Sunday, August 07, 2016

Tsumkwe to Tsumeb

We slept a bit better last night and at least I didn't get evicted so now we know, a 3/4 bed is the minimum that the two of us can comfortably sleep in ... for the whole night.  Still a bit of a squeeze but not too bad.  I didn't sleep too well worrying about the rear drum brakes and what could be the cause so I was quite happy when Caron's alarm sounded at 06:00am and I could get up.  Only after we were up and showering did we realise that the phone hadn't swapped to Namibian time and we had surfaced at 05:00am, no wonder there wasn't anyone else up and about.

My plan of action with regard to the drums was to check if there was actually a mechanic in Tsumkwe but the receptionist said that the only one's they had were the 'under the tree' variety and that they weren't to be trusted, it would be better to get to Grootfontein and a proper dealer.  I like the idea of the proper dealer but Grootfontein is 280km on gravel roads, good gravel road to be sure but gravel none the less.  Having crossed this plan of action off we decided to take the chance and drive slowly checking the temperatures regularly.

I figured that if things got too hot I would need to cool it down without waiting for two hours next to the road so I wanted to fill up our 50l water supply so that I could squirt water onto the brake drums to speed up the cooling down process.  This was somewhat comical, fortunately the only person around at 06:00 to enjoy the show when I was trying to accomplish this was myself.  Lesson number one, never assume anything in Africa, one would think that I know this by now but, obviously, I am a slow learner.  Having scouted around for a tap I was very happy to find not only a tap, but a tap that worked and that had a hose on it.  After maneuvering the car next to the tap I put the hose into the filling cap and turned the tap on ... only to realise that I wasn't filling the tank up ... just watering the grass.  The hose was so damaged by the sun and the cold that the act of putting the end into the tank broke it into three portions.  I gave up on the hose, hoping nobody had seen me, but being the foresightful chap that I am, I have my own hose which I took out only to see that the original hose was duct taped securely to the actual tap.  So much for that plan.  Next step was to scout around for another tap and I found a perfect one, with water.  After bringing the car up alongside I took out my range of gardena fittings, found the correct size but couldn't get it to screw onto the tap.  It turns out that the calcium in the water has so encrusted the groves in the tap that there really isn't any screw thread left to screw the fitting onto.  Not to worry, I have a backup plan with a 'one size fits all' fitting which fits everything ... other than this tap of course.  I resort to holding the 'one size fits all' fitting onto the tap while turning it on.  As I turn it on, I see water coming out of the outlet nozzle, which I had omitted to close, and being channeled into the cars interior.  I quickly turned off the tap, got a face full of water whilst doing so and then closed the outlet nozzle.  From there on it was plain sailing aside from the odd shower of water as the pressure was too much and before long I had a full tank of water ... it remained to be seen if this was going to solve my real problem.

Refreshed from my unexpected shower I met Caron for a plain but very tasty breakfast before we departed with our hearts in our hands and our hopes held high.  Maybe having a satellite phone might actually come in useful ...

We kept monitoring the temperature difference between the two rear tyres and after an hour at 80km/hr, there was no difference and  even stopping to do the finger tip test we couldn't discern any real difference in temperature.  Maybe I had accidentally had the parking brake on yesterday and we were worrying for nothing.  We continued at our 80km/hr and after the second hour there was a clear difference and the right tyre was up to 49 deg while the left one was at around 42 deg.  As luck would have it we had to stop at a veterinary fence at this point and sign our car through.  The guard was clearly looking for a little something, making remarks about my sunglasses and whether we had an extra pair, so I gave him some iced tea which he had never seen before.  After the gate we stopped in the shade of a tree and sprayed water onto the drums which boiled away instantly but after a few bottles of water the temperatures was definitely lower and we continued keep a sharp eye on the temperature difference between the left and the right, stopping every half hour or so to douse the drum with water.  This definitely works so I am becoming confident that if worst comes to worst, we will at least be able to limp around our itinerary.

Getting onto the tar road to Grootfontein I kept the speed at 80km which feels like a snail's pace to check that it wasn't possibly the roughness of the dirt road vs the smooth tar that could be causing the drums to overheat.  It wasn't but by the time that I had worked that out we were already in Grootfontein which has little to recommend it.  Caron was getting a little stressed with everything and the few campsites/Chalets that we looked at left a lot of room for improvement and were a little depressing to put it mildly.  Heading into town I wanted to locate the Toyota dealership which I had been told was there so I made enquiries while filling up only to be told that the dealership was in Tsumeb and that although Supaquick would help me, it would really be better to head for Tsumeb which is 60km away.  We were struggling for cash because just about every single ATM was broken, powered down or offline but after trying about 8 we found one that worked and we now have a reasonable amount of Namibian dollars.

Heading north to Tsumeb I decided to speed up to 100km to check what the rear drums would do and the answer is that they did nothing untoward, behaved as if there was absolutely nothing wrong.  It seems like the first hour or two after a real break the drums behave themselves and the problems only start thereafter.  The other reason that we were happy to head for Tsumeb was that there is a campsite (reportedly) with green grass to camp on and big shady trees which will be a welcome break from the less than ideal B&B/Chalet's/Lodges we have been using to date.

For a change the advertising was not misleading and there is an absolutely wonderful campsite as one enters Tsumeb just across the road from the Toyota dealership.  Best of all, we arrived at about 14:00 so we had a whole afternoon where we could relax, do some washing, do some writing and reading and just enjoy the shade with a beer in our hands.  We definitely prefer camping to the B&B/Lodge/Chalet unless, of course, it is 5 star accommodation.

Setting up camp was like riding a bicycle, once one has got the knack one never forgets it, and in no time at all we were sitting next to a roaring log fire with a glass of wine in our hands.  The sun setting behind the trees and just a slight chill in the air ... how much better can this get.

Caron took a tumble next to the tent on her way to the ladies, she maintains that it was the guy ropes and that it was my fault for not having luminous guy ropes.  There are other explanations which I am not going to expand on ....  Unfortunately she hurt her knee and her hand which is a bit of a problem so we'll have to see how it goes in the next couple of days.  It didn't help matters when I pointed out that the guy ropes are actually reflective and that if she had had a torch in the darkness ... well, you can imagine the rest.

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