The Parking Gods

You can’t live in South Africa without daily encounters with the Gods.

They are everywhere.
They might tell you where to go.
They are often invisible.
You have no choice but to trust them.
They can be a big comfort.
They hold your fate (or at least that of your car) in their hands.
You don’t want to displease them.
You should always give them their due.

I’m speaking, ...  Continue Reading

Staying Safe on South African Roads

The following is a guest post by Barbara Bruhwiler. Have you ever changed a car tyre?  Will you find your spare wheel, and do you know how to get it into the open?  And the tools, the jack and everything – any idea where they are in your car, no doubt cleverly hidden by some nerdy automobile engineer? In my car, you have to dig the tools out from the plastic side panels in the boot, manage to assemble various parts into a crank, remove a little rubber cover from a cup holder at the front, put your crank in the hole that is hidden underneath, wind until there is nothing to wind anymore, and then use your crank to pull the extra wheel from underneath your car.
Why do I know all of this, in such detail, you ask? 
Because getting the spare wheel is my job in the business of changing a tyre. While my better half is busy unscrewing the screws on the wheel, setting up the jack, and lifting the car.
The thing is, we have considerable experience with changing tyres, my hubby and I.
In Limpopowe had to try and get our tyre fixed before we entered a game reserve, not wanting to run the risk of being stranded in the wild if yet another tyre popped. In KwaZulu-Natalwe had to hurry like crazy as we had to be in town before nightfall, before the hippos start roaming the streets. In Mpumalangaour car alarm went off in the middle of the night when the tyre went flat, waking us up. In the Northwest Province our friends, who were driving behind us, were frantically hooting and waving when our tyre went up in smoke. We never went to Cape Town by car. I don’t dare to think of what might have happened.
You see, in our first few years of living in South Africa, we managed to get a puncture fairly regularly whenever we travelled. The problem, apparently, lies in a car with a heavy back and a very soft suspension (so I am told, I don’t know much about cars), combined with potholes in the road.
These potholes, they are like mushrooms: As soon as the rains start in this country, they appear. And join the ones from last year and the years before. And like mushrooms, they are really juicy. You could comfortably give a bath to a Mini in some of them.
In Joburg I manage to do surprisingly well, slaloming around the potholes. But when we travel, it’s a different story. These potholes, they like to lurk in the shade, so that they are difficult to see because your eyes have yet to adjust from the blinding sunlight. And then it’s too late. Boom, you hit one, and you can only hope your tyre survives.
When on a road you don’t know, it pays to drive a bit more slowly. Or follow a local, he will most probably know where to swerve or go slow.
But not only potholes are responsible for punctures. You might have noticed that there is usually quite a bit of debris on Joburg’s roads. Pebbles and little pieces of rock that have been swept onto the street by the torrential rains, bits of wire, as well as old screws and nails. 
Photo: Barbara Bruhwiler

I don’t know how it is that these screws and nails invariably end up in your tyre. One would think that your car squashes them flat to the ground, but nope, into your tyre they go.

Thankfully this is not a huge problem, normally, because they only cause a slow puncture. And help for this situation ...  Continue Reading

Let Professionals Sell Your Car for You

The following post is sponsored by

Dear Joburg Expat readers: I love how Sine brings people and services together on this site, helping us all to stay safe and sane. I admire people who have the foresight of sharing with others what they need in certain situations after they were there themselves. My name is Dirk Van Der Walt, and my brother Fanie and I have been partners in our business, Micra Motors, since 2001. We are the proud owners of and its wholesale warehouse in the N4 Gateway Light Industrial Park in Pretoria East. Allow me to introduce ourselves to you and tell you what we can do for you and why. People emigrate, people get promoted, they divorce, they inherit a deceased’s estate. Whatever the reason, people often need to sell their car. Whether you are a professional executive or a Dainfern mom, you might not be as courageous and resourceful as Sine to try and sell your own car yourself, and then write an article on your blog about the experience. That is where we come in. We are We offer a =&0=&, where we come to your home or your workplace and buy your car from you, doing absolutely everything for you in a jiffy, and still paying you a reasonable price for your car. To get started, you complete our Online Application Form and within less than a day you will have a ball-park price indication of how we see the value of your car. If you agree to that then your car could well be sold that very same day. You do not need to prepare the car as we do everything for you. We do all the paperwork and formalities and all you do is sit back, relax, and drink your coffee. We have bought more than 13,000 cars over the last twelve years. We deal with people from all walks of life. We serve Tom, Dick, and Harry, but we also serve the foreign embassies and the odd celebrity. To expats we provide two unique services: First, we allow you to sell your car to us in advance, we pay you a deposit, and you get to use your car for another month (or even more) until you leave. That way you do not need to go and rent a car, and you do not have to worry about scrambling around at the last minute trying to recover the money invested in the car. Second: If you get long term visitors from abroad (as Sine has written, they may come often and stay long!) who may need to use a car for a three to nine month period or so, you may want to speak to us about our Guaranteed Buy-Back Offers, where we sell them a car and buy it back again at an agreed price. This might also be an option for yourself if you are here on a short-term assignment. We are very proud of the professionalism of our staff and the compliments we regularly receive for the utility and convenience we provide. Our service makes selling your car a safe and hassle-free experience. You need not worry about advertising, taking calls, entertaining strangers at your home who might want to kick your tires and take your car for a quick spin around the block. You need not worry about doing a roadworthy test, completing paperwork and contracts, or filling out a change of ownership form; we do it all for you, and you need not go anywhere or expose yourself in any way to the public and the hassles that usually brings with it. So, please hop over to, browse around, and feel free to ask any questions you may have. We would love to earn your business. Dirk Directors:
Dirk van der Walt 082 870
Fanie van der Walt 082 870

Tips on Selling a Car in South Africa

I’m pleased to report that I’m now qualified to write about the business of selling a car.Tips on Buying a Car in South Africa has by far been my most-Googled and most-read blog post, so I imagine the back-end of it might be interesting to some folks as well.

So the car is sold and yes, I’m pleased to have that task behind me. What I am less pleased with is that I now don’t have my own wheels anymore, with over two months to go. I’m cursing the stick shift of my little rental, the fact that operating ...  Continue Reading

Welcome Home. And Can I See Your Driver’s License?

South Africa is like a jealous lover, making sure I give it my full attention instead of some other country I might take a fancy to.

Because how else would you explain that every time I come home from an absolutely stunning vacation, ready to gush about it on my blog, South Africa throws a story my way that I can’t refuse, immediately diverting  my attention back to my typical Joburg Expat fare? Last time it was my trouble with Telkom and them shutting down my internet for a week right after we returned from Singapore. And this time… Yes, you guessed it – another traffic cop story! Nothing brings you back to the floor of reality after returning from Botswana and your heart full of love for such a magical place as fast as a South-African roadblock. After driving about 20 meters out of the airport parking garage. There is no way you could have gotten your speed up above a crawl or missed a stop sign yet, so you know it is another blatant effort to extort a bribe from unsuspecting tourists who don’t know any better. I actually wonder what would happen if you didn’t actually stop when they wave you over. Just drive on. Would they follow you? And give up their prime location to extort money from gullible visitors? I’m tempted to find out some day. But of course we are good obedient Germans and so pulled over where we were told. The guy was all blustery, imitating what he might  have thought was a threatening American sheriff stance. Noisette handed him his Kansas license. Not the international one, mind you, because that one is expired. And it’s not needed anyway, as I’ve told you plenty of times before. But sure enough, he wanted the international license. Except he didn’t actually know what an international license looks like. He studied the Kansas license for a while, then said in the sternest tone he could muster: “Is this an international license?” I suppose at that point we could have said “yes” and driven on. But we were not at the top of our game quite yet, what with our minds still on a deck overlooking the Okavango Delta watching an elephant splash past us, so Noisette truthfully answered with “no” and went on to explain that the international license was not needed. As coached by me, I might add. “Ah, but then you need a letter from your embassy or something,” the cop countered. You’ve got to give it to them. They are never at a loss to come up with a new story. I’ve been asked for pretty much everything under the sun, including “some coffee” but a letter from the embassy is a first. By that point I had had enough and reached into the glove compartment to pull out the copy of the South African National Road Traffic Act, highlighting the section pertaining to foreign licenses, which I had put in both our cars as part of my Plan B for just such an event as this one. And guess what? We didn’t even have to read it to him. It was the act of pulling out a document and holding it under his nose that did it. I could have used my grocery list for all I know. He could sense that we weren’t going to be cowed and knew our rights. “That’s what I’m talking about,” he said, breaking out into a huge grin. “I told you you needed a letter from the embassy, and here you’ve got it!” There you go. If you’re too lazy to copy the South African National Road Traffic Act, just sit down and craft a fancy letter from your embassy allowing you to drive with your foreign license.  Except next time they’ll probably ask me for a condom.

Why Traffic Lights When There is a Free Market?

Disfunctional traffic lights are hardly an unusual sight in Johannesburg, but it seems lately the problem has gotten even worse. As I drove into town today I passed no less than seven robots in various states of disrepair – from blinking red to completely out to interesting combinations of in-between ...  Continue Reading

Narrowly Escaping Jail

I had you with the title, didn’t I? At least I hope so. I’ve been on a mission for good blog post titles.

So I’m happy to report that the traffic cop saga continues. I thought I had seen it all, but the latest iteration was different yet again. I was driving along with my friend, already ...  Continue Reading

Finding a Good Car Insurance

I often get asked if I can recommend any providers for car insurance in South Africa. I can’t, really. All we did when we arrived in South Africa is ask our bank to give us a quote (banks often have an insurance brokerage arm). We used Standard Bank, which is how we came to use Hollard as our ...  Continue Reading