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Sandbox Savants » Blog Archive » Oregon Trail, Little Miss Sunshine and Our Car

Oregon Trail, Little Miss Sunshine and Our Car

Monday, August 11th, 2008

We are in Cameroon!  Don’t rejoice too soon though, my friends, as we are only in the city of Garoua, in Northern Cameroon.  We still have a lot of mud, rain and pothole-ridden roads to go before we get to Kribi, and then Douala.

You may have noticed that we have been posting a lot today, and those of you who have been diligently following our route page have noticed that we have not gone anywhere in quite some time. Well.  Let me open the curtain to that mystery for you.

Do we ford the river? – We crossed into Cameroon at the village of Kerawa on August 9.  The road to Kerawa from the Nigerian village of Pulki was 16 kilometers of mud and craters.  It was a lovely and pleasant hour of being bumped around and almost losing everything from the top of the car.  We crossed the border without issue.  THEN.  We drove, just after dark, to the city of Mora, which involved some more potholes and bumpiness…and also a bridge that has been submerged by a FLASH FLOOD. The bridge was only about a foot under water but the water was rising fast and we knew we had to cross immediately if we were going to cross at all that night. Luckily, some village boys agreed to walk in front of the car so we could follow them over the invisible bridge.  Amazingly, we made it into Mora that night.

Why don’t you girls get out and push? – The morning of August 10, we were so ready to get as far south in Cameroon as possible.  We were feeling great and ahead of schedule, even after a morning of being bounced around from town to town by customs officials to get our car paperwork completed, requiring us to cross the only slightly less submerged bridge twice more. 

So we’re driving along in our automobile, about halfway between Maroua and Garoua, making great time, when the car started jerking, almost like it’s running out of gas, except we had half a tank left.  We weren’t really sure what was going on, but the car contined to drive fine as long as we stayed under 40 miles per hour. So we decided to slowly head on to Garoua, where we could visit a mechanic.

OH. IT. WAS. SO. SLOW.

The speed our car was willing to tolerate continually decreased, until we were topping out at about 10 miles per hour on a flat road, 20 miles per hour going downhill, and a number that was not registrable going uphill.  At one point, as we were driving uphill past a small village, the car slowed to a halt and stalled out. 

So Jessie and I jumped out, Little Miss Sunshine style, pushed until Doug could get the car started again, and then ran up and jumped in. 

Luckily there was no danger of us not keeping up with the car after it started moving again. 

When we finally rolled into Garoua a full 6 hours and approximately 211 kilometers after leaving Maroua, we were lucky enough to find a hotel to crash for the night — after pushing the car into the parking lot, of course.  For once, camping was not an option for us.

But all is well again.

As has been our amazing luck, we met some great people on arriving here, including a British expat and his Cameroonian coworkers, who helped us find some great and honest mechanics to fix our car.  As it turns out, the problem was a plastic bag that some hilarious soul decided to shove into our gas tank. 

Also, while we had the mechanic looking at our car, we also had him remove the plastic jerrycan nozzle that got stuck in the neck of our gas tank when we were refilling the tank a few days earlier.  It hadn’t been causing any problems, but we thought it was best to get it out of there.

We will be on our way south again tomorrow, hopefully getting a lot closer to the finish line. 

In the meantime, thanks for all your support and keep thinking good thoughts!!

7 Responses to "Oregon Trail, Little Miss Sunshine and Our Car"

  1. 1

    Susan said,

    August 11, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

    Cameroon, yahoo! I’m one of those who has been diligently following your progress via SPOT while patiently (and anxiously!) awaiting your posts. So good to hear your recent news! Thank you! Yikes, fording a river on a submerged bridge, and my bet is you will have a locking gas cap on your next rally! Curious to know why you haven’t sent more SPOT “We are okay. Checking in.” messages when you are in one location for many hours, hint, hint. HAVE FUN! BE SAFE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DOUG! ~ Susan

  2. 2

    Vicky said,

    August 11, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

    I’ve never had the pleasure of driving over invisible bridges, but I’ve had my share of interesting drives. My favorite direction ever was “turn left after the second chicken coop after you’ve gone over the washed out rode”!
    Be safe.
    Vicky

  3. 3

    Elizabeth said,

    August 11, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

    That’s an average of just under 22 miles per hour. Which, considering you guys made it about halfway at a normal pace, is pretty darn slow for the second half. Glad to hear you got it all figured out though! And you didn’t have to dump any supplies in order to ford the river! :)

  4. 4

    Molly Dugan said,

    August 11, 2008 @ 9:58 pm

    My favorite thought right now is the image in my head of Jessie and Aparna running Little Miss Sunshine style…hahahaha! Glad you are doing well and are officially in Camaroon. Good luck with the rest. I will be SPOTting you (anyone get the pun??)!

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    December 14, 2011 @ 5:04 pm


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  • Where Are We Now?

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  • About Us

    Welcome to the website of the Sandbox Savants!

    We are a team of three crazy individuals (Aparna, Doug, and Jessie) embarking on an overland voyage from London, England to Cameroon in July of 2008. Why? To raise money and awareness for a very deserving charity that does development work in Africa, while attempting a fun adventure of slightly questionable wisdom.

    Take a look around the site and check back often for updates about our journey!

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    You can help us! Our goal is to raise a minimum of $2,000 $3,200 (WE DID IT, BUT WE WANT TO RAISE MORE!)and then finance the trip.
  • UPDATE: Thanks to YOUR help, we have SURPASSED our second goal of $3,200 and raised an AMAZING $4,464 so far for Send A Cow, making us the top fundraiser to date of the Africa Rally!!! Donations can continue while we are on the road, so donate away and help ensure we stay in 1st place!!!

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