I had my first car accident in Africa this week. I am fine - don't worry - and it was very, very minor. I was driving on the main road and somebody turning onto it from a side street did not wait until I completely passed him so nipped my tail end. Definitely not a very big deal.
I will say, however, it still freaked me the hell out! Because the weird thing is, we didn't call the police. The police are kind of a wild card here and if they come they could end up making it a lot worse by demanding you pay a bribe or something like that (especially with a mzungu involved). The young Tanzanian guy who hit me was extremely polite. When I asked him "what happened?" he responded, "I don't know what I was thinking." I took pictures, he gave me his information (which I verified by calling him on the spot), and as we were leaving the site he tells me, "Drive safely!" Um...how about you?!?
It was more freaky because I couldn't get in touch with Kristoffer. His phone was damaged over the weekend and apparently died completely that morning, he wasn't at his desk, the receptionist said he was out to lunch, and his lunch buddy did not respond to my emails while they were eating together. I just didn't like that I couldn't get in touch with him to tell him what happened and find out if I had done the right thing.
Which of course, I hadn't completely. You are supposed to call the insurance company in the moment (came to find out later that ALL 3 phone numbers for the insurance company are no longer working, so that would have done me no good whatsoever) and if you are going to file a claim you are supposed to proceed immediately to the nearest police station, which was actually not very close to where I was in the first place. Whoops. Although I am still really glad that I didn't get the police involved - I just absolutely do not trust them.
In the end, we'll just repair the small damage and see if the guy will be a good guy and pay for it. But if he doesn't, there isn't anything we can do about it anyway (don't want the insurance premium to go up, after all). I guess that is not all that different than what would have happened if we had been in America.
I think my point of writing this story is that I just sort of felt very "out there" on my own over here in that moment, and wondered in fright what would have happened had it been a serious accident, especially given that daily driving here is full of "close calls".
For now I will just be very grateful that the kids were not in the car with me and that it was very minor.
Drive safely out there!