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May 20, 1968

Dear Mom and Dad,

…The trip to Arusha was longer than I figured it would be. I had to make a trip to South Massai while I was there to pick up a dresser formerly stationed there, who sill begin now to work here in the hospital of Loliondo. It is only eighty miles from Arusha to the upper primary school where the clinic is but it took me two days to get there. I don’t know how many times we go stuck. During the rainy season out here, there are large sections of the plains, which become lakes of sticky mud. We call this type of soil black cotton. The rain makes quick sand out of it a foot or more deep and it often stretched for more than a mile. Frequently there is just no way around, and crossing requires hours of backbreaking work. Having sunk in, each wheel must be jacked up and logs put underneath. Than after an hour or more of work, you start out only to get stuck again twenty feet ahead. It sometimes takes a full day to get across one of these places using four-wheel drive, chains, a portable winch, shovels, axes, etc.

At one point during the last trip, I was in an impossible place, with the car leaning over so far that it was threatening to turn over. Only one wheel was touching the ground and there was no place to stand the jack. Also no trees were around to tie the winch to. I dug a hole and buried one of the three spare tires to tie the winch to. After six hours we got out only sink in again a few miles further on. That night I slept on top of the load under the canvas of the pick up. We had gotten stuck again near dusk and it was too dark to cut trees and too dark to dig. If it’s possible, I prefer to walk during the rainy season.

Love,

Ned

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