Thursday, March 22, 2007

Would You Like a Little Whine with that Nissan Pathfinder?

As I write this entry, it is 6:10pm at Mother Patern College. I am waiting in the palaver hut in the central courtyard. Even though the class I teach ended at 4:00pm, I remain. I am waiting for transportation. Yes, I have a car, and no, Renita is not using it. I drove it in today. Sometime within the next hour, I hope I will drive it home. I’m getting hungry. The guy who just checked on it said it would be ready in ten minutes. Translated from Liberian English, I’m guessing I’ll drive out of here in 45 minutes, at 6:55pm.

The car is in the shop. Again. Wheel/Suspension related problems. Again. Since we’ve been here, we’ve had zero problems with the engine or the transmission. The Nissan Pathfinder, nine years old, runs fine. But Liberia is murder on that place where the Nissan finds the path. Mohammed, the MPCHS mechanic, has replaced bushings twice, ball joints, wheel bearings, breaks twice, shocks (rear, now front), gone through two alignments, repaired drums, and it is now on its second set of brand new tires. And you know what? 90% of our driving is back and forth the 12.5 miles to Monrovia. That’s how bad the best roads in the country are.

Here in Monrovia, parts are expensive and mechanics hard to find, but if found, mechanics are less expensive than in the States. So repair work is affordable. However, we are so regularly dumping money into this vehicle we are asking ourselves a very familiar question— will it be cheaper to dump it and buy another or keep sinking a few hundred bucks into it each month?

This is a little problem really… “I complained that I had car problems until I met a man with no car—and no feet, home, or food--” Like the guys who wait for me every time I come out of any building in downtown Monrovia. So I’m really just whining to pass the time.

Well, here he is-- Mohammed with my car. I’m outa here.

Hey! It’s 6:50pm! Five minutes early!