One day, while stopping in to see the CLO, S noticed a sign posted on the bulletin board advertising a 2000 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. This was the first posting we had seen where the asking price was under the Kelley Blue Book value, but there was no date on the posting, so for all we knew the car was already spoken for. Afraid to get her hopes up, S jotted down the number and called as soon as she got home. Bahaa turned out to be a jolly, voluble Jordanian guy who worked for the UN. He had spent 5 years in Nairobi and was heading home in five days.
He brought the car to our house and calmly sat in the back seat while we took turns behind the wheel of our first right-hand drive vehicle. We had to balance our desire to test drive the car with our anxiety about accidentally running someone over. Driving on the opposite side of the road takes some getting used to and most drivers who make the switch wind up hugging the curb a little too tightly at first, which is not conducive to the health and well-being of the numerous bicyclists and pedestrians who share the narrow roadway with motorists.
Bahaa gave us a full rundown on the car’s history and seemed willing to negotiate on the price. Considering how soon he was leaving the country, we had to start pushing the paperwork through the government bureaucracy expeditiously. A quick trip to the Embassy mechanic, some souk-savvy bargaining, and a few cigarettes (for him) later, we shook hands on the deal. In order to ensure that the car could legally change hands, we had to submit: the original log book (aka the title), 3 originals of the Pro1C transfer form, certificate of export inspection (all in Japanese), import documentation, copy of Bahaa’s PIN card and passport, 2 original transfer forms, copy of sale agreement, and the list goes on… Just when we thought we had crossed all our t’s and dotted all our i’s, we were told that Bahaa’s import form had been stamped by UNDP while the Pro1C we had just signed bore a UNOPS stamp, and even though they were both UN agencies, that was unacceptable. Sigh.
Long story short, we managed to get all the right documents with all the right stamps, making Bahaa run around on his last day in country to complete the sale. He gave us a key to the car, but parked it at a friend’s house until the money transfer was complete. Even though we had all the documents in hand, it was a bit unnerving to watch a large sum of money silently disappear from our bank account and then have to wait for several days for Bahaa to confirm from Jordan that he received the funds so that we could go pick up our vehicle. Trust is truly an amazing thing.