Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Natal to Maceio. 335 miles. February 1st & 2nd, 2011.
These were probably the most frustrating two days of our trip. We set off Tuesday morning to find the Liquigas plant. Going back into Natal, we stop at the police checkpoint and ask for directions. They drew us a detailed map through the city to the north industrial zone. There is major construction work and it took us more than 2 hours to get to the plant, only to be told they don’t have the correct connections and can’t help us. Next to them is a Brasilgas plant. We drive to their gate and after about an hour, they tell us they could fill us but they don’t sell to individuals. Tom pleads with them but they are unmoved. We don’t have an account and they can’t help. Fuming, with his blood pressure elevated, Tom gets back into the truck and we decide to find the beach and stay overnight. It took another 2 and half hours to get through town and back to where we had started. We find the turnoff for the Pipa and see it is about 15 miles from the main road. When we get there we quickly realize that Pipa, like Canoa Quebrada is a tourist resort with the same narrow cobbled streets and nowhere to maneuver the RV. We try a second town close by but again the RV was too large to find anyplace to safely park. We are tired and frustrated. Our only option is to go back to the main highway and find a posto for the night. It was dark before we arrived in Mamanguape and found a place. Wednesday, our list of woes just kept growing. We need to try to find someone to fix the generator. We need to try to find propane. And the part of the camper that comes over the front cab which is a bed but is what we use for storage, is coming apart and Tom needs to do some carpentry repair work. We sigh. We drive. As we approach the large port city of Recife, we devise a plan. We will find a home store where Tom can buy some 2 x 4 wood, bolts and hardware for the repairs. We will try to find a generator mechanic and if it is convenient we will get propane. We find a store for the wood and they send us to another for the hardware. One thing down. A gas station attendant who spoke some English told us where to go to find a mechanic. Ave. Norte. It was a narrow street with repair shops on both sides. Even if we could find the correct mechanic, we would never be able to park the RV on such a street. We drive and find ourselves on the outskirts of town. What to do? One road leads to the litoral which follows the coast, the other goes back to the main highway. I look at Tom. We can’t go the scenic route and follow the coast; we need towns where we can fix our problems. We drive towards the next port city of Maceio and talk about a course of action. To repair the camper, Tom needs electricity for his power tools but we don’t have a generator. We need a posto with electricity to do the work. We have now driven more than 200 miles again and we are tired. There are plenty of postos just before the city and pull into one. It was ok but we decide to try the Texaco a little further down the road. We drive in and see they have a TV room that has plugs we can use. As Tom parks and prepares the RV for the night, I walk Winston and take a deep breath. Dinner will be easy, just vegetable soup that we had made and still have a package frozen and tuna salad sandwiches. As we eat, I try to come up with a plan. We still need a mechanic and we still need propane. Tom looks at me. There is something else. As we drove today, he had noticed that the oil gauge was running hot. The list just keeps getting bigger. In addition we need an internet to check on things at home and a laundry to wash our clothes. Also, another trip to a supermarket is needed and we have some postcards to mail. I feel overwhelmed. One thing at a time, so after dinner I head to the TV room to charge both computers and Tom reads. There is nothing more we can do tonight. To paraphrase Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, tomorrow is another day.