Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Sense and Sensibility –Flying Tire

We got the autopsy report of Madonna's cub back from Lory Park, authored by a Senior Researcher of the Zoological Pathology and Research Program at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa. The report was full of technical terms, so I spoke to the researcher Dr. Emily herself to gain my layman's understanding. Essentially, the cub was perfectly formed with no genetic defects of any kind. The cause of death was heart failure resulting from the infection caused by the omni present bacteria E. coli. The lack of maternal colostrum may have increased the susceptibility of the cub to infection.

The report brought me back again to that sad Saturday over a week ago. When I was informed of the cub's illness at first that afternoon, I already had an uneasy feeling, unlike the feeling I had when Hulooo got severe constipation. Despite that later Kim told me the cub's fever and convulsion had gone down, I still felt uneasy, and did not want to go to sleep until the early hours of Sunday morning, when I received the phone call of nightmare at 2.15am.

Two days ago, when Tigris told me he needed to get the Nissan truck I was using at Laohu washed and tanked to get ready for my trip to Bloemfontain airport, I felt uneasy. We normally use another - newer and far more reliable- vehicle for long distance trips, particularly for when we have guests to transport, like now. Early this morning, on the two-hour trip to Bloemfontain airport to catch the 9.50am flight, I said to Tigris again that we should be taking the Toyota Hilux as we normally do. Not long after that, I heard our Nissan crashing down on the N1 highway and the wheel flying off from the left front of the Nissan! For a moment, I thought our truck was going to turn upside down, having lost the balance. Tigris did a remarkable job of controlling the truck that we finally had a smooth landing on the hard shoulder of the Highway. Boy, thank goodness there were no vehicles directly after us-we may well end up in hospital at the least.

Out of our truck, for a moment, we wondered where the wheel flew off and if it could be repaired. However, the bolts seemed to be broken. Then Robert, who has been visiting me at Laohu Valley with his friend, alerted us that we had a flight to catch in an hour and half. Still determined to try catching the flight, Robert's Zulu friend stepped on the side of the highway, hitchhiking. A little utility truck stopped by. A Khosa gentleman in his 50s got out. Despite being late for work himself, he kindly took us in the direction of Bloemfontein, still a 100 kilometers away. Zulu and myself squeezed into the small driver's cabin while Robert and Tigris got onto the back of his mini truck. He was phoned by his boss five times before he had to stop another car, getting a Sotho driver to continue taking us all the way to the airport. Christian, who was on his way to his farm, was so kind to also offer organizing having our vehicle taken first to the nearby town of Edenburg, for fear that it might get stolen or broken apart, if it continued left abandoned on the highway.. Christian told me of incidences that he knew where vehicles turned over completely when front wheels fell off. It did make me feel as if I won a lottery!

We remarkably made it to the airport right before the flight was due to depart. All I could say is: we lucked out today, in more ways than one!!! A Tigris well in control of the wheel, and two such kindly South Africans!

Quan Li

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