My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Mercedes Is Not for Sale

I admit that my reason for picking up this book was completely superficial -- I used to drive the same Mercedes that's shown on the cover. The concept immediately hooked me. The author bought a used Mercedes 190D in Holland and drove it across Europe and through North Africa before selling it in Ghana. Cars that are considered near the end of their useful life in Europe often find their way into North and West Africa to be used as taxis, and so a modest profit can be made by delivering especially desirable vehicles. Mercedes, renowned for their quality and reliability, are among the most envied taxis in Africa.

What I discovered in this book is that while the description of his journey is interesting, the real insight is his comments on Africa and how Western culture and African culture interact. My wife spent 2 years in Cameroon as a child, and as I would read her a paragraph or two from the book, I'd see her smiling and nodding as Van Bergeijk's descriptions of Africa brought her own memories back into focus.

Sadly, much as I loved my Mercedes, I did not love the summer heat with no air conditioning (a flaw shared by the author's 190D). It's not the Sahara, but Mississippi in July is brutal in its own right. My Mercedes was traded in for a Saab, with air conditioning. It might not make it all the way to Ghana, but at least I'm not sweating.