It happened so fast. I was taking a nap during our drive from Sossusvlei to Windhoek after seeing the world famous sand dunes, and Deadvlei, when suddenly the car spun out of control. I went from asleep to full awake in a split second. The only thing that was running through my head as we were about to crash into the sandbanks on the side of the road was “I hope no one gets seriously hurt”.
Thankfully, the collision was mitigated by the sandbanks. Our tires were trapped in the sand, softening the impact of the crash. The front bumper, and plastic tire cover, unfortunately were damaged, but all of the passengers were okay.
I climb out of our rental vehicle, visibly shaken and traumatized. I look at the people inside the car, and no one is hurt. The next thing that popped into my head is the big insurance damage we will have to cover as a result of the crash.
“This is going to cost a lot, and potentially hurt my one year trip”, I thought to myself.
Starting the Trip Out Wrong
Prior to the accident, we met three Japanese backpackers in our hostel, and decided to rent a car together in an effort to stay within our budget. Unfortunately in Namibia, the only two ways to reach Sossusvlei is either by renting a car or joining a tour. The latter is the more expensive route, hence we opted for the car rental option.
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However, the Namibian roads are in terrible condition as it is often times unpaved. You are literally driving on dirt and rocks! The speed limit indicates you should not drive more than 80 km/hr, but I would strongly recommend that you drive even slower. Despite driving within the speed limit, the driver of our vehicle still lost control, simply due to poor road conditions.
Kindness from Locals
The local Namibians were very kind.
The first vehicle that drove past us assisted us in getting the car out of the sand. However, upon getting the car back to the main road, we noticed the damage done to the vehicle, and wondered if it needed to be towed back, or if we can still drive it back.
Thankfully, another truck drives by and also assists us in removing some of the debris trapped under the vehicle. Despite living in poverty, the Namibians were still quick to lend a helping hand to those in need.
A local police officer who happened to drive by suggested that we file a police report at the local police station. Luckily, the rental vehicle was still operational, and we were able to drive back in a slower speed.
After much searching, we arrive at the local police station to fill out an automobile crash report. The police were very friendly and helping throughout the entire process.
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The Financial Nightmare Continues Till This Day
I’m definitely relieved everything went smoothly and no one got hurt. But because we put the car rental on my credit card, I had to eat over $800 worth of damages, leaving me with no choice but to change my one year trip plans drastically. My credit card insurance won’t reimburse me for the damages because the car rental agreement was signed by the Japanese backpacker who drove the car.
It has to be under my name for the rental to be covered. If you are wondering why I didn’t fill out the agreement myself, it is because I can’t drive standard transmission, and so we had the driver fill out the agreement.
To this day, the other individuals in the car hasn’t paid me back their share of the damages. This is a tough lesson learned to never put a car rental under your credit card unless you are actually the driver.
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On the bright side, money can be earned back, but damage to your physical well-being might not be reversible so I’m glad we dodged that bullet.