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The day I got stuck in the Congo and called Car Talk

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ME: Yeah, look guys, we’re driving a Toyota Land Cruiser on a muddy mountain road, and we got stuck in a deep hole. We can’t get out.

TOM: A Toyota Land Cruiser, huh? Best four-wheel-drive car in the Third World. Sorry, I guess we say the Developing World these days.

ME: Yes, the Land Cruiser is a good car. But right now, it might as well be furniture. Our driver has gone into forward and reverse so many times that the front left wheel is now stuck up to the hubs. It’s also leaning way over and wedged up against a muddy cliff. We’re spattered with mud from head to sandal.

TOM: OK, I’m guessing there isn’t a tow truck around.

ME: No, we’re the first car the villagers have seen for days. And it’s dusk, so we’re losing daylight fast.

RAY: Any villagers around to help you out?

ME: Yes, there’s a whole crowd watching us, but it’s Sunday and they don’t work on Sunday. They say we’re welcome to stay the night.

TOM: Well, that’s nice of them.

RAY: Look, Scott, clearly it’s not doing any good to do that forward and reverse thing. At this rate, you’ll dig yourself down to China.

TOM: No, actually, Ray, if he digs down from Africa he’ll end up in the Pacific Ocean. I’m thinking north of Tahiti.

RAY: Thank you, Mr. Geography. Scott, have you tried wedging rocks or boards under the wheels to give them traction?

ME: I’ve tried to suggest that in my broken French, but the driver keeps insisting that he always gets himself out of holes this way.

RAY: Oh mercy.

ME: Uh-oh, now the engine just went dead.

RAY: Really. What does it sound like?

ME: Rrrr... rrrr... Rrrr...

RAY: How’s that again?

ME: Rrrr... Rrrr... Rrrr...

RAY: Yeah, that doesn’t sound good. Could be the battery’s dead.

TOM: No, Ray, I think the driver just flooded the engine. Listen, the local people in your part of Congo are more likely to speak Kiswahili than French...

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