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Published: November 11th 2008
Repairing damaged ladder
The Toyota agent opened at 7.30 am, so Ian and Chris were there promptly. The Service Manager, Johan Cloete, dropped everything and gave Ian his full attention. Ian explained that his gearbox had been growling odd noises for some time now and he desperately needed expert advice. He took Ian for a test run in the car, over quite a distance, but could not hear any strange noises whatsoever - (“Sorry Dr, it isn’t actually hurting at this moment”). The car was hoisted high and all sorts of people examined all sorts of places underneath - with the engine running, in gear, out of gear, all oil levels were checked (okay) and still nothing found. So, we drove out of the garage and were thanking the service manager and his team for all their efforts and feeling a little more assured that nothing serious was amiss when, suddenly, the noise appeared! “That’s not the gearbox,” said our friendly service manager, “That’s a loose baffle in the rear silencer!” What a relief!! Nothing serious at all and as no replacement silencer would be available in Botswana, Ian will now wait until we get to Capetown and get it fixed there. The service manager did add that he would be very surprised if the gearbox was faulty; “We very rarely get a Prado into our garage for repairs” he said reassuringly. This Toyota agent was just like the ones we have met all through Africa, particularly Khartoum and Addis Ababa - and now Francistown, who have been so helpful and kind.
The premises in each case have been spotlessly tidy, the staff efficient and knowledgeable and the whole atmosphere warming and reassuring. Oh yes, Johan Cloete also told me where I could get a replacement inverter so we went round to this little electronics shop run by a Bangladeshi gentleman and, sure enough, we each bought another inverter, more powerful than the earlier one for about 19 quid. Next we visited a huge hypermarket to restock with liquor and water. Part of the car park had awnings under which you parked the car to protect it from the sun. When Ian drove under this awning he just clipped one of the supports with his roof tent which tore the cover, smashed the ladder, and bent the main hinges! What rotten luck! So, after we had restocked with water, beer, wine and tonics. (I put in 65 litres of bottled water, having run my tank dry between Blantyre and Francistown - not bad! Ian meanwhile called Johan Cloete and asked his advice as to where he might be able to get his tent repaired. The venue and phone number was immediately forthcoming so Ian and Chris took the car round to the industrial area where Mike Edwards ran a safari canvas manufacturing business - tents and things. He immediately dropped everything and gave Ian his full attention. To cut a long story short within two hours he had mended the cover, straightened the hinges, and completely reassembled the twisted ladder - all for the cost of 15 quid - including VAT! People have really been so, so kind to us. Back at the campsite I spent a happy hour replacing my inverter and it is now working which is a blessing - otherwise I would not be typing this. And our toothbrushes are fully recharged! I assure you we old fogies travel in as much comfort as we possibly can.
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