Monday, May 21, 2007

Four Wheel Driving

Last Friday a group of ward nurses and I traveled to a remote village to attend the funeral of a former patient. Getting there was quite the adventure; coming home provided some much needed stress relief. It started out smoothly, traveling through Monrovia and out to the airport. After the airport, we turned off the main road and THEN things grew interesting. First we had to contend with the puddles...across the width of the road, I'm not sure how deep that is puddles. At this point, we were following another 4WD vehicle, so figured if he could make it, so could I. Lots of splashing, a little muddy water through the vents, but nothing too bad. Then we reached the bridge. The bridge was a series of 8 logs, the middle two of which were broken. Then there was a set of three logs on each side. One log in each set was flat topped and these were the ones to drive on. The flanking logs were a little higher or lower than the main one. Sure was glad someone was there to make sure I stayed lined up on top of the good logs! You'll notice in the photos that I was not exactly centered on them...

After a successful crossing of the bridge, our guide informed me that we would soon be turning left into deep, loose sand and we would need our 'helper.' He pointed to the smaller gearstick for the differential lock to clarify his meaning. Hmmm...Andy, our transport manager, had offered to teach us how to use that, but I haven't had the lesson yet! I pulled out the manual, located the relevant pages, and handed it to Kirstie who proceeded to read guidelines for shifting and choosing high and low; low is good for sand. Although we slipped and slid a bit along the way, we continued in forward motion, making it to the next turnoff following tracks through grass over a meter high. (The picture of this is taken on the way out of the village. I think the taxi came in via a different route because I'm not sure it could have handled the puddles).

I don't have any good pictures of the puddles. I'll have to ask around a bit and see if someone captured some good shots. I gave my camera to someone else and can't give credit for the above photos because I don't know who took them. Kirstie might have taken the one of me driving across the bridge.

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