Day 72… Monday 12th June
Headed to a local garage today to see if Greta’s rear suspension could be fixed. She still has several thousand miles to go and needs to keep going. Google translate and small talk in French worked wonders and the mechanic got started straight away. His friend drove us around to find an ATM that worked (3rd time lucky) and we stopped for coffee at a street stall. He then drove Greta so we could test the new suspension and he found us a mechanic who could fix the rear break light and reverse light. All repairs were very quick and very reasonably priced compared to UK prices. Despite the language barrier, this chap was great fun and happily drove us around town beeping at friends and chatting away. The edge of the river Ogooue was a lovely place to walk at dusk until it became apparent that the ripples on the water and eyes popping up were a swarm of crocodiles. I had to step back quickly having visions of aggressive crocodiles leaping out and feasting on us for dinner.
Like anywhere Africa is a very complex place, you’ll find people doing very little to nothing, and others who are very industrious. Today was indeed an industrious day. Turning up at the garage recommended on iOverlander the owner spoke no English, but with the help of a chap called Ismail and Google Translate they got to work on replacing our rear shock absorbers which were knackered. But first we needed some cash, at which point Ismail drove us around town to three different ATMs before we found one which worked, all at about 60mph in a car which would most likely turn to dust in a collision. Stopping at points along the way so he could do his chores we at one point came across two very odd chaps in the middle of the road. One was completely naked and looked to be trying to direct traffic. The other was yelling at us in French I presume, all causing quite a scene even to the locals. We just ignored the chaos and headed on, but it seemed of the two loons, the angry one was somehow linking us whites with the president and was all very upset. Thankfully by the time we got back to the garage the owner Lassi had swapped out the dampeners, meaning we could head round to get out right rear light looked at since it wasn’t fully functional. This time it was a chap by the side of the road working on another Hilux. He whipped out his continuity tester, checked the wiring, found the fault, and a couple of minutes all was done.
Sometimes Africa can seem inefficient or chaotic, but days like today you appreciate it when you find someone who can fix something for you straight away, not in 3 weeks time. It may not entirely meet UK standards but I’ll worry about that when it goes before an MOT next year.