Friday, February 27, 2009

Everyday living - Driving

I know I have talked about alot of this in earlier blogs but wanted to put something all together out because I had some questions...

I have said in earlier blogs that the driving was a little strange at first.. you are on the opposite side of the car on the opposite side of the road. Right turns are like left turns against traffic... So it takes alot of concentration at first. The traffic laws aren't that much different.. except there is NO turn on a red light ever.. not even for a left turn. The one thing that I have not gotten use to is the child safety.(or lack of) Here it is much more lax. I guess they have laws but they are certainly not enforced. Kids Aiden's age at home are in boosters until 80 lbs (I think) here they are just in a seat belt (if you are lucky) and alot of parents allow them in the front. Oh and they really think I am crazy when I strap Evan into a car seat which is only for babies here. Other kids Evan's age are in boosters (sometimes). It is not that they are neglectful they just don't see things the same way. And I see a grandmother pick up multiple kids from school .. like 5 little kids will just pile into the back of a small car without seat belts or anything. I find myself biting my tongue but it is their culture here. Also riding in the back of pick ups in always seen here.. The other day in the paper there was an accident because there were 27 people in the back on one!! And I am not talking about a full size.. S10 size pick ups. CRAZY!

To get a speeding ticket you will most likely get caught by a camera.. some are automated along the road but alot are guys sitting by the road with a camera taking your photo... say cheese! I guess this is a way of employing people. Also some of the terms.. traffic lights are called robots, a small pick up is not called a truck it is called a bokkie, truck is used to refer to the large commercial trucks,. They have lots of traffic circles here instead of stop signs.

The cops definately don't have a presence here and the are NOT respected at all. I was told if you need help don't go to the cops.. go to a security guard or pull into a gas station they are more helpful than the police. Which again they haven't been given the authority and have misused what they do have. Someone I know was broken into and they called the police.. the cop actually asked what they wanted them to do about it. People rarely get caught or pay for those types of crimes here. I mentioned security guards earlier.. there are a few companies in the area that are armed security for businesses, homes, etc... Atlas, Chubb, etc. These guys respond when your alarm goes off and are seen just driving around town alot as well. One of the first times we set our alarm off I was stunned when they showed up... they were wearing bullet proof vests and armed very well. I definatley wouldn't want to be the bad guy in that situation!

The other thing about driving.. the radio. Arghhhhh. There are two maybe three stations here. And the music they play stinks! Unless you absolutely love 80's and want to listen to is all the time as if it was just released! Every once in awhile they throw in a new one to throw you off. I miss XM in my car!!! Luckily we have a subscription online so we listen to XM on our computers alot.

Most of the cars here are small... the H3 and a couple of range rovers are the largest vehicles on the road. Gas or petrol,as it is called here, is regulated so you pay the same price no matter what station you go to. It is all full service which is kind of nice although it is sometimes a bit slow. Most of the workers get to work by bus or the taxis.. these are like a vw bus type van ... max capacity 10-12 usually holding 20 fly up and down the roads, honking and picking people up to take them around town. These taxis are the thing you have to watch for.. they do whatever they want whenever they want. But is the main mode of transportation for most. Right now there is fighting going on and we have had alot of taxi strikes. I don't know all the details but I do know that it is based mostly on some plans and contracts the powers to be have with the buses, and taxis for the 2010 World cup soccer games. They are building stadiums, repairing roads etc getting ready for the big event all over SA. And there disbute over the amount of "work" the taxis are getting compared to the buses and other modes of transportation for the event. So they strike which means most hard working people can't get to work. It has been going on now since we arrived .. and they randomly pick days and don't run. Such a pain... On some occasions there have been some violence when the strikes were taking place, so you just have to watch what is going on around you and watch which areas you are traveling in on the strike days.

Luckily PE is a small town that is very easy to get around in. I don't think I have gotten lost very often. And we are 5 minutes from everything.. shopping, school, restaurants, etc. So that has made things easier to get use to and get around.

This is a donkey cart... yes donkeys in the street!

This is a security company vehicle. You see more of these than police cars!

This is Scott's bokkie (or truck)

This is one of the many taxi's... this is actually a really nice one.

More to come.....

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