During the mid-90s, Aggrey and I borrowed a Carina as we wanted to go for our very first outing! We wanted to drive to Butare for a weekend where university students held endless wild parties. But before we could reach our destination, we got held up by a technical problem!
During the mid-90s, the who-is-who around town was supposed to be an owner of a Toyota Carina. In fact, it was next to impossible for a bachelor to find himself a bride if he was Carina-less. Apart from the Carina, the bachelor was also supposed to own a fridge in his house.
Anyhow, we borrowed the Carina and got prepared for a trip of our lives. Aggrey and I were still very single. So we hooked up a male colleague for company. It took us about 4 hours to reach the outskirts of Butare. The main reason for the delay was because the Carina we were driving was just an imitation of a car. It was a DMC. The initials DMC stand for Ddangerous Mechanical Condition. It was really in a dire mechanical state. Every 20 minutes, we had to stop the car so that we could feed it with cold water before it could burst out in flames.
The driving shafts were at the verge of falling off. Each time we made a sharp bend along the winding roads, the shafts would cry out for mercy. The braking system was horrible. We had to apply brakes by pumping the pedal at several intervals. This implied that we had to keep a good distance between ourselves and the vehicle ahead of us. This really perturbed the impatient drivers behind us.
The fuel gauge was mal-functional. That is why the car refused to climb the last major hill before slopping down to Butare town. The gauge still showed that the fuel tank was full. However, the real story is that the carina had sucked the tank clean! We had run out of petrol. Aggrey and I had to run around looking for people to push the junk of a vehicle.
After an hour of puffing and pushing, we finally arrived at a petrol station. The pump attendant eyed us in a very bored manner as we approached him with our dirty linen. We then asked him to fill the car with petrol. However, without our knowledge, the fuel attendant filled the tank with paraffin! You see, this is because in Rwanda, the word petrol refers to paraffin. The correct word we should have used was “Essence”
So we started the car. This time, the car engine started but in a funny way. It stammered, jerked and spluttered! We tried three more times but the engine just went dead. It was when we decided to push it to Mohammed’s garage that it dawned on us that our borrowed car had “drunk” paraffin instead of petrol.
What were we going to tell the owner of the Carina? Hard luck for us! We could not even make it for the wild Butare University parties due to this DMC!