The other day I had to drop one of the staff members, Phineas, off at the gate at 8AM. I was supposed to take our car, because I can’t drive stick, but because Lance had disconnected the battery and told me I would need tools to connect it again, I had told Phineas in the morning to help me with it before we would to leave. At 8 he was ready to go, but still hadn’t put the battery together. He quickly helped me with it, but somehow the car wouldn’t start. We tried and tried and tried, but nothing happened. Meanwhile it was almost half past and we really had to leave for him to make it to his appointment. Nicole had told me he was able to drive, just not legally allowed, because he didn’t have his drivers license yet, but since we would just be driving inside the reserve and not on the actual high way, I figured we would take the bakkie and he would drive to the gate and I would somehow make it back to the lodge. I had driven manual once, without much success, but we’d figure it out 🙂
After a lot of stalling, I realized Phineas couldn’t drive AT ALL! We somehow made it to the end of the road, nearly running some impala over, while I’m waving my arms, clapping and yelling at them to get out of the way. Once we got going we were ok, but we now he had to turn the corner and this didn’t go quite according to plan. He drove straight up to a tree, while I yelled at him to turn the steering wheel or break. For some reason he didn’t know how to brake, turned the wheel so hard, we went off the other side of the road, driving straight into some trees and got stuck on a massive rock, front wheels off the ground. “Oh Shit!” is all I could think.
I wasn’t so worried about the car or being eaten by lions, or angry elephants, I was more worried about him not getting to his appointment on time. Now the irony of the whole story is, that Phineas was on his way to get his drivers license! I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. There we were, stuck on a rock, in the middle of the bush, while a giraffe strolled past. We quickly jumped out of the car to assess the damage. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and while Phineas tried reversing, Debrah and I pushed the car to get it off the rock. After 20 minutes of trying we somehow managed to get it free and make it to the gate. I’m still confused why I let him drive again, but I didn’t think I would be any better at it, so I got in the back, standing outside, ready to jump out if I had to, laughing with Debrah at how crazy this whole situation was.
At the gate, Phineas apologized many, many times, feeling bad he had caused us to crash, but I assured him the car was fine and so were we. All he had to worry about, was get to wherever he had to go for his test. While he ran off to get a lift into town, Debrah and I got into the car. I reversed, did a 3 point turn, managed to get it into 2nd gear and drove straight to the lodge, without stalling ONCE! I couldn’t believe it!
When we go back to the lodge, Lance walked out with his mouth wide open as if to say: “What the hell?!?!” “Since when can you drive stick?!?!”. I laughed so hard, telling him what had just happened, feeling quite proud of myself, while at the same time wondering why I hadn’t driven in the first place. I guess I had underestimated myself quite a bit and proven once again, that the best way to learn new things is by being thrown into the deep end and having no choice than to just do it. It seems to have worked pretty well for me these last couple months anyway 🙂