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the saga continues

This week marks the beginning of our sixth month in Rwanda. 2016 has flown by in a flash and it’s a bit hard to wrap our minds around the fact that we’re nearing the midway point of our first year in Kigali. It’s even harder to believe that our car, which we shipped well before leaving Washington, still has yet to show up in Rwanda.


Whether to ship a car or buy one at post is a debate in which we engage each tour. For our first assignment, we did not have much choice. Kenya is right-hand drive and requires a 4×4 vehicle if one hopes to get out of Nairobi and see a bit of the country. We couldn’t bring S’s old car and had too little lead-time before departure for our first overseas post to do any research. We got lucky and stumbled onto a good deal a few weeks after arriving in Nairobi.

We loved our Landcruiser Prado, but had to sell it upon the conclusion of the Nairobi tour – the steering wheel was on the wrong side, so we couldn’t ship it to Moldova. Instead, S’s parents gave us their old Subaru, which served us well during out two years in Chisinau. Although the market for dip-plated cars was much smaller in Moldova, we managed to sell the Subaru before departing – it was too old and low to the ground to bring to Africa.

If we had gone straight from post to post, we likely would have tried to buy a car on arrival in Kigali, but we had almost ten months in the States between assignments, so we bought a Rav4 – one of the most popular cars in East Africa – with the idea of using it in Washington and then shipping it to Rwanda. We anticipated going carless for a few months, but nothing like this.

In October, about 3 months after we arrived in Kigali, the Embassy’s shipping office notified us that our car had arrived in country. They even sent us a couple of pictures of what looked like our Rav. It wasn’t until the following month, when the car came up for registration, that the questions started coming: “The car has a 2006 tag on it, which doesn’t match the year of manufacture listed on your title.” What gives?

We suspected the truth as soon as we saw a close-up picture of the tag, but it took the Embassy another couple of days to confirm our suspicions – the State Department had shipped us the wrong vehicle. Our car had arrived in Belgium, and for some reason was put into long-term storage; instead, they shipped us someone else’s similar-looking vehicle. So here we are two months later – still waiting for our car and hoping it turns up soon so that we can start 2017 on the right foot.

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