As you already know, life here is far from boring. Three days ago I got a message from the health district that there was a meeting two days later lasting three days. This meeting was in Maroua, three hours away. Well I had not scheduled any surgeries for two of those days so I decided to go all but the one day. This meeting involves all the hospitals and health districts for the far North of Cameroon. I planned on going the first day and due to circumstances waited till the second day to go.
This morning I get up at 5:30 to the alarm. I get out of bed, it’s still dark. Get my things together, put on my helmet and head out the door. I’ve decided to take the motorcycle because it costs to much to take the car to Maroua ($50) and I have nothing else to bring back, so it would have been an empty trip. I just replaced the rear brake pads on the motorcycle yesterday. They seems to be working well. The sun is just coming up as I crest the top of the hill leaving Koza. It’s a beautiful morning. All along the road there are women and girls with clay pots on their shoulders, heading for the wells, to fill the pots with water. Unlike other heavy objects which are carried on their heads, these pots are carried on the back of the shoulder when full. Dogs scurry past as I round a corner. Three boys, one with only a shirt on, one naked, and the other with pants and shirt, all run out to the road, waving and yelling “nassara!” I wave and smile to myself thinking of
how little boys all over the world are the same. They would rather be naked and dirty then any other way.
After 45 minutes I make it to Mokolo. This is where the pavement begins. I’m making good time. I pass many high school students in their blue uniforms walking along the road toward school. I try to honk and then remember I do not have a functional battery so the horn doesn’t work. In a few spots where children are crossing the road in front of me I rev my engine to make my presence known. I get about 15 miles out of Maroua and my engine looses power. I rev again but it keeps loosing and then the engine locks up. I am near a little village. I push the motorcycle to the little market area. Moto mechanics eye me with glee. White guy + big moto = big money! I leave my moto and walk away. I try to call the guy who repairs my moto in Maroua without success. I walk over to some old guys sitting in front of a little shop. After questioning they indicate a man who could watch my moto. He is an older man front of another shop. My motorcycle is larger (600cc) and more
expensive than others here so I prefer not to leave it with people for fear it will get stolen. I have no choice. He pushes it inside his little storage building along side the sacs of millet and corn. I then ask him how to get to Maroua. He says he will take me. He places a little cushion on the back rack of his small 90cc moto and off we head toward Maroua. We get there at 8:30 when my meeting is to start.
Near the bridge, under some trees, is a area that motorcycles are repaired. This is obvious by black sand under the trees. Black from all the oil changes emptied out on the ground. My mechanic is not their yet. The guy who’s driving me lets some guy who knows the mechanics house use his moto, so this other guy and I head off for the mechanics house. We arrive and he is just leaving. I explain the situation. He says he will take care of it. I give him the key and go to my meeting.
At 11;30 on our first break I go to the same trees and see my moto there. They took a moto and with an outstretched foot, pushed it all the way back to Maroua, one rider on each. He says I ran out of oil and the engine seized up. Oh how stupid! It never used to burn oil, so I stopped checking it. He says he’ll take it apart tomorrow, put a battery in it, fix the muffler too and bring it back to me in Koza. I’m sure it will be costly, but the service is great. I head back to my meeting.
They have cut the meeting to two days, so this was the last day. I ask for a ride with someone else returning to Koza. While driving from Maroua to Mokolo we hit a pothole and a battery light comes on. The truck continues running so we continue. Arriving in Mokolo we drop off one person. The truck will not start. Under the hood we see that the alternator is loose and the fan belt is so loose that it is not turning anything. The owner of the vehicle goes to find a mechanic at his home, to repair it and get a push start. I grab a passing moto. He takes me to the market where I look for a moto to take me home. I tell them the price I am willing to pay. He takes me to a group of motos and dicker about the price. They give him 500F and I leave with that person. He is from Koza and gave the guy the 500 ($1) for finding him a client.
We roll through the night with a headlight pointed at the stars. He does not have a battery. This is apparent by the fact that when the RPM of the moto drops down the headlight dims to nothing. So its with constant revving the engine that we can see and slowly make it back the rocky road to Koza. 12 miles in 1.5 hours. We arrive safely at my house and I pay him 2000F ($4) for the trip.
I’m thankful for Gods protection of this day. Greg