journey to juba: the tyre incident

okay, its been more than 10 days… you forgive.

without further ado, please buckle up for the: journey to juba: the tyre incident

it was a lovely gulu morning; the sun was shining, it was not yet hot and there was coffee to be had. sister rosemary even sent us away with yoghurt yeast, and coffee beans grown and roasted by sisters in/near nebbi? moyo? somewhere west of gulu but still in uganda. (and, its delicious!)

housemate procured a cavara (plastic bag) from the vehicle and filled it with green mangos from one of the trees on the compound, much to the confusion of sister dorene. (green mangos can be cooked/baked/prepared like rhubarb and or apples. pie! compote! jam!)

elizabeth* had been convinced by we kotidoites that now would be a great time to come visit karamoja. i will readily admit that we used our best argument: we’re already driving there and its so much better than the bus…if you come with us NOW you’ll only have to take the bus one way! (see, we truly have your and your behind’s best interests in mind!)

we arrived at kamdini (the turn to lira) with the plan to phone one of our favorite lira eateries (who also has a branch in gulu!) sankofa cafe, with pizza orders so that they would be ready upon our arrival in lira. it was then decided that the phone call would be best placed from otino wa where we would stop for the best (only?) soft-serve ice cream in waffle cones in uganda. all of this happened. (i also purchased some beeswax candles, and my companions purchased market bags similar to the one i’d procured from the same place a few months prior. they’re great!)

post ice cream we continued on, arriving in lira in time to find a huge line at the atm. we waited. we endured some really insane rain where we stayed as close to the atm as possible so as to not lose our “next” spot in line. apparently the keepers of said atm decided that during said rain storm, with a long line (and us next!) would be a great time to shut it down and do some maintenance. blerg.

we entertained the  others by huddling next to the atm for the majority of the wait time. the wind was blowing hard enough that we actually managed to stay quite dry. AND maintain our places in line. #win!

money was withdrawn. a mad dash was taken to the car in the downpour only for it to, of course, stop a few minutes later. thanks, murphy.

pizzas were purchased and the slog off the paved road began.

parts of the road had been grated so the journey wasn’t the worst one we’d ever had. i was even able to drive, shift and eat pizza at the same time. oh, and find the detour that would have prevented the aforementioned “chain-roller” incident.

just after making the turn “up” (left, and in this case west) i made everyone listen to the vehicle, a strange noise was coming from a tyre… unable to see anything when i pulled over we continued on our happy way.

irregardless of what happens next, i would like to say that i love the detour. the road is a lonely little track through some beautiful patongo land. so high is my adoration for this detour i have decided that i will probably take it even when the new bridge is finished. (at least part of the time, anyway it IS about an 45 addition to the drive time. love me a scenic route.) onward.

at what i figure is about half way down the detour road something sort of dramatic happened. here is how it played out in my internal thoughts:

…wow this is a really beautiful drive…its crazy how much a difference a change of scenery really makes one  realize the beauty around them…i wonder if there is any more “marika special” pizza left…am i hungry?

[unexpected movement from the passenger side of the vehicle]…what is housemate doing…wait..thats outside the car…

…how strange, someone’s tyre is flying past us…wow it bounced REALLY high…WAIT. i wonder if that was my spare…NO. THAT IS A TYRE I NEED. CRAP.

and then i said and thought the “F’ word (censored for the genteel amongst the readers…:cough happymothersday,mom cough:) a lot of times. a lot. meanwhile, somehow by the grace of god and good driving lessons/examples† i managed to somehow bring the car to a complete stop without it flipping over.

there was silence in the vehicle for a few minutes while we watched the tyre bounce off through the bush, and let the realities sink in. yay for adrenaline and shock! my breathing had quickened, jaw clenched and i was clutching the steering wheel like rose clung to the headboard in “titanic”.

housemate brought us back to reality with a comment along the lines of, “um. so, we should do something.” quite right.

after checking to be sure the car was neutral i pulled the emergency break and switched dear ole gurtie off. we took stock of our surroundings and then of the damage on the car.

amazingly, a lorry came trundling by at about this exact moment. (and was the only thing for about an hour!) several men jumped down and were trying to help us out. two of them dashed into the bush, following the direction of my point and retrieved the tyre!

meanwhile i discovered that not only was my jack missing (ugh.) but so was my spanner. (double ugh.) i searched the entire vehicle. twice. because the fellows were just not convinced that i could be so dumb as to not have a jack and spanner in my car. apparently i am…

the spanner for the lorry’s tyres did NOT fit mine and so we were in a right pickle. housemate volunteered (see, ALWAYS the one sent/volunteering!) to board the lorry (it was, in fact, a eagle special [beer] truck) and make the journey to town to find a mechanic.

elizabeth and i stayed behind waving at passersby on bicycles, eating pizza, reading the newspaper and listening to the new radiohead album on my ipod. (ITS SO GOOD!)

i wandered up and down the road taking pictures of the flora and fauna…

contemplated doing yoga (didn’t end up working out, as the only flat space was the middle of the road and someone seeing me doing down-dog whilst rounding the corner would probably have just caused another accident.)

housemate texted to say that the first place they stopped so she was on her way back towards potongo to try there. and then my phone died. so elizabeth and i expressed our gratefulness that we were together and that i wasn’t just chilling in the bush with a broken car alone. its nice to have a friend about, yes? yes.

housemate arrived fairly soon on the back of a boda, conveniently driven by a mechanic. i believe her arriving words were, “hey toots, need a ride?”

our mechanic quickly got to work–requesting some large stones as he began the first jacking-up of the car. luckily enough i had spotted a huge pile of large stones on my wanderings, so elizabeth and i set off to procure two.  he used these stones to hold the car in place as he then jacked it up a second time (with the same jack. precarious doesn’t even begin to describe.)

it took some finagling, but the tire was placed back on the car, and we “borrowed” nuts from each tyre and the spare (typically bolted the back of the land cruiser) to fasten the errant tyre back to the vehicle. our wonderful mechanic/new best friend then tested the tyre by backing up, zooming forward at an alarming rate and slamming on the breaks. several times.

i think the total payment made for the renting of the boda, his time and tools was  maybe $20. (i KNOW, right?!)

as he was on his way, we were on ours in the opposite direction. we reached kotido still in a decent amount of time, and with a car in (mostly) one piece. (cosmetic damage blah blah blah…the kotido mechanic managed to fix this pretty amazingly.)

and thus ends (for real this time) the journey to juba series.but do stay tuned for a ngakarimajong bible launch report, and tales from my ethiopian easter/birthday adventure as well as yet more adventures in vehicles and mechanics from half way between lira and kotido…

*as she as pointed out in a comment, elizabeth is the only “named” person in most of these posts. let me explain: i have her blog linked over there —>
also, she comments and uses her name. i never asked housemate if i could use her name and was too lazy to ask j and j2. but since elizabeth uses her name around these parts i didn’t figure i needed to ask. so, basically, she’s the only one named because i was too lazy to ask the others. the end. (if p, then q.)

† dad, i specifically remember the story of you and…uncle k (?)…driving somewhere and a tyre falling off of your vehicle. although when you thought “tyre” you probably meant “tire”. anyway. i heard this story and your lesson about what to do in this situation in this short amount of time. i am pointing this out so as to prove that i do, in fact, listen to these stories. thanks for the “teaching moments”. and stories 😉


2 thoughts on “journey to juba: the tyre incident

  1. when you leave Uganda, the Land Cruiser should be given a decent burial because it failed, despite numerous attempts, to bury you! LOVE YOU

  2. Pingback: on taking the long way « kiss the joy as it flies

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