In Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, they drive right-hand-drive cars on the left-hand-side of the street. Why? Because all of Mozambique's neighbors drive on the left. In fact, Mozambique is the only member of the Commonweath that is not a former British colony, a decision made for mulitple strategic reasions. As a result, here in Maputo you will find the British High Commission, the Tanzanian High Commission, etc. [as opposed to Consulates] because this is the terminology used for diplomatic representation within the Commonwealth.
Driving on the left isn't so bad; for me, the problem is much more the right-hand-drive vehicle. I have a terrible time gauging where the car ends on the opposite side of the wheel and am constantly paranoid that I will come too close to a bus or pedestrian and not realize it. Of course parallel parking is also out of the question, something I struggle with even back home in a car with the "right" orientation.
I am in the process of getting my driving situation sorted here in Mozambique. I was recently (finally!) granted my residency permit, which means that I should now get a Mozambican Equivalency Driving License (once you are a resident, technically your home country permit, or even an international license like the ones issued by AAA, is no longer valid).
The process to get the Equivalency License is one of the better examples of backwards bureaucracy I've come across thus far. In addition to having to take an eye exam and a theoretical driving test, and get a $30 letter from your Embassy stating that your home license is valid and officially recognized (all reasonable requirements, though a pain in the ass), you have to leave your original drivers' license with the Mozambican National Driving Institute for TWO YEARS!
What on earth is the logic behind this requirement? Wouldn't it make much more sense to require tha the driver produce both his original license and his Equivalency License when stopped by the police? At any rate, you couldn't possibly convince me to leave my precious drivers' license with the Mozambican authorities for 2 years on the promise that I'll have no problems getting it back after that period of time, all I have to do is present the paper receipt they issue, and voilá, original license recuperated. Yeah, right.
So now I am presented with a dilemma:
Option 1: get an international driving permit in December when I am back in the US, and knowingly drive with the wrong set of papers here in Mozambique, knowing full well that I may have to play dumb/pull rank on/pay off police if they hassle me because I will technically be in the wrong; or
Option 2: through a "contact", manage to get the Mozambican Equivalency License without having to take the theoretical exam or leave my original permit for 2 years, but in return have to pay a price for the service that seems ridiculously high.
Then, of course, there are a few more things that must fall into place, namely I'd like to buy a car in January, and I need to get in some serious opposite-side driving practice. Hugh Marlboro has offered to let me go out on the plantations and drive around - I think I must definitely take him up on the offer.