It all began quite suddenly without warning and turned into quite the Stuck with our Land Rover in Tanzania adventure.
The entire stuck in Tanzania saga took 14 days. Yes, it was all of two weeks later that we finally are back on the road south. It all started when driving the back road from Singadi to Dodoma. Our Land Rover’s back right shock failed and took out a fuel connector. We rolled to a stop in the middle of nowhere. Or so it seemed. (Read about it here.)
This is where the story continues…
After four nights and three days camped in front of Seif’s house and mechanic shop we’re back on the road. However, all is not well. Our new fuel pump is screaming. Somehow it’s still sucking air. But the Landy is otherwise running fine with the welded and soldered repairs holding well.
On the road to Dodoma I reach out to Anton (a Facebook friend and Landy enthusiast.) He checks in with his Landy expert. He advices us not to go too far. The fuel pump is obviously under stress and could go out. After three hours we make it to Dodoma.
It’s Sunday. The fuel pump is still howling. We decide to stay the night in Dodoma and go by the Land Rover mechanic shop.
On Monday morning Russ reaches out to John (a parts dealer in Nairobi.) He also calls Mike (our mechanic in South Africa) for advice. Then its off to the mechanic shop.
The team of mechanics jump on the Landy and start fiddling. Russ asks about parts. Maybe the connector Seif fixed is sucking air and should be replaced. No parts available in this shop or in Dodoma. It doesn’t surprise me. This huge building, in need of repair, is pretty empty. No machines, few tools and no parts. The mechanics fiddle. They have no success in calming the screaming fuel pump.
We head back to the hotel. Its time to search for parts. Russ starts calling around using Skype. Nothing in Dar es Salaam. Nothing in Nairobi. Nothing in South Africa. Back to John in Nairobi who can order them from the UK. How long is that going to take? About a week with DHL Express. Oh great!
It’s now Tuesday. The right parts are finally tracked down ordered and paid for. They should be shipped tomorrow. Definitely not as easy as buying from Amazon.
Our little hotel room for $17 is adequate. After we got rid of the bed bugs. They tried to fix the leaky toilet… no luck. Then the sink plugs up. However, there is hot water for the shower, sometimes. On the bright side, phone signal good so we have internet access to get much Nikela work done. There is an old soccer field next door we can walk around each morning and we do find a restaurant with okay food in town (the hotel got after us for cooking in the parking lot.)
Friday rolls around. Our packet has made it to Dar Es Salaam. Maybe it will get here early! Friday night Russ gets a fever. Oh no! Is it Malaria? Could it be Dengy or Yellow Fever? I grab a Malaria test kit out of the Landy. We wait the 20 minutes for the results. Negative. Great. I revisit the Dengy and Yellow Fever symptoms. As long as his fever doesn’t spike it might just be a virus or something he ate.
On Saturday our package is still in customs. Russ’ fever is better. It returns during the night. On Sunday he is not better. But no other really worrying symptoms, thank Heavens, just a low grade fever.
On Monday we find out duty needs to be paid. Russ calls DHL. They’ll pay it. We’ll pay them when the package arrives in Dodoma. Russ okay during the day, fever returns again at night.
Tuesday. Russ is getting over whatever it is he had. Thank Heaven. No action on the tracking program. Russ talks to DHL Dar Es Salaam. Directed to DHL agent in Dodoma. Russ calls, and calls. No luck reaching local agent. Russ spends much of the day calling, talking to different reps in Dar. No luck finding our package’s whereabouts! Great, that’s all we need. We’ve been sitting here for over a week already and now our package is lost.
Wednesday. Russ begins the calling again. This time he gets a different agent in Dar. He says, he’ll get a hold of the Dodoma agent and get back with us. Russ gives him the hotel phone number (can’t call back on Skype.) For the first time someone actually offers to get to the bottom of this. About an hour later there’s a knock at the door. A phone call. “You’re not going to like this,” Russ says after hanging up.
The package has been in Dodoma for the last day! What! The local agent couldn’t reach us. Baloney! Russ had given the hotel address and phone number to so many different folk at DHL. They also had the address of the Land Rover mechanic shop.
However, the package is here and we’re making progress again. Within the hour it arrives. Within the hour we’re at the mechanic getting them installed. Within the hour the new connector is installed and… what? The fuel pump begins to scream again! We take the Landy for a drive hoping it will get rid of the air. Nothing.
Russ gives the mechanic the new fuel line he bought just in case it was cracked and sucking air. Again, the fuel pump screams on. We’ve done all we can. We head back to the hotel deflated. We decide we’ll head south anyway. Russ calls Mike in South Africa. He thinks we should make it to the Land Rover shop in Zambia.
Thursday. Two weeks after Seif fixed our connector and shock. It seems like forever ago. On our morning walk Russ says we have one last thing to try. Run surgical tubing from the system directly into the fuel tank. But where do we find such tubing. Right there! A small shop with pipes and fittings. Yes! He has just what we need.
Off we go to the mechanic shop one more time. They’re surprised to see us. Russ pulls out the tubing. He pulls out the schematic. The mechanics start chatting among themselves. “Just do as I ask,” Russ thinks. One goes to the fuel filter, another to the front. They do a few things. Turn her on and she springs to life… quiet! No screaming fuel pump. The smiles are huge. We’re elated. Russ with this look of total confusion asks, “What did you do?”
Come to find out we could have been on the road over a week ago. We could have been on the road right after Seif and the mechanic got her started back in Kwa Mtoro. What?
Two of the fuel hoses had inadvertently been switched.
Oddly enough despite the wait, despite the money spent we’re okay. For some reason this simply had to be part of the experience. Maybe we learned that when the worst happens it’s bad, but never as bad as we think. Maybe we learned that there are helpful albeit imperfect people everywhere. Most of all we learned how much we love our life on the road in our Landy and how blessed we are.
Hurray! We’re heading south without the worry of a failing fuel pump. We wave goodbye to the team of mechanics. They’re all smiles. Good bye Dodoma.