I finally had the chance to drive after nearly 5 months of not driving...
Tom and I are searching for a 4 wheel drive vehicle to purchase. Tom found this white Suzuki Samuri and the owner let him bring it home for a test drive. We really need to know how the vehicle we purchase will do on the “paved roads”, I use that term loosely, as often the paved roads are just as rutted and pot holed as the gravel roads... and on the dirt roads through the sugar cain fields leading to GSF. However the state of the road conditions will have to wait for another blog post.. the adventures of the Toasted Marshmallow is the focus of this post.
So.... me, Stephen, Dayna and Sarah piled in this tiny little Marshmallow and off we went. I drove first, which created quite the stir on campus. As we passed out of the gate, the toddlers were on their daily walk... very seriously several of the little one said...
“Auntie Sharon, Auntie Sharon... you are not a man!! Why are you driving? You are not a man!”
With that encouragement out the gate, down the road and in to the sugar cain we went. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable driving sitting on the wrong side and shifting with the wrong hand, so we took one of the roads that run through the cain across from GSF. It was fun to punch it a little, then we ran out of road... saw a flock of at least 16 Crested Cranes, did what should have been a 3 point turn.. that was really about a 10 point turn... for some reason the girls in the back seat were worried about going in to the big ditch...
After navigating the multi point turn and getting back to the main “road” we hung a left and headed for Buikwe on the advice of Stephen who has been learning to ride Robb’s motorcycle and using the cain fields.
“There are some great places to drive.. just over the next hill”
So over the next hill and the next hill... passing through Kidusu & Kikube Villages, passing bodas (actually being passed by bodas) and taxis, I was feeling pretty confident in the little Marshmallow. We passed through Buikwe, feeling sure we would come upon the “great places to drive soon”. But we were all having fun, enjoying the ride and the fun of driving a vehicle that felt just like a Tonka Toy! Sarah and Dayna said it was like being in a roller coasted sitting in the back of the Marshmallow. As we passed through Buikwe we were over taken by a taxi. Let me just pause to explain that the taxis here are not the yellow cars we are use to in the states. Here they are more like the Scooby-Doo van painted white with a blue checked strip on it, normally bleaching exhaust fumes, running on about 3 cylinders packed with as many passengers of various kinds as possible. But I digress, the taxis & boda-boda descriptions will have to be another blog post.
Well, after being passed by one particular taxi, who obviously had some serious emission control issues, we began to smell something burning... We thought it was the taxi that had passed us, but the taxi got further and further ahead and the smell did not go away. Hummm.. sure does smell like the sweet smell of a car overheating... Now mind you that the Marshmallow suffered dash display issues... aka... nothing worked. Well I take that back, the spedo made every attempt to work, bouncing merrily between 40km ph and 60km ph. So we all decided to pull off and investigate. Not to mention that I was thinking “oh crud...how long has this thing been running hot and what kind of damage did it do to the engine.. that had just been rebuilt...” So at the next left, I pulled off and killed the engine... as smoke billowed out of the engine compartment... Stephen asked if we should pop the hood and take a look. I said no, lets let it cool off some and I’ll call Tom. So, we did just that... I called Tom..
Sharon: “Hi Honey... there is a slight problem with the Marshmallow, it appears to be overheating, although I can’t tell because nothing works on the dash... sweet, burnt smell, and strangely enough about 12 inches in front of the drivers side wind screen the paint is bubbled and brown...”
Tom: “Over heating.. shouldn’t be doing that... I need to finish with the something here... let me call you back...”
Now mind you, here if you break down, you don’t call Triple A... you either figure out how to fix where you broke down or figure out how to get it to someone who can fix it.
So, while we were waiting on the now Toasted Marshmallow to cool down and Tom to call back quite a crowd of locals gathered... Picture the scene, 4 Mzungus and a very small, very white vehicle surrounded by curious on lookers, all offering help or suggestions.
After about 5 mins of waiting, Stephen suggested we pray... excellent plan...
After about 5 more min of waiting, Sarah started making friends with the local kids by taking pictures and showing them.. they love to see themselves in photos.
After about 20 min of waiting, we decided it had cooled down enough to pop the hood... well we discovered that it had not overheated at all... the battery was to tall for the area and one of the terminals was making contact with the hood and sparking, hence the sweet burning smell (paint and gasket). I my companions if any one had a knife.. no knife but a pair of small sissors.. that will do.. I proceed to try and remove the rest of the gasket that had been melted and try to make room for the “to tall terminal”.
Tom finally calls back and I immediately tell him the good news! He tells me that Louis has already left and on his way with water. After describing what I see, he asks if we have any fabric we can use to cover the “to tall terminal”. Well just so happens that Dayna had purchased a new used purse in Jinja recently and there was a bandana still in the purse. So Tom told us to wrap the cloth around the terminal and that would prevent the metal on metal contact creating the arcing. Now I must admit that this suggestion caused some concern among my fellow adventurers... what if it catches fire?! So we 4 reasoned it out together, arcing caused by electrical current passing from metal terminal to metal hood, place barrier between the two and interrupt the circuit. (Plus Tom knows way more about cars that we do and wouldn’t suggest anything that might catch fire). So we are putting the fabric on the terminal when Louis arrives.. we finish up and set off home, Stephen driving this time...
Needless to say we decided not to purchase the Toasted Marshmallow!
In all seriousness, please pray for us as we seek a decent 4 wheel drive vehicle to purchase. Vehicle here are very expensive and all are used. Pray specifically for a vehicle in good mechanical condition, that has not been wrecked or worked on by anyone untrained, for a good & fair price and that we would be dealt with honestly, and wisdom for Tom as he evaluates the vehicles.