Dad needed a new car big enough for all the family and our baggage. He chose a Citroen DS Safari estate, a monster of a car, nearly 5-metres long (16 and a half feet). It used hydraulic fluid to raise the body of the car higher and for the breaks (which is another story). You could seat three in the front, three or four in the middle and with two bucket seats at the back, making nine in total. We went the extra mile and once seated eleven.
With this colossus, my mother and I drove to Nakuru some 100 miles northwest of Nairobi. This entailed driving along an escarpment, a road hugged the edge of the Rift Valley. The road had two lanes, one in each direction and an occasional place to overtake or for the locals to sell goods. There are points where the road has a cliff face on one side and a thousand-foot drop on the other.
Fate chose the Monsoon rains to break for our return journey. The visibility was next to nothing due to the weight of the rain, it brought the windscreen wipers to a halt, we carried on, regardless.
Halfway along the escarpment, the car went into a spin, all 16 and a half feet of it. Eventually we came to a stop, with mum just sitting there and calmly lighting up a cigarette. The rain eased off enough for us to look out the window and we found ourselves balancing on the edge of the cliff with the front two wheels minus the road. The car was so long that it blocked both lanes of the road, luckily there was no traffic. We were eventually rescued by other travellers, who managed to pull the car back onto the road.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and with no visible damage to my father’s pride and joy (the car, not us). Little was spoken of the spin again.