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January 2018, vol 13 no 4

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Aron Rothstein

Bush Mechanics

Kaokoland's lack of tarred roads, or any roads at all, made schedules tentative at best. Our old Land Cruiser, pummeled by rough tracks, required constant repair and maintenance. In the veld, this involves good use of four senses. The fifth, taste, is not recommended, though it sometimes comes into play unintentionally.

boondocks —
the sweet smell of coolant
changes my plans

Because carrying spares guarantees that those parts will not break, some ingenuity is required for the ones that do. A friend told a story about wrapping the skin of a freshly-killed antelope around a broken spring blade; it dried like iron and held the blade together.

a tree limb
tied beneath the transfer case —
bush mechanic

Of course, some parts can't be repaired with found materials. Along the Kunene River, east of Otjimborombonga, I yielded to macho sentiment and drove up a hill I shouldn't have. The pinion gear shaft, an inch-and-a-half of solid steel, tore in half. Using our radiotelephone, I found a part in Windhoek, but then . . . ?

Kunene Prime . . .
five day delivery
by donkey

Forbearance, it turns out, is the most important tool in the box. Our friend (he of the broken spring) told us the first thing to do when something fails is to make tea.

pitching camp
where we find ourselves . . .
hyenas laugh