Wednesday, February 15, 2006

White Woman Driving...Part Two!

It's official. I am driving myself around Ghana.


As of a week ago, I am the proud owner of a 1993 Opel Astra Station Wagon. TA DA!

It's got no radio, no air conditioning, 282,000 kilometers, 3 cylinders, 5 speeds and crank windows. It came here from Hamburg Germany (Duke assures me I did not want a car that has been used in Ghana- they just take too much punishment here). Opel is part of Vauxhall and Daimler and there are hundreds of these little station wagons being sold in Europe, driven for 10 years then shipped here to be used as taxis in Accra. Hopefully, when we leave it will be easy to sell because of that.

The guy who sold it to me and his assistant cracked themselves up telling me it was "a white car for a white lady". Ha! Cracked me up too.

We (when I say "we" I mean Duke scoured Accra for me, found a bunch of cars for me to look at, haggled the price for each of them before I arrived on the scene, and helped me make my decision. Since there were two of us involved, I say "we", but of course, Duke did all the work, as usual. We paid him a finder's fee, and WE found me a car. Ha!) had it narrowed down to this one or a 1994 model that had airbags and half the miles on it, but it had a new high tech engine (the modern no-carburetor ones).

The lower miles and airbags made the '94 slightly more reliable and safe, but no one in Accra can fix it- they simply don't have the computers you have to hook 'em up to in order to diagnose a problem. For my little '93 carburetor engine, though, the mechanics who can work on it are as thick as flies on honey and the parts are easily obtainable.

We changed the oil (beyond dirty), filter, fuel filter, spark plugs and will do the oil and filters again next month because the poor thing probably hasn't had a decent glob of oil in it for a year or more...

So now I'm officially a Ghanaian driver with my own crash mobile ready to bully my way through the streets of Accra.

More or less.

Mostly less. ;-)

I can now get my own bananas and pineapples instead of waiting to do it when I'm out with Duke (we are usually in desperate need by then), and with my nice big station wagon back end, I can go on my own and get more groceries than will fit in my bicycle basket- woohoo! I have a parking permit in case I need to go pick up Cooper at school and I can run to Ted's office or a friend's house anytime without calling for Duke and waiting for him to pick me up (and co-ordinating whether or not Ted needs the car or if it's time for Duke to pick up Cooper...).

I still need (and want) Duke for trips to the busier, crazier parts of the city and it's really nice to have him drop me off and be the one who has to worry about parking.

And not to worry how many local beers I have at lunch. ;-)