Tuesday morning I dropped Sarah Catherine off at school and headed for the Driver's License place again.
I arrived about 7:45. They didn't open until 8:30, so I pulled in line behind 2 other vehicles on the side of the road waiting for RATZA to open. Around 8:30 I walked over to the gate and asked if they were open yet. The men in the office were not there yet so I stood around a few more minutes since I wanted to be in the beginning of the line.
My appointment was at 9 hrs, but that didn't really matter. The man arrived and took my forms and papers again. He said to wait by the car. So I waited. About 9:45 the instructor walked over to the car to start the driving test, then he said there is a problem and asked me to go back to the office. I went in and they told me that I did not have the booking form. I showed them the paper that the office had stapled to my other forms last week when I had to apply for another test. The man said sorry that is not the right thing. That is only a receipt and we need the form to write on whether you pass or fail the test. He said they had been having the same problem with others and the man at the downtown office was making lots of mistakes.
I tried to appeal to him saying that it was not my fault that they made a mistake and can't they just test me any way and write things down on a piece of paper. Well no they can't he said and that I needed to go to a totally different office outside of town about 30 minutes from there and get it quick otherwise that office would mark fail if I didn't show up there. I was to go there get the form and then come back.
Well I was not happy. No smiling face from me. Not happy is mild. I was frustrated and upset. So I checked the clock to see what time it was. I had exactly one hour before I had to pick Sarah up from school. I decided to go and give it a try. Things were sailing along smoothly, making good time, picking up speed when all of a sudden outside of town in the middle of the road a police officer pointed at me to pull over. I was picking up too much speed.
I circled around and pulled off the side of the road. A police woman came over and said hello my sister.
I was going over the limit. She then asked where my instructor was, because I was speeding with L ( stands for Learner ) plates on the car. Oooo. Yikes. I was a bit apprehensive of what was to happen next. When someone has their Provisional License they are supposed to drive only with someone who has a Zambian license, with the L plate attached to the back and front of the car.
Well when you take the test you are supposed to put these plates on the car. A man stands at the DL place and for about 2.25 you pay for the use of the plates.
When it was decided I could not test like I was going to, the man took the plates off the front and I guess he forgot the back.
So here I am now pulled over for speeding with L plates on the car and no instructor. On my way to get the form so I can go test again and have a license.
I prayed and spoke to the woman kindly. I explained that I had a real license but it was not Zambian and then showed her my KY license. I told her I was in the process of trying to transfer to a Zambian license.
She said ok and was kind but said I owed 70,000 Kwachas (about 15 dollars) I told her I did not even have that much money with me ( not that it was a lot, but I didn't have it) and she said that I would need to go downtown and pay for it at the police station. She took down my info and then let me go. I was thankful and kept on to my destination. I kept checking the hand drawn map of where this testing ground was and finally found the right road. I went down a ways and did not see it so stopped a couple times to ask where it was. I finally saw it and pulled into the parking lot, and started heading for the office with about 20 people staring at me.
I walked in and saw the form with my picture sitting on the empty desk. Great! they have it. I asked for it and the woman said, "you are late". I had to then explain to her that the form was sent to this office by mistake and I was testing at a different location and they called about it. She looked over the forms and then signed something and handed it to me! Yes. I was so happy that part went smoothly. I hopped in the car, and headed back, watching my speed the whole time.
I picked Sarah up from school at exactly the right time. I then took her home and had to get petrol in the car and then started to head back that way to take the test. Enock called while I was at the gas station to ask if he could ride along and see how they do the testing. So I picked him up as I drove past the house and we headed to the testing center.
We arrived and I handed the forms to the man again and he said ok go wait.
So we stood under the tree with all the other men and one woman waiting for the test. There was only one instructor for the day and so things were moving even slower than last time. The man that tested me the first time was not there and I was so thankful. We waited more and then I realized that they were not going to get to me before lunch. Things pretty much shut down here from 12:30 or 13:00 until 14:00. The guard even closed the gates and everyone was starting to settle in for another hour and a half wait until they came back for lunch. I was quite disappointed when all of a sudden I heard "Megan…Megan" The instructor was walking over and said, "Let's go". So I took my test. This man was much better, didn't say more than a couple things and tell me which way to go. I even at one point approached a stoplight and he said these are broken just go ahead and go. The whole test was probably less than 10 minutes and I was back at the testing yard. He didn't say anything like, "You passed" but just handed me the signed forms and said to go turn them in.
I was very happy and thankful and smiling again.
I walked over to turn in the form and another man in the office said, well at least you got it now.
Then the man looking over more forms said, It shows that you didn't pay for this booking. You are going to need to pay. I was very adamant and said, I have paid two times because I have been tested two times.
He continued to say it, and I was not in the mood or backing down either. I think he was ready to go to lunch and get rid of me so he finally signed and stamped it and then said you can go tomorrow downtown to pay for the real license.
So you pay for the provisional, then you pay for the testing then in my case you pay for the testing again and then you pay for the actual license. So next step is to go downtown and pay for the license. Then I will wait several weeks and then hopefully go to the final office and get the actual license.
James just got his today.
Entering and leaving the yard, there is a washed out part of the road. No matter how you take it, it's a big bump. So as I was leaving I hit the bump pretty hard and almost took out one of the orange plastic cones that was marking the entrance. It was pretty funny and I don't think I have seen Enock laugh as much as he did at that. As if to say, I got my license now see my driving.
While I was testing Enock told me he talked to a man who had taken the test 3 times, made to fail and then in the end he paid some "fees" so he could get the license. The man was upset and said what is this world coming to? I tried to apply biblical principles and it didn't work.
Evidentally they don't string muzungus along failing them again and again the way they do others. Because they know that they would complain and take it to a higher officer, or maybe they work at an Embassy.
So in my case they tried once failed and seeking a bribe and then they passed. Same with James.
On the one hand I am glad I passed, and on the other it is not fair to treat me better than they do their own people. I don't like that.
So the end of the driving saga but not necessarily the license. Will let you know when I get that one.
James brought home the door today. I had mentioned earlier that he gave dimensions and order a door, when it came home it was too wide and would not fit. So more hassle, ordering again, waiting and waiting. We checked on it on Monday. They told James it was not ready because the power was out for two days. Ok. But they work outside with no power tools so what does that have to do with anything? It just wasn't ready. But today it was. He brought it home… Too tall. Again they got it wrong. How is that possible when you have the dimensions, to get it wrong again?
Well there was no taking it back so James asked Enock to come in and they started sawing and planeing it down to fit. Now there is a door hanging on our room once again.
Weeks like these past few (and there are so many more "stories" I could tell, landlords and banks, the internet more non existent than existent, etc) are when I say, "Africa...sigh...It is starting to get to me."