Tuesday, June 23, 2009

unplanned adventures...

In February, I changed projects from the Barekese Water Treatment Plant to the ADM Cocoa Factory. This is still in Kumasi but the other side of town, and all the assets (cars and houses) that came with Barekese were duly removed, and instead we were moved into apartments in the Golden Tulip Hotel, and got old cars which the company had lying around.

I’d grown quite attached to my butch Ford Ranger. No frills, but I’d had it from new and it did the job and I felt safe! Instead, I got an old Land Rover Defender which has bits of cardboard stuffed in the (dripping) AC vents to make them stay in, the oil needs topping up daily, the door leaks around the feet area, the passenger side locks don’t work, takes superhuman effort to unlock the driver door, you need to break about 20 minutes before you want to stop, the gas pedal once got stuck (cue scary swerve into oncoming traffic), the gear stick fell apart in my hand twice. And once it just stopped. And it turned out some shaft had snapped because it’d been welded back together when it snapped before.

So, I was not particularly confident about the thing, but having taken it on a couple of fairly long journeys and been assured that ‘anyone can fix a Land Rover with a handful of sand and a stone’, I decided to go up to visit my boyfriend at the weekend at the mine where he works, about a two hour journey.

I always take a driver out of town, particularly when in the Defender, just in case! And about half an hour from our destination, the car started making very strange noises, and we ended up having to wait in a little bush garage surrounded by rather pretty fireflies to be rescued by my very own (grumpy) superman, who luckily specialises in these things. The guys had a bit of a look at the engine but couldn’t fix anything, so ended up towing it up to the mine.

Next day, my company sent a car to tow us back to Kumasi, which was fairly uneventful for most of the way, just slow, until we reached a toll booth (8 Ghana Pesewas… about 4pence… compare that to the M6toll!) and a policeman stopped us. It seems that you are meant to tow with a towing vehicle and not with a Land Rover... so for once we were stopped for a legitimate reason… but anyway, if I am being driven and get stopped, I leave it to the drivers to sort out; if you, as a white person, show any concern or interest the ‘dash’ will be higher, as white means money! So I just sat in the car staring out of the window, making a phone call. I turned round to see a young man standing by the driver’s window staring at me. Just staring. When I get disgruntled here I seem to go all uber-English and polite (for ‘polite’ read ‘sarcastic’) so after about three minutes of staring I said in the Queens English 'Can I help you?' and he giggled and carried on staring. Then the driver came back (having made the lucky policeman 20cedis richer and the roads no safer – what’s the point of laws if you can pay a tenner to get off them?) and exchanged a few words with Staring Man and asked if I was scared because I thought he was a policeman. I said no, I just don't like being stared at. My driver told me this man had asked if I would marry him but he’d replied with 'no you could not pay her bills'!

I think this is great as of course being a Independent Woman I would ordinarily take great affront at such a suggestion, and so he needn’t worry, but of course in this culture, women don’t pay their own, so it’s a perfect retort!

Anyway, John and Duku then decided we should go on a detour to avoid any more police… and whilst on this back-road detour, the tow rope got stuck under front wheel of the towed car. Cue a stop, wheel off, rope out of wheel, wheel on, jack stuck in road, rope back on, head for the traffic of Kumasi. Which was a bit hairy, considering that the driver in the front car didn’t drive like he had a car on a bit of string behind him; still nipping into tiny gaps in the traffic while I held my breath and gripped the seat! We finally pulled into the yard with no further major mishaps… except the rope once more got caught as we arrived, and the brake pads went, brake fluid was leaking…and the heavens opened – at least we got back first!

The car is well and truly ‘spoilt’ and as a replacement, I got an… even older Land Rover!

1 comment:

Em said...

Welcome to Africa hey, is this what I can look forward too?? lol
You have to name your "New" Land Rover, it’s the only way to love the clapped out mess!!.... I suggest Gertrude ;-)

P.s Will you marry me?? lol