06 July 2006

Shida kwa gari yangu

Or...My Car troubles...

I'm at the internet place in Seronera (in Serengeti). They have wireless powered by solar panels...But the can't power the outlets (yea for computer batteries!).

So we made it to Serengeti yesterday obviously. We brought Craig (my advisor's) 20 year old son with us, but didn't know until yesterday am that he didn't have Craig's free passes to get into the NCA and Serengeti. Dennis and I were worried that we'd have some major problems getting Craig's son through the gates, but Dennis and I are good and we talked our way though both gates (Swahili skills, it is the only way we pulled it off without having to pay). The road leading into Serengeti is really corrugated and we were fish-tailing a lot so I wasn't driving fast and we a little worried about time. We have to get to the last gate by 6 PM and you aren't supposed to be driving after dark (and the last gate is about an hour from where we stay in Seronera). We got to the last gate at like 5:10 but then about 15 minutes later our tire punctures, just pops. We had enough time to stop and get out to see it go fully flat. We tried to jack up the car with two hydraulic jacks, but they weren't tall enough, so we were using rocks, and trying this and that and realized it wasn't going to work. We didn't have a radio and our cell phones didn't have reception so we flagged down a safari vehicle. The first guy said he didn't have a jack and couldn't help us and drove off, but I think he radioed to the other guys behind him because 3 vehicles then stopped. It was like the descended on us, one pulled in front, one alongside and one behind and the drivers all jumped out and started helping us. The drivers lifted up the car, slide the jack on a large rock under the car, jacked up the car, then used the other jack to jack up the tire axel (I think), but even lifting the car didn't lift the tire. They got our tire changed (only to find the spare tire was low and bald - in once place you can feel the metal b/c it is sticking out). Yikes. Oh, and one of the tourists was totally fascinated and saying how he was worried about our spare and yada yada while his daughter was taking pictures of us! Meanwhile some of the other tourists were also taking pictures. Lord! So we get going again, totally freaked about our spare and by now the tourist vehicles have left us in the dust and it is getting late so no other cars would be coming. We had to drive slow because we were so worried about popping another tire so we didn't reach Seronera until after dark. In the dark we got turned around trying to find the lion house, but we found it and made plans to get our puncture fixed at the garage in the morning (and we called Susan to get us some new tires). I stayed at Stephanie's house (which is nice, has cockroaches, but at least has a flushing toilet). In the am Stephanie, Emelian (her field assistant) and I went to get Dennis (or rather to have him follow us in the car to the garage). When Dennis got in our SF car to follow us it wouldn't start!! We were able to push it and get it to start, but turns out we need a new battery so that too is coming tomorrow (with our 5 new tires that will be larger (and thus better for these bad roads)). I tell ya, it has been quite the time, but I'm out of Arusha, away from the chaos, and in the middle of Serengeti so all is good! :)


Anonymous Michelle said...

Maybe you should leave it up to someone else to drive... Good Luck in the Serengeti!

2:45 AM  
Anonymous owl3445 said...

after your serengeti driving experience the Rockies will seem positively civilized. Keep your blog reports coming. We check for updates every day and love sharing your adventures.

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Julie Andracek said...

Gee...I am having car tire problems but it seems like nothing compared to what you went through! Stay safe!

7:25 PM  

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