A READER, Mr. J. C. Horne of Leeds, sends the following extract from “Adventurers’ Paradise”, by Alastair Scobie (Cassell) :
“In this category was my experience in Tanganyika with a Mission Lady. I dare be no more explicit because of the sad end to this tale. On this occasion I was travelling with two fellow-adventurers in a Fiat truck which we called ‘Hotel Fiat’ because we always seemed to sleep in it. We went off on a long and fairly hazardous safari (from the motorist’s point of view only) from Dar-es-Salaam to Mombasa and back via the coast. There isn’t much of a coast road at all for most of the way-one is supposed to loop up through Central Tanganyika and then join the main Mombasa road. From Bagamoyo on, the coast is more or less impassable to motor cars. So we went.
“We came to little harm, except for a little minor damage to the truck, like turning it over twice, smashing the oil cooler that lives under the sump, breaking the rear axle and hitting the radiator with a large and irate cow. This latter accident was entirely the fault of the cow. We drove, hauled, pushed and ferried that poor truck over impossible native cattle tracks, through loose sand, over fields of solid hippo spoor cast in black cotton soil that was like concrete, across rivers and creeks and inlets. Hotel Fiat had a hard time. Once we drove straight through the middle of a huge elephant herd simply because oil was leaking so fast we dared not stop. We found a village in the end where there was a blacksmith making spears. He had some solder and we soldered the sump. Any Fiat representative reading this has my permission to shudder. And he need not think this an adverse commentary on the performance of Fiats-we have a little 500 van now that has done 75,000 miles WITHOUT OVERHAUL (but will not do much more). However, I am taking that little van from Nairobi to Cape Town before these words are dry in the print-shop because I dare not take my big Lancia or my hunting car as the rains have set in. Many English cars are equally good. I like Lancias myself, but I by no means despise the Ford Anglia and some of my toughest motoring has been done in one, whilst the Austin A.40 has the Yanks licked for tough work as long as you strengthen the front suspension and give the poor little devil an overhaul from time to time. To demonstrate that I am not Italophile in the motoring sense, I have been unlucky with a Fiat I too because of its light construction and have had excellent service from a Fiat 1400 and an ancient Alfa Romeo. But that is by the way.”