Thursday, January 5, 2012

Malaria & Blown Fuses

Notes out of Zambia 4: Malaria usually blows some fuses in my mind. To deal in such a condition with car electrical faults is asking for trouble…….

Written by: Bert Witkamp

Blown fuse of the old Caldina. Doesn't it look like an ill fated molar?

Went down with malaria. Took coartem. Car could not start. Found out a major fuse had blown. Called in Mr Mpundu, the local car electricity wizard. Elderly man, know him for years, cashes in on being called only when desperately needed. Upon arrival Mpundu set out to look for faults. I walked into town looking for a 100 Amp fuse. Found it. Upon return Mpundu had removed the faulty fuse. He opened up the alternator and checked wiring and brushes. Disappeared to look for new brushes with my Kwacha 30,000. Came back, put some tape here and there at loose connections. Put the battery on the charger, things seemed ok, dropped down a bill of Kwacha 295,000. That is what a maid makes in an entire month. Brought it down to 250,000 – his bills are drafted in anticipation of negotiations.
Following day continue with malaria pills and checking of the car electrical system. Seems things work only half/half. Phone Mpundu with request for re-check. Put the charger on again, think maybe the battery was not charged enough. Check bulbs, replace two, at night everything works. Eat, take malaria pills, go to bed.
Charging them pills........

Morning, this Thursday morning, start the car, it does so with difficulty, the electric power has dropped. Ok, keep it running for a while. Am out of malaria pills and still need more for tonight. To doctor Jain, just two blocks away. Walk or drive? Opt for drive; following doctor Jain I may then revisit Mpundu & take care of some other chores. I drive but fortunately am sane enough to go with gardener Kim. At doctor Jain I am requested to show box of now depleted medicine. Need to go back home. Get in car, car won’t start. Get some guys to push – it is a no no. Now even the indicators on the panel won’t come on screen. Park the car at doctor Jain, walk home, retrieve packaging, walk to clinic, get more Coartem. Walking into the clinic I had seen some men slashing the long grass along the road – we are in the rainy season. Send Kim to fetch them for the get-the-car-home pushing job. They come and push. Most of the road fortunately has a slight downward slope. Relieved to be at the gate, park the car. Give each man Kwacha 5,000; which pleases them very much. It is enough for a lunch at the market. That also made me feel better; to see that one bad luck produces a good luck somewhere along the line. The waiting now is for Mpundu, the old fox.