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Car Stops

After a couple days of hanging out in Stonetown, the four of us decided to rent a car and drive around the island. Sure, the guide books tell you to not rent a car but how can you go wrong for $30/day for a fully insured Suzuki 4×4?

Our car had its problems but was in reasonably good condition when we picked up. We nominated Brian to drive it because he had driven before in Africa and would be used to thousands of people on the streets, no lanes and no traffic lights.

After driving what had to be at least 100ft, we noticed a pedestrain policeman motioning us to pull over. Brian had been talking earlier about all the bribes he had to pull in Kenya to when driving and we naturally assumed this would be our first bribe of the trip. Exciting!

The policeman was nice enough. He asked for Brian’s license and he handed over his Washington DL. He looked at it for a bit and then “Do you have a permit?”

“Permit?”

“A permit to drive. This license is no good here”

Kelly and I had gotten International Driver’s Licenses ($10 at any AAA) before we left on the trip and so I thought we might be able to use that. I hopped out of the car and went through our luggage to find it. Upon locating the Driver’s License, I handed it to the policeman.

“This isn’t you.”

“Well, right. Oh. But I can drive if that is better”

“But you weren’t driving”

“Oh yea yea, we were confused. But uhm, it won’t happen again. See, I’m going to drive now!” as I hopped into the driver’s seat and Brian moved to the passenger seat.

“You will need to go to court after tomorrow…” his English only good enough to decipher that he was talking about a court date.

“But sir, we aren’t coming back to Stonetown. We won’t be here tomorrow. how much is this fine?”

“You must go to court after tomorrow…Pay a fine” seemingly not understanding what we were saying or just ignoring us. He took Brian’s WA DL and starting writing something down in a little notebook.

We launched into her biggest caught in the headlights, dumb tourist persona and tried to plead our innocence. Finally, Brian went in for the bribe.

“How about we just pay you the fine and then you can pay the court for us?”

He laughed a bit, almost looking a bit embarrased and then mumbled something about a thousand dollars. This wasn’t good.

“No. You must go to the court after tomorrow. Pay the fine”

“Sir. but maybe we can just pay you the fine and then you can pay the court the fine because we aren’t coming back?”

He looked down at his notebook and then smiled and just handed Brian his driver’s License back. He said something about this time just being a warning, told Brian not to drive anymore and then sent us off. In the end, he didn’t want a bribe.

Over the next 4 days, we would be pulled over probably 10 times. We would show them our international dl and they’d let us go on. We had no other problems.

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