Car Shopping

Sunday 21 November 2010

This week we had to leave the country to get things rolling with my residence card (that will be another post) so we had to spend more time in Pointe Noire.  If you remember, we did this a few months ago and really were not fans of the city (see previous post.)  Joe had a lot of work to catch up on so we spent a lot of the time in the room which was fine with me… the incessant honking by the taxi drivers was enough to drive me crazy!

On our way back to Gabon we had to go through Libreville (customs/immigration) and we arranged to stay the weekend to car shop.  There are cars in Port Gentil but selection is limited and we just weren’t finding exactly what we wanted.  This was my first time in Libreville in the daylight (we usually arrive at night and fly out again in the morning before the sun comes up) and I was pleasantly surprised.  It actually seemed like a nice city, at least from what we saw of it.

The main road along the ocean in Libreville.

A view of Libreville from above.

Our wishlist for a car was a smaller SUV with 4x4 (preferably Toyota or Mitsubishi as those are the most common and easiest to fix here,) in relatively good condition, automatic transmission and less than 10 000 000 FCFA (approx $20 000 CAD.)  Yes, that is a big budget for a used vehicle however as with everything else here, cars are EXPENSIVE.  A typical car is close to double what we would pay in Canada for the same vehicle and it is much more difficult to fix when something breaks.

Saturday morning we had our breakfast and hired a driver to take us around to the shops.  Mr. Moussa happened to be waiting outside the hotel and he was the perfect match for car shopping.  He took his job seriously that day and was just as involved in the search as we were.  He didn’t speak any English and neither did many of the salesmen so it really put my French to the test.   I was translating left, right and centre and for the most part we got along pretty well.

We decided on a 2001 Rav 4 as it hit our entire wishlist.  We aren’t out of the woods yet as the money needs to be transferred, inspections need to be done, and it needs to be put on a boat to Port Gentil.  I probably don’t need to mention that we are in Africa and while we are optimistic, the past has taught us that things don’t go smoothly here so we are preparing ourselves for several frustrations and headaches.  I’ll be happy if we have our car by the time we head to Canada for Christmas.

(Hopefully) Our new car.

Below is a picture of a dune buggy we encountered on our daily walk to the café in Pointe Noire.  Joe spent the entire trip trying to convince me that we should buy it instead of a car for me as it would be fine to drive in town and great to take to the beach on the weekends.  (I can already hear Joe’s friends (Baretta, Kellen) thinking this is an awesome idea but no, not an acceptable car for me to take to the grocery store!)


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