We were in Brazil for well over a year, when we decided to give up! We would put the truck camper on a cargo container ship and send it to the USA. Meanwhile we would pack up the two dogs and fly the four of us to North America. In order for this to happen we had to drive to the port city of Santos, Brazil.
We camped along the way and found some beautiful beaches and some nice, peaceful riverside camping. Of course we also had a little hassle, when a screw penetrated one of our tires. But we quickly found a roadside repair shop to patch the hole.
When we arrived in Santos we rented an apartment near the beach and started the paperwork process.
The first task was to extend Mike’s visa. It took a few hours of paperwork and a few dollars in fees. But once it was done he was legal to stay in Brazil for three more months. Then we had to start the paperwork for shipping the truck. This starts with a visit to the beautiful Customs/Aduana building in downtown Santos. Then a visit to the paperwork offices to get permits started. This means hours of standing around inside hot buildings. After the first round of paperwork is done we are able to move the truck camper to the port storage yard to await the cargo ship. This yard is in an industrial area, and filled with shipping containers and dust. We wrapped the camper with a tarp to prepare it for shipping. This adds a layer of security to a vulnerable vehicle during the Roll On/Roll Off shipping process. We did the same thing when we shipped the truck camper on a cargo ship between Panama and Colombia. You can review that story here: https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2018/07/28/panama-a-second-visit/
While the truck is waiting to be moved to the cargo ship, we had time to explore Santos. This busy, beachfront city is a popular tourist location. and the dogs enjoyed many walks along the beach, including some geocaching. The rental apartment was very near a grassy park at the beachfront. The dogs enjoyed playing there a couple of times each day. Pacha learned to climb a palm tree to search for iguanas or rats. We also enjoyed local restaurants, this Greek place featured live music and delicious food.
We also were able to visit the Pele Museum. Did you know that Pele (famous soccer player, look him up) was raised on the streets of Santos, Brazil? We also toured the Coffee Museum, but found ourselves more impressed with the beauty of the facility, especially the stained glass, the wood detail on the ceiling, the tile designs on the floors and the gorgeous inlaid wood. The Coffee Museum was partially closed due to COVID. We were unable to touch and taste any coffee. But there was an interesting display of artistic coffee mugs. The museum had invited artists from around the country to enter their handmade coffee mugs to a contest. All entries were on display, and some were quite beautiful. My favorite was a mug and saucer with a girl leaning against it, reading a book. We spent many hours each day walking through the city of Santos. We found many geocaches, good restaurants and beautiful buildings. Eventually we got the call that it was time to move truck from the storage yard, to the actual port. So we went to the storage yard and finalized things. But it didn’t go as planned. The truck wouldn’t start. We called in several different mechanics and Mike tried many different fixes. Geneva made funny faces with her boredom. After a few days of attempting a variety of solutions the truck was still not able to start. We had to cancel our shipping plans and quickly make other arrangements. The first step was to get the truck moved out of the port storage yard. Moving a 11,000 pound vehicle that is tall, long and wide was a big job. We found a very capable flat-bed truck driver that was up to the task. We contacted our friends with a small farm in the mountains of Dois Irmaos, Brazil and asked if we could park with them while Mike worked on the issues with the truck. They warmly embraced our situation and invited us, our dogs and our truck to their farm. The truck made the journey across three states and over 400 miles in about 2 days! It was offloaded in a corner of the property. But we had to stay behind in Santos to sort out the apartment, pay the fees we had incurred and find a rental car. We secured a rental car and started the drive to the farm. We spent a night at a beautiful hotel made from shipping containers. When we arrived at the farm we felt welcomed by our friends. With six humans, three dogs, two cats and a flock of chickens; it was paradise!
While there we tried to contribute to the chores and tasks whenever we could. We volunteered at the church and helped make a huge fruit salad. We also helped in the kitchen with cleanups and meal preparations. We helped with other chores whenever possible. And Pacha quickly learned to beg in the kitchen, and sneak in to eat the cat food. Additionally Mike spent many long hours working on the truck. He disassembled and tested many parts of the electrical system. His diagnostics helped him narrow the problems down to the fuse box. He put out a plea for help with friends around the world, and that plea was answered. He made contact with an electrical engineer in the Netherlands who was willing to work through the repairs with him. They spent many hours a day on the phone, sending information and photos and suggestions back and forth.
This became our home and our friends felt like family!
And finally, Mike and his helpline assistant had discovered the problem. They could arrange a “work-around” which confirmed the issue and allowed the truck to start and idle. But as soon as it did, the cooling fan spun off the shaft and smashed into the radiator. Now we have a broken fan, a hole in the radiator and a damaged fuse box. None of these parts would be available in Brazil for a GMC truck. Time to call for help!
We put out a request to friends and family….. we needed someone to fly some auto parts to us in Brazil. Mike’s sister Terri answered the request and made arrangements to come to Brazil. We waited and enjoyed time at the farm house. We loved our little set up in the upper corner of the beautiful farm yard. The weather, the setting and the fantastic people were amazing.
When Terri arrived to Brazil she brought many car parts that we needed and gifts for the family. Mike immediately went to work repairing the truck. A local mechanic was able to patch the radiator while Mike was replacing the fuse box.
Meanwhile Terri was able to enjoy visiting some of the beauty of Brazil. We were able to see the town we had been living in and some other highlights in the region. Terri’s visit was too short, we had so much fun together. And the parts she delivered were just what Mike needed to get the truck running again. It was perfect!
But now that the truck is running, what are we going to do? You will have to watch for the next post to find the answer to that question.