Broken and Disheartened

Trip Start Apr 09, 2008
Trip End Aug 30, 2008

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Where I stayed
Bush Camp at N19 57.056' E030 34.015'

Flag of Sudan  ,
Friday, June 20, 2008

Anytime we utter a statement or a simple wish like "I hope there's satellite TV in (insert village name) so we can watch the European Championship match tonight" or "We made it to (insert village name) in one piece and we didn't have to drive in the dark".. people always respond with a "Thanks be to God!"

Today was a "Thanks be to God" day if there ever was one.

The day started off well.

We even helped a broken-down minibus full of very tall and very burly Sudanese men headed for Dongola. It seems the further away we get from Khartoum, the larger the people become. I'm dumbfounded as to why.

Anyway, there were about a dozen of these guys waiting on the side of the road in the midday heat with no water, no food, and a flat tire. Although they had a spare tire with them, nobody checked to see before leaving if it would fit the rim of the van (which it didn't). We told them we could take someone the rest of the way (less than 100 km) so they could mend their tire and hitch a ride back.

Just as one of the fattest men was about to climb into Foxy, we joked that we could only take the smallest man due to limited space, using lots of hand gestures to emphasize our point. They thought that was hilarious but we were quite serious.

In the end, a young teenager and his kid brother (?) managed to squeeze in the back. Before heading off, we gave the men water, bread and biscuits. After being showered with many well wishes like "May God bless you for always and with lots of children", we drove off.

After that, our luck dropped substantially.

After driving all day over tar, gravel, sand, dirt and rocks, we stopped around 4pm to take a look at some rock carvings next to the 3rd cataract near the Nile. As we waited for C+C to catch up, we realized the clutch stopped engaging and so changing gears was now impossible.

Christoph hypothesized that the little rubber ring which creates a seal for the fluid must have melted in the Sudanese heat and was not sealing properly anymore. We stopped, took a look underneath and to our horror, saw two more problems to add to our misery: the front prop shaft had blown AND the suspension was finished.

St. Christopher is the patron for safe travel, and it couldn't apply more than to our friend Christoph.

He told us, in his usual optimistic way, that he had just that exact rubber for the clutch, a brand new suspension we could put in and as long as we made it to Wadi Halfa tomorrow, we could drive without the prop shaft, as if it were a 2-wheel drive car.

So after starting Foxy up again, in 2nd gear this time (so there wouldn't be a need to change gears), we went in search of a flat piece of ground to bush camp.

I can't begin to express how lucky we are to be travelling with Christoph and Chiho. Not only have they become good friends, but they are like our "recovery and spare parts vehicle". It embarrasses us how unprepared we are, and we don't know what to say or do to repay them.

In the end, with a little creative engineering, a new rubber ring was inserted, the shock replaced and the prop shaft removed. We prayed we would be able to get to Wadi Halfa by tomorrow, where there may be some hope of finding a mechanic.

Matt experienced his lowest point of the trip so far today. After a hot day's drive with no reward of a shower or cold beer, no one wants to then get under the car and strip her apart to diagnose a broken clutch, prop shaft and suspension, all the while getting soaked in brake fluid. But he and Christoph (who has a cold and sore throat on top of it all) did, and I'm grateful for it.

Start: Bush Camp at foothills of Jebel Barkal Mountain, Kerima, SUDAN. 10:00
End: Bush Camp at N19 57.056' E030 34.015', SUDAN. 16:30
Distance Traveled: 280 km
Road Conditions: smooth tarmac from Kerima to Dongola, and then rough dirt tracks.
Average Speed: 61.7 km/hr
Max Speed: 107 km/hr
Temperature: getting a bit repetitive, but i've run out of words to describe "HOT"
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