Wednesday morning it was clear, and it hadn’t rained in the night, so we went for it. It took a about 12 hours, but we made it safely to Kitwe and to the Fernandos. Ruthie got a picture of what a good section of the road looked like:
We were welcomed with a delicious meal, cleaned up, and fell into bed. It’s almost as tiring to be a passenger on these roads as it is to drive them! During the next two days I got my dentist appoint, we did a lot of shopping, enjoyed eating out, delicious Sri Lankan food, and visiting with Fernandos. The night before we left we sang by candlelight as I did my best to play by ear on their old piano. I’m so thankful that the Lord has brought such wonderful people into my life!
Saturday morning we loaded up the car, said goodbye, and headed to Chingola to pick up the three Ronald ladies.
Once there we left a few things to come up on a truck, did a masterful job of packing everything and 6 people into the Patrol, and headed out.
However, the trip up country was rather eventful. First, we got stopped at a police checkpoint minutes down the road and were informed/realized that our car’s fitness (inspection) was out of date. Oopps… The lady had heard of our school and let us go—much to our relief! Then, once we left Solwezi, we started to hear what we thought was the back right mud flap scraping on the potholes, but quickly realized was actually the tire. And it was starting to shred a little. So, we pulled over, shifted as many heavy items onto the left side of the car as we could, and I resumed driving favoring the right side as much as possible. This significantly slowed our progress down, and it was full dark by the time we finally hit Mwinilunga where the pavement ends. I got out, locked my hubcaps, and began the worst part of the drive in the dark.
The last 67 kilometers took just under three hours and was one of the most stressful driving experiences of my life. As there are not lights by the road and very few villages would have much electricity, I was driving with just my headlights. I had a very heavy car, and it was already 8pm. Soon, the road got wet, and then it started raining, which lowered my visibility to about two feet or so. And then the mud got bad. So bad that the truck was stuck at least two times, but was able with the aid of low four wheel drive to get us out. Once we hit the last plain before Sakeji, we found more huge puddles, so Pam and Anna got out and walked some of the worst ones so I could see where the best place to drive through was. In all, it took us just under 3 hours to drive that last stretch, and I was absolutely exhausted from the mental and by then physical strain of driving. We got the car unloaded in the misting rain, and then I took a blessedly hot shower and fell into bed.
I am so thankful for the change to get supplies, that the car made it back up with only minor damage to the tire, and that I didn't get us terribly stuck in the mud. All the crazy road trips I've taken before, and especially in that vehicle, were preparation for the greatest driving feat of my life. I can't say that I'm sorry I won't have another chance for such an exciting road trip, but boy have I made some memories... I'm enjoying some quiet as I recover and keep working on things in my house!