Saturday, May 30, 2009

More truck details

Given that the truck – along with our tents – is ‘home’ for about 11 months, I think it needs more than a passing description.
The inside back has 14 seats down each side. Seats are on two levels, with the forward eight being referred to as ‘first class’. The seats are pretty firm and the bottom of every two seats covers a storage locker. Each person gets half of a locker for their possessions – clothes, shoes, toiletries, some food and WATER (we have 12 liters of water in our locker). Luggage is stored underneath the floor and is not all that easy to get at.
The truck ‘windows’ are tarpaulins that can be rolled up when weather permits. We leave them up most of the time, unless it is cold (happened in Morocco) or raining. When the tarps are down and secured with bungee ropes, the truck is reasonably secure.
There is a safe (Trevor) for the most precious belongings – money and passports. Trev has two separate locks (and four keys) and people take turns being a ‘friend of Trev’. I had hoped to make the trip without being Trev’s friend, but got outwitted the other day. I managed to pass the key on to someone yesterday, but I fear it will be back soon. The problem with being a friend of Trevor is that people want to get access at odd times, and never usually at the same time. So it makes for constant traffic in and out of the truck and under the floor.

Beast 2

Beast 2 is Chris -- the man behind the wheel and a cantankerous old sod – sorry Chris, but I couldn’t resist. Actually, he is a very gentle soul with nerves of steel (just watch him in traffic) and what seems to be never-ending patience. Chris is a brilliant driver, and he doesn’t know this blog address, so he can’t accuse me of buttering him up. He’s the only fellow I know who could drive a truck through the eye of a needle.
He's also good at finding water and has a hat that might make the Bush Tucker Man jealous (see photo).
Chris did his first Trans-African tour five years ago (as a passenger), and now he’s addicted – or something like that. He’s doing this trip – or so he says – because he is still cranky that he (as driver) couldn’t get visas to Angola on the trip he did in 2007-08.
In fact, our lingering in Abuja Nigeria now is because we are waiting for the Angola embassy to even open its doors to us to get visas. Now that I think about it, the visa matter makes me cranky too, but I digress.

Beast 1

Beast 1 is a 1990 Mercedes truck that has been converted to carry up to 30 people. This year it is carrying 28, including driver and sidekick and 26 passengers – many of whom are still trying to figure what in the world they are doing on this trip.
Some details for the petrol-heads. The truck is a 10-metre-long, V8, 1400cc, two-wheel drive, left-hand drive number, that is painted (according to its documents) green and ‘straw’. Those colours are going rather well with the flags that are getting painted on the side of the truck as we enter each new country. Chris (driver/expedition leader) started adding flags when he picked up the truck in Jordan, so it is a history of its travels.
Chris says the truck is ‘growing’ on him and that he appreciates its power, but he is still a Scania fan. I’ll let you know what he thinks as time goes by.
The truck remains nameless, which doesn’t seem to bother anyone. I’ll pass on any name suggestions, but can’t imagine one that might appeal to Chris.
Oh, and Chris thinks the truck might have been a beverage delivery vehicle in a previous life, so just think of us driving around Africa in a beer truck.

The man and the machine (the two beasts)

Let me introduce you to the two beasts. hehehehe

Where to start

I’ve finally figured out a direction to take with this blog. Forward would be nice, but I have settled on logical (at least logical in my mind). Obviously, the whole success of the trip depends on the truck and driver, so I’ll start with them.

Time for some updating

We have several days in Abuja, Nigeria – camping on the edge of the Sheraton Hotel’s staff carpark. There are internet connections around town and I decided it was a great opportunity to either a) update this blog, or b) run an internet scam. Guess I’ll do a), unless of course you are keen to send me all of your banking details. Let me know!