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Journal Entry:

Friday, April 08, 2011 03:27:26

Rolls Alaska to Argentina & back: 20 Foz do Iguacu to Londrina, Brazil

Friday, April 1, 2011

*Miles for the day: 309 (497 km) Miles to date: 12,392 (19,943 km)*

We were surprised by how few people spoke Spanish in the City of Foz do Iguacu, as it has open borders on two Spanish speaking countries. It seems less than half understood Spanish, and very few English. Language will be a challenge, as everything for the next month will be in Portuguese.

We were on the road before 7 AM. The highway was good four lane road for quite a while, and then became reasonable two lane road until before Londrina where it was 4 lanes again. Again the speed limit is 110 kph (68 mph). Traffic was much heavier for most of the drive, and the toll costs were higher. Fortunately I changed enough money to Brazilian Reals yesterday. We had sunshine for much of the drive through pretty rolling farm country, where massive fields of corn gradually gave way to sugar cane.

When we bought gas I was upset to discover the power steering fluid was half a litre low. I'm hoping it isn't the same seal problem we had repaired in Costa Rica - if it is we are going to be delayed for some time. Gas in Brazil is 25% ethanol, and even so is the most expensive of the trip - about $US 1.68 per litre.

Tonight we were to stay in a hotel in the German village of Rolandia, but when we found the very isolated place several kilometres off the highway and were informed no food would be available until 7:30 PM we decided to continue onward. It was only 2 PM and we hadn't eaten since breakfast at 6 AM.

The City of Londrina was only about 20 minutes away, so on the outskirts we pulled into a Walmart type store where we used restrooms, ate something, and found a taxi we could follow to Acao, the repair shop arranged by fellow RROC member Claudio Romi Zanaga of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He wrote offering assistance after reading about our trip in the Rolls Royce magazine. We were enthusiastically received, and the car given priority attention. The specialty 4 X 4 shop is well equipped with hoists, trained mechanics and test equipment. The owner speaks some English and others Spanish, so communications is OK.

Once we had gone over items needing attention a reporter and photographer arrived from the Folha de Londrina newspaper. They interviewed people in the repair shop, and wanted to ride in the car. A reporter rode with us to a lake where photos were taken and an interview done before we were led back to Acao. We found out why people pointed at our car and said "Presidential". The president of Brazil was given a classic Rolls Royce for state occasions by the Queen of England.

By then it was late in the day, so one of the shop owners drove us across town to Comfort Suites where they got us booked in at a discount rate for three nights. We had drinks in the bar, then the hotel buffet dinner before catching up on emails and making an early night of it.

In the morning I took a taxi back to Acao while Marilynn explored the big shopping centre beside the hotel. The starter solenoid had arrived and was installed; however a relay has burned out with all the times I started it by jumping the solenoid, but they couldn't find it. Finally a multipurpose one was purchased and a new wiring run to the solenoid via the new relay.

Next the car was raised on the hoist, where it was discovered that the power steering system was leaking from both the places where new seals had been installed in Costa Rica. This is terrible news, as it means we must go through the entire process of removing the steering column and all its components again. No one can figure out why new seals are leaking, but no decision on parts will be made until it has been taken apart next week.

At the shop I looked at a new Brazilian four wheel drive vehicle, and talked to the owner and some of his friends. They invited me to lunch, so the five of us went to a beer restaurant. The beer menu was about 8 pages long, and the walls were lined with hundreds of different bottles of beer, most litre sized. The food was a series of plates of delicious shared snacks, eaten while we tried beer after beer for about four hours. The beer was great, the company superb and the atmosphere heavenly! The fellow with the Brazilian 4 X 4 drove me back to my hotel. A great afternoon!

Sunday was cloudy. After working on the computer for the morning we went to the Galpao Nelore restaurant for a long, long lunch in Brazilian style, where a steady flow of waiters come to the table, each with different types of BBQ meat skewered on a sword. The accompanying buffet was huge, and my new found knowledge of local beers was put to use while Marilynn chose from the extensive wine menu. A great way to pass a dull afternoon!

Londrina is a 75 year old city that has grown to over a million people. It was named after London by the British land development company that laid out the planned city of wide, clean, treed boulevards and modern buildings. The locals are justifiably proud of their city.

Monday we moved to the Crystal Palace, a less expensive hotel only three blocks from Acao. It saves us money on the room, I can walk to Acao for my several times a day visit, it has a huge room with chairs and table so both Marilynn and I can work on computers at the same time, the wireless internet is free and it is at the end of a pedestrian shopping street several blocks long. Pretty much everything we need is in walking distance, including restaurants, and as the days went by we explored on foot, getting to know the city quite well.

Wednesday evening we were invited to dinner at the home of Marcos Medeiros de Albuquerque, president of the vintage car club in Londrina. His wife Liliana did a great job, and we had a fun evening with them and their family.

When I visited Acao on Thursday at the end of the day I was told the car was ready, and had been tested. It was scheduled to go in for wheel balancing at 8 AM Friday morning, and we could then be on our way. We will try to make it to the town of Bebedouro tomorrow, where we have arranged to meet Claudio, who has done so much to help us with the Brazil part of the trip.