Arusha - March 2nd to 4th by Paul
After a lazy morning and a nice cooked breakfast from the heat of the previous night's fire, we packed up and headed off. Just before we left I looked under the car as we had been hearing a new clunking noise as we drove. I noticed what looked like some oil or grease leaking from one of the rear wheels. We couldn't do much about it at that time so headed off anyway. We needed fuel so stopped in near the park headquarters. While Kal was being filled up I was checking under the car again when one of the guys from the garage walked over and asked if we would like him to take a look. Unfortunately we didn't have time, we needed to be out of the park in 20 minutes or else we would have to pay another 24 hour block costing us about US$100.
As we drove for the park gates, with a few final glimpses of the crater from the rim, we made our way down the crater. As we descended we could smell something burning, we realised it was us so pulled over for another quick look under the car. It appeared that some of the grease had dripped onto the brakes and was just burning off so we continued on.
We reached the gates before our time ran out and signed out of the park. We also ran into Kaz and Dave. They were just heading into the park. They had flown from Kampala to Arusha and had organised a safari from there. It was a quick hello and update on our trips before they had to go.
We continued on and at the first town we came to, looked for a suitable garage to have a look at out back wheel problem. We did a lap of the main drag and went back to the first fuel station we had seen as it seemed to have the best looking workshop attached to it. We pulled in there and the workshop wasn't really in operation and the guys there directed us down a dirt track to where some other cars were sitting getting work done. It was just a shack by the side of the road…
I explained to the guys what the problem was and before we knew it the car was jacked up and the wheel coming off. They suspected it was a leaking hub seal. To get to the hub seal they had to take the rear axle out and they told us that we would need to get that replaced as well because it was twisted (check out the pictures). Not the sort of news we were after! I explained to them that if they could just get a new hub seal I'd drive through to Arusha to get the axle replaced where I hoped to find a garage with proper Land Rover parts, which they understood and they didn't have any spare axles hanging around anyway.
As the main mechanic was working on the wheel the other guys hanging around wanted to have a look under the bonnet, as one guy had run off to get a new seal and some grease. As we had previously experienced in Tanzania Kal gets a lot of attention from guys that know a lot about Defenders. It's quite different in that it has a BMW engine, and they all want to see if with their own eyes. It always gets noises of amazement and they seem to not believe what they see. This was the same case and all enjoyed seeing the engine and ask the usual questions. Is it a V8? No 6 cylinder. What's the consumption? Etc. It's quite entertaining really and if we every come back to Tanzania I get the feeling it wouldn't be too hard to sell.
The guys got to cleaning the parts from the wheel, to start putting it all back together. With a dish of kerosene they got the parts into it with their hands, the best part was one of the guys did this with a lit cigarette in his mouth, see picture. We finally got back on the road, with a new hub seal and the twisted axle back in place, and cautiously headed for Arusha. We arrived late in the afternoon and headed for the campsite we found in the guidebook. It was a nice place and the next day we would head back to a Land Rover dealership we passed on the way.
The next morning we headed off to find someone to replace the axle and hoped that we wouldn't be stuck in Arusha while they got the parts. We parked in a big shopping centre and walked over to the Land Rover dealership. It wasn't much, the shop floor was empty but eventually the receptionist found someone we could talk to. We showed him the picture of the axle we had taken the day before hoping he would immediately know what was wrong and what needed doing but he seemed very confused. Just as I was explaining it again a white guy came along. Craig introduced himself and explained he was the new manager, it was his first day at work, and he was there to get the shop back up and running properly, although they did still have mechanics working so would be able to help us out. He asked the confused guy I had been talking to and he assured Craig that they had money to get the parts and they could get it done. Craig was out for the next few hours to find a new place to live.
We left the guys to it after giving them our phone number, not feeling to confident about the work they would do, and headed back to the shopping centre to do some shopping and find an internet café. I received a call from the garage, but couldn't make out what they were saying, so left Susan at an internet café to try and find out what they wanted. As I got there they asked about the hub seal, as I had explained (at least I thought I had), was replaced the day before. They said it was done the wrong way around so I told them to replace it as well. I asked about the axle and to my surprise he said it was fine. I asked was he sure and he suggested we go and have a look, which I thought was a good idea. He pointed to it and said look, it's fine (inspiring lots of confidence). I then pointed to the part that was twisted, which was in the photo, and he said "Oh yeah, we'll need to replace that". I started going on about that's why we were there and had shown him a photo of it not more than an hour ago, but realised it was no use having a go at this guy.
The next bit also got me a bit angry, he called over a mechanic and told me to go with him, we crossed the road and the mechanic bought the parts, with me paying for them and back to the shop we went. I needed to get some more cash after spending it all on the parts, so told the guy when I come back I expect everything to be done, so off I went. I came back about half an hour later and he told me that it was all done. I asked to see the car, all I really wanted to see was that the old parts weren't back in the car so that they could re-sell the new parts I bought. When I saw the old axle I was relieved and off we went to pay the bill, yet another frustrating and drawn out process, but I won't go into all the details of the all the receipts that needed to be written and other papers written on, but I was happy to get out of there eventually.
When I got back to the internet café Susan was a bit worried, I had been gone the best part of an hour and a half when I'd expected to be gone 15mins max! She had no money on her so couldn't leave the internet café to come and find me. We did a shop and headed back to camp. We were going to head to Dar es Salaam the next day so decided to leave early as it was quite a long drive.
We made an early start and saw some fleeting glimpses of Mt Meru as we headed out of Arusha. We had gone about 30km when these horrible noises started coming from the wheel that was just "repaired". We decided that we wouldn't go back to the Arusha because they seemed too incompetent and would try and find somewhere in Moshi, another 50km, to get it checked out. Luckily the guidebook had a Land Rover mechanic listed and so headed straight there. This place looked a lot more promising that the shop in Arusha.
We took it out the back and explained what had happened over the previous 3 days. They jacked up the wheel in question and stared to turn the wheel, but there was no sound. We then started the engine and drove, with the wheel off the ground, but still nothing. I suggested we take it for a drive with the mechanic to let him hear it for himself. As luck would have it as we drove around the block, the noise could barely be heard, except for once very quickly.
Back at the shop, they jacked it up again and got to work finding the problem. There were about 5 guys working on the car at this stage. They decided that the problem was due to the brake pads and would need to be replaced. They had also heard a tapping sound when we had spun the wheel before and found that the universal joints would also need to be replaced. They also thought the bushed need to be replaced, but they didn't have the parts. Eventually they did the necessary repairs, even though I wasn't convinced it would make the horrible noise go away, and we were on the road again… The noise did come up again but only very faintly so we kept going, we had a long way to go and had wasted 3 hours getting the repairs done.
We saw a couple of places we could have stayed but thought we would drive for another couple of hours before calling it a day. Unfortunately we didn't pass another hotel or camping ground as darkness came so pushed on, and once again broke our no driving at night rule. We eventually found a hotel as we got into Dar, it was expensive but we didn't care, we were bother really tired, had been doing for 14 hours, so just wanted a shower, food and some sleep. All of which was ready and waiting at the hotel, it even had air conditioning, which was a luxury, but it was very hot. Another big day on the road, but we had made it to Dar and Kal and been generally ok since we left Moshi.