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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Washing the Car with Minerals

With Guy's company, every expat family receives a new car. Until the new car arrives, you use a "pool car". Some families wait a long time for the new our case, we waited about 18 months...and in a country where nice new things are really hard to come by, it is a big deal for the drivers to be able to drive a brand new car. So, when Happiness came to me the other day and told me that Fatai was going to "wash the car with minerals". I thought, "That's great...they don't even use the hose water to wash the new cars?? They have to use bottled mineral water!" I was wondering how much it would cost me to buy the mineral water to wash the car every time it was dirty. When I asked Happiness about that...she started laughing...and I immediately knew I had gotten something wrong...
Before I explain what " washing the car with minerals" really means. I have to explain that words here are different than what I think they mean at times. The official language here is English ....British English and tie that in with over 400 tribal languages spoken in can lead to some confusion. So, when I hear the word biscuit..I think of my mom's awesome buttermilk biscuits hot out of the oven with melting butter....but here, when someone says means a cookie or sometimes crackers. If someone says doesn't mean a short little is a diaper. If someone says they need a isn't a man coming to pack my house up to is a dust pan. A jumper isn't a little dress my daughter would is a sweater. This is one that has gotten me a lot of weird looks especially from the guards on the compound......elevator. Here, the elevator is always called a lift...and many Nigerians don't have a clue what I am talking about when I say elevator. Of course there are also Nigerian words like okada ( motorcycle) and waholla( big problem) and others I can't think of right now...but I know you get the picture. Same language...different meanings...
Now, back to the "washing of the car with minerals". After Happiness was done laughing at me, She said "No, Madame, he isn't going to really wash the car." I looked at her really confused. "Washing the car means he is going to have a party and pass out soda to everyone." she said. Okay..I completely didn't get that one. Washing is the party and minerals means soda. So, I gave Happiness money to go out and get the supplies for a "car washing". I found out it has been a tradition on our compound for the driver of a new car to share "minerals" and "biscuits" with the other drivers and have a really happy " car washing". So, even after living here for 18 months...I am still learning something new.:)

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