The Great Tire Blow-Out

In Namibia we had to watch a short movie before they gave us our 4WD rental car. We’d never had this happen on a holiday before. EuropCar rental agency at the Windhoek Airport meant business: watch the film and sign a form saying you’d seen it, and then you’re handed the keys….

But not before you’re shown where to put the jack on the undercarriage, because chances are high you WILL have a flat tire before your trip is over.

and this was a good road

The roads are phenomenally bad, drivers go too fast, and before you know it you’ve blown a tire, crashed, or sit stuck in sand. The EuropCar film claimed that the rate of road deaths in Namibia, a country so sparsely populated only Mongolia has fewer people per square mile, is 50 times higher than in Europe. 

Oookay. Message received. We started off early in the morning for Sossusvlei and the world’s highest dunes. The main road out of Windhoek is fine, but the pavement quickly ended. It changed to a bumpy bad gravel road; most of the time we were the only car on it. In less than an hour we came across a jeep pulled over to the left (Namibians drive on the left) and a teary-faced woman waved us down. She’d flown into Windhoek a few hours ago, picked up her rental vehicle, and almost immediately gotten a flat tire.

No, I take that back. The tire was shredded. I mean, what remained had exploded. Of course Uwe helped her remove what was left and put on the spare. In the 40 minutes or so that we assisted her not a single car went by in either direction.

The black patch on the road is part of that shredded tire

I’m sorry my photo is so lousy. I was trying to be clever and use the panorama function on my cell phone camera to capture how in-the-middle-of-nowhere she’d broken down. But in any case: Oookay! The next message received! Always stop to assist a stranger, because that car could be you. We saw someone broken down almost every day.

It was a miracle we made it through Namibia and Botswana without ever getting a flat tire. When we returned the car to EuropCar 4 weeks later, they were surprised (and impressed) that it still had all the original tires.

This is my last post for 2023. Happy New Year everyone! May your only blow-out be the celebration tonight to ring out the old and ring in the new! See you in 2024!

— Jadi

NOTES: ©2023 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography and his photos of our trips can be viewed at

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

3 thoughts on “The Great Tire Blow-Out”

  1. You folks were brave! We definitely had breakdowns. Fortunately, it was our son’s truck and he had some experience in fixing things … or waiting until someone came by on the same track. Bravo to Uwe!!

  2. Congratulations and well done, Jadi on making the trip without a damaged tyre. Thank you for the great reminder that no matter where we are it’s the right thing to help others.
    Happy New Year

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