Well, I had quite the adventurous weekend. I had no clinical duties Saturday or Sunday so I jumped in with some visitors who just arrived and went to Masai Mara for a Saturday evening and a Sunday morning game drive. In the morning, we arose early to go to a remote area, hoping to see some lion cubs. Before departure the driver had the hood open looking for a sound that he thought was a cat. Sure, enough I soon heard the same meow sound, but we couldn't find a cat anywhere. Perhaps a bird, an engine squeak? We proceeded along without finding the answer. Half way there it becomes apparent we have a flat tire. No big deal, except when we went to change the tire I noticed a hissing, air leaking sort of sound coming from the rear tire. This was intermixed with more meows that seemed now to becoming from behind the dash board. So, there we sat in the middle of a road, in the middle of nowwhere with two flat tires, one spare, and a hidden cat in or under the vehicle. About 45 minutes later another safari vehicle came and we were able to get two very old tires with little tread to replace the two very old treadless tires that had leaked. Yes, we were now heading further out with no spare and two flats strapped to the back of the Land Rover.
As we get into the area where the lions were known to be, our driver suddenly hears the cat next to his door. The driver radios another driver and the two of them are outside the vehicle, in lion country, looking for a cat. Then, the drivers see a tail - but it turns out these big, burly safari drivers are afrad of cats! No, not the big carnivores we were hoping to see. No, they were afraid of a domestic cat! Wanting to get on with it, I get out and crawl partially under the vehicle, as I am only afraid of the big cats - you know the kind that would feed on a pair of legs hanging out from under a safari vehicle. I see the tail, reach up and grab the rear of the cat and pull - it's a kitten. My size 8 hands cover nearly the entire body of his cute little kitten.
Crisis averted, I'm anxious to get back into the safety of the vehicle and not become some lion's breakfast. The driver wants me to set the cat in back of vehicle while we drive off! Leave, a poor helpless kitten to become snack food! Now, I'm no cat lover, but even I can't do that! So, I casually walk around the vehicle and set the kitten in the back of the vehicle for safekeeping until the safari is over. Crisis strikes again! One of our traveling companions sets a land speed record for evacuation from the third row of a safari vehicle. Before I was even to my door, she had bolted through the middle of the seats and jumped out of the window! Now, she's wide eyed, petrified, and standing 15 feet from the vehicle! Who knew so many people were afraid of kittens! Now, there's a driver and a passanger standing in the savannaugh, refusing to reenter the vehicle because of the kitten! So, I have to retrieve the now frightened kitten from under a seat. So, a brief standoff occured where I decided it was better to leave a kitten for lion food than a pediatrician and safari driver. So, I tossed the kitten out of the car and it retreated behind a bush. Before we could reload, the kitten was back into the undercarriage of the truck and the meows continued. So, the rest of the morning was spent looking at wild animals, including lions while the kitten purred in fright under our vehicle.
We arrived safely back to the camp and later departed for Tenwek. Our vehicle troubles were not over! About a third of the way back our vehicle begins to smoke - mostly out of the exhaust.
We stop and the driver says that the engine had just been serviced and that too much oil was put in. No problem, it will burn off and we reloaded for the remainder of the trip. So, we thought. The optimist in the bunch pointed out that at least it wasn't raining nor was it dark.
Not 10 minutes later the driver tries to shift to a lower gear and the engine suddenly revs to it's maximum rpm's. The vehicle begins to smoke and one of my companions starts yelling "turn it off, turn it off!"l
But, the engine is not interested in shutting down and continues to roar at maximum rpm like a child throwing a temper tantrum. The next yell was "everybody out!"Naturally, I can't leave my camera gear behind in an emergency so as soon as my friends and I are out of the jeep, I snapped this picture! The driver finally gets the car to shut down by popping the clutch. Our vehicle is officially dead!
We debated walking to the main road with our luggage - one of the locals said it was "not far", only about 10 km. Luckily, we had cell phone service and made a call to Tenwek for help. Word was we'd have help in only 5 minutes! Wow! we must be closer than I thought. We decided not to walk, and just wait it out. Then, it started to rain! Well, turns out time and distance estimation are not Kenyan strong suits. The rain let up and we got back out of the burnt smelling vehicle to find several spectators. Several local men began offering opinions on the problem with the jeep. A motorcyle appeared with some tools. We all agreed we were not risking another ride in the big green smoke bomb, even if they fixed it - which they did not!
So, five minutes was now twenty and we decided to have some fun with the local kids. We started with pictures, moved to videos of them dancing, then to games. We taught them duck, duck, cow because no one here knows what a goose is. A group from a church walked by and we talked with the men and the pastor for a while. We then got back to the kids and traded songs.
We sang Our God is an Awesome God, and they sang the hip bone connected to the thigh bone song - about 5 times. We sang Jesus loves the little children, they sang some Kipsigi song whose title translated to God is a Lion. Literally, two hours passed and we were still playing with the kids when a Tenwek vehicle showed up!
So, it turned out that our vehicle breakdown was the best part of our trip. Our misfortune turned into a true blessing from God. We shared what we could with the locals, and they in turn blessed up with smiles, laughter and lifelong memories. The six of us and our luggage then crammed ourselves into a Honda CRV - yes, seven adults of in a small passenger car.
But we were happy to be moving as darkness was setting in. Turns out we were 31 km from the main road. That's over 18 miles we would have hiked with luggage and darkness setting in! Not to mention, there were two forks in the road and I would have definitely taken the wrong road at the first divergence point.
Our friend from Tenwek, upon hearing of our vehicle troubles throughout the day, asked which one of us was the Jonah? I love a man who knows his bible! So, in the end, we were all happy to have broken down and partaken in God's clever plans!