You like beaches? Brazil’s got trillions. You like jungle? They’ve got the world’s biggest. You like mountains and caves? Yup, they’ve got those. Waterfalls? Tick. Deserts and dunes? Err… yes. Wildlife? Yah, plenty dat too. And of course, the football… many shed-loads of that! They do sport, they do fashion, they do science, they do arts, they build things, they party-hard and they’re the economic power-house of the region. Sure, they have few teeny political snags on the agenda at the moment (who hasn’t? 🙂 ) but overall, we’re looking forward to seeing Brazil (and those beaches!)
It’s not every Christmas that we open our presents to the booming sound of Chile’s answer to Snoop-Doggy-Dog (or whatever the latest hip-hop chap is called these days) and to be honest, it wouldn’t be our first choice for 2016 either! Nevertheless, that’s what we get 🙂 But before we launch into the Christmas Story, there is the final instalment of the Tyre Story. Continue reading
Flexibility… the key to overlanding! Way back in May we left Chile into Bolivia, then on to Brazil, back to Bolivia, then to Peru. Now here we are in Ecuador and we’re making a big turn-around, heading some 3,000 km back southwards. It’s not the most logical of routes, and if we ever had an approximate route in mind when we set off in South America this certainly wasn’t it! But we have a date with a tyre supplier… in Chile!
We never learn our lesson! Crossing a border during the sacred ‘eating of the lunch’ ritual – don’t do it folks! These people take their lunch-break seriously! You only end up with a lot of waiting and not necessarily in an orderly line. But in our excitement at arriving in a new country, we have forgotten this simple principle again! We approach the Bolivian border at around 13:00 hrs and realise ‘the wait’ is on!
Inconveniently for us, the sights to be seen as we head north up the Andes sit alternately either side of the Argentine/Chile border, requiring more frequent border crossings than we would normally care to tackle. From Torres del Paine in Chile we now need to cross back into Argentina, first destination: the Perito Moreno Glacier and it’s gateway town of El Calafate. This glacier is another of South America’s most visited tourist attractions and the border crossing is therefore choked with coach-loads of tourists. We get caught in a frustratingly long queue, but finally Continue reading
Here it is at last… our home for the next 4-5 weeks! Grimaldi’s Grande Nigeria is on its way into Hamburg tonight and we’re joining it in the morning for our ‘Grand Voyage’ to Montevideo. Hurrah! Much anticipated…. we had to book it a year ago to get one of the few passenger cabins on the cargo ship to sail with Cuthbert!
Over the last 3 weeks we’ve done a quick wiz around UK to say farewell to our family, then had a couple of final missions to accomplish: first a few days in Berlin to celebrate Julie’s (biggie!) birthday and finally, we couldn’t leave Europe without a visit to our good friends Paul, Mags, Charlie and Eva in Leipzig. Mags is Cuthbert’s god-mother having christened him with the inspired name on our last visit to them early in 2014. As always, we had great time visiting them in their amazing Leipzig mansion project.
Cuthbert’s final Euro-leg is from Leipzig to the docks of Hamburg. The Grande Nigeria was due on 26th September but with freight ships the schedules are a bit vague; it could be 4-5 days either side of this so we arrived in Hamburg on 21st… standing-by…
Whilst waiting in Hamburg, we arranged some new shoes for Cuthbert – he favours a particular Michelin XZL over a Jimmy Choo loafer 🙂 It was a tough decision whether to fit new ones before we leave Europe: his current shoes have around 10,000km of wear left (and at around £500 a pop we don’t like to waste the remaining mileage!) but these won’t take us around South America and we don’t want to reach tyre-criticality half-way up the Andes. Bizarrely, Michelin have been unable to assure us regarding availability of their XZLs in South America 😐 so we decide to ‘bite the bullet’ and do a switcheroo now.
Then Marcus had a brain-wave… we already carry two ‘as-new’ spare tyres, so to make a full new set we only need two more new ones. With a bit of heaving and a few ratchet-straps, we could probably just about squeeze the two new tyres onto the top of Cuthbert’s front top-box. This means we can keep the current four tyres on the wheels and carry four new ones. When the current tyres are finito, we’ll fit the four new ones, scrap the two worst tyres and keep the best two of the old tyres as future spares. Problem solved. Ha-ha!
In addition to a bit of tyre-juggling, we had another last minute problem to sort in Hamburg. In UK we had made our health preparations for South America, but we hadn’t thought about our stop-offs in West Africa on the way. Marcus previously went to the area on military service during the Sierra Leone war and saw how the troops suffered with malaria – this is not a part of the world where we want to take any malaria risks. Luckily Hamburg has a good ‘drop-in’ travel clinic – thanks for the tip, PJ Edwards! Two (expensive) Malarone prescriptions later, we’re done! Phew.
Two days before the ship was due into Hamburg we checked the internet maritime tracker: rather than steaming towards its rendezvous with Cuthbert, the Grande Nigeria was still moored up and sunning itself off the shores of southern Portugal! A school-boy’s ‘rough and ready’ time/distance calculation told us that it wasn’t going to make it to Hamburg by the scheduled 26th September.
Anyway… better late than never… it’s almost here now, three days late. And to be fair, we were always told that the schedule was set in jelly rather than stone. So we’ve had a bit more time enjoying the delights of Hamburg, which isn’t a bad thing 😉
Not sure when we’ll have connectivity again to update the blog… watch this space for the next maritime instalment with tales of ‘Cuthbert’s Life on the Ocean Waves’!
Click here for link to next blog – To Montevideo… by freight ship