There was no reason for the motorway to stop being boring and no reason for us to stay on it, so we changed our plan and skipped Campo Grande, the big city of the area. We turned and headed towards Jardim. The heat was always unbearable and Kitsos’ problems wouldn’t let us relax and enjoy the ride. It seemed it had lost compression, we could hear rattling noises, it wasn’t easy to start the engine… Despite all this, we continued with confidence. Kitsos had never broken down.
Some 30km after Jardim, on the way towards Bonito – a very touristic place, famous for its natural beauty and ecological importance – we found the campsite where we’d stay for 3-4 days. It was already dark when we arrived so we could only guess what the place looked like. Only when we woke up early the next morning from the sound of the large colorful parrots – the arara – did we realize that we were in heaven! Just next to Rio da Prata, hidden under lush vegetation with hundreds of birds and other animals that live in the area… We were amazed! Only during the weekend, when tens of Brazilian families arrived with their loud music, barbecues and beers did this natural harmony paused for a while, but we couldn’t get angry at them. As a local girl put it: “We Brazilians have this loud energy and we like to show it!”. By Sunday afternoon everyone had disappeared and the monkeys, the parrots, the anteaters and ourselves took the opportunity and got out of our hiding spots.
Toco toucans are our favourites!
The brown lumps are anthills, thousands of anthills!
A Lesser anteater (southern tamandua). Rarely spotted though not threatened (in terms of conservation status)
A female bare-faced curassow (or just a fancy chicken)
A red-and-green macaw that was not too shy to be photographed
A tufted (brown) capuchin, looking disturbed by our presence
A male bare-faced curassow
Beautiful nature in Jardim
When we arrived at Bonito, we saw that it was a beautiful region indeed, but not for our budget. It was impossible to just go for a walk around and enjoy nature. We had to book organized tours to do it, so we decided that the only way to meet wildlife was only by chance. Besides, the last few days at the campsite in Jardim we had seen plenty. All the activities in Bonito (excursions to the Pantanal, swimming in lakes, bird-watching etc) were too expensive for us and – to be honest – we usually tend to avoid places like this.
We were on our way to Corumba when we stopped for one of our usual pauses. We always give ourselves the time to stretch a bit and Kitsos to cool down. We were only 70km away from Miranda, a small town where we had stopped for about an hour waiting for a thunderstorm to pass. We’d only avoid the really heavy thunderstorms on the road. Whenever it wasn’t dangerous, we continued and we’d enjoy being soaked. It was a relief from the heat. We didn’t wait long, after 20 minutes we were ready to continue, but Kitsos had different opinion. It now had 0 compression. The kick start would reach the ground with the force of one toe and it felt like it wouldn’t be possible to start again anytime soon. Our first serious breakdown!
Some kind of “shrine” on the motorway.
Our first serious breakdown, just before the border of Bolivia
Kitsos stands out in the green scenery!
The alternative garage: Kitsos came back to life in the hands of a boat mechanic!
Some members of the team weren’t so calm, some others dealt with this new reality with courage and humor (Alexandra 0 – Stergios 1). The fact was that we couldn’t stay there for long. We were in the heart of the Pantanal and it was getting dark. The region was full of wildlife: tapirs, capybaras, anacondas, crocodiles, jaguars… This last one made me a bit anxious to get quickly back to Stergios. I had hitched a ride to Miranda. The senior couple who took me, also helped to find a truck and arrange a reasonable fee for me to go and fetch Stergios and Kitsos. The nice man who drove the truck reassured me that there are no jaguars in that particular region, so Stergios wouldn’t be in trouble. It was pitch dark when we arrived and Stergios was waiting for us smiling, munching some cookies a passing by truck driver had offered him. On the road we saw indeed plenty of wildlife: capybaras, tapirs, armadillos, giant anteaters…and not a single jaguar! It was past 10 when we got to the hotel exhausted and disappointed by the high prices of accommodation in the area. We had to pay 25€ for a really awful room, which was the cheapest one in the town – the cost for it was above our total daily budget!
Some members of the team weren’t so calm, some others dealt with this new reality with courage and humor
(Alexandra 0 – Stergios 1)
The rescue operation started early the next morning. We couldn’t imagine that we’d have all this solidarity from the scooter and motorcycle clubs of the area! We only sent a message to a social media group of South American scooterists and in one second, there were tens of replies and people all around were trying to find a solution! As a guy from the local motorcycle club put it: “It’s time to show that moto-clubs are not only rides, beers and music”. Others were looking for a way to take us back to Sao Paulo, others to find a two-stroke mechanic in Miranda, others were thinking of getting us to Santa Cruz in Bolivia… and all this soon worked! The mechanic who contacted us and offered his help had his garage literally next door to our hotel and he was a boat mechanic! (Delta Nautica) Apparently almost all the small boats have two-stroke engines. So, with the help (internet is a great invention!) of Costas, our Greek mechanic in Thessaloniki and Marcelo, our Brazilian mechanic in Sao Paulo we made it! Kitsos’ piston rings had been stuck but the guys in Miranda repaired them and in a few days we were ready to hit the road again! But we had to change our plans again: since we didn’t know if there was any deeper damage to the engine we thought that it would be a better idea to continue in countries where the are Vespa mechanics and spare-parts. So, our trip to Bolivia has to be postponed for now. Paraguay, here we come!
To be continued…