Saturday, June 14, 2008

African Adventure: From Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar (April 5-7)

Current Location: Stone Town, Zanzibar
Highlights: We could have blown ourselves up! Zanzibar is incredible!
Upcoming: A spice tour, visit to the pristine beaches of the north and forests of the interior, and a possible visit to the Island of Chumbe, an ecological preserve.

We are on the Island of Zanzibar having left the Land Rover in Dar es Salaam on the Tanzanian mainland, as a result, I have very little equipment and no way to charge to the laptop battery, so this will be a quick diary entry!

With the Kilianjaro hike behind us, we were set to leave the Springlands Hotel in Moshi early on Wednesday 5th. But we hit a potentially lethal snag. The Land Rover have been stored at the Springlands Hotel and was well looked after. We packed our stuff and rearranged to accommodate Gena and her bags for the journey to Dar es Salaam and then Zanzibar. Just as a precaution before I was ready to start the Landy, I decided to check the oil level. I am incredibly fussy about checking fluid levels in the Landy, and I remember commenting to myself (mentally) "Hey Dennis, this is a bit much, you checked the oil level when we arrived and its not been driven since". "NO", I said to myself, "the oil levels must be checked at least once a week and it was a week since they were last checked". So I check the oil. I pulled the dipstick and nothing! What I thought, this is impossible. I dipped and checked three more times and all I got was an almost invisible fluid almost all the way up the dipstick. This is crazy I thought. Was this water? What was going on. After closer examination, I realized it was petrol. The oil sump was completely full of petrol!
Boy O boy was I glad I check the oil level. I hate to think what might have happened if I had started the engine full of petrol. Maybe it would have exploded, or at the very least the engine would have been ruined. I decided to drain the oil and petrol from the sump and add fresh oil. Upon opening the drain plug, good oil poured out. After a few moments, this turned into slightly brown colored petrol. In all there must have been about 6-8 gallons of fluid that came out of the sump. How did the petrol get there you ask? The electrical fuel pump I fitted in Namibia was left on for the whole week we were gone up the mountain and in that week, it must have been slowing pushing petrol through the carb, into the inleft manifold, then into the cylinders where it ran down the bores past the rings into the oil sump. I will tell you some other time how the electrical fuel pump was left one some other time. BTW, we also had a flat battery!

Before push starting the Landy, I removed the plugs and added about 10cc of oil to each cylinder to lubricate the now washed clean rings and bore walls. She started fine with a good push, but now there was a bad oil leak form the oil filter which luckily I fixed quickly by tightening the filter housing. So with the Landy in good shape, off we went towards Dar es Salaam.

In fact that day we only made it as far as Korongo, about 300 km form Dar. We drove the rest of the way to Dar after a very early start the next day, left the Landy at the Silver Sands Hotel, got a taxi to the harbor, bought our ferry tickets after the usual negotiation or rather customary haggling over the ticket price, and boarded the Sea Star by 2.30pm. This was a really nice boat which even had a video playing! It was almost somewhat shocking to suddenly be confronted by such a new modern piece of machinery after seeing mud houses, a few old cars, and bicycles. Within 90 mins we were getting on the Spice Island of Zanzibar.

Although I have only been here for 24 hrs now, I love the place. It's incredible. Just a fantastic blitz on the senses. This is truly a transition point of where Southern Africa changes and starts to become more eastern or northern Africa. When I say transition, I don't only mean a cultural transition, but the appearance of the people and the cloths they wear is different, because of the dominant Muslim influence.

This afternoon, we are going on a spice tour, then hopefully tomorrow we will visit the Island of Chumbe where I hope to see the worlds largest land crab, the coconut crab, pristine coral reefs without SCUBA gear, and the next day check out the famous white sand beaches decorated with coconut palms and see what we can find within the crystal clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Can you tell I'm excited!

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