Road Trip, Part 4

Last week we left Stan and Brad on the road to Ndjoko Punda. Due to the poor road conditions, their driver (nicknamed Forty-five) has only been able to drive at approximately two miles per hour. The pickup truck has been struggling to make the journey. It’s a good thing the driver has a mechanic with him. We continue our story here with Part 4 of the road trip.

Steam rolled from under the hood. “What is this now?” the driver asked.

“We need water,” the mechanic said.

Forty-five, the driver, pulled to the side of the road. He and the mechanic took empty jugs back to the stream.

“Our water bottles are nearly empty. We’d better get some water, too,” Stan said.

When he and Brad reached the muddy stream, they lowered their bottles into the filthy water.

“I’m worried this muddy water might clog the filters,” Brad said.

Stan finished filling his bottle. “We need to find clearer fast-running water soon.”

The mechanic poured water into the radiator. It boiled over and hissed on the hot engine. He jumped back from the scalding water.

Village children laughed. They entertained each other, imitating the mechanic’s jump. He smiled good-naturedly.H4C_2

After the engine cooled enough to continue the journey, the pickup slowly followed the broken road around the village.

Two women pushed a large kettle onto a cooking fire. Several young girls hauled water from the stream and poured it in.

Brad shook his head. “It’s a hard life. Dirty water to cook with.”

“Yeah.” Stan wiped the sweat from his brow. “And cooking over an open fire in this heat.”

Brad reached for his water bottle. Took a swig. “Ugh! Lukewarm, but at least it’s safe.”

Stan nodded toward the group gathered around the cooking pot. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get safe drinking water to everyone?”

H4C.Jeep.DashbdForty-five turned the wheel sharply to avoid a young child leading a goat. He hollered out the window. “Keep out of the road. And keep your goat out of the way, too. Or else we’ll have roast goat.”

Exhausted, the men pressed on. Night fell.

Brad stifled a yawn. “How much farther?”

“Long way.” Stan slumped against the door and closed his eyes. “Sure could use some sleep.”

“Good luck with that.” Brad squirmed. Another spring poked through the tattered back of the seat. It jabbed him between the shoulder blades.

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