Thursday, March 26, 2009

buying a car in namibia

The first 10 days we were here, we were in Windhoek, doing admin type stuff, to be legal to work here. And we knew we wanted a car, but what kind? It was entertaining listening to 2nd hand car salesmen. (Well, it would have been, if it wasn’t so hot when we were looking) Everyone had advice. And stories. The best was the one of the 2 tourists in their 4x4 caught in a river for 4 days surrounded by crocodiles. The roads here are either tarmac, dirt or really rough. The dirt roads get muddy after the rains, then regraded each year. There are so many accidents, especially tourists, that car rental companies can’t get insurance. People go mad with the 4x4 and also too too too fast on the tarmac’d roads (speed limit is 120 kph, many people go 159 kph, because that’s the limit you don’t go to jail for) There are lots of Germans who are familiar with the Autobahn.

We wanted something reliable, powerful enough for the dirt roads of Namibia, but not necessarily a 4x4, we didn’t want something too flashy, and we were aware that the ability to give lifts was a bonus. Based on the difficulty we had with a VW in Western Newfoundland, we wanted something easy to find parts! Well, pretty much everyone agreed that Toyota was the most widespread car in Namibia. So one of the VSO staff scouted for one for us. He found a Toyota Condor. It’s a 7 seater, 2.4 l engine, a bit higher off the ground, (better for clearance, and seeing the animals) and our contact assured us the engine was fantastic. Of course the seatbelts, fuel cap, radio, window winders, back seat security, tires, spare tire restrainer could all be fixed… Well, they have been fixed now, but it took a while, and a lot of Mark’s patience. I would lose it every time I spoke to the guy. The tires really were bald, and we were planning on buying new ones, but didn’t before one of them exploded. Really. I’ve never seen anything like it. It tested our jack and pump, and found both wanting. However Namibian helpfulness was not wanting, and all was well. We now have 5 new tires, and I’m a lot happier about it. Oh, the radio isn’t fixed, tho’. And the starter motor packed it in the day after we bought it. But again, we learnt how to get things done, and it’s all fixed now.

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