At the beginning of this month we undertook a trip to Grootfontein in order to buy personal provisions and also to purchase some items needed for our community celebration. We left early in the morning in our team vehicle with all but one seat filled. We had an uneventful trip to Grootfontein stopping at the gate to get out of the car and walk through the wet matting designed to keep foot and mouth disease ( a disease that affects animals, cattle particularly) from being carried from one side to the other. We had a brief bush toilet stop and made it to Grootfontein in good time to commence all the different tasks we had laid out for the day. Our day unfolded in much the same way as it usually does when we go to town; we visit a variety of locations in a predetermined order to buy all the different things we need.
It was about 2:30pm in the afternoon and we were quite pleased with ourselves at what we had been able to achieve. We headed to the petrol station to fuel up before we left town, always our final destination and happily settled down with a vehicle loaded on top with crates of groceries, steel window frames, wire mesh, shade cloth and some crates of soft drinks for our community celebration and the residual stuff inside the vehicle! We left the tarred road behind and took the dirt road (about 210 kilometres) to Tsumkwe. We reached the “dead zone” where we lose mobile coverage until we are back in Tsumkwe. This occurs before we reach the gate which is pretty much the halfway point of the trip. Our team leader usually contacts his wife to let her know that we are about to go into the “dead zone” so that she knows when to expect him home but he was sleeping and no-one else thought to contact anyone in Tsumkwe.
Most of the road is flat with a few bends but there is one spot where the road drops into a valley and as you approach that heading to Tsumkwe there is a bend which finishes with the drop into the valley. As we approached this bend the front passenger wheel came off the vehicle and rolled away down the road in front of us! Craig was driving and I was in the front passenger seat. Craig steered the vehicle off the side of the road into soft sand at the edge and we came to a halt in an enormous cloud of dust. The car was well embedded in the ground and we could not open doors on the left hand side of the vehicle but all scrambled out of the vehicle unhurt but covered in a coating of dust.
Amazingly God provided a stretch of the verge without any rocks, most of the side of the road is covered with rocks, and without any trees in order for us to come safely to rest. We discovered our wheel which had followed a culvert made to take water from the road when it rains and had thankfully come to rest not too far away from the vehicle. We were very pleased that it had not continued a few metres further along the road otherwise it would more than likely have been lost in the bush in the valley somewhere. None of us were injured in the slightest way which in itself was quite incredible.
We then had to wait for a passing vehicle as we had no way to contact anyone. It was hot beside the road but we had drinking water purchased in town and some fruit juice to drink. We had about an hours wait before a vehicle came along heading towards the tarred road. It stopped and took our team leader towards the gate and mobile coverage where he was able to make contact with his wife and our local Pastor as well as a mechanic in Grootfontein to organise for our vehicle to be towed.The rest of us waited until a passing truck stopped and agreed to take two of us and all of the stuff from the roof of the vehicle to Tsumkwe. Claudia and I got a lift in the back of a ute with the remainder of our belongings, leaving only Craig and Jeremy to wait with the vehicle for the arrival of the tow truck and Pastor Gerrie. It turned out to be a very long day/night but we were very thankful that God had protected us all.