Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Stick to the Right

Okay, so I didn't quite make a week, but 10 days is not bad right?

So last week Friday (27 October) we rented a car for the weekend. We have found a car rental company that has a weekend special, which is 50% off car rentals from Friday to Monday. After insurance and everything, it works out to about $120 (R780). Thus we can 'practise' driving and parking on the weekends. So when driving around, keep repeating the mantra "stick to the right". "Stick to the right" It's not as bad as I thought it would be. When there are other cars around, it's actually easier. When you're alone on the road or on a one-way street, it's easy to forget that important rule ;)

The graduated licensing here means you write a test, get a G1 licence - which is like a SA Learner's licence. You then do a "city road test" which will give you a G2 licence. You then do a "highway road test" in order to get a full driver's licence. The catch is that you have to wait a year between road tests. So, for foreigners (who can drive) to bypass this waiting period, you need to prove you have more than 3 years driving experience in the past 4 years.

After a few e-mails, we managed to get the Dept of Transport to send us the required letters. We submitted our letters f this week, which means we have our 10+ years of previous driving experience added to the Canadian system. We've booked a car again for this weekend. Hopefully we'll be able to go for our actual road test in the next week or so, then we'll have "full" G-class driving licences.

I went for another interview at Company B on Wednesday morning. Have still not heard from Company A. Hopefully Company B will make an offer, then I can perhaps push Company A for an offer, too.

The weather improved slightly - Monday and Tuesday was quite warm (averaging about 12C during the day). Tuesday was Halloween - it's amazing what a special 'holiday' this is here. People really do make an effort of decorating their homes. Not to mention the kids - the little ones are really cute with their outfits. Methinks the bigger kids do an easy costume i.e. just don a black cloak and mask - just for the opportunity to get free candy (sweets) ;)

I've caught a cold and have had the sniffles this whole week. It's gotten cold again today (Friday's forecast is 4C) but expected to warm up to 10C again on Monday. Oh well, at least I have cable, PVR and broadband to keep me entertained while I'm at home recovering.

One Month

So I'm really bad at e-mail and updating with news 'cos I always think I need to send something long and full of news/ information. So let's try short, sweet and more frequent and see how that goes!

Not much happening on the job hunting side of things...
I've been interviewing at one place (Company A, a Domain Registry) since I arrived here, and have seen a ton of people - spending about 6 hours in their offices and 3 hours on phone interviews. I spoke to the VP of Business Operations on Monday. Apparently he's quite 'high up' and the last in the line of interviews. So hopefully things will start happening now.
I have also been interviewed at another place (Company B, a web, mail and application hosting company ) last week Friday. They said they'd get back to me "in a few weeks" - their job is a one year contract though (filling in for someone who is going on maternity leave - yes, maternity leave here is one year!), so the first company is the preferred employer right now.

I've heard that Canadian companies are like this with recruitment... i.e take their sweet time, so I'm not worried just yet. Had a recruitment agency call me on Monday as well, so at least I know that people are seeing my CV/resume online.

So I went to do my written driver's licence test today - you get a G1 licence after the written, and a full G class licence after you pass the road test.
What a world of difference to SA - no need to book, just pitch up and go write. Took me 25 mins to wait in the information queue, another 15 mins to explain my story re: converting my SA licence and then 5 minutes to do vision test, take photo and pay. Walked in to the written test section, handed in my receipt, got asked what language I want the test paper in (darn... their computers were down, so no electronic test).
40 multiple choice questions which I did in 8 minutes flat. They marked it in 5, gave me a temp paper licence and that was it! My driver's licence card will be posted to me. So all in all, took me about an hour. Wow!
Quite sad, you have to get 16/40 to pass. I'm pleased to say I got 39/40 (I got one of the signs wrong... darn). And I studied for two whole days for that!!!
Now we have to go rent a car, practice driving and parking, then schedule the road test and we'll be on our way to being fully licenced. Then comes the next big purchase of a car (finally), but probably a better idea to wait until I at least get a job.

I must say, we have managed fine so far without a car - it's just a major pain carrying heavy grocery bags but you get used to it. In fact, it's probably less effort than finding parking and driving in Toronto traffic. Yes, traffic here *everywhere* is worse than William Nicol off and onramp to the N1 highway... Some times it's just easier to hop on a bus 'cos at least public transport works here.

We are busy trying to finalise the sale of our SA house - we need to sign and return courier the docs to the lawyers, but we need to get affidavits signed and some of the docs notarised. Man, is that a money-making scheme here. In SA you just go to the cop shop to get it done. Here, you have to find a comissioner of oaths (called a Notary Public here). This is mostly lawyers/ soliciters/ barristers... and guess what, they all charge a small fortune for the service. Something silly like $49 for the first document, then $19 for any subsequent ones in the same appointment (yes you have to make an appointment far in advance too). And this is all excluding tax... so add 14%, then convert to Rands at 6.7 and see how much they make just for signing and stamping a piece of paper in 15 minutes. Anyway, we will have to make a plan.

It's also getting pretty darn cold here (ok ok that's cold for *me*!) ... averages about 7C in the day, with rain and light snow flurries in the afternoon. There was a major snowstorm south of the province (near the US border and Niagara) two weeks ago - knocked out all electricity, they are just getting back online this week. The cold is not so bad, until the wind starts blowing *through* you. That's the part which I have yet to get used to. Right now I can't imagine what December is going to be like... I make a point of going out every day - if not for the fact that I'll go crazy if I just sit at home all the time, I figure I had better just acclimatise slowly. Darn, I hear you guys in SA are in a heatwave of 30C? If you want to be scared, check the weather at

Ok, so much for short and sweet - guess I had more news than I realised. Hey at least I type as fast as I think ;) Will update again soon... I'll try for once a week at least.