Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Maceio. February 3rd – 8th, 2011)

Time to regroup and work on that list. Thursday, we decide to stay at the posto and since we have all the components to fix the camper that is what we will do. We spent most of the day on that task and as Tom did the work, I fetched and carried, made sure his power drill stayed charged and helped with the bracing and nailing. We have also decided to get rid of an extra spare tire that is taking up space. We have been carrying two spares, one with a rim mounted on the back of the RV and the other in a storage compartment but without a rim. We have had new tires since Acapulco and now think one spare will be sufficient. Plus we want the extra space that getting rid of it will give us. By day’s end we felt good about our progress and rewarded ourselves with a lobster dinner cooked in a white wine and garlic sauce. Yum! Friday we drive to the city of Maceio and ask directions to a dealership. As we drive on the main road into town we see two propane plants, Ultragaz and Brasilgas. Since, in Natal Brasilgas would not fill us, we thought we’d try Ultragaz first. No, said a nice gentleman, we can’t but Brasilgas has the connection. We shrug, we have nothing to lose. Tom goes up to the guards at the gate and gets the same reply. They can’t help. We had discussed this prior to him asking, so he immediately asked for the manager (jefe). No, Tom is told. He insisted, we want to talk to the person in charge. Finally they relent and go to the plant manager. He checks out our connections and talks to us. Like most people, he is impressed we have come so far. Do we like Brazil? How are the people? We reply we love Brazil but getting propane is difficult. “I will call for a truck to come here and we will fill you”, he said. Another lesson learned. We will not be turned away again until we speak to the person in charge first. We are told the truck will be here at about 2:30, so I stay with the RV and Tom walks to a huge Home Depot type store to replenish some of his fix-it supplies, tape, caulking, sealants etc. By 3pm, we have propane and on our way to Ford. Once there, they check out the oil gauge. They can find nothing wrong and think it is just a sensor malfunction but they don’t have a new sensor. They basically tell us not to worry and Tom agrees. If it is just a sensor then we should be ok. They chat about the generator and offer to take us to another dealership, Hyundai and they think there is a mechanic there who knows generators. He also could not help but he did think that Honda would. It is too late to go to Honda so we make that a Saturday task and instead ask for places to shop, internet and spend the night. The beach is the place to camp and on the way they tell us about two supermarkets and an internet café. We follow their directions and find the markets. We go to Extra. This is the best stocked market that we have seen since Costa Rica, lots of high quality produce, meats and a good wine selection. We even find a favourite cheese of ours, aged Rembrandt Gouda that we have not seen since the US, we get two chunks and some parma ham, which is also hard to find. We also find the beach. It is Friday night and crowded but driving all the way to the end, the paved road ended and we found a secluded spot under the palm trees. After too many days tethered, Winston finally gets to run again. He and Tom go to the water, whilst I prepare the RV for the night. Pork chops are on the menu and Tom is cooking. We see flashing lights outside, it is a visit by the local police. They indicate we must move. Where we are parked there are no street lights and there are roaming bandits who wear masks and are armed. They tell us to move about 50 yards back under a light and they will keep a watch on us for tonight. No problem. We move, we are satisfied with our progress and we sleep well. On Saturday, we headed back into town to find the Honda repair shop. On the way, I see a laundry. Stop! We park and I talk to the lady. Laundry has not been done since Ciudad Bolivar and we have lots. She can have everything ready by 5pm on Monday. That’s fine. One more thing accomplished. At the Honda shop, we met Guilherme, he is the owner/manager and speaks English. They set to work, dropping the generator, taking it apart and cleaning the carburetor and other things! (I am very mechanically challenged). They work for several hours but still can’t get the darned thing to run with any regularity. They are stumped, Tom is stumped and as I grapple to understand the mechanics of a generator, I am stumped. We have done what we can. Guilherme feels bad that he can’t help us further and we assure him it’s ok. Our next step will be an internet and try to contact Onan generators. Computers and the internet, I understand and do not stump me. Guilherme also tells us of a beach going south about 20 kms called Praia do Frances and that is where we plan to spend Sunday. On our way we stop at an internet café and contact friends and family, post blogs and download more library books onto our ereaders, then we find the beach. It is beautiful. White sand and a reef just offshore so at low tide the water is calm. We see people with snorkel, spear guns and scuba gear. We smile, this is perfect. As we park, we see a house right on the beach which is also a scuba school, ran by a Brazilian couple who it turns out have travelled extensively and speak English. They invite us to park by their home and run a cord for electricity and to use their internet. We offer to pay them but they refuse. We cook the fresh fish we had purchased for dinner and reflect on the past few days. We have had some problems but are working through them. We have found a great place to spend Sunday and we just might get to do some snorkeling. Sunday, the beach is packed with people and the scuba school, Ecoscuba is busy. We chat with the owners and Tom books a scuba session for Monday, when it will be quieter and not as many people at the reef. An extra day here. We need it and deserve it. Sunday and Monday we completely chill out. We play in the water, snorkel and take in the sun. We catch up on internet work and fully charge all our batteries – ours included. I even download Turbotax and start on our taxes, what better place to do them than whilst looking out over a blue ocean as it breaks over a reef, the dog at my feet and my husband happily snorkeling. Sunday we marinated the second half of a filet mignon we had bought previously and invited Flavia and Tom, Wagner and her visiting sister to join us for dinner. On Monday Tom went scuba diving on the other side of the reef with Tom from Ecoscuba. He had a wonderful time, saw plenty of fish, sea snakes and corals. Even snofkelling, the water is clear and we see tropical reef fish and corals. We feel good about things again. Tuesday, we set off for Maceio again. We will pick up our laundry, have a tire shop check our tires , the front ones are showing uneven wear and mail our postcards back to the States. It took us all day to do those tasks, so we spent the night again in front of Ecoscuba at Praia do Frances, our door facing the ocean and the sea breezes coming through the screen door and windows, which we leave open. Our list of woes is no longer and we can now stay on the coastal litoral and avoid the main towns all the way to the next city we want to visit, Salvador. Also attached is the link to view the photos we took from Angel Falls. Just copy and paste.

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