Poor Skills Taught: I realize Duckpound (my instructor) barely speaks English, but he knows the words for clutch, brake, accelerate, 1, 2, 3, 4. However, he can’t be bothered to give instructions as he spends the entire time on his cell phone and seems to forget I am actually driving the car. The only instruction I ever heard was, “Slow down! You are turning too fast!” Apparently no one here takes a curve above 5 miles an hour. I remind him I know how to drive and thus I know what speed is appropriate to use on a curve. He doesn’t believe me.
100% Guarantee You WILL be Pulled Over by the Police: Nope, not the student, the instructor. Speaking of cell phones, on Monday Duckpound picked me up for my lesson and as he was heading to the location so I could drive he texted THE ENTIRE WAY! I wasn’t particularly comfortable with this, but didn’t actually say anything until I saw two men in bright yellow shirts on bicycles. “Hey Duckpound, are those bicycle police?” “Yeah.” “Do you think maybe you should stop texting?” “No, they aren’t patrolling for me.” HA! The cops rode up along both sides of the car and told him to pull over. After about ten minutes of back and forth they gave him a citation.
Cruising for Dates: When Duckpound isn’t talking on his phone, texting or yelling at me to slow down he is checking out the ladies. Every time we would drive by a woman walking along the street he would smile, turn around and shout something at her in Setswana. It is interesting to note, none of these women ever smile when this happens. I know when I was a young, cute thing I always looked forward to the day some driving instructor would lean out the window at me and call me over, kind of like people do with their dogs, “Here girl! Goooooooood girl! Who loves you?”
Cheating: My driving lessons are supposed to be 30 minutes. However, not one has lasted more than 22. Yes, I keep track because I want to get my money’s worth. It is very important I get my full half hour of “Slow down!,” meeting Gaborone’s finest bicycle police, and witnessing how to unsuccessfully pick up a girl that will probably land you in jail. Duckpound, didn’t your mother teach you to stay away from girls wearing school uniforms? But nevertheless, I want my 30 minutes of driving practice.
Stealing: When I signed up for my driving lessons I asked for a receipt. Duckpound told me his boss had the receipt book and he would have to give it to me another day. This did not surprise me as this is how things operate in Africa. (Last weekend I went to a Food and Wine Festival and there were no glasses because they were locked up in a storage closet and the person with the key hadn’t arrived to work yet. Did I mention we arrived three hours after the event began? I’m curious how they served wine during the first half. “Here, just tilt your head back and open your mouth; I will pour you a taste.”) Today I finally got to see the owner of the school. He asked why I hadn’t come by for lessons yet. I informed him I had been taking lessons for an entire week and I wanted part of my money back. He found that interesting seeing as that he hadn’t been given my money yet from Duckpound. The owner and I cornered Duckpound who admitted he had spent the money. The owner told me to return tomorrow and he would “try” to get me my money back. I’m not holding my breath.
We Will Help RUIN Your Relationship!: Sadly, this is a true story. I came home one day from driving lessons and was so incensed by Duckpound’s foolishness that I vented my frustrations to the man I’ve been seeing. Apparently my communication skills have grossly diminished since I came to Africa because he interpreted my complaints to mean something entirely different. No matter how many times I said, “I’m upset about my driving lessons; this has nothing to do with you; stop telling me I’m pretending to be angry at my driving instructor to disguise the fact I’m mad at you; that’s not what’s going on here!” the message was not received.
To recap, I have wasted approximately 104 minutes attending poorly instructed driving lessons; I am out 290 pula which Duckpound probably used on an underage date so I have little hope of ever seeing that again, and my "big house" and I broke up as a result of a bizarre miscommunication/argument which reached a point of no return. This was the BEST INVESTMENT EVER! Everyone who comes to Botswana should take driving lessons. I highly recommend the Ke Ja Lebidi Driving School on Jawara Road; they won’t actually teach you how to drive well, but chances are they will make you feel (temporarily at least) as if they are destroying your life.