Mired in Mud

The scale is difficult to tell here but that picture is of a road about 7 feet wide and mud about 16 inches deep. Those trenches are my tire tracks, perpendicular to the road.

This is where my truck formerly was. Mired in mud.

Elcanna and I set off to sample some grasshoppers today in a relatively remote stretch of the black cotton soil savanna a little ways from camp. We were cruising right along, ready to go catch some insects when we came to a fork in the road. Now, about 3 days ago we had astoundingly torrential rain for about an hour. The downpour inundated all of this area and drenched the research station. Black cotton soils are characterized by their poor drainage and high clay content, a perfect recipe for the stickiest, gooiest, clingiest mud you can find just about anywhere.

So, this fork in the road. Well, one fork had standing water – a sure sign of trouble, and the other had some “dried” mud and grassy tufts – much more promising. I went for the dried tufts aiming for the grass and not the mud. Well, as always happens when you’re on a slippery ridge, you can’t help but slide into the valley, and so we did. Our momentum and spinning wheels carried us just far enough to be hopelessly distant from any edge of the wet stuff, and there we sunk.

Elcanna’s only complaint was a little chuckle and a head shake but I knew he was thinking “crazy mzungu doesn’t want to walk so he gets his car stuck… now I got to get him out of the muck.” I must say, I really owe him a lot. Out he jumped (as did I) and we started shoving sticks under the tires. Little by little I was able to turn the car about 90 degrees. With more rocking, lots more spraying mud, some smoking tires, fancy shifting and after completely muddifying Elcanna’s shirt, we finally got one of the tires on some firm purchase and I went careening up the embankment into the dense grass, (terra firma!) trying to dodge the many tiny trees all around me.

After the car was safely parked back at the fork I turned to Elcanna and said, “So shall we try the other road?” He just stared.




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