Saturday, March 19, 2011


Meet Cleo, our beautiful little Renault Clio who joined our family a little over a month ago! She is tiny but swift and though i can't drive her yet, she has been a lifesaver! She has made our commute to the school a DREAM at any time of day, and grocery shopping is a breeze! So back to this little problem of not being able to drive... I may have mentioned this earlier, that when we first arrived in Fonty I had a list of possible things for me to do in the year that included, but was not limited to: writing my thesis, learning how to speak french, learning the art of french cooking, spending more time doing art, writing a blog, running 10k, and learning how to drive a manual car. When we first got Cleo, I was super excited to start! P drove her out of her parking spot so that I wouldnt hit anyone, and then gave me my first basic lesson. I stalled three times and then we were moving! I switched into second gear and, too afraid to slow down and risk stalling again, I took a quick left hand turn and drove down our entire block very happy with myself. I stopped responsibly at the stop sign and waited for the other cars to go by. By this time, a black sports car revving his engine had pulled up behind me. It was my turn to go so I put the gas on and stalled. Then stalled again. And again! The driver behind me in the sports car strated revving his engine even harder and honking his horn so I got super flustered and after a few more unsuccessful tries, made P switch with me! As P got out of the car and walked around the back of it, the mean driver in the car behind us thought he was getting out of the car to fight or something and so he opened his door too! Then I got out and gave the driver the dirtiest look I could muster, and then walked to the passenger side. P thankfully drove us safely away! We drove to the empty Carrefour parking lot (everything is closed on sundays!) and I practiced driving around and around in circles, until once again I stalled 5 times in a row and the clutch started to smoke. Defeated, I made P drive us home and decided that I would never drive our little Cleo afterall. It took a few days and one more practice try to realize that the two times that I had stalled repeatedly, I had been trying to start the car in third gear! (which feels mysteriously similar to first gear!!). Realizing that it was a misjudgement by me and not my complete inability to function as a driver of a manual vehicle, I drove P all the way to school the next day with only one stall! So now that Cleo and I have a friendly relationship, I feel a little bit better, but I need a lot more practice to feel confident driving her around here! The streets are narrow, the drivers erratic, and the roundabouts are 3 lanes wide with giant trucks, buses, and a million other speedy little Clios in them! Because P is at school most hours of the day, he doesn't have the time to practice with me (and I think he prefers to be the sole driver anyway!) and so I have resigned to the fact that I may have to scratch this one goal off of my Fonty to-do list.

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