For teaching me to change a tire.
I know it’s something every man should learn to do… but you got to learn it somewhere (hopefully not through trial and error on the side of the road). Anyhow… why is this information useful for traveling in Zanzibar? You’d be surprised I guess.
My friend Shayne had come out to visit for two weeks or so, and the second half of that trip is when we ended up in Zanzibar. Now Zanzibar is a relatively small island, but, even though it has public transport, it’s not the fastest thing in the world. So we decided to rent a car to get around. Now, the starting rate for a car rental in Zanzibar is $50 a day, but we asked around, bargained hard and managed to find one for $20 a day. Slightly funny issue when asking about cars… we tell the guy that we want a small, cheap car… and he says “oh, you want a scooter”. To which we say no, we want a car, not scooters. He keeps repeating the word scooter every time we say the word car… so we finally just agree to go along and see what comes up. The guy runs out to get the car and appears about ten minutes later with one of these… which is a Suzuki Escudo (aka a “sidekick” as released in the US). The was saying Escudo the whole time and not scooter… hence his, and our confusion. Now, mind you, at times you get what you pay for, so needless to say the, $20 rent a car was not exactly in what you would call “good condition”. But, after a short test drive, the car was drivable, so we took it and drove on.
Three or so days of driving later, we’re heading from the north end of island back to stone town… at some point we hear a pop, but we don’t really know what it is (we both assumed one of the belts under the hood popped as they were already quite noisy and frayed when we looked at them), so we decide to keep driving and see what happens. Well, about 20 minutes later we’re getting an usual amount of honking and attention from the locals, to which we just chalk up to our awesomeness. Of course, about 5 minutes after that we figure out we have a flat tire… and that we’re not as awesome as we thought we were because everyone was just trying to tell us we had a flat. We manage to pull into a gas station and start the fun of trying to find all the necessary equipment. Tire iron… check, jack… check, jack crank… check, spare tire… check. It’s all looking good until we pull off the cover to check the spare tire and we find that one of the lug nuts holding the tire to the car has a locking nut on it… for those of you unfamiliar with such a thing, it’s a nut that requires a special key or wrench extension to remove… and it’s there so no one can steal the spare tire from the car. Alright, the thing has a key slot on it… and we try both keys on the key chain… one actually fits, but it won’t turn. Shit. We tear through the car looking for anything that might work and manage to find nothing that looks like it would do the job. We call up the owner and tell him what’s going on… he says he’ll call us back in a minute and promptly hangs up (well… there was a ridiculous five minute conversation that consisted of me asking where the key for the lock washer was and him continually saying “what?”). At this point, it’s actually pouring rain outside (Zanzibar is one of tropical places where it rains for an hour or two everyday), so we just start chillin’ under one of the pump awnings. The rain is actually a blessing, as otherwise it would be burning hot as it’s the middle of the day when this is happening.
So we just sit there for a bit… of course the owner does not call back. We’re so close… if we could just get that stupid lock off, we could get the spare tire down and change the thing and be on our way. You also might as well note that there are several dudes just standing around the gas station and none have offered to help in any way possible (one, presumably the owner, made us move the car a bit to get it away from blocking one of the pumps). After sitting for a bit, we decide that if one of those keys actually did work, we’d feel like f-ing idiots if someone else figured it out, so we went and tried the keys again. We put in the one key that fit the lock and it still would not turn… but when you just wiggled it, the lock nut moves just a bit… and with a bit more wiggling action we manage to get the thing off. Phfew… tire changing in the rain commences and is successful and, just like that, we’re off. Note that the owner still has not yet called back (and actually never did).
So, again, thank you dad.