Okay, so it's not exactly new. It's actually a 1998, so it's really not new. But considering the fact that we've never bought a really "new" car, and the fact that this car only has 60,000 km (40,000 miles) on it, it seems new to us.
We decided it was time to get a new car because our 17-year-old Suzuki was becoming a money pit. And we needed something with more seats, because once we add another car seat into the mix, we would have had no room to transport anyone else except our family in the Suzuki. Which was a problem since and there is always someone living with us.
Buying a car is interesting here. First of all, you can pay in two ways: through a wire transfer or in cash. Yep, cash. And the highest denomination in Tanzanian currency is 10,000 shillings (about 9 dollars). Imagine buying your last car with 10 dollar bills. That's a lot of cash. So we decided to go the wire transfer route.
On the day we went to pick up the car, Gil took it downtown to get everything nailed down.
Literally. Nailed down.
Every piece of rubber, every light cover, every decorative piece of metal on the car was bolted down. He also had the license plate number etched into every window of the car. Why? So that none of those things get stolen. It happens a lot. In our Suzuki, we had everything on the outside bolted down, so nothing there was stolen, but we did have our window switches stolen twice (you know, the switches used for automatic windows), and the head rests and the ash tray stolen. Basically, anything that can come off of the car can/will be stolen. Hence the reason for getting anything and everything bolted down.
So now we have a new car! It's a Toyota Ipsum, imported directly from Japan. That model does not exist in the States, but basically it's a mini-mini van. Smaller than an American mini-van but with 7 seats. It drives great! The only downside to it is that it does not have 4-wheel drive, which means that there will be roads where we can't drive it in the rainy season. But a 4-wheel drive would have cost twice as much, and we didn't think that was worth it.
I like driving so much better now that I don't have to worry about my car breaking down! :-)