The kindness of people

When the first detachment of the Tsavo West National Park team arrived at my crash site, the leader looked at me and the car and said “you walked out of that?, God really loves you man!” a sense of gratitude has been my main emotion in the two days since the crash.
What saved me is the workmanship and design of the interior done by Errol Wright, we intentionally designed the cupboard behind the driver to reach the roof it was the strong vertical marine ply of this cupboard and the fridge that took the force of the roof when the truck was rolling, protecting my head. The good luck petronis that Lee always gives me was in the visor, over my head, I like to think that charm helped…
This time has confirmed once again my number one takeaway from all my travels around the world, everywhere I go, if you ask for help when you are in trouble, people instinctively want to help you, even before this crash that was my response when people asked me my main learning from travel, even more so now.
This has been a tough few days, the only way to deal with this type of situation is to break the task into bits, in order of priority, and deal with the next critical thing, putting aside the stuff you cannot do anything about, so no point wasting time regretting the fact that the crash happened and crying over the incredible damage to Nelson gets nothing done (though I was tempted in moments).
While waiting for the recovery truck I walked the road a few times scratching my head, there is nothing at all on the road to cause such a lurch to the left, but the A mount on the rear axel did have two stress sheared bolts, maybe thats a clue maybe it was just a consequence of the accident, we will never know.
The National Park guys were exceptional and sourced a recovery vehicle for me, the recovery guys were brilliant they had to drive two hours into the park to get me, find a way to get Nelson onto their truck which was not easy from a ditch with a jammed front wheel (backwards with the high lift jack lifting the front, a team effort from all of us one foot at a time). We then together had to get out of the park, get police clearance to confirm no one else was injured, which took hours, and drive gently to Mombasa in lines of trucks which took until 11pm.
I donated my diesel to the guys and paid for their food and drinks and overnight accommodation, and a tip along with a hefty but fair fee to their boss in USD, which I carry for just such an emergency.
Once we got the truck to the yard I had to work for a day and a half to strip out all the topsy turvy contents, take everything off the roof and then use the high lift jack as a “straightener” to bend the roof back into shape so the truck will fit into the container door, all done now.
So thankfully two days later I am in the poolside beach bar of my modest hotel in Mombasa, I have managed, with a lot of help from many people, to get the truck to the container yard in Mombasa, I have sweated for a day and a half with my high lift jack to get Nelson square enough to hopefully fit into a container on Tuesday so I can Fly home on Wednesday evening.
I have already been putting together a team to rebuild Nelson including Errol who is already on board, lets hope Alucab who make the roof will do me a good deal as the most traveled of their installations.
Might be that Land Rover Monthly run a series on the rebuild
The picture of my trusty Tilly hat tells a story all by itself
I have walked this road many times now, still scratching my head as to how I went off left on a straight road
The ditch that did for me, the front dug in and flipped the car, as some have pointed out the Land rover is narrow compared to a Landcruiser and there was some weight on the roof that may have contributed to the roll
road perfectly smooth for a park track, no camber or soft spots, I am still sticking with mechanical failure on the rear
What saved me, the excellent workmanship of Errol Wright who built the fridge cabinate from strong marine ply that kept the roof off my head, we did in fact design it with this advantage intentionally
My Petronis, Lee always gives me a good luck card to stay safe signed by all the kids and even the animals, it was in my sun visor
Checking the rear the A frame that stops the axel moving side to side is sheared on one side, maybe from the accident or maybe from months of corrugations causing the axel to step sideways perhaps……
Its a rough job getting the car on at least three of the wheels, needs must but there can be a lot of damage done by the recovery that cannot be avoided
It was surreal to be in a luxury safari lodge for the night as the sun set
Now how are we going to get this from here onto the truck, turns out frontwards does not work, backwards with the high lift jack lifting the front did the trick one foot at a time
Finally got it on, if you think Nelson was top heavy its nothing compared to this set up, 45km of rough park track to negotiate
Jeremiah Ronoh, the administration chief in the National park sourced my accomodation and the recovery truck, came to the gate to meet me personally and wish me luck
Paul Chegikra, drove Nelson on his truck out of the park on really rough roads and then all the way to Mombasa arriving at 11pm having started at 6am, then stayed over, hero
Charles Karoke, assisted Paul, translated for me, and assured me “dont worry we will find a way” many times
Nelson in the shipping yard, I need to clear him out, strip the roof (partly done here) and straighten the roof so that it can be square enough to fit in the container
In 32oC heat and the sun I work for more than a day step by step with the jack lifting and straighening the roof, removing gas, isolating and disconnecting electricity (fuel was already donated to the recovery guys a £100 present they were pleased with)
ready for loading, the plan is to put a fork lift truck under the front and reverse it into the container, is should fit, lets see on tuesday….
My faithful Tilly hat tells a story of sun and sweat and resiliance, reminds me of just how hard I have had to push, mentally and physically over this last three days, nearly done

About Gerry Mulligan

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