| My Land, My Country
LAE - “It’s 100 percent unreliable!” they told me about the machine. An old utility parked at Simeon’s block at the edge of Popondetta town.
‘They’ is my sister in Port Moresby. The ‘machine’ also known as ‘Road Test’ belongs to our older brother Simeon (named after granddad Simeon).
The truck has seen far better days. But Road Test is a legend in these parts.
The ancient machine is much loved by James (the prime minister’s namesake and Simeon’s son) and has a long story. Nobody really knows how old it is.
According to Simeon, aka Simsie, it had six previous owners. The first bought the vehicle with the help of a bank loan. He defaulted and the bank repossessed the vehicle. After the second owner took possession of it, he sold it to another person.
The bank tracked the vehicle down and repossessed it a second time.
By the time Simsie found it in a yard somewhere, Road Test was all battered and bruised. He (yes HE) was like the character of a sad animated movie with droopy eyelids, feeling unloved and hopeless.
If Mater in the movie Cars had a Papua New Guinean cousin, Road Test would be it.
Simeon convinced those in charge to let him take possession of Road Test. I won’t go into details. That’s for another blog post. All I can say is a hefty sum was paid.
Long story short, Road Test came home happy with a toothy grin like his American cousin Mater and the adventures began.
Simeon told me that once when the family Head Dog, Maxine, was due to arrive in town, she asked for a hire car.
Simeon told her that he had a truck. Maxine hadn’t met Road Test yet. Simeon convinced Maxine to send him K2,000 for Road Test’s registration. Registration done. Maxine arrived that week.
Maxine does work for very important for community based organisations. She’s an important woman and a family matriarch.
Road Test quit half way to Maxine’s place of work. I can’t really say how Maxine felt. She must have been dangerously furious.
But Simeon said it was all good. Maxine and a few others had to walk half the way. Again, that’s for another blog post if it ever happens.
Simeon said the tires came off once. They had to bang it back in with a hammer at least three times between the airport and town.
A bit about Simeon…
He is a musician, martial artist, electrician and mechanic. Once, he built a microphone out of old radio speakers. He taught himself to play the keyboard in six weeks during Christmas holidays in 1991.
He spent his high school years in Australia then joined the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.
Early Friday morning, Simeon took us in Road Test to Bokoro, where mum and dad live. Before we went, he took out a large plastic container of diesel and poured it into….
.…another plastic container under the bonnet.
Yes. The fuel tank is in the bonnet near the engine! When he started up the engine, diesel fumes came up through a hole in the floor. He said to me, “Don’t worry about it. I just filled it up with diesel and two containers of engine oil. This is normal.”
I said if I died of carbon monoxide poisoning, he would be responsible.
As we chugged on along the gravelled oil palm road discussing alien interventions on earth and ancient technology, I said in so many words, “Dude, the next time I come back, I want you to have air conditioning and central locking installed.”
Simeon agreed and I trust him because this brother is a creative genius.