Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Riding the Big One in West Africa


A row of beauties in my husband's life as Earthmoving Plant Manager. These trucks, CAT 773 and 60 tonners, were his pride and joy.

While working on a gold mine in Guinea, West Africa, my husband managed the earthmoving plant for a large South African company. He and his collegues where known as the contractors while I, who worked for the gold mining company, was employed by the Client. (Ahem!)
One sunny Sunday, I along with my friend Morag on my right, her husband, Ronnie on her right with Mick on my left, drove the CAT 773 tip trucks along the mine haul road
One day, late in July 2004, my husband told me several other expats had asked if they could drive these monoliths and he'd obtained permission from the General Manager for them to do so. He said this would take place the following day, Sunday, and would I like to join them? Never one to pass up an oppotunity, especially one as adventurous as this, I immediately said yes please!

Notwithstanding the fact that this was a huge 60 tonner tip-truck, the power steering was easy and the vehicle had 15 gears, all automatic.

So there we were, four of us expats, each with a co-driver from my husband's company, taking a drive down the haul road in these huge trucks. You can see by the grin on my face (the crow's feet around my eyes show I'm grinning!) how much I was enjoying myself.
I drove into the mine pit pictured above, (they're all open cast) turned the vehicle and parked it. My husband got out and kindly took several photos of me.

I showed hubby how to operate the video feature on my camera and there's 44 second movie of me driving the CAT 773 down the haul road. You can hear me telling him that the camera's recording now and then you can hear him, ever the terrified passenger, (lol) telling me to release the handbrake and check for other vehicles.
I can truly say I spent three wonderful years living and working in Guinea, West Africa. I also had many unique experiences and this was one of them.
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video

18 comments:

  1. Jo,
    I'm so envious...that must have been a great deal of fun! Great post.
    Sunny :)

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  2. How fun! I'm envious too, Jo! Great shots and a great post!

    Have a great week!

    Sylvia

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  3. Those are some HUGE trucks. How fun to drive one. I too am envious.

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  4. What a fabulous experience. Blogging is so good to see how other people enjoy themselves and where they work.Geat shots and a brave husband.

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  5. Wow - that looks like great fun!

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  6. Isn't it marvellous to be macho truck driver for a day! What great fun.

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  7. I would definitely liked to have had a go in one of these, not that I cam even drive a car though.

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  8. That is really nice. I can imagine the excitement of driving such huge trucks.

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  9. Jo: That is simply wonderful. I worked for a company that supplied auxiliary equipment to the construction industry. That was really a big rig to handle. Good for you for trying it.

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  10. It must be fun to drive such a giant truck!

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  11. what a wonderful opportunity for you. the big one is truly big.
    fab captures and great video.
    thanks for sharing your big adventure with all of US

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  12. Lady, I admire your courage and spirit! Gorgeous shots. What a time.

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  13. What fun. Nice to see another patient husband.
    I'm glad you stopped by my blog.

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  14. Hi Jo, loved the video! you look to be having fun, it reminded me of the time in the Tanzanian bush between Rwanda and Lake Victoria we lived in a new settlement and hubby had to oversee/build the new road to the settlement, involved a big Cat.D4 which was on tank tracks, crazy thing, I kept getting the land rover stuck in the mud and having to be winched/towed out. So this resonated with me, the red laterite road and the dust thrown up, even if this was in an open cast mine and the scenery wasn't prob. at its best! Is that Guinea-Bissau or Conakry? I'm not too au fait with West Africa.
    Thanks for your visits to my blog, I'll respond soon!
    Catherine ;)

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  15. Hi Jo, you are adventurous driving those huge monoliths.I also noticed the red nail varnish...the girlie touch!

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  16. It was great fun, Sunny. When my husband (who lives in the Sudan, North Africa, while I live in South Africa) read my blog today, he mailed me and said how it brought back fond memories! Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Hi Indrani;) thanks for visiting. I popped over to your blog and became a follower.

    Hi Sylvia;) thanks for visiting my blog on YOUR birthday. Hope you had a good one. (((Hugs)))

    Hi Gaelyn;) these trucks were huge in my eyes. Looking at them from the outside (down below - lol!) they look ungainly like old fashioned army tanks. Yet, as I mentioned in my post, they were very easy to drive, manouver, turn and operate. Thanks for visiting.

    Yes, diane;) I, too, love the blogging world where we can read about what each person is doing in his part of the world. Thanks for visiting. (((Hugs)))

    Hi ladyfi;) thanks for visiting! It's good to see you again and I've just been reminded I need to visit your blog.

    LOL Arija;) it did give us all a power - rush to drive one of these, ha-ha!

    Hi Babooshka, how DO you get around and take such beautiful photos of the Isle of Man without transport?

    Hi Rajesh;) it really was exciting driving this CAT. Just doing this post, brought it all back to me and made me long for that life-style again.

    Hi Tom;) thanks for visiting and your e-mail explanation re the cat-fish. My dh has spoilt ours with cat-pellets and I figure I should try some soon again.

    Hi Dirk;) welcome to my blog.

    The Good Life in Virginia;) thanks for your visit.

    Hello Sandy! Thanks for your kind words...

    Hi MarthaZ;) thanks for visiting my blog.

    Uh-oh Catherine;) I see you know ALL about African roads/non-roads. I love following your blog and also your comments re your experiences in East Africa. You get Guinea Bissau (borders Senegal and Republic of Guinea) you get Equitorial Guinea, and then the Replublic of Guinea whose capital is Conakry and that's the country we lived and worked in - about 1000km north, inland of Conakry. Thanks for your comment and for visiting

    Hi Peggy! A lot drier than your part of the world, eh? Yes, I always wear nail colour and make-up on my face - even in wildest Africa. Ha! Thanks for your visit, I follow your blog and have just seen your post come up on my Dashboard. Off to visit! (((Hugs)))

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  17. That looks like a lot of fun! When you were in West Africa were there many opportunities for socializing with the locals as you are trying to do in Khartoum?

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Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo