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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.

After our night in Macapa we headed to the boat for our journey up the Amazon. On the way we crossed the Equator so that took us from Autumn to Spring in a flash however we thought it was really summer as it was about 35C.

A Long Hot Day to Start Brazil.

Our first day in Brazil was a 590k-day with 120k of dirt start 40 k down the road.

James and I elected to have an early start to escape some of the heat and dust as the locals got on the road. The road varied from freshly graded and very good to as bad is it gets with us climbing out of one pothole into the next.

The early start paid off with us only seeing one local car and a truck for all the dirt. We did however catch up with Reg and Jaime in the 2CV because they started even earlier. Reg was going very slowly up the hill with a serve lack of power which a lot of people would put down to it being a 2CV. When he stopped we discovered he was driving a 1CV as one plug lead had fallen off. Reg had to put it back on a couple of times before he used Duct tape to hold it on for good.

We had only driven of the end of the dirt about 200 metres before the rest of the rally started to overtake us. James and I reckoned we timed that well so as not to have eaten dust for 2 hours.

Lunch was at the fishing port of Amapa. While James rested I went for a drive to the river to check out the boats. The tides here varies about 4 metres and all the boats where sitting up on the mud having come back in on the high tide.

Many shops around the port were cleaning and filleting Catfish, which was the main catch for the boats. One boat had had a very good trip with a couple tonne of fish on the deck in the process of getting cleaned.

The run into Macapa after the lunch stop was 300 k of very good tarmac with the sun beating down so a lot of water was consumed in our car for the afternoon.

Early in the trip I pointed to the forest of tree along side the road and James was pleased to see Australian Eucalypts growing. He is always surprised at the places in the world Eucalypts are grown either for firewood and building poles all over Africa too wood chip in a lot of South America. This was being harvest for wood chip and carted to the port as we drove into town.

Loading the boat and the trip up the Amazon will be covered in the next blog.


Ready to Depart.

No more sleeps to go!

James and I arrived in Paramaribo Suriname three nights ago at about 10.00pm after spending the whole day waiting around airports and  flying from Venezuela. We arrived at the hotel and Penny was already parked in the carpark, waiting along with all the other cars. After a long awaited meal we went out just to have a look at her before going to bed.

Friday was the option to do a river tour so we partook in it instead of doing anything on Penny. We knew that she had a flat battery and I didn’t want to deal with that at that stage so went site seeing instead.

The river cruse took us up stream to visit two old plantation that in the long past grew Coffee and Coco. These plantation dates back to when the country was all farming and worked by slaves before slavery ended in the late 1800’s.

Paramaribo is a very old Colonial town with the regular timber building seen all through the Caribbean region. With a lot of the building needing a lot of love as Suriname is another country that is broke since the GFC of 2008 when it became no longer cost effective to mine for most minerals. The only exports left from here are Gold and timber.

Yesterday was get organised for the start day with the first thing on the list to get a new battery and fit it to Penny. We got take bt taxi to the best auto electric shop I’ve been too in a 3rd world country. I was able to get the exact battery that is fitted to Penny along with spare fuses of all sorts and anything else auto electrical I wanted should I require it.

A new battery fixed the stating problem so I headed down town for lunch and on the way walked past the most amazing Cathedral. This cathedral had all the round pillars and vaulted ceiling familiar to all Cathedrals but the difference was this was totally out of timber and clear finished on the interior and paint on the outside. Sadly I had no camera.

After a rest James and I took Penny for a test drive that was cut short with the site of a big storm rolling in. We just got back to the hotel and the covers on when, down it came for about 20 mins. It left everyone and us else working on Cars very wet, as we never made it to the hotel in time so sheltered sort of under a shed awning.

Martins Lagonda was running like very rich and rough yesterday and a lot of time was spent on cleaning this and that and eventually the text message from David Ayre about the Ky-gas pump was shown to someone who understood what a Ky-gas pump was, tightening it fixed the problem so Martin is all smiles again.

The day finished with a briefing about what to expect follow by the pre-rally banquet prior to this morning’s departure.

This morning is a frenzy of final packing and sorting ready for our 10.30 departures.

Angel Falls Venezuela???

You might ask what are they doing in the most undesirable destination in South America with its crime rate and rampant inflation running at over 700% this year?

The answer is the tallest single drop waterfall in the world. If you Google it there is debate over the fact at this time but Angel falls has been the list top for all of my life and on my Bucket List.

It’s the sort of place I was never going to make a special trip to but as we were in the neighbourhood, so to speak. James and I decided to include it on route to Paramaribo, Suriname for the start of the Great Amazon Adventure.

James and I have be fortunate to visit Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls and Iguazu Falls together on previous trips so this is another dad-son bonding experience for us.

Disembarking the plane in Venezuela was a reminder that we are visiting the tropics and the heat and humidity was a bit of a shock.

The airport hall was filled with people trying to change money and wanting to drive you somewhere all just trying to make a living in a very tough economy. We had all our transfers arrange for the enter time here just to make it simple we hoped.

Things didn’t start that well we stood under the big screen as per the email waiting for Vicente our driver for 20 odd minutes wondering where he was. I pulled a print out of the voucher out to look for a contact detail and the local standing 3 feet from us says I’m Vicente from Flight and Trip the name on the letterhead. After he called his boss and we spoke on the phone it was confirmed that he was our man. To this day I still can’t work out why he was waiting in the airport for Max and James Stephenson holding a sign with the name Marion Stubbs on it and the logo from some random company.

All in all we got taken to a comfortable hotel with air-con to wait for our next flight.

Vicente arranged some local money for us, which he returned just before dinner. We changed $100 dollars never expecting a shopping bag full of it back. The street exchange is 800 to 1 and with the rampant inflation the largest note is a 50. 80,000 in 50’s is a big stack of money.julie-stephenson-with-the-roof-off-cover-revised


You can use international credit cards here as the office rate is 6.9 to 1 but things are priced on the street rate. Paying with a credit card would have mean we had a $5000 dinner.