Happy Birthday Brother.
Matilda passed 250,000 Miles or 400,000 Km to the Euros.
Massive dump of random photos here.
Don't Blame it on Rio is not Michael Caines finest film but I like it all the same....today it would be banned by the censors as he has a "fling" with his buddies (teenage?) daughter. Its more like she has a fling with him. Anyhow....
Its a very long time since we've had Wi-Fi properly and this is now only because we are staying in the Marina and they have free Wi-Fi. Our guide book says they have camping. They do not....The manager relented and let us stay in the car park. Thanks Mr. Manager. Trouble with the location is they have a Disco and it goes on till 5am. Its VERY loud! When I say Disco I mean Rave/Night Club/Ministry of Sound. Jessica would love it.
So back on the 27th Jan we were on Mendoza and we stayed in the park. Another OK choice but they had a free concert on and it was noisy. We slept right on the main road in and had a pretty good nights sleep actually. Mendoza is OK but as one other traveller put it "its like Milton Keynes". Its not really like Milton Keynes at all but its a town based on a grid pattern and although the park is nice theres little more going on other than wine and bars.
More our "cup of tea" is the camp on the side of a reservoir and although the car park was busy with people coming and going to the view point its was quiet and we managed to get some rest. We've been driving a long way recently and the rush to the south, then to the north and now across to Rio we need some good nights rest now and again.
On the way up to the border back into Chile we were a bit worried we would not be allowed in again and when we got there I got sent to the office. A truely buttock clenching time as we thought we'd been rumbled. We hadn't,,,, and they just didn't know how to process the car at the little huts. We needed a print out and the printer was in the office. We also found out the border is one way for 12 hours and the other way for the other 12 hours. We luckily arrived at the Argentina - Chile direction at the correct times. We were so forewarned for the return unlike other people we met who truned up Chile - Argentina with 10 hours to wait !
No overheating this time but we got stuck behind slow trucks on the decent and it took well over an hour to decent into Chile and a night in a small town called Los Andes. Another night next to a noisy Fun Park but we're almost used to the noise now. Julie almost sleeps through anything....!
Arriving at Val Pariso we were impressed by the place. Its not often I like Sea Side...but this place is OK. However the Land Rover dealer didn't have what we needed. He did however give me name of the dealer in Santiago who also didn't have the parts.
The Land Rover dealer in Medoza did give me metal so I could make so temporary retaining clips for my hub caps. My half shafts are floating a bit too far out....So we failed at three Land Rover dealers.....do any of them have parts for a Land Rover....probably not.
Another night in a proper truck stop on the way to Santiago. Free showers and pretty nice. I tipped the shower guy. We'd been told that Santiago would have everything for the car. They do not. They in fact had nothing at all. I could get stuff made for a price but we're not desperate. Some good malls in Santiago but having seen one you've seen them all. Its just nice to wander around knowing the car was safe as the security guard was really interested and spoke a little English which was nice. He'd done a trip round South Amercia when he was younger on a bike. We like the people of Chile but you still get a few idiots who open their car doors into the side of Matilda when we are clearly sitting inside !
After Santiago and the price of tolls we decided to leave and go back to Los Andes. Thinking we could do it back to Medoza in one day we had to go to the border late as this direction was only open at night. We camped in Los Andes in the same place as before. We descided to stay one night and the next day I got the oil changed in the Axles and Transfer Box. They were slightly overdue on my reduced interval schedule. It was a really good price and the place we used was really professional. With little English spoken they did everything I asked and let me check everything. I watched them every step of the way and they even showed me they'd filled everything up properly to the filler plugs. The oil was Esso branded EP80/90 GL5 out of a big barrel. Priced per litre which included the labour. Why isn't it like this in the UK. Here, you buy the oil and they fill the car with it for free !
This is becoming a long post.......or it might be already.....
Whilst we were squatting in Los Andes we met an overland bus with 10 or so guests. They were on their way to the border but didn't know it was timed. They had a lond wait. I advised them that the queue was long when we came in and with that they left to get a place in line. I wasn't sure if they would have to wait with the trucks and that line was REALLY REALLY long. As it turned out they were allowed in the car line and were only 12 cars in front of us. Luckily we were also allowed in the car line and at 7pm we were allowed through and because of the busses we had a slow accent to the pass at the top. Because it was slow the 30 hair pin turns and steep accent was no trouble for Matilda. Her new Transfer Box oil getting properly cooked on the first day.....not good.
On the way down the other side and after hours of queues at the immigration and customs we again got sent to the office for the printer. This was a little more confused than before and we slept halfway down at the winter Ski Resort. The coolest night we've had in a long time. Wonderful but not quiet. The amazing thing was they used to have a train line up the pass. Its still there in parts and the bridges look new although they are not. We wondered if they maintain them just incase.....
Another rescue helping a guy in a car get towed out when they snapped the tow rope. How or why his car was where it was is anybodies guess.
Having calculated the distance we needed to travel to get to Rio we were panicing a little. Well, I was....I worked out we had about 700km to do each day. In real money thats 430miles each day for about a week. From now on it was truck stops and road side accomodations. Not that its much different than where we stay normally its just the distances and the temperature had gone up. My old ailment from sitting too long had re-occurred. You know what I mean....last time I had one was Morrocco. The humidity was getting a little too much but with no aircon what can we do. My shorts hve salt rings on the rear....
We briefly stayed on Montevideo and visited the Frey Bentos factory in Frey Bentos of course. We liked Montevideo and even got a free barge across the river to the north. Its not often we get free stuff but it makes a Yorkshireman very happy.
When we arrived at the Brasil border we drove right past it and had to return. We also ran our of fuel as we'd not filled up in Uruguay as it was so expensive. We used almost both Jerry cans and filled up in the very first station in Brazil. Saving quite a bit. We think we saved about £40 on the fill up. The border town where we cossed is in both countries and you can cross freely. Its only if you go further that you need to do immigration. The first toll was a bit of a problem as we had no money for Brasil.....50km detour to get cash and we had to reverse out of the toll gate. Many cars were moved to get us out. Some banks have only one machine that takes foreign cards. The others don't work. Luckily the guard pointed Julie at the correct machine the second time.
After we arrived in Brasil it was just a mammoth drive to Rio. We discovered the roadside buffets and rather than eat at night we had lunch in Buffets. Rtaher nice. The tolls are expensive here and cost us about £12 per day. We met a few nice Brazillian people and had lots of photos taken of the car. Most of them whilst they were driving and one of them whilst riding his motorbike with no hands ! The driving standard is VERY poor and we saw two accidents on one black spot hill accent. We don't know how many speeding offences we committed as normally we travel with the flow and since they do not slow for anything we may have clocked a few cameras....The speed limits fluctuate wildly and change every 100 meters with no repeater signs even on the longer sections. I had a hard time knowing what the speed is was most of the time. We stayed under 90 as always but the speed limits are seemingly randomly 60 kmh. Lets see what happens when we leave....
Rio parked in the Tucan Overland Bus park really near Gloria Marina is R25 per 24 hours and he charges R5 for the shower. This is a bit of a rip off. We've moved the the Marina where its free and free. Both locations are good apart from the noise of the "rave club" which is inside the Marina Complex in the open air under the fancy canvas roof.
Carnival is madness. We really enjoyed the show in the "Sambadrome" and although it was R60 each we thought it was worth it. We were not going to go but we are glad we did. Thats only $30usd each. So £20. The floats are massive the dancing is madness and thats the organised part. The drinking, dancing and madness outside is a sight to behold. I've not seen so much urine flowing in the street since the "Christmas on Earth Festival" in Leeds. The rubbish and cans was everwhere. The local can collectors must make a fortune. The bulk of the photos are here.
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