During our Botswana adventure our first mishappening was having a flat tyre, although not a real issue in itself, it became a source of concern as it didn’t seem that we would be able to have it fixed in the ghost town that Maun becomes after 12pm on a Saturday; we didn’t want to risk heading into the wilderness without the safety of a spare tyre should anything go wrong and Maun was proving to be a difficult town to apease our worries.
We tried all the possible shops, garages and petrol stations, we could find, however no one was willing to extend their Saturday working hours for 2 tourists traveling through.
As Tristan’s temper (and perhaps some of his words about the situation) became increasingly colourful, I held onto the maxim that has ruled (and saved) my life on many occasions: “someone has to know someone”. After too many first hand experiences, I have come to grasp that this is the way most establishments, industries, organizations and humans work. Qualifications, degrees, positions, etc. really mean little in the practical grown-up world because it all generally boils down to talking to someone that will unlock a magical world of solutions with the words: “I know someone that can help you”.
Following this principle (and the general rule that boys will never for directions or help to strangers), I kept asking anyone we encountered if they knew of a place that would still be open. After an unfruitful hour of checking every establishment, we decided to cut our losses and head to the backpackers where we planned on staying for the night just in case they were fully booked.
As we arrived to the backpackers, ready to spend a weekend in Maun while we waited for the beginning of the week to fix our problems, we asked the ladies at reception if maybe she had any contacts into the world of fixing tires. One of them wasn’t particularly helpful… the second though one, she said the magic words we’ve been dreaming to hear “I know some guys that can maybe help you”
“Which road did you come in from?”
“The fourway stop”
“Go back onto that road, carry on straight on the second robot, turn right and then on the side of the road you will find some guys that have a tin roof office, they also have tires outside the office, they fix tyres”
We left as quickly as we heard her instructions, forgoing our second meal of the day in hope of being able to leave civilization the next morning and not have to delay our trip a second night, we only prayed that our hanger battle wouldn’t be in vain.
“Office” was perhaps a bit optimistic for what we encountered. More like a shack and few tires on the side of the road but who needs formality when you’re given some hope in the face of adversity?
After what felt like forever and with the use of a lot of hand signs, a man came running after seeing his wife wave from across the road.
“Hi, sorry man can you help us fix this tyre?”
“Yes, no problem, I can do it for you”
(Celestial music playing in the background)
“No, you leave it here. You are my client I will do it”
“It’s fine I don’t mind helping you”
“You are a client, I will do it. My name is Tumelo. Tumelo means Faith in Khwai”
“Nice to meet you Tumelo, my name is Ali”
“Nice to meet you, Tumelo means faith in Khwai”
Holding onto dear faith we were in the hopes that even if Tumelo had been indulging in alcohol, he would still be able to fix our problem. Tumelo and our faith worked together, and 15min after we found him, we felt a million times lighter – both because we had been ripped off for what we had been charged, and because our worries for the day had been lifted off of our shoulders.
“Take a photo of me with me son. My name is Tumelo, it means faith”
When we past through Maun again, he recognized our car and waved at us frantically. Online banking and customer care centers should learn a bit more about Tumelo’s disposition to treat “clients”, after all, they both overcharge us dearly, the difference was that Tumelo got the job done.