Friday, March 17, 2006

The Dire Effects of Salt Pan Syndrome

Today I'm home working on the book. I'm writing the chapter about the Dragoman truck I was on in 2001 getting bogged in clay in the desert of northern Kenya.

In short, we drove along. Half the truck seem to fall off the earth. We stopped.

A quick inspection revealed that the left side of the truck had fallen through the road's salt pan crust and was bogged in the clay below. Our driver, Marky (most recently seen in Jinja when I was rafting the Nile in November, for those of you who've been reading a while), was kicking himself for not taking the other route over the volcanic rock. But then, that route would have destroyed our tires. And it hadn't rained in months, so there should have been no risk. But the clay retains water in the desert. Oops.

It was pretty hot out and there was no shade. I hid under a table during most of the truck rescue operation.

It took 10 hours and a tractor to get out of the bog. We counted ourselves lucky. When my friend Nikki got bogged in Malawi a few years before, it took her six days to get out, and she and her passengers had to rebuild the road during non-stop downpours.

I didn't have the best luck with trucks in 2001. It was only a few weeks after this that the Isuzu I'd hitched a ride on tipped over en route to Lalibela--at four in the morning.

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