On Wednesday afternoon we get stuck in Tanzania, in the middle of nowhere, and by Saturday we’re still in the small remote village.
“It must be five o’clock!” Russ groans as the morning prayers blast through the village. Five times a day Muslim devotionals are broadcast via loudspeakers. Even in remote villages like Kwa Mtoro its part of the tradition. So begins day two of our stuck in Tanzania story. (You can read how it all started here.)
It’s a beautiful morning after the rainstorm yesterday. Today we sit and wait.
Recap of yesterday: After fixing and replacing all the parts the Land Rover simply would not start. Several different mechanics were called, nothing worked. She just wouldn’t turnover. The next logical option… tow her to Dodoma. A tall man showed up. He has a truck. It could be here tomorrow. Okay, will our Land Rover with rooftop tent fit? With the help of the translator brother it’s decided it will. Arrangements were made. We’re a bit nervous. It’s about 3 hours to Dodoma, much of it on rutted dirt road.
After dinner Seif, his brother and the truck man returned with a new plan. Bring a Land Rover mechanic here. It’s decided it will be the safer route for the vehicle in the long run. However, the mechanic can’t be here till Saturday.
It’s Friday. Here we wait parked in front of Seif’s home and shop. We’re at the bottom of the hill on the outskirts of the village. Across from us are little shops and the school. People are friendly, a bit too friendly, they came and watch us. Watch us do about everything, from fixing a meal to brushing our teeth. I feel like I’m in a fish bowl.
Our visitors include the village crazy lady, town drunk and resident beggar. It’s like we’ve stepped back in time. Back to a simpler era where people took care of their own. When religious practices and tribal customs were the rule of law.
Princess (Seif’s wife) teaches me some Swahili.
A mother duck shows off her baby.
Russ and I catch up on some Nikela work.
Saturday. It’s raining! Around 7 it rains hard and the ground beneath our tent turns to water again. The road is a river. “Will the bus get through with the mechanic?” Is the question of the day. Around nine the rain clears and the water subsides. However, no kombi, no bus, no vehicle of any kind has come through the village. By eleven a Land Rover taxi lumbers through. Thirty minutes later a motorbike pulls up. Two fellas jump off. The mechanic and his helper. Hurray!
They get to work. Seif graciously steps back and only offers input when asked. Within the hour he is drawn totally in as the trial and error and problem solving continues. Russ and I discuss the ‘what next’ if this doesn’t work today!
All the batteries are dead, again. Seif brings in the local farmer with his tractor. Still no luck starting the Landy. They’ve done everything to bleed the fuel lines. Seif comes to consult with Russ. He recommends a tow start.
The Landy gets hooked up to the tractor and off Russ and Seif go bouncing along behind the tractor. They go round and round the soccer field. The front guard bar breaks. Time to attach the tow strap to the winch. Will this break something else?
There must be a different problem! Only thing left to try is drop the fuel tank and replace the fuel pump. Fortunately we have one of those. Russ pulls it out of our spare parts box and checks it out. Looks okay.
In the middle of all the sand and dirt the mechanic, his helper and Seif, crawl under the back end and begin the process of removing the main fuel tank. No garage pit or fancy hoist here for easy working. The fuel is drained into a large plastic bucket.
After the tank is cleaned the new fuel pump is inserted, carefully. Once the tank and everything is back in place it’s time to get the diesel back in the tank. When lifting the plastic containers up high doesn’t create enough gravitation drop. Seif does the old mouth siphon job. Used to hate when Russ did this ions ago when we had car trouble. But it works.
The crowd increases as everyone knows the moment of truth is close. The mechanic, his helper and Seif prime the fuel lines. It’s time to start the engine. The first time she doesn’t turn over. On the second try she springs to life. The crowd cheers. Russ and Seif hug. The Landy is running.
But all is not well yet… the fuel pump is screaming and won’t stop! Now what?
To be continued… [Part three: The conclusion of the Land Rover saga