Have you ever had to do one of those group team building exercises where you are hypothetically stranded on an island and you are being asked what you will take with you? Well, we have done it for real! There were 5 of us, 3 Americans and 2 Ghanaians, stranded on somewhat of an island surrounded by arid land instead of water. We were marooned in a pickup truck leaking water from its radiator and without the leisure of what we wish we could have brought.
It was on the annual visit to the artisan communities we work with and we had a tight time schedule. A Ghanaian friend with a reliable pickup truck offered to provide a ride and in turn scout the Northern part of Ghana with us which he had never visited. I breathed a sigh of relief when his brand new “looking” pickup truck pulled up to pick us from the transport station. I planned an uneventful trip, hoping to take a break to see the sights.
Our trip to the basket weavers’ community went well. We visited a crocodile village for a little adventure and celebration, yep we have a weird way to celebrate, which also went well without anyone of us losing a limb.
Setting out early on our return trip, we were a couple of miles away from any village when my friend exclaimed his engine was heating up. He stopped and checked his car and indicated he needed to fill his radiator with water. We emptied a couple of our bottled water bottles into the radiator and continued on for less than a mile when the radiator got thirsty again! We filled it with more bottled water only to watch it run out. We looked on; I was beginning to feel fear thinking this could be bad. I pulled the driver aside who had never been to the Northern part of Ghana and let him know I have been told on my last car break down in the area that this area where we were stuck was known for robberies. I was hoping the radiator will hear me and heal itself. His eyes opened to the size of space saucers.
One of the passengers was Seth, an avid runner and mountain climber from frozen MN. He pulled out a Swiss army pocket knife to unscrew the thirsty radiator out of its hiding space, and low and behold it looked like a strainer or a shower head. The puzzled and quiet look on everyone’s face (with the exception of the driver) was “how could this be?” How could such a new “looking” car have such an aged radiator?
Seth, fished his ultra-thin Mac laptop out of his backpack and googled for the solution. We had an answer – raw eggs or crushed pepper to seal the holes. Seriously? I asked if anyone had gum, another passenger (Jen, a hardy outdoors woman who carries every foreseeable tool needed for a successful camping trip) had a pack of gum handy which we proceeded to chew to stick to the holes. We at last traveled at 10 miles per hour to the next village, stopping intermittently to quench the now insatiable thirst of the radiator. We found a fitter (or a car mechanic) and also discovered that passenger number 3, also from MN was showing symptoms of a heat stroke and we were very far away from the nearest city.