Saturday, March 11, 2006
Flash Flood, Tires, Nails
Flash Flood, Tires, Nails
(The following story took place on the morning of March 11, 2006)
Saturday is usually my day to head out to Kudukudu and visit. This morning, I left my house about 8:00am. It was partly cloudy and very humid. I knew it had rained the night before, but I did not know how much. Here when it rains, it can really pour. If you are out in it for just a few seconds, you will be completely drenched. I come across one area where a flash flood has hit the night before. Trees are down, and the landscape has been changed. As I approach the small river which had flash flooded the night before, it is still incredibly high. There is a small cement bridge which crosses this river. Two large trees have fallen from the flash flood and are up against the bridge. Parts of their branches are covering parts of the bridge. I really wish I had my camera with me. It is safe to cross this bridge, but I am amazed at the damage done by this little river to the landscape. Water is very powerful! I continue with my drive, and I come up to another river with a small bridge. Here there is damage as well from flooding, but not as severe as the last river. The bridge is covered with debris, but is passable. The next river I come up to does not have a bridge. The bridge was washed away years ago, from another flash flood. As I approach this river, I quickly realize there is no way to cross. Not only is the water way to high, but there are trees and more debris in the river. I decide to turn my truck around.
On my way back home, I pick up some people heading to the market. Within seconds, the back of my truck is full of food from their gardens. I come up to a village called Racesa and my truck enters a large ditch. Little did know that the ditch was full of nails, put down by some of the men in the village to incapacitate trucks. Only one tire is hit, but it has two large nails sticking in it. I pullover and change the tire. While changing the tire, I catch a lady, who I was taking to the market, stealing a book out of my truck. Stealing is a HUGE problem here. They really believe “what is yours is mine”. After changing the tire, I head out again. As I am about ½ mile from my house, I enter another large ditch, and again I have another tire punctured with a nail. I think my tires have nail magnets on them. The benefit of this is, I do not need to buy nails. :) I now no longer have a spare tire. I decide to inch in to Namatanai to the “tire shop.”
Now, please, when I say tire shop, do not confuse this place with a Goodyear tire shop. There is no building here. There is no place to sit down and have a soda while you wait. There is no man with a uniform and full set of tools to quickly fix your tires. No, No, No! There is not even a tube or a patch for my truck. There is man there who has very little experience at fixing tires. He as a large metal bar with a flat end, a rubber mallet, pliers and of course the one ingredient that makes this place a “tire shop”, an air compressor. When I arrive, I remove the one flat tire which was still on my truck. In total, I have three tires for him to fix. By this time, I am covered in sweat, filthy from lying on the muddy ground to jack up my truck and weary too. (This past week I had Malaria again, so my body was not quite 100% today.)
I walk to some of the trade stores to see if I can find tubes for my tires. As I am walking everyone is curious as to what happened to the white man. One, he is walking with out his truck. Two, he is covered in mud and sweating. I just smile and wave or make polite conversation. I am able to find one tube, and this tube is for a 15” not a 16” tire, which mine is. I am thankful for the 15”, though. For the other tires I manage to find patches to repair the damage. Upon returning with the supplies, I notice one tire is beyond repair. The man takes the tube and the patches I found, and makes the repairs to the other two tires.
It is quite the experience just watching how they fix tires here. They have no fancy machine to remove the tire from the wheel. This is all done by hand. Then, replacing the wheel and tire is quite the challenge as well. For all you tire workers in the States, please, when you go to work on Monday, be sure to kiss the machine that removes the wheel from the tire. It is making your job so much easier. :) For those who will visit their tire shop this week, while you are sitting down, enjoying a cup of coffee and reading an 8 year-old magazine, realize how boring your life really is. (LOL)
After the two tires are repaired, I head to my house. The morning has just finished, but I am ready for a shower and a nap. As I enter into my house and tell my family about my morning, I notice it is no big deal to them. After all this is PNG, and todays events were just a normal day!
Posted by Terry McGovern