After quite a heavy night with Petr and his partner, I managed to hit the road at about 8.30.  I was planning on arriving on the Sunday and possibly surfing elephant point. I also had a few projects to photograph down that coastal route through Ampara.

Some of the roads are really bad here so I had to take a 2hr in-land road, the same one I came on from Colombo to Trinco.

I’d been on the road for about 20 kilometres and the mini van started to loose power a bit, going up hills at about 40kph with buses bursting past me blowing me sideways I thought I’d better stoop and check it.

After pulling over and realising I couldn’t even find the engine! I knew I was way out of my depth! I tried to start the thing again and there was really strange pulling, clanging sound. I’m no mechanic but I knew this was really bad!! Considering I hired the van from some joker in an Internet shop I doubted he had RAC cover!!

I gave Tony the joker a call. He was typically quite useless.

The van was on a bit of a decline so I rolled the van down a bit and tried to get it started but no luck. Three men ran over and realised I was in need of a push. These 3 local guys spoke about 20 words of English between them but I managed to describe to them by various gestures that I needed a mechanic. One of them ran off and came back with a bigger then usual tuktuk, hooked me up with some ropes and towed me to the nearest mechanic. Being quite short ropes I was about a meter a way from the tuktuk and going down the hills for about 3 miles I kept almost crashing into him.

We pulled in to what can only be described as a mechanics graveyard. There were old cogs and various bits of blackened metal hanging around in the sun blazed drive way.

The mechanic was in a sarong. He had a full gray beard, blackened by grease and a massive potbelly.

My 3 rescuers stayed with me and helped relayed what little information they could gather from me to the mechanic.

First they were saying that there was a block in the fuel pipe.

YES! Nice and simple I thought. They spent quite a bit of time sucking on fuel pipes and then pointing at their mouths and looking at me and spitting. Not really sure what they were going on about they put a new pipe in.

Still didn’t start!

Then they tested the battery that was now dead. They tried to start the van battery with a tuktuk battery. Surprisingly that didn’t work! There were sparks flying everywhere as they kept shorting the battery. Right next to the battery was a water bottle fully of petrol they had been poring done the petrol pipe. This combined with their petrol breath I decided to stepped away and find sanctuary under a tree and leave them to blow them self up.

The 3 rescuers then took me down the road in there tuktuk to have some fried rice and a cola. We had to wait 2 hours for the battery to charge up! I went back to their village where the van had broken down and had a cup of tea with their family and had a tour of their village to kill the time. They were preparing for a festival and there were a few artists working on painting 3D pictures made from clay of some god like crow creatures. I never really got to find out who they were because no one really spoke much English. I dropped by a local café for a very surgery coffee. As we sat with your drinks I was kind of signing ‘I pray that the van is mended today’. I think he read this as, ’ I really need to go and pray’. Tharalca, the main rescuer, in fact the only one that could be bothered to wait or had nothing else on decided to take me to the local Catholic Church.  I had a rather uncomfortable meeting with the head sister or nun.  They were kind of quizzing me and asking me what I was up to and where I was from.

So after about 2 hours we went back to the shack on the mechanics to find out that it was the starter motor!

They called an electrical mechanic. He spent the next 4 hours working on it. As the sun was moving lower and lower I knew I was doomed to spend the night in this random place. Luckily I’d spied a place a100meters away form the mechanics! I’m sure they had a deal going on! So I bead down for the night at the local ‘holiday inn’!

 

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