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Character of the Month:
Crop Circles in Windsor

May & June 2015

Mr. Mike’s eyes twinkled a few weeks ago, they actually twinkled!

For the past year or so, he’s been spending a fair bit of time in western Cockpit Country, in a region which is known as the Catadupa Key Biodiversity Area -- it's hugely important for the freshwater it supplies to Montego Bay and the Black River Morass and for a little snail called Pleurodonte catadupae 😊.   Little did I know that while he was talking with the communities about the area's special cultural and biological heritage, something else was catching his attention.

Well, one day Mike came home, with eyes sparkling, and said “what would you say if I said I wanted to buy a “new” Land Rover?” I said “well, since you’ve already decided, I’ll just say ‘that’s nice sweetheart’. By the way, can you define ‘new’ for me?”

So we're pleased (cough, choke, splutter) to announce the arrival of Mr. Mike’s ‘new’ 1981 Land Rover Series III, which he swears is not going to become a stable mate for his "it's not dead, it's just resting" Land Rover TDI Defender.

To give this new little Land Rover its credit, it did go the ~ 15 kilometers from Maroon Town to Windsor completely under its own steam.   It only stalled-out three times, it didn’t catch fire, the plastic jug of petrol propped next to the driver’s seat (with rubber hose leading through the floor to supply the engine) didn’t tip over, not even once, and although all of the lug nuts on the front passenger tyre were within one revolution of twisting off, only one of the 5 was actually missing, so the tyre, technically, was still safely on the vehicle. By Windsor standards, this was a phenomenal run. And, he purchased it on the day our new puppy Zella was born - she's our third in the series of Great Danes - so how can anyone not be excited about it!

We also have to give credit to the young man who drove the vehicle over from Maroon Town. (I’m particularly grateful since it meant that I didn’t have to get involved in any way, shape, or form with this expedition. I still have flashbacks and cold sweats with the memory of having to tow Mike’s barford from the coast). The credit is that the young man was actually able to start the beastie. But then again, how hard can it be to roll-start a standard transmission on the downslope . . .

Well, one sunny Saturday afternoon Mike says “could you tow me around the yard so I can get the Land Rover started?”

“Umm. . . does this mean you’ll fix dinner for the next week?” says I.

So, with the “rabbit comes out of the hole, around the tree, and back down the hole” proper bowline knot on the tow line, we were off and driving around . . . and around . . and around . . . seen from space, I think we created some impressive circles in the grass.

After a while, we stopped.   Mike hopped out, lifted the bonnet, poked around at things, went back to the driver’s seat, and then chortled and said “hah hah, you’ll never guess, but I was sitting on the rubber tubing which supplies gas to the engine, let me just move it and we’ll try again.”

So, we drove around again . . . and again . . . and again. Those crops circles aren’t looking quite as funny any more. “Hmm, Miss Susan, let me just check again under the bonnet, see if there's anything obvious,” says Mr. Mike. “What a great idea,” says I.

"Oh, the ignition coil is loose, let me tighten the screw" . . . voilà, there were two happy bunnies as the Land Rover chugged to life and we were able to untie the bowline knot of the tow line.

OK, so this first experience didn’t inspire my confidence . . . but how much worse could it get with an old Land Rover which has been looked after by some guys on a back-country road?

A few other no-confidence inspiring comments:

  • Mike: “Isn’t this funny, the coding stamped on the bulk head number plate under the bonnet indicates that this vehicle had a diesel engine when it left the factory.  But that’s definitely a 2 1/4 litre petrol engine. Well, at least the plate on the engine is coded 901, so this particular petrol engine did belong to a Series III Land Rover at some point in time.”
  • Susan: “Is that really a Nissan brake master cylinder?”
  • Mike: “interestingly, the carburettor is from a Ford, but I can't find it in any of the manuals.” AND “I wonder where the 2nd spring for the carburettor has got to?”
  • Susan: “Are those scorch marks on that wooden stick which is wedged-in to keep the alternator in-place and the fan-belt tensioned?”

  •    Believe it or not, the Windsor Barford did move in 2001 . . .
       but it never had to tow a Land Rover across the Kalahari.

    At this point, there might be a few readers who are saying, “Wait a minute, am I reading bits of discarded script from that brilliantly funny 1980s movie The Gods Must Be Crazy (TGMBC)?". (Vs. what I’m saying “Oh My God, Is This My Crazy Life” (OMGITMCL)?")

    Yes, dear readers, if you want to have full immersion into this month's Character of Windsor (without actually stranding yourself in a river) and experience the vicarious thrill of Mr. Mike’s “new” Land Rover, get yourself a copy of TGMBC and look for the scene where Mr. Steyn is trying to open and close the gates across the road -- it's about 40 minutes into the flick and pretty much encapsulates life with Mr. Mike.


    Mr. Mike really did say once,  "It's actually not as hard as one would imagine to drive the 160 km from Kingston to Windsor with no clutch and a dead starter motor, you just hope you don't hit rush-hour traffic at Three Mile." (As the passenger, my response as we were just passing Duke Street in downtown Kingston was, "ummm . . . you do realize that it's 4:50 pm?" And, as a passenger again, I can attest that there is nothing more miserable than sleeping overnight in the cab of a TDI Defender -- but that was a different expedition to Spring Vale, where we found ourselves spending two hours winching our way out of a sodden sinkhole, thanks to a single coconut tree in said sinkhole, only to discover that the dry river bed we crossed on our ingress was now a torrential river (hah, I get the name "Spring Vale" now!) on our egress . . . and, yes, the starter motor was still dead and a tyre had a slow leak so we had to wake-up every two hours, roll-start the vehicle so we wouldn't completely discharge the battery while pumping up the tyre . . . so we could then roll-start in another two hours to see if the river had gone done yet . . . it did by 4 a.m.   OK, I know I'm stupid for always riding along as passenger, but I always plan ahead and carry water and snacks!)

    Which picture is of Mpudi in TGMBC?
    And which is OMGITMCL?
    (Hint, Quarterdog was born in 2003)

    But, to be fair to Mr. Mike, here's the second Pop Quiz:

    Which character collects elephant manure?
    And which character collects bat poo?
    (Hint: there are no elephants or fire-stomping rhinos in Windsor)

    If anyone wants to audition for the rolls of XI (N!XAU) or Miss Thompson, please send your résumé to:   Mr. Mike, Sherwood Content P.O., Jamaica.
    I swear, with that address, it will get to us!

    So, make yourself some popcorn over the flame of your campstove, grab a cold Coca Cola® out of the cooler . . . well, OK, if you're in Windsor, the coke will be tepid since we don't do ice with the solar-powered fridge . . . and thank the gods that YOUR life isn't a movie.


    ©2015 Susan Koenig / Windsor Research Centre;   <windsor@cwjamaica.com>