Thursday, March 20, 2014


So here's how Tuesday unfolded...

2:50 pm - Alternator bearing froze in the middle of the Mara. We had already been suspicious of the new sound coming from our engine, and a friend's mechanic had checked it out, diagnosed the problem, and determined we could safely drive the 2 hours to the nearest town. We broke down a few hundred meters later.

2:53 pm - We had already ordered a new bearing from Nairobi as soon as we heard the diagnosis. Determined we couldn't get the part from Nairobi until the next day. Called our mechanic in Narok, 2 hours away, to source a more local alternative.

3:07 pm - Called our field assistant in Mulot, 1 hour away, to look for a back-up option.

3:11 pm - Called our friend whose family owns a shop in Aitong, 30 minutes away, to look for a back-up, back-up option. The closer the towns, the smaller they were, and the less likely we could find the part we needed, but it was worth the try.

3:49 pm - Determined a used alternator from Narok was the best/only option. Sent all the money we could (not enough) via cell phone to our mechanic to purchase the alternator.

4:05 pm - Our mechanic left Narok on a motorbike with the used alternator, heading for the Mara. The roboticists and I went to hang out with our friends we had been visiting. Chris, like a true sea captain, wouldn't leave the vessel, and insisted on sitting outside the gates in the afternoon sun with the Land Rover.

6:49 pm - Our mechanic arrived at our Land Rover in the Mara. She (the Land Rover) and Chris are outside the gate, and it's starting to get dark.

7:30 pm - Chris rolled into our friend's place, new (used) alternator in place and the Land Rover purring like her normal self again. Decided it was too late to drive, and a great opportunity to spend more time catching up with friends, so set up our tents for the night.

4 hours and 40 minutes from breakdown to repair in the middle of the Mara-- not bad! Of course, we have some great friends to thank for their help in getting things running again so quickly, and having a comfortable place to camp for the night. In Kenya, logistics are all about who you know, and how easily you can contact them. I can't imagine having worked here before cell phones!
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