Including balancing on ceiling beams at 8 pm and sincerely hoping I haven't gained too much weight as to fall through!

So here's the story.

Earlier in the day, I had experienced a highway adventure. Oi!

I was ambling down the middle lane of Thika Superhighway (TSH), going towards Thika for one of my music teaching gigs, and there was plenty of wiggle room on either side of me for anyone in a hurry to get where they are going, what with the three lanes in that particular spot. I tend to avoid the left lane (slow lane for us over here) because of matatus aka mischievous minivans, and super slow trucks.

So, this guy in his gigantic, shiny black, double cabin, 4x4 pick up drives right up behind me, close enough for the vehicles to kiss, and flashes furiously at me. To help you understand what I thought next, you need to know that over here in Nairobi, when someone does that to you on a highway, it means you need to move over for him/her to pass. Mostly hims. A few hers now and then (me included 🙈) Of course, the first thought that flashed through my mind was "Dude, there is plenty of space upon the right side for you to overtake, what's up with the car death glare?" His lights were really shiny even though it was daytime by the way. Anyway, he zoomed past and I was like "Yeah, that's more like it! I'll show you!" *mentally waving fist in the air*

I keep driving and listening to a workshop using earphones, then this loud rumbling sound appears out of the blue. Actually, out of the grey, since tarmac is grey. Or is it black? I digress. I look around expecting to see a beat-up lorry or something like that, but there's none in sight. In fact, at that point, the closest cars to me were about a kilometer back. So I change lanes to the slow lane and keep listening. The sound is still there, in fact, it is following me. Thankfully, this bit of the highway has a good, fat shoulder. It's not always the case with TSH. I stop the car and open my car door and see it. Right there.

Flat as a pancake.

My back right tire has decided to go on a vacay. Ugh!

My first thought? Yup you got it.

"Seriously? Here? You couldn't wait?" (I was about 15 minutes out from my destination)

So, my brain goes into overdrive, because guess what? Yup, you got it again.

I have never changed a tire in my life.

The thing is, there is (or was, until this point) this nice coincidence thing going on such that I always had someone else (male) with me when I ran into car trouble, or I wasn't out of the jurisdiction of my road rescue service... like right at that moment.

So I consider my options. Call a breakdown truck? Don't have any numbers. Call my driver? (Who wasn't driving me at that particular moment? Shame, huh?) Ok. So I decide to call him. He doesn't pick up. Ok. I decide to try to change the tire myself. I take the spanner and try to make the nuts budge. Nada. Ok. I try to call my driver again. He doesn't pick. I try again. He picks. He is quite far out but I tell him to please come help.

A Swahili saying flashes through my head. "Fimbo ya mbali haiuwi nyoka." (A far-off stick won't kill the snake in front of you... or something like that. Biologists, nature lovers, don't shoot me. Here in Kenya and most other countries in Africa, we don't like snakes. Not. One. Bit. I digress again.) Ok, so I decide to try and loosen a bolt again. I stand on the spanner and thank God when it budges.

Ok. I calm down and try to remember what I have observed regarding tire changes. I look around for a rock to prop behind the other wheels. Hakuna. Nada. I think. I am on level ground so it should be okay without the rocks. I check out the jack. It has a groove. I look under the car, there is a part that goes in the groove. Bingo. I partially loosen the nuts by standing on the spanner. I put the jack under the car, inserting the part of the car body that goes in the groove. I figure out how to connect the spanner to the crowbar to create a twisting motion to jack up the car. Success. I completely loosen the nuts with my fingers. I get the flat tire off the car.

I get the spare out of the boot/ trunk... call it what you may. (or november) I plonk it on. I screw the nuts back on. I twist the jack in the opposite direction. I remove it.

I tighten the nuts, remembering what my friend Geoffrey (an aeronautics engineer, one of the best actually, works at Air Kenya) once told me, tightening one and then the one diagonal to it. It balances something. I don't know what. I owe you one Geoff. I call my driver and tell him isorait (it's all right), I was able to fix the thing. Phew!

Okay guys, so I did it. I timed myself. It took 5 minutes. Yes. 5.

I packed up and went on to my destination. I think I used my sanitizer as soap and an extra sweater as a towel. I guess it's going in the wash once I get home.

I learned some things from that adventure…

  • Don't rush to conclusions

Friend, sometimes, people around you may be warning you (like the friend in the shiny black car), and you may just react defensively, completely misunderstanding their intentions. (like the way I thought he just wanted me out of the way). I promised myself to keep my mind open, because some opportunities may pass me by because I misunderstood a gesture and refused to learn from my mistakes. It's okay to be wrong sometimes, and it's okay if it gets pointed out. Just learn what you have got to learn and get on with it! (it = being awesome).

  • Consider the solutions around you before reaching out to those that are out of reach

Sometimes, in fact most times, you will want to revert to default. (like the way the first thing I did was call my driver for help, without even considering how I could help myself in the situation). Remember that saying about snakes that I mentioned earlier? I would have wasted a whole afternoon, canceling more lessons than necessary had I opted to sit and wait. And also I could have been fined... who knows…

  • There is a first time for everything

It was scary. It was. But I had to do something. I had to take that first step. And I did it. In fact, now I need to make a video showing all the lovely ladies out here how to change a tire.

You can do wonders, but the thing is, you have got to be brave enough to take that first step. I would have wasted a whole afternoon if I had not taken the bull by the horns...or rather, the tire by the puncture.

Believe in yourself and take that first step. You can do amazing things

End of Part 1


Want to hear about me getting drenched and having to balance on ceiling beams in part 2?

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