A Travellerspoint blog

Day 96 – ‘Experienced Mechanics’

27th December 2011

rain 26 °C

Up and at ‘em; we had things to do and places to see. One of the cleaning ladies offered to do our washing for a lot cheaper than the backpackers charged. Somers paid her ten dollars and gave her a mountain of clothes which had become particularly ripe with the smell of hard labour and sweat. Under the car the UJ was now in a dire state. We’d found our disease. We would still need a grease gun, we also needed a couple more UJ’s for when the others go wrong, some circlip pliers to get the UJ’s out and a few nuts and bolts to tide us over. It would be a simple quest that had no easy answer on a national bank holiday. Interestingly the black population had not stopped work; while the major stores were closed the smaller privately owned stores were busy trading. The only problem is that they weren’t well stocked. Five or six stores and a rather large market in which there was only white person, me, we had grease and a grease gun for a lot less than $35, we also had inside and outside circlip pliers, but no UJ’s and no bolts. The sad moment was when some bell-end shouted “Oi! White man. Go back home, you’re not welcome here.” I put my thumb up, smiled and shouted “Thank you.” A few guys around me giggled; I think, I hope, at my joke.

Anyway, a guy at a stall helped me out and became a guide as we toured the market for the right bolt. Imagine knocking on twenty of your neighbours doors for each of them in turn to root around their coffee jar full of nuts and bolts and you’d be there. Somers was on car guard duty as it was no place to leave Redvers unattended.

On our way back we stopped in Sam Levy’s Village, a shopping centre in the rich neighbourhood of Borrowdale. That’s where Robbie Mugobbie lives these days; the state house isn’t as nice as his multimillion dollar mansion. The Spar was in the style of the Spar in Cape Town at the Cape Quarter. The car park was full of cars which was a luxury in itself; but Mercedes was the brand of choice, BMW’s and 4x4s were also well represented, but senior politicians prefer the comfort of the E-class. Anything you desired was on the shelves of the Spar; fine champagnes and vintage wines, grapes, strawberries, blueberries and any out of season produce; fresh fish, cheeses, meats, the lot, all at a price. I picked up a melon and took it to the chap to weigh and price, the sticker he put on it said $8.54. Nearly six quid for a gala melon, it didn’t stay in my hand much longer, but we took the sticker for the scrap book.

Coming out of the Spar we heard a shout, “You vets get everywhere!” Kenny and Tracey had just returned from Mana Pools, this time we swapped numbers and e-mails, we’ll visit whenever we’re back in Durbs.

With the prop shaft off again we were dismayed to see that every time we used our new pliers the ends wore away a little more. In the end we destroyed them just managing to get the clips off on the one universal joint. Our technique involved various combinations of one of us plying and one trying to squeeze a screwdriver underneath to flick them out. An hour of hammering later and we had lots of pieces of old universal joint successfully extracted from their previous locale. [Whilst all the tools are amazing, the hammer has to be the best, when things are too tight, when you need more force, or when frustration gets the better of you, nothing beats, or beats like, a hammer.] Fixing the UJ took us securely to level three Haynes mechanics. The prop shaft, the UJ, the brake drum, all three spanners out of five difficulty; we are officially, ‘experienced DIY mechanics.’ It wouldn’t happen with a Toyota.

Even though the UJ was replaced the torrential rain meant it would be the following day before we put the prop shaft back on and we confirmed our diagnosis. For now it was back to the suite for a wash and a night on the tiles. Somers had cleverly brought in the drier half of our washing to finish it in the room, noting that in the heavier cotton t-shirts not all of the ‘hard labour and sweat’ had been removed. The rain came in litres, drops the size of grapes that soaked you through in seconds. The remaining clothes were getting rinsed again.

We booked a taxi and spruced ourselves up. Tuesdays in Harare would never be the same again. Jeffrey the taxi driver arrived in a white E-class, (Hunts Cross Taxis are going to have to pick their game up,) and off we went in search of the flashest bar in town; Number Seven, Honey Bear Lane. Well, it was closed for Christmas wasn’t it; as was every other decent bar. Sinking back into the plush interior of our taxi, Jeffrey had a plan and it wasn’t long before we were sinking back into the plush leather sofas of a bar called Millers which could have been a Wetherspoons in any city in England. Except that a can of Kilkenny cost £4.50 because it had come a long way you see. Somers was getting stuck into the wine and that Kilkenny tasted as sweet as the day it was brewed.

When Jeffrey returned to collect us the rain had gotten even worse. The roads were under water which meant that the pot holes were now invisible. The water was so deep that the Mercedes created a bow wave as it ploughed on through. We tried for one more bar, The Book Cafe but apparently Tuesday nights aren’t big news; it too was closed.

Posted by ibeamish 02:49 Archived in Zimbabwe

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