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February 2007

Endulen Diary
Vol. 22, #2
February, 2007

February 10th.

The El Ninyo rains continue and it is now clear that we’ll have no dry season between the short and long rains. There is lots of mud here and it is very difficult to get around. A few days ago, we had a tremendous rain. Two young Maasai herd boys were caught in a dry river bed by a wall of water coming down from the high country and headed for the plains. They were swept away and didn’t survive. This kind of thing happens too often in Maasai country. Unless one is close to the situation, you never hear about it because the death of young people is never mentioned, and even in their own village, it is only referred to indirectly and by euphemisms.

February 15th.

During the tremendous rain storm, there was a lightening strike at a nearby Maasai village. It shook the earth, killed three cows and burned a house down. Fortunately no people were hurt. People have a very bad feeling after such an event, wondering why it happened. Unfortunately, often the most asked question is “what did those people do or what were their ancestors guilty of to bring this kind of calamity on themselves”? Simply physical laws of nature are hardly ever a sufficient explanation when bad things happen.

February 20th.

This month has seen some major problems with my long suffering Toyota jeep. It is over ten years old now and has seldom seen a tarmac road. Mostly it has been in the bush bouncing in and out of mud holes and generally being shaken to pieces. The welded places on the body have welds on top of welds and it has begun to protest constantly in the form of unidentifiable noises emanating from all over its aging body. This month I had to renew the disk brakes in front, the brake shoes in back, tie rod ball joints for the steering, wheel bearings on all of the four wheels, seven of the key parts in the rear differential and some major welding on the body. After a week in the shop and bills amounting to more than a thousand and a half dollars, it is back on the road and seems to have recovered some of its youthful bounce. Except that it has developed one very weird activity. The left rear break light unaccountably goes on and off at odd times. It’s just the left one and I never know when it’s going to light up. The other night banging on the front door woke me up at two in the morning. It was a teacher from the school who saw the tail light going on and off and thought someone was sneaking around trying to steal the car. Anyway the car seems to work fine, but it is clearly trying to signal me about something. I tried calling the car guys, click and clack, on my computer but couldn’t get through. I found out what the car was trying to tell me when the most disconcerting thing happened on a two hour trip yesterday to the edge of the Serengeti to pick up a teacher stricken with very serious malaria at Kakesio. On the way back while happily checking out the zebra and wildebeest that the rains have lured to our side of the Serengeti and reveling in the certainty that the car was in perfect shape and set to carry us around for another ten years, there came a horrendous scraping noise from the neither regions of the car. Thinking that I was finally to reap the harvest of ignoring my car’s distress signal in the form of the intermittent flashing left tail light, I jammed on the brakes and crawled underneath. The rear fuel tank was dragging along the ground. On close examination, the problem was only a lost cotter pin from one of straps that holds the tank in place. I jacked the tank back into place and used one of the small circlets of wire from my key ring in place of the cotter pin to fasten the strap back into position. Within an hour, I was back on the road vowing that I would never ignore a warning sign from my car again.

Till next month,

Ned

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