Max

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A Struggle into Lima.

We arrived in Lima after 2 days of struggling with keeping Penny going. We have had terrible trouble with one cylinder fowling the sparkplug causing numerous stops to replace and clean after spending a day trying to get the mixture correct.

But the great news is we got here under our own steam like every other car in the rally bar the mechanical support vehicle that is coming from Cusco on a lorry.

Since my last post while we rested an extra day in Urubamba we have had a great time. We went straight to Puno when we got away as James was not well after not eating for 36 hour, We complexly missed the Colca Canyon and the Condors to give James an extra rest day in Puno while the rest of the rally caught us up.

I spent the morning in Puno visiting a floating reed island that people live and fish on. There main income now comes from the hundreds of tourists that visit each day. It a very basic lifestyle with the reed islands always needing servicing and new material added.

We departed Puno in separate cars as James took Jaime the photographer for the day while I travelled with John and Fiona in the organisation car. We crossed over the Andes through a high plateau to drop down into Arequipa on the edge of the Peruvian part of Atacama Desert. This was one of the most visually stunning drives of the trip with the morning surrounded be mountains caped with a fresh dusting of snow from the previous nights storms. Then along and very rough track passing between two conical shaped volcanoes over looking Arequipa.

The run up to Lima along the Pacific Coast is both beautiful and amazing with the left side of the road being the biggest ocean on earth and the right side being the driest place on earth. Amongst this desert in the fertile lowlands and river valleys is all the farming that helps feed Peru, with the water coming from the rivers feed from the high Andes were it rain and snows.

Our over night stop was at Nazca with some of us planning a morning flight to visit the Ancient Nazca lines best viewed from the air. This trip was a failed mission with ground control calling us back to base after the first sighting due to visibility. With the expected delay of 1 to 2 hours we gave it a miss so as not to get in to Lima to late.

James and I once again arrived at the hotel last with the support crew hire car following in case we need more help then moral support as we cleaned plugs after every time in slow town traffic causing us problems.

During this trip the decision has been made that when Penny returns to Australia she will get a body taken off the chassis and a total rebuild to try and lessen the annoying little problems we have been troubled by on this trip. She will need to be ready to go into a container next August for Julie and I to partake in the Classic Safari in South Africa during October 2018

Out of Brazil into Peru.

I know this post is a bit out of order but its been busy and today James and I are having a forced extra day due to a very bad tummy bug he picked up last night so we elected to stay in Urubamba for an extra day and catch up tomorrow while everyone is at Colca Canyon with the Condors. I’ll use the time to catch up on my blog and sorting photos

We left Rio Branco and its razor wire for the drive to the Brazilian border over fairly good tarmac with not too many potholes. About 3k’s from the border we thought we had a tyre going down the way the car was handling only to discover that we had broken a main rear spring leaf. So the potholes and the fact that the rear springs have been on the car ever since James and I did Africa in 2012.

The decision was made to limp to the border and get into Peru before it closed at 1300 for lunch then fix on the other side. Brazil exit was as smooth as you can hope with a border and we arrived at Peru at 1200 in the middle of a thunderstorm. Rain shuts down the power and border processing stops. While lunching James said let’s go and find a fuel station awning and we will be nearly fixed by the time lunch was over. Mainspring leaves is one of the few spare parts we carry.

We found a great awning back in no man’s land with dry concrete and room for people to get to his pumps. The owner spoke very good English as welcomed us while we fixed. While there we had a visit from a Peruvian dog which has no hair except its tail and a Mohawk.

With the help of Ian the service mechanic we had the job finished about 10 minutes after the rest of our group had cleared the border so good timing.

We arrive into Porto Maldonado for a rest day and jungle visit in the dark but still in time for dinner so another great day.

We started the day with an early cruise to visit parrots that eat clay out of the riverbank in special areas to get minerals they require. The parrot activity was not great but it always impressive being on the waterways of the Amazon with the size and the flow of the river and this was only a tributary.

After lunch we all headed out on a riverboat trip to a jungle walk and canoe trip around a lake. This started as good as it gets with a 2 Toed Sloth and baby in the trees as we head down the steps to the boat. Sloths appear to like an urban environment due to their main predator the eagle doesn’t come near towns.

The jungle walk was fun with a snake eating a frog and main butterflies before getting to the lake for sightings of Caiman, Squirrel Monkey, Bats and many different birds.

Walking home from dinner that night I saw a most interesting bike load with the 2 kids sitting on the fuel tank in front of Dad and Mum breast feeding the baby on the back while going down the street. The only person wearing a helmet was Dad. From what I saw in the town, law must be that only the rider needs a helmet as no passengers ever wear helmets

It was then of to the Andes and Machu Picchu the next day.

The Amazon into the Andes

Yesterday we left the Peruvian Amazon for the drive to Machu Picchu in the Andes.

This drive started with 200 k’s of flat highway interspersed with many speed bumps through mainly farming land with the exception of a alluvial gold rush area with the most messy and untidy shanty town that has sprung up either side of the highway to service and house the people mining. The red dirt coloured water in the rivers and swamps defined the boundaries of the gold rush.

Not long after that we started the climb over a range in the Andes that took us to 4800 metres with both the cars and people showing some altitude problems of varying degrees.

The reward for this drive is the stunning views and winding roads amongst great mountain ranges doted with villages with people living and farming in pretty harsh conditions. For some reason no one ever seems to tire with driving through mountains no mater how exhausting it is in old cars.

While stopped at the top we looked ahead and decided to put our roof on and a good call that turned out to be with a big storm and hail being encountered just prior to stopping in the village of Tinki for lunch at the local market.

That lunch stop will be remembered for a long time with so many of the locals dressed with vibrant colours in what we would call national dress but to these mountain people it is their day to day clothing with the women working in the field dressed the same. The thing noticed by most of our group was that the young people under mid 20’s don’t dress in the same clothes opting for modern western clothing.

As the only Europeans in town we were just as much an interest to them while we lunch at various stalls on chicken and rice or local trout and rice.

The rest of the day was the run in to Urubamba for a 2-night stop. The whole day including the lunch stop took James and I 12 hours so we were well and truly ready for food and bed last night.

On the rest day anyone that hadn’t been before visited Machu Picchu, while 7 of us decided to travel to Cusco for a peek-a-boo as we had driven through it but not stopped on a previous trip.

Problem Solved After 4 Days!!!!

I’m not talking about a Sudoku puzzle or some Brainteaser, I talking a lot more challenging and kept James and I mulling over it a lot while driving. This puzzle was Penny not performing, as she should.

The problem started 4 days ago with her running very rough and lacking power at times and not accelerating in her normal sedate manner. We did the first thing I always tell everyone else to do and fitted a new set of plugs. This made a slight improvement but was not the fix.

The problem was worse on rough roads and always got better on the smooth tarmac. We debated if the roughness as making the Carburettor play up.

On our last days driving we had no problems after we left the dirt so thought all our problems were solved? This morning proved us both wrong with us having huge problems on a great road to start with then a couple of adjustments to the Carburettor and we had a trouble free 60 k’s only for it all to stop with no more go power.

I spent an hour upside down under the dash checking power and running a new ignition wire to get the car running and driving in a moderately unhappy fashion. As we debated the problem we realised the same time the problem started we also started getting trouble with our trip computer going off. Watching the trip computer it was going off and on to the same beat as the coughing and spluttering.

We decided it had to be an earth problem so we wheeled in to under the awning of a fuel station for some shade. A quick check in the battery box were all the earths run back too and the problem was discovered. Back it Paramaribo Suriname at the start I had installed a new battery and low and behold I failed to tighten the earth bolt fully and it had rattled out to leave all the earth wires just bounce around in the vicinity of the clamp. So finding the bolt and refitting it was all that was needed to sort the problem and things when well for the most part for he rest of the day.

We have driven about 2500k’s in Brazil and today we saw only the second Road construction project in progress. The first day we saw an army construction team building a piece of new road on day one and today it was a new bridge over the Rio Maderia to replace the three ferries kept busy transporting the traffic back and forth. We have seen numerous road and bridge projects that were started about 10 years ago and have ground to a halt at all different stages.

We were the last of the group to arrive in town so Reg in the 2CV was very happy today as he beat us to the hotel for the first time.

The drive to day was 500 k’s of grazing and farming lands to Rio Branco for our last night in Brazil.

With another time zone change on our arrival it was a long wait for dinner, I spent 2 hours walking the streets. Rio Branco has the feeling of insecurity with every residents and business surrounded with Razor wire and electric fences.