And here I thought the fun was over

Rainy season is supposed to be over, and with it the impassable roads. Mind you, dry season doesn't mean good roads, it means less-bad roads. But it's been raining more often than normal, and we had a hearty rain before Dan and I left Kumba on Saturday evening. To make matters more exciting, it was just before dark. But Dan likes to sleep in his own bed, trusts his truck, and doesn't mind a bit of adventure. And we were giving a ride to two Oroko men. It's a mutually beneficial relationship -- they get a free ride home and are around to help dig if we get stuck and provide some insurance against getting hassled by gendarmes, bandits, or unscrupulous locals.

The infamous hole in Kake was the first obstacle. We noticed on our way out of Kumba that fortunately most of the big trucks had taken a pass on trying to get through that night and were pulled over on the side of the road. So it wasn't a big truck stuck in the Kake hole that was forcing cars to scale the steep slippery hill of the "detour," it was a jacked-up Toyota Hilux 4x4 that had stalled out in the middle of the hole; drowned out as the pooled water reached past his back bumper.

There's nothing like a bad spot in the road to bring a crowd of young men, eager to earn a few francs for pushing. As we approached the key point they began to swarm around but Dan warned them off, "You no need for push me, I get good tires," and we screamed up the hill, nearly climbing the up the other side of the hill as well with the force of our thrust.

"Is this still as fun as snowstorms?" Dan asked further along the road. "You bet!" I answered, as we went into a skid, weaving back and forth across the road a few times before straightening out. "That part there reminded me an awful lot of winter driving."

Then there's the old duck pond in front of Three Corners market. It still blows my mind that a town would allow the section of road directly in front of their community market -- frequented by all the surrounding towns -- to be a perpetual puddle, an hebdomadaire hazard, an eyesore and an obstacle. And it always surprises me how easily the truck passes through the mudhole. But passable or not, it's never a good thing when you can actually see waves of water rippling in front of you from movement of the truck through the water. Mike's mechanic in Yaoundé exclaimed on the condition of Mike's brakes: "What do you do to this thing, park it in water?!" In some ways that's not far from the truth.

What else is there to say? The Hilux is a mighty fine vehicle, Dan is a skilled (arguably daring) driver, and winter driving skills come in rather handy on Cameroonian clay. Thus when asked if he'll chance the roads after a heavy rain, Dan just shrugs at the weather with a resigned air and mischievous grin: "Hey that's what 4-Wheel Drive is for."


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