As you will remember, I am now firmly stuck at the bottom of the access slope, on the second of my land’s 3 tiers. These tiers, I should explain, begin at roughly main road level and progress downwards. The further down you progress, the deeper you penetrate “the land that time forgot.” The second tier has a beautiful stream running through it to where the water falls dramatically 14 meters down to the third tier. The second tier is mostly flat and where the action is.
My “street tires” are the problem, I thought. Mind you, I was into my fourth hour of the ordeal, exhausted and thirsty. So thirsty, in fact, I contemplated drinking directly from my stream. This was supposed to be a 30-minute walk in the park. I didn’t even bring any beer. I walked up the back-stabbing access slope and off to the main road where my landlord, Billy, has a small house. I had no way to get back to town.
What I need to do, I thought, is find somebody who would, for whatever the cost, get me suitable tires, put them on for me, and then return the vehicle to my guest house in town while I wait patiently at the pub across the road and drink beer (its specialty is roasted pig ears, but the beer is cold).
Billy had another idea, though, which I thought was completely absurd. He had a guy, his nephew, I think, come over from a house two doors up the main road. This turned out to be the same guy who bought my old Land Cruiser. Asked for the key to my truck, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. But, it needs a proper set of tires! I protested. I was assured with vigorous head shaking that it would be “same, same.” He then sped off on his motorbike, presumably to retrieve my truck. So the tires would be “same, same,” I thought. I drank 6 glasses of water and waited. Optimism usually gets the best of me, but I had no hope at all. When he returned on his motorbike, not in my truck, I knew I was right. He claimed that it wouldn’t start, though. I was low on diesel, but not that low. Unless I’d punctured the fuel tank on some tree stump, that is. It was a case of things getting worse and worse. Murphy’s Law. Then I remembered that it didn’t start for me either when I tried taking it out of the Hyundai lot. The new Hyundai trucks require that you fully push down the clutch pedal. They won’t start if you just put it in neutral, which is probably what he’d tried to do. After a bit of improvised pantomime, he seemed to understand. Nevertheless, we were all summoned to the scene of the crime.
What happened after that was nothing less than miraculous. First, the truck started. I hadn’t punctured the fuel tank. Next, with a bit of pushing, he managed to make the truck move a little bit, getting it more or less in line with the slope. I was beginning to understand his technique. From years of driving in snow, I knew how to gently rock forward and backward, but he had a different approach, which was spinning the tires relentlessly no matter how much smoke they produced. This practice was to be repeated, over and over again. He made it onto the concrete strips, a major feat, as far as I was concerned, but the slickness got the better of him where it started getting steep, about 10 meters up. What followed was nothing short of madness. Bathed in the thick smoke of the burning rear tires, we shoved logs behind them to prevent negative progress. Gravel and empty jute bags were thrust under them while I pushed and screamed “Go! You bastard, go!” And it did, eventually. The fact that it went up the slope at all was miraculous, but his ability to keep it on the two concrete strips was even more so. Even if I had been able to exceed a certain threshold I have for abusing motor vehicles by letting the tires melt, I would surely have lost a wheel over an edge somewhere. He was my new hero, all mighty, and never to be second guessed again.
I learned later that he often goes up and down the slope in his old Hyundai, but he once got stuck and had to have someone pull him with, that’s right, my old Land Cruiser. It is tremendously satisfying to know that he loves his purchase from me. These vehicles are very popular in the area. In fact, a Western guy approached him who was willing to offer almost double what he’d paid me for it, which was roughly what I’d paid. But, no, he wouldn’t part with it. I’m glad he thinks he got a good deal from me, and I’m glad I still get to see it often. But this happy note does not signify the end of this story. I mean, think about it? I’m not going down that slope again in my Hyundai. Not until some serious improvements have been made. As thoroughly jubilant as I was to have gotten out of that mess, to be on the road again, all my plans had just gone tits up.
To be continued. . .