It wasn’t enough I had to learn temperature, weight, and speed conversions. No big deal subtracting two every time I looked at a clock past noon. (F-you military time!) The United States has screwed me over once again by having automatic cars! I know. I know. Manual DOES exist in the US, but let’s be real. We like our feet, our fahrenheit and our lazy driving.
Not only am I deciding on if I will get a car or not, but renting a manual in Uruguay is 80 US dollars cheaper. And I really want to explore some of the drivable areas around Montevideo. So I was determined to learn. Thankfully, I have an AMAZING friend who lent me his new VW and his time to teach me. My first lesson was a bit rough. Brad was super kind and told me I did better than he thought I was going to, but he definitely grabbed the “Oh Shit” handle a few times. (That one is for you, Rich. Miss you, buddy and love hearing about the Philippines!) First gear was my nemesis! And that heavy foot that earned me numerous creative moments of getting out of tickets in the states did not help in the learning process. I stalled, I flooded the engine, I basically depreciated that car by at least a year. I fear my bribery of gluten-free beer may not be enough.
So the fact that Brad was willing to take me out again today, earned him HUGE karma points. I was wicked nervous. I even asked my Uber driver if I could creepily watch him shift so that I could get a visual of what to do in certain traffic situations. We found our semi-secluded neighborhood and off I went. And not going to lie, I was so much better! I didn’t do as many crazy jerkings with the car, and I think I only stalled once. It was pretty smooth sailing, if I do say so myself.
I was riding my high from a job well done. I got out, began walking, and got the phone call: “Want to try starting on a hill?” With mild hesitation I said yes. My heart-rate accelerated into sprint zone. Brad showed me how it was done and then let me go. Holy Hell! I was a complete disaster. I stalled a million times. And when I finally got it and took off, I was so flustered that I just pulled over and was like “okay, thank you!” Brad’s advice…avoid hills. Awesome!
So the plan is to rent the car in two weeks during our spring break and drive to Punta Del Este where driving will hopefully be a bit more manageable than Montevideo. It will also be a good time to practice for a longer period of time. So wish me luck on that one. And please believe I am getting the insurance this time.
This whole experience has been one learning adventure after another, which so far has been wildly positive. And Brad and I got into a little debate today in the car about practicing and just doing it. I still consider this process practice. I’m not in the game yet, and even renting the car will be more of a scrimmage than the play-offs. He claims I should just consider myself a manual driver and go out into the world. The cautious “I would like to go out into the world in one piece and not paying for a ruined car” part of me still sees room for much improvement. But it also takes me back to that first time my dad took me to the boob mall’s (only San Antonio people will get this reference) empty parking lot and opened up his newspaper while I drove around in circles. Then was like alright, let’s head onto the highway and back home. I needed that push from my dad. I needed that calm, “I trust you to get us home” mentality to be successful. And maybe I also needed the calm “let’s try hills” push today. I walked home feeling a little defeated, but also more determined. So as much as I would kill to have an empty parking lot to continue to practice and practice, I thinks it’s about time I tap myself into the game. So Katie, get ready. Punta Del Este, here we come!