We really need a car here. We have been lucky to have drivers take us around when we need to go somewhere, but we really need our own form of transportation.
Week 1: One of Sandy’s colleagues started helping us look for a used car within our price range.
Week 2: We decided to purchase a Toyota Rav-4 from another of his colleagues but at the last minute, it was sold to another buyer.
Tuesday, Week 3: Sandy looked at several other Rav-4s and settled on a green one. The seller ended up being really sketchy and tried to manipulate us into paying 200,000 kwatcha more than the agreed price.
Thursday, Wee3: Instead, Sandy found another Rav 4, one that was even better than the sketchy lady’s car and agreed to buy it from a really lovely couple that Friday.
Friday afternoon, Sandy got the keys to our new car. He was SO excited – he was giddy – jumping up and down, playing with the power windows, buffing the dashboard with his sleeve. He picked me up and we decided to go out to dinner. He drove really well considering he was driving a manual on the other side of the road.
About seven minutes into this drive, we were climbing the small hill outside of the Mt. Soche hotel, when all of a sudden, the car dies. Dies Dies Dies. Won’t turn on, won’t crank, won’t do anything. We’ve had this car for an hour!?
A few taxi drivers rush over from outside the hotel and help us move it to the side of the road. They ask the obvious question: is there enough petrol? There was. We opened the hood – Sandy and I combined have virtually no car-fixing experience. But we stared at it all the same, willing it to heal itself.
Sandy calls the couple we bought it from, who raced out to meet us. They were shocked that something like this could happen. It’s obvious they love this car and have taken great care of it. They went out and got their brother and cousin who are good with cars. They stared at the engine and fiddled with a few things. Then Sandy’s work colleague came out and stared at it and fiddled some more.
We stood there for two hours – staring at people stare at our new car. While waiting, I asked the couple if the car has a name. They looked at me for a few seconds. “No, no, the car doesn’t have a name,” they replied slowly, as if talking to a small child. I told them that growing up, all of our cars had names. They seemed to like the idea (or were humoring me) and we spent a few minutes discussing potential names.
Eventually, we decided to tow the car and deal with it in the morning. When I say tow the car, don’t get the wrong idea. There was no tow truck. Instead, they tied a rope between the front bumper of our car and the back bumper of their Rav 4. They put the car in neutral and the couple’s cousin steered it. That’s how it was towed.
Saturday, Week 3: Several mechanics tried to fix it, but no luck.
Sunday, beginning of Week 4: the couple brought the mechanic who has always serviced this car (“the best mechanic in Malawi”) to take a look. In one hour, he identified the problem, fixed it, and we were on our way. It ended up that the timing belt had slipped or something like that.
So now, almost a month later, we have a great car, 100% fixed and working! now we just need a name…