Friday, 19 September 2014

The Belgian and the Aussie are travelling again

We really did appreciate our time staying with our friends and getting things ready, but I'm also happy to say that we are travelling again! We were with our Brazilian friends (between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) for one week after returning from our trip to Australia, and it was a wonderful place to be and to prepare ourselves to go overlanding again. But, for me, I'm always happiest when the wheels are turning and we are going places. 

Our first destination was a town called Tiradentes. It's one of many historical old towns and cities in the state of Minas Gerais. We stayed in a very nice campsite (but I don't even know the name), and in the morning we parked at the bus station and walked around town. The old fountain and churches are lovely, but, although my guidebook said the main church opened at 9am, it wasn't open at 9.30, so we just enjoyed the outer views. 

Then we continued onto Congonhas, famous for the statues outside one of its churches. The statues had very interesting detail, made more impressive by the fact that the artist had a disease that was disabling him. 

On entering Congonhas we spent over an hour travelling just 6kms, due to roadworks. This gave us reason to skip travelling to the most famous historical village, Ouro Preto, because it would have meant doing the roadworks again. At any rate, we had been undecided about Ouro Preto, as it seems like one of those places that you should do if you're a regular tourist (stay in a hotel in the centre, visit the sites) but maybe not as needed if you were overlanding (we like smaller towns and villages better, they are much easier for us). So, the delayed traffic made up our minds. 

Here are some photos of 'the Prophets' outside the church in Congonhas. 

Mechanical Problems on the road

On our first day, heading for Tiradentes, we had trouble with the engine overheating. The fault turned out to be electrical. In the previous week we bought a new battery for the interior of the motor home. In installing it it seems H got a few connections wrong, but he'd fixed it by the end of the day. 

Then, 2 days later, we broke an oil line. Somehow we managed to pull over for lunch in time to lose a lot of oil but not do too much damage. And, after a few hours of fixing it we drove back about 2 kilometres to buy oil from a strange shop I'd noticed as we passed: they sold frying pans, cooking pots, and motor oil!

But, our troubles weren't over! Later down the road we discovered we were still leaking oil. After a few more hours work H decided we'd rest there overnight. We were parked beside a busy road with a restaurant (open only for lunch) across the road. 

The next morning H took a bus to town to buy parts and oil, and after a bit more than 24 hours we were on the road again. 

Btw, the lunch we stopped for (where we discovered our first oil problem) we had seen advertised at many places along the road, so I wanted to try it: Pão Queijo com Linguinça, which is a cheese bread, made with corn flour, with a garlicky pork sausage, and we had additional cheese on ours. It was very delicious, but not at all healthy. 

So, what if H wasn't so good at fixing things?
Just incase anyone is thinking 'I'd like to try overland travelling but I'm not so mechanical': what would you do? Well, in Brazil there are regular toll booths on roads, and on the back of the receipt is a number that you can phone for roadside assistance. It might mean a quick fix or towing, just like elsewhere in the world. Also, many Brazilians will stop to ask if you are okay; Brazilians are possibly the friendliest people in the world. Anyway, you wouldn't be stuck. You could even take the bus to town (like H did), and find a tow truck or mechanic to bring to your vehicle. 

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