05 November, 2009

You've Got That Sinking Feeling...

High drama in the South End this afternoon and into the dark of the evening. It started much as these things do. Someone decided to visit the little beach south of our place and accessible only on foot through the bush.

But, just as at every shopping mall you know of, people want to park as close as possible to the entrance. Only, in this case, we've had some significant rainfall with lots of pooling of water over the marl, a mix of white clay and limestone, forming a gooey mud to the depth in some cases of twelve to eighteen inches.

That was the case here. Party number one (the party of the first part) comes to the beach, roughly around 2:00 PM, and it's so far to walk, so we'll just plow on down and park. Getting in just fine, but letting the car sit there for a couple of hours, "Hmmm, it looks like it's sitting a bit lower, don't you think?"

So, party number two (the party of the second part) says "Why, I didn't park quite as close. I'll get my rig and we'll have you pulled out in a jiffy." By now, it's a little after 4:00 PM. Are you familiar with Uncle Remus and the tale of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?

In any case, both cars are now quite securely mired up to their doors in muck. What to do, what to do? It just happens that the Gomez Cement and Building Supplies pickup truck is going by. They get flagged down. Being good citizens, they decide to help. Now this pickup truck has been on its last legs for a couple of years now. It's had a hard life, running thousands of bags of concrete here, there, and everywhere. Also, loads of plywood, rebar, etc.

So, the Gomez Samaritans hook up and take a strain on the second stuck car. But instead of a nice slow gentle pull on the car, they rev their truck's engine up past the red line, blowing prodigious amounts of blue smoke, and the engine stutters and dies. After several more similar attempts, they give up. But by now, the damage is done. The Gomez truck is having a hard time keeping running - even at idle, and is barely able to head back into town.

Still being good citizens, the Gomez boys head back into town. Probably one of them knows someone or has a cousin at the fire department. They manage to enlist the Belize National Fire Service, Corozal Fire Station crew and their large tanker. It's kept in the barn with it's tank full of water so the fire fighters can "put the wet stuff on the red stuff", if you know what I mean. Of course, they haven't thought about all the thousands of pounds that that tank-full of water might weigh.

Pulling up to the scene and seeing a couple of little cars, they come in and hook up a tow line. By the time they've hooked up the tow line, they've become mired. Still, that doesn't prevent them giving it a good go for about a half hour. Then someone gets the idea that maybe they should lighten the truck by dumping all that water... Uh huh. Adding water to goo that's already gloppy just exacerbates an already sinking situation. The nice red fire truck is hopelessly mired. That's were things are at in the picture below.
Stuck In The Mud - But Good
They do try a few creative things, like grabbing their machetes and whacking some bush plants to throw under the fire truck's tires to try to provide some traction, all to no avail.

By now it's approached and passed sunset, which is about 6:00 PM. In fact, down here, we don't have what you call much of an urban light dome or light pollution. When it gets dark, if it's not full-of-the-moon, it gets d-a-r-k, as in pitch black. That's what we have. Several guys standing around talking and wondering if they'll get home this evening or be tasked with guarding a fire truck all night.

Somebody has had another idea. They've called in a back hoe. Thankfully he has a couple of spotlights mounted up high so they can see what they're doing. The time now is 6:30 PM, It's dark. The mosquitoes are sensing a magnificent feast in the offing, and the back hoe goes to work.

That's where we are with the photo below. The back hoe's bucket has been attached to the fire truck and they've made some heroic efforts to move it. Nope. Not yet. Maybe if we try turning the hoe around and working with the front scoop. No. Nothing doing there. Ok, apparently the back hoe is the last hope for the evening, because they flip it around again and give it another huge effort with the bucket, and - wait a minute. It budged. The hoe is beginning to pull out the fire truck. Very slowly at first, then quicker.

I noticed that the second car is still attached to the front end of the fire truck, so it's pretty amazing that they were able to move both the fire truck and the car simultaneously. They get them both unstuck.

I have to be honest here. Up to this point, I didn't know there were two cars involved. I found out when the back hoe, after disconnecting from the fire truck, headed back down the trail. Hmm, I thought, maybe he's going to smooth the goop out after the mess they made. If it was me, I'd have left it full of ruts and holes, maybe preventing some other fool from making a similar mistake.

But, then he stops and it's obvious he's hooking up to something. That's when I realized there was a second auto involved here.
On Into The Evening It Goes
After a few brutal moments of tugging mightily on the hapless car, it comes free from the quagmire, and is speedily towed to safety. By now, it's a bit after 7:00 PM. All's well that ends well. Everyone's out, and all the vehicles leave under their own power, and Secret and Cindy finally can relax. They were beside themselves with all this unusual activity.

All in all, a nice evening's entertainment.


Julian in SC said...

Sounds like great fun. Can't find anything that good around here - too much pavement.

Now, if'n you got into the lot next to me and tried to go through all that good red clay... I'll put that up against good ole marl any day... yee hawww

Dave Rider said...

I learned something today. I got down to the PC repair shop this morning at 9:00 AM. Of course they weren't open yet, so I took a cruise north along the water to see how a couple of places are coming along. From there I turned west to head back to a main road and back into town. About half-way up that road (all black dirt) guess who else got stuck? First thing that crossed my mind was I hope the fire truck doesn't show up.
That black dirt is 1) very slick, and 2) very sticky. I think it's worse than the marl to deal with.
Long story short - with a little help from my friends, I got unstuck and on my way.

Dave Rider said...

I neglected to say after "I hope the fire truck doesn't show up." is:

A couple of things I learned this morning...

Then comes the "That back dirt..." Sorry about that