“Three? I can only think of two, the broken spring and now the gearbox. What’s the third thing?”I asked.
At 10PM, after 15 hours on the road, the thing we have most worried about the entire trip happened. The road suddenly became a ravine that was narrowing to a chasm. The driver side wheels dropped into the abyss and N’doto heaved heavily to the right. “Nooooo! Hang on, we’re going over!” Scott said struggling with the steering wheel and willing N’doto to take flight. I held tight to the window frame and braced my feet against the floor. Just as we could feel the momentum of no return, THUD!, the front right wheel sank deeply into a hole and we came to an abrupt, 30-degree angle, stop. We sat in silence. Scott was trapped, his door up against the ravine wall. It was decide that I would climb out to see the damage. The tire was stuck in deep. There was no way we were driving forward. “Maybe we can back up.” But the car wouldn’t start. Then, a miracle. After only ten minutes we could see headlights coming towards us. I’m ashamed to say that my first thought was “Will they help us, or hurt us.” Soon a van stopped above us. Four well-dressed Good Samaritan Zambians came over. “We’re stuck,” I said. Scott called, “Hello!” from inside the car and crawled out the passenger side door. One of the men suggested we push the car backwards. I got behind the steering wheel but the the car wouldn’t budge. We were bogged in tight and the angle wasn’t helping any either. “How about a jack?” another man asked. One bolt shy from our earlier repair, it was easy to detach the high lift jack from the rear of the car. Three women appeared from the van and began collecting stones to place under the front wheel. The jack was released and after 10 minutes the car finally started. I put it in reverse and drove backwards along the narrow valley trying to keep the wheels from sliding back down while the driver of the van directed, “Now turn your wheels like this,” he said using his hands. “Now go straight back!” When it felt like N’doto was going over again I whimpered and Mulunga pointed at Scott and said, “Now I think he should drive.” Once Scott was behind the wheel it was decided that climbing the bank and going forward might be better than reversing. I held my breath as Scott revved the engine and the Landy labored up the bank. While Scott drove onto flat road I thanked Mulunga for stopping. “I’m a nurse”, he said, “I had to stop. Your vehicle was at such an angle I thought someone might be hurt.” (We’re completely fine, only had to change our undies.)