Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Hooray! I have finally bought a car (metallic blue 1992 Toyota Corolla SE Limited 1.5l petrol for those who are interested. Air-conditioning, gearlock, and missile-launcher). The final hours of this long process are described below...

At about 12.30 the guy selling me a car gives me a ‘beep’ – a one-ring call on my cellphone which is very widely-used here to keep phone bills down. I go down the four flights of stairs from our office and into the stifling heat. He picks me up in my car-to-be and we start the daunting challenge of doing the paperwork for the sale. First step is the notary’s office where we get authenticated copies of my signature, his signature, and the transfer forms. A whirlind of stamps, signatures, queues and receipts.

Next, we take our own photocopies of all the docs we’ll be handing in ‘just in case’ they get lost. Finally comes the hard part – telling the government. We climb up to a tiny croweded office out of which, into the corridor snakes an irritable queue. Mozambique doesn’t have a DVLA as such, its done at provincial level and this is the office for the whole of Maputo – by far the most carred province in the country. Yet on our arrival there is only one person actually serving at the counter which explains the wait. We try a few ruses to jump up the queue without success, and after about 40 mins grind to the front. It was a cold morning so I wore my suit (100% wool) but now I am regretting that, as sweat trickles down my back and I shuffle my feet slyly to block any would-be overtakers. Eventually we get near the desk. At least one in three people at this point turn out to have got something wrong with their documents or are at the wrong office, and so are sent back out to start all over again. Thankfully my guy knows his stuff and I pay my $14 and get a receipt – allegedly in two weeks time I can come and pick up the updated ownership documents.

Last but as it turns out not least, we pass by the insurance company offices as I am sceptical of seller’s claim that the insurance is for the car, not the driver, and will cover me once I buy the car without any hassles whatsoever. Sure enough the first thing the insurance guy says is ‘but your policy is not transferrable sir’. Que sorpresa! He does explain a way we can get round this problem for a while until I have bought my own insurance, so I drop vendor off at his house and drive off in new mobile. Unfortunately he neglected to explain fully how the immobilizer works so halfway round a big (and luckily very slow) roundabout which doubles as a kind of free-form car park, the engine cuts out and I stop dead. After an anxious minute I figure out how to unlock the beggar and am off again. Great fun.

We (me, Neill & Luiz) went home a bit early to drive around in the car. It certainly improves our striking distance for finding decent restaurants...

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