We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Pee in the Prickles with No Spares Left

First of all, a very Happy New Year to you all! This is our first blog post of 2016 and the first in rather too long for which I apologize! I won't try now to fill you in on all that has happened over the last three to four weeks; it has been a full and busy time and we have enjoyed celebrating Christmas with our friends in Iringa! There are highlights I will share later, but for now, I will share our latest adventure ... At the end of 2015 I felt like I could do with a few less adventures in the New Year, but if the first day of the year is anything to go by, a life of adventure it is.

Oh dear!
After safely navigating through the floods near Dodoma, we were stranded. At the side of an open road with no trees to shade the heat of the afternoon sun. Later, with rumours of lions in the area, darkness was fast approaching. The girls and I found ourselves thus stranded in the middle of nowhere, waiting for Tim to return to us with a tire that could carry us to the safety of Singida.

Through the Dodoma floods!

Yes, another adventure. On the 1000km trek from Iringa to Mwanza. This was unbelievably our second puncture of the journey, and our fourth tire to go if you count the trip to Iringa three weeks earlier. Thus this "no spares left" scenario was rather sadly familiar. On the journey to Iringa we had a fast puncture before Singida. We stopped, unloaded and removed the tire. We then discovered the spare tire was flat. Kind truckers came to our assistance and pumped it up for us, but we realised that it had a valve problem and was fast losing air. We limped slowly on (with the kind truckers) to find help, which amazingly and thankfully was only 5km on. We were able to get both tires fixed while we ate our egg sandwiches. But back to the journey home...

How many times we packed and unpacked the back of this land cruiser!
We were still 70km short of our 490km halfway stopping point in Singida. Our spare tire had gone on the car 90km earlier and now there were no spares left. Tim, with his phone, a bottle of water and the flat tire, hitched a ride with a passing trucker to find help. But we were miles from anywhere and with it being a holiday, there was a slim chance of finding tire places with workers working. I got busy with what was becoming rather routine... setting up hazard alerts before and after the car, getting the girls settled with egg sandwiches and water, and finding rocks to assist in jacking up the car. I can do the whole jacking up thing now (really, Dad ... and on a land cruiser!!) Well, almost ... I jumped up and down with all my weight on the wheelbrace to loosen the wheel nuts. The girls laughed at me; nothing shifted. I should have eaten more Christmas dinner.
Tim heads off in a diesel truck ...
We wait ...
A passing man helped to loosen them. And many trucks slowed to ask if we needed help. Tanzanians are extremely kind and helpful in difficult situations.

But there was one point when a "suspicious-looking" trucker approached. I realised I was alone with two children in the middle of nowhere with a land cruiser obviously full of stuff. Giving instructions through the window to the girls to keep the doors locked and to just keep honking the horn and use my phone if anything untoward happened, I shouted to the man we were fine and help was on the way. He was actually very kind and just wanted to make sure we were ok. But Louisa had jumped up to the drivers seat and was poised to honk!

We waited. And waited. I was desperate. With two delays and no pit stops, I just really had to go. But we were on an open road with only low thorn bushes bordering the road. In the end there was nothing else to do. Wait for a gap in the passing trucks and busses (this was a busy road for both) and pee in the prickles. Desperate measures for desperate situations. I don't do this.

Two hours later, as the sun began to set and the girls planned our sleeping arrangements in the land cruiser for the night and our rations for dinner and breakfast, Tim arrived back. With the trucker who had picked him up, they had come across another trucker fixing his own tire on the side of the road ahead. Tim was dropped off with him, with our tire. The trucker agreed to patch up our inner tube when he had finished his. That done, Tim found a third trucker to hitch a lift back to us ... with the patched up tire. We joyfully welcomed the yellow truck and the guys helped us get the tire on. They chatted about the lions (really??) that they say frequent the area at night, which didn't do much to reassure Louisa's nerves.

Getting back on the road ...

So rather later than planned, we drove into Singida in the dark, and thankfully found lodgings for the night and kuku na chipsi (chicken and chips)! And early the next morning we went in search of new inner tubes. The "fixed" tire from the night before was slowly losing air, so we jacked up the car yet again, and changed it again as well.
And again...
Two hours later, we were back on our way and managed the whole remaining 450km with no problems!

Despite our homecoming being a bit of a hard landing (but that's part of another "adventure"), we were all very thankful to be at the journey's end!

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

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