Monday, May 27, 2013

Traveling Lessons: Part Two

(If you have not read the first part of this story... please read this post first.) 

When I pulled up next to the man in blue, (who conveniently stood in the middle of the street), he showed me my speed and told me I was 20 km over the limit.

“But... we are out of the village...” I protested. “I can go 110 km here. I’m under the limit.”

He did not seem amused and just shook his head in response. “Pull over.”

I obeyed but did not feel any guilt. How could they expect me to obey signs that did not exist?

The man handed ‘my case’ over to a woman in a neatly pressed blue suit and a clip board. She sauntered up to the truck and told me in no uncertain terms that there would be a fine.

“You must pay $20.00 dollars,” she informed me flatly in melodic Zimbabwean English.

I tried to plead my innocence saying, “But there are no signs..... and the village has ended.” She seemed unimpressed and politely insisted I pay.

When that did not work, I asked her to forgive the debt. “Can’t you just forgive me? I promise I won’t do it again.”

“I’ll forgive you tomorrow,” she quipped. “Today you pay.”

She was polite about it, but not very lenient.

“But tomorrow I will know where the village ends,” I explained, “And I won’t go over the limit.”

Perhaps I pushed longer than I should have, but I did not want to pay a fine for something so trivial. 

Lesson Five: Even if the rules are not posted, you can still get fined for breaking them.

When my third attempt at forgiveness fell flat, I gave up and said, “Okay... but I’ll need a receipt for this fine.”

Only then did she look at me in surprise. Up to this point, she hadn’t even asked for my license or registration.

“A receipt?” she asked, tilting her head to one side.

“Yes,” I said while pointing to the official looking papers on her clip board. Then I searched through my purse for the twenty.

When I handed over the bill I hesitated before letting go and said, “I must have a receipt. (Slight pause.) This is God’s money... and I must show how it is spent (hard serious stare).”

Once I finally let go of the bill, she looked at it, then at me and said, “You are a person. I am a person...” I nodded in agreement thinking to myself, ‘Sure. We are humans. Okay. What are you getting at?’

She continued on with her convoluted sentences, adding some nonsense about us being ‘people’ and I agreed with her again. But I did not get her point and just stared at her blankly.

Then I repeated kindly but with resolve: “I need my receipt.”

With time she stopped talking about ‘people’ and offered to split my twenty if I didn’t insist on a receipt. Her precise words were, “How about you go with ten, I go with ten... and we are done.”

I smiled, but only to soften the ‘No’ that was soon to follow. The look of surprise on her face was priceless. She fully expected her offer to be received. When she did not move, I spoke up again. “Sorry Ma’am, but no. This is God’s money. Since you insist I pay... I must insist it be used for the fine.”

She was not impressed.

But seeing that I was not willing to permit the bribe, she grudgingly filled out the form, asking for the spelling of my name (as she had still not asked for my ID or driver’s license!). I could have told her I was named “Ferdinanda Finklespunker” and she would have jotted it down in the same irritated way.

Lesson Six: Always get receipts, if only to irritate the less-than-honest!

Eventually she finished the form, handed me my receipt, and then walked off in a huff.

No goodbyes. No safe travels. No farewells.

I didn’t mind the brush off and was soon on my way... but as African roads would have it I didn’t get far.

Potholes led to flat tires, and flat tires led to bent rims, and bent rims... well they got sorted out in the end. It just ate a chunk out of our travel time.

Lesson Seven: ALWAYS travel with a spare tire, car jack, and bike pump!

Not surprisingly after my speeding ticket and flat tire, Roy decided to drive again. Who could blame him? I had shown myself to be inept at talking myself out of fines, and even worse at avoiding road hazards!

Subsequently, we did not make it back to Mozambique that night. (It was unlikely, anyway.) Instead, we stayed at a friend’s house in Matare where they fed and watered us, then tucked us in for the night.

The next morning, we woke early and were quickly on our way as we had one final border to cross.

Getting out of Zimbabwe was a cinch. However, we gnawed our nails wondering what Mozambique would bring. Burdened low with motor engines, donated clothes, various electronics, and the general splendor of three pack rats, we couldn’t say whether they’d let us through.

Would we have to declare everything? Only time would tell.

So we prayed. And... I know you prayed as well.

And upon entering Mozambique God blinded the custom officials to all our stuff and shimmied us through in no time!

Lesson Eight: Prayer works!

From the border we were just an hours drive back to Maforga.... where ecstatic, bouncing children waited for their hugs.

In the end, our two day trip took three... but it was fun and insightful all the same. Thank you for covering us in prayer. The more I think about it the more I realize the favor and grace we received each step of the way. 

What a blessing!