Monday, February 2, 2009

Safari Adventures 1

We just got back from a trip with our visitor to a game park in Burkina. In terms of excitement and the number of animals seen, it was probably our best trip so far. We started out from Ouaga last Friday at noon with a rear tire that was going flat. In a normal frame of mind, I’d have taken it to a tire place and either gotten it repaired or bought a new tire since this particular one had been giving me some grief for the last few weeks already. However, we were in a hurry, having been delayed in our departure and wanting to arrive in the park in time for a first tour before nightfall. So I just had the tire pumped up, prayed that it would hold, and hit the road.

Believe it or not, it did hold! Until Saturday noon as we were packing the truck to return to Ouaga. Then it started to go flat again. I used the cigarette-lighter-powered electric pump to inflate it enough to get to the nearest town, where I was able to get it up to pressure again, courtesy of a guy with a compressor. Not long after we lit out on the road north, I heard a ‘clunk’. Pulling over, I discovered that a good chunk of rubber had come off the tire’s sidewall. It was a tubeless tire, so all that was holding the air in at that place now was a thin layer of lightly steel-belted rubber! We continued on.

For the remaining 140 kms, I drove slightly more slowly than my customary 100 km/h in case the tire blew. It was a rear tire, so it wouldn’t be as bad as a front tire blowing. The tire held all the way back to Ouaga. Once there, I headed straight for the tire dealer. Since the tire in question was already nearly bald, it was time to get a new one anyway. By the time I got there, it was nearly flat again.

Unfortunately, it was the weekend. I didn’t have enough money to pay for a new tire, and wouldn’t be able to get any until Monday morning. Fortunately, I had built a good relationship with the Lebanese owner over the years, so he was willing to let me have two new tires on credit until today. Whew!

More about our animal adventures tomorrow.

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