road. People drive by a different set of rules than they do over here. Finally, I am guessing that for the first couple years, I will have no clue where I am going, even if it is somewhere I have been before. More than once. Even more than 4 or 5 times. Yep, I am that directionally impaired. Darin could have been somewhere one time 5 years ago and he could probably still get back to the same location. I would not even attempt such a thing.
So, that brings us to today. I received an email from a blogging friend who lives in South Africa reiterating all the reasons why buying a manual in South Africa makes so much more sense. That email led my to post the following on Facebook