2017-12-22 Day 232 Fri

Looks like another lazy day in store for us. We had planned on going to a museum this afternoon till when we googled it we discovered that it is in Montevideo not near this lake. Has been put on the wrong spot on map - By about 250km’s.

Decided to just stay here, It is beautiful and peaceful. Started to rain gently in the early afternoon which cooled us down a little.

Just had some nuts salami and cheese for dinner.

2017-12-21 Day 231 Thu

Made a call to Muffs as Puff, Cynthia, David, Jack & Adam were all there in the sun room having a Christmas get together.  Chris joined in the call from Canada at 2am local time. Great catching everyone together.

We had a walk around the peninsular about 5.2km’s. Interesting how the wind and possible water has eroded under some of the pine and eucalyptus.
We walked back through the plantation and the plant litter was difficult to walk on, must have been 2 foot thick of pine needles. A fire would certainly roar through here.

This Green is not grass but small pine trees

We found a lovely spot about 5m above the beach and 10m from the waters edge.

Before moving EC we let the tyre pressure down to 30psi. She walked up the sand hill and turned the corner easily.

Had a swim, sat in the shade of trees and awning and snoozed then lay on the bed and snoozed, a very relaxing day but we both got a little sun burned…..

On our last trip to the water for a cool off around dusk we realized that between us and town there must have been about 100 people enjoying the evening by the lake. Great to see it being used.
John dug a hole and BBQ’d chips and steak over a pine needle fire. Needed to stoke regularly but no shortage of needles.

2017-12-20 Day 230 Wed

Was a good night sleep and a beautiful morning. Did my skips watching the river flow past. 250km to the lake so we left early. I drove for the first 125km’s the first section on seal and then on dirt. The dirt road as smooth as the many time patched asphalt.

About 9:30am we stopped for tea and banana cake and john took over the drive.

At a small town we filled with fuel and water, and I researched the ferry to make sure it was big enough for us and that I had enough cash. The photo I found reassured as it was a real ferry and that it was free.

We arrived at the ferry and it was on our side so we drove on. Room for two of us if need be. Across we went with the smallest tug I have seen alongside.

We stopped just off the ferry and john cooked noodle stir fry chicken with noodles for lunch.

Chris phoned on his way home from the gym. We could here the snow crunch under his feet as he walked We had a good chat. The call quality was the best we have had while in South America. Drove to the peninsular and the camp grounds. Got a very exclusive camp at the far end. There we only a few people camping back at the entrance, close to the shop.

Had a swim then John needed to make his calls. We have camped here close to town so if Internet is not good enough for the conference call, He can try the wifi at a hotel.

2017-12-19 Day 229 Tue

We did not get moved on. A coolish morning with good Internet so I cooked a loaf of bread and a banana cake. We had a quick walk to the beach and saw a couple had picked up 4 big bags of rubbish and then leaving them on the beach drove their tiny four wheeler up the other end of beach to gather more rubbish. Very impressive.
Our road out of the camp site .

We had decided to go inland to a large man made lake in the center of Uruguay. So we wonder on.

Drove through the little beach towns and had lunch in La Paloma. The salmon was a little over cooked. We really are spoiled for food in Australia.

Anything at hand is used to stop motorists from driving where they are not wanted, in this case some sticks and witches hats.

We drove north to start of our little venture inland. Just trying to use up the days before we visit Alison & Michael in Montevideo.

Again we drove from one potential camp site to another but spots were hard to find. We ended up on a river just near the main bridge, 200km’s

Four guys came and launched a canoe and put a small 1hp outboard on it. A big icebox was loaded and some gear. Next they launched a larger homemade, round bulgy dinghy with a 5hp and bigger ice box. A few small sealed drums, 2 mattresses and one sleeping bag, lastly four small rifles in padded bags. One rifle was taken out of its container and put with the guy in the canoe. Two guys got in the other dinghy and the 4th guy drove the car away. Looks like they should have a good time.

2017-12-18 Day 228 Mon

A lovely quiet night apart from nature. We were rocked all night; sometimes none to gently. The wind and sea had dropped a little so wondered around the road that had been covered in dunes. A nice little walk but still got sandblasted as we left the lee of the trees.
We drove through the park some more and ended up at the fort. We did not have the local currency (or Brazilian) to get in so wondered around the outside. A very different shaped fort. It has the shape of an irregular pentagon, and five angles are finished in projecting bastions. There are five checkpoints for each angle of the pentagon, elegantly constructed in the form of carved stone pulpit. The perimeter of the fortress measures 652 meters and it occupies one hectare in area (wiki)

Drove on past the ATM again – still out of order. Back to the main road and south again. We dropped into Punta del Diablo to try another 2 ATM's one didn't exist and the other out of order. Two bikies stopped to talk. They were Brazilians on a short trip and spoke about their motor cycle trips from Alaska down to Brazil and around Vietnam. They traveled with very little gear, one was on a honda 250 dirt bike with road tyres the other on a large scooter...

Wanted another beach camp but it seems that driving on the beach is prohibited in Uruguay. Found a nice secluded little development near the beach with holiday houses, We parked with a sand dune between us and the beach. Could just see it and could hear the waves. The beach was much steeper here and the water a little clearer.

2017-12-17 Day 227 Sun

The day for crossing into Uruguay. We drove through Barra du Chu which is the southern most town of Brazil. Then on to Chuy where being Sunday discovered no supermarkets open but lots of people and other small shops. We spent our remaining Brazilian monies on Diesel then headed back north to clear customs and immigration.

Immigration building looked very quiet and we were concerned that they may not work on weekends but no, we found it open. Cleared out very easily and quickly and headed into Uruguay.

Uruguay was very straight forward for immigration and customs. Passport stamped, EC paperwork done, no inspection and were through.

Now for local currency, stopped at one ATM at Capocho out of service. It started to rain which bought a relief to the heat. We pulled off in tho Parque Nacional de Santa Teresa. No entry cost. The place is managed by the army and has a fort nearby but outside the parque area. The ATM machine was not working either.

We donned our ponchos to visit the conservatory which was built with big blocks of stone. A very lovely spot with many local plants many the same as we can get in Australia. There was also a bird watching walk which was nice but the wind and rain kept us moving. A small museum of local history of which we could only understand the basics. We understand that the army has had this place since the 1700’s. There was also another shaded in area with more plants.

We wondered who or why it was built. Not something the army normally does. The grounds are wonderfully kept with lots of camping places, all numbered. We found a camp site down by the rough ocean. Previously the road had been washed away and sand hills built on top so we camped at the end of the road wondering if we’d be moved along…..
Had a quick walk down to the water and got sand blasted. The foam from the seas crashing on the beach was being picked up and tossed around. Quite pretty. Nice to see the ocean with a bit of personality!

2017-12-16 Day 226 Sat

It rained gently during the night and the air was nice and cool. We sat around doing some Internet work.

The water was oozing out of the sand all round us. I guess the beach is not so far below the surrounding land, It again looked like the tide had been in but we think just the water running down the beach gave this impression. Small rivers were running down to the sea across and along the beach to the ocean.

We asked a couple sitting beside their car on the beach if we can drive to next town. No problems so off we went. The smoothest “road” we had had in a long time. We arrived close to the next town in about 9km’s but there were lots of people taking advantage of the beach so we turned and headed back until we were alone again and camped on an empty beach again.

We had another swim in the dirty colored ocean.

2017-12-15 Day 225 Fri

I had forgotten to skip last night before my shower so I went out onto the dewy grass and did my 500 skips. Much harder than the other day. Lets hope I can maintain some routine with it for a few months.

We were planning on going back the way we had come even though there was no “private property” sign or lock. A car arrived from our direction so I jumped out to ask if we could pass through? An emphatic 'yes!' and 5 mins of directions on which turns to take. All I think I got was 4th turn and it’ll be dirt road.

So we continued on. A fantastic place, quiet with lots of birdlife and cattle. (like this pair of burrowing owls). Several power poles had been burnt from a short across the insulator connecting the wire to the pole , so they have burned down from the top.

John had to open about 20 gates but it was worth it (says the driver). We got to a very sandy patch which EC coped with admirably but the next section was a bit sketchy so put her in 4 wheel drive. We did get through OK but in places it was touch and go. We still had 65psi in the tyres so were not unduly worried. 4 Hrs for 36 fantastic km’s Our best drive in quite a while.

Back onto the main road where we found a nice little lagoon for lunch. Continued on down the coast and came to the biggest wind farm we had come across about 300 wind mills… they just went on and on.

Arrived at the beach and as the map indicated the beach is used for a road. So we drove up the beach a way till we had the beach to ourselves and parked up above the high tide mark near the dunes.

A strange beach; we had trouble working out where the high tide line was because although we could see it half way up the beach the whole beach was wet.

The wind was strong and dry sand was blowing along the beach. Not so nice to be out in it.

2017-12-14 Day 224 Thu

Headed off south about 10am. As we got to the little town of Mostardas, back on the yellow road, we got EC washed B$60 (A$25) finally got all the dirt off the last month. We had meant to clean her before our stay at the Sheraton but did not find a wash place.

Not sure if we’ll cross on ferry today or not. A camper passed us with horn blaring so assumed the guys from yesterday. As we arrived into Sao Jose do Norte we passed about 40 trucks parked in the middle of the street. Probably awaiting the ferry. We asked at a garage where to line up. The guy spoke quite good English so that made it easy. He showed us the line and we were told the ferry would be 2 hours. We got in the line and John started cooking lunch. The other camper parked 4 cars behind us. They had gone to the bank but the machine was empty. Seems like the cost of the ferry should be R$33. We only have R$107 but if bank is empty I guess we just hope. A young guy in the car behind us was very interested in EC and we chatted for a while. He was adamant that the roads in Brazil are the worst in the world. I tried to say that we had been on far worse in South America and a lot in Australia are not paved but he didn’t seem to agree….

We are getting the feeling that Brazilians are not proud of their country. Very unsafe, Lots of crime, roads of very poor quality; really quite strange… The slice of Brazil that we have seen exhibited impressive agriculture and friendly people.

We were half way through cooking lunch and needed to embark on ferry. A quick pack and drop lid, pay our R$100 (yes I forgot we were foreigners) and onto the ferry. It was interesting that two ferries were in; one for cars the other for trucks. Strange that all the trucks we saw in town were not on the truck ferry. Our car ferry was full but I don’t think the truck ferry was. Both ferries were driven by a tug lashed on alongside. Interesting. Once we were outside the small harbor the tug let go its stern warp and swung around so it was now going forwards and we were facing forwards. However, as the tugs bow was just a little in front of EC I needed to close my window so I didn't get wet. Finished cooking stir fry and we ate our pork curry rice and stir fry on the way across the inlet; about a 30min trip.

After the crossing to Rio Grande we found a bank, had to do a big circuit as no parking near by. Got some more cash as down to A$3. Then wondered out to the start of a breakwater channel that extends over 3.5km’s out into the ocean. There is another one on the other headland. There was no road on this side only rail so we sat on the beach watching numerous cars become bogged in the sand. Did the dishes and put EC to bed properly. It appeared that two guys make their living in helping the unwary out of the sand. Not sure what they charge but while we were there they helped about 4 cars out.
South again. We needed to travel on the main highway with all the trucks but soon got onto a white. Within the first 100m we started seeing wildlife. Birds of all types some we were familiar with some we were not. A few capybaras and one with 4 teenage.

The road became a track then just grass but raised above the water. Lots of bird life we just kept stopping and at 5pm after 18kms we came to a shut gate so camped there the night. A lovely quiet night , surprisingly with no mosquito.

2017-12-13 Day 223 Wed

Still blowing hard. The wind had swept all our foot prints away from near the steps. Had a chat with muff and puff and a talk with Cynthia.

Just before we left John took  this photo of the small dune created by the sand settling in the lee of the tyre.

Drove out and 120km’s further south. The drive to the coast was just on a sand road. At one stage there were poles to keep you on the road. Small sand dunes were across the road in places. As we were traveling slow we needed 4 wheel drive to get us out of one.

Found another spot on a similar looking beach at Balneario Mostardense, still windy. Just sat there for a few hours doing some computer work. I had a couple of wee naps. For some reason I’m very tired. A Brazillian guy and gal came and chatted to john, they are in a camper van for a month. They had got stuck on the road and had needed help to get out of a dune.
They are heading for Montevideo as well.

Drove a short way inland till we had Internet connection. John managed his call to the bank and then a call to Cynthia.

Decided to drive down the old road for a way and hide behind a dune for the night. Not so much wind blowing sand about here. Nice to be able to have a quilt on our sheet at night. I nice temperature at night now.

2017-12-12 Day 222 Tue

We slept in a little and left the Sheraton about 11:00hrs. As John was leaving the bell hop told him that he was amazed at the number of people who stopped to photograph the vehicle.

Drove East and stopped at a supermarket to get some fresh supplies then continued on East (100km's) and camped on a very windswept beach.

We had a walk along the beach which was very flat with only a shallow gradient well out to sea. The water and whitecaps were very brown, I assume from the stirred up sand. Further out glimpses of green ocean could be seen.
John dipped his toes into the Atlantic ocean for the first time.

Some guys were using a truck to pull a net in, all we saw was 2 small fish (kept) and 5 drowned crabs (discarded). They took the net in and put it on the truck while leaving an anchor out, with a line on and the other end tied fast to the pole on the dune line

A couple of times in the evening, EC dropped a few inches as the wind swept the sand from around her tyres leaving her on pinnacles of sand that would finally collapse under her weight..

2017-12-11 Day 221 Mon

John was up early for a few phone calls back to Aus. We had a lunch in the restaurant in the foyer of the Sheraton. We got to watch lots of people take second looks at EC or stop to take photos. Quite amazing how many guys were interested in her.
John has been told that the business room is unavailable during the night and the only option was to upgrade room so he can make his call in privacy and I can sleep. We moved rooms about 3pm

John had an afternoon nap and prepared for his calls. His video conference started well then quality dropped. He reverted to using the phone on a conference call and gave up with 2 hours to go.

2017-12-10 Day 220 Sun

Had a walk in the park. As we walked we could hear a noise that increased in volume as we got closer. I was thinking a pond overfull with croaking frogs and John was thinking of a machine harvester (that had never been oiled) or Winton raceway (v8 cars) from a distance. Suddenly we realized we were close and the noise was above us. We then spotted a couple of monkeys.

They became aware of us and fell into silence. One was very large and the other smaller, we guessed male and female. We watched them for a while then continued to the waterfall. When we came back the apes were still in the trees near the track.

We met some of the biologists from the previous evening and told them where to find the apes. Off they went.

Half way back we heard the apes start up their racket again.

We got back to the vehicle and started to pack to make our way to the gate by 12:00hrs. The biologists arrived back, they didn't see the apes as they had found a large snake; and after prodding it decided walking was to dangerous and headed back.
Adriana and her boss arrived and we showed photos and talked about our trip till John realized we had 5 mins to drive to the gate. Threw things together, dropped the lid, and raced for the gate. We were 9 mins late. Parked outside the park and had a sandwich for lunch and packed EC properly.

The drive in places was very pretty. We drove down an avenue of trees and at one stage the road was lined with Hydrangeas.
Drove on orange most of the way to Porto Alegre. There certainly are very strange and terrifying intersections here. With good luck we didn’t make any false turns and arrived promptly outside the Sheraton. In our concerted effort to arrive we had forgotten to dump rubbish, empty toilet and a few other things.

Got to park straight outside the hotel. Went out for dinner and ate at a vegetarian place. Fantastic food, lots of creativity. John tested the business room for call quality and the test went well with Loretta.

2017-12-09 Day 219 Sat

A sunny day. John had picked a great place to camp and the view was expansive. Spent some time inside, then as the fog was about to roll in (from inland to our surprise) we crossed the farmers paddock to get a view from another point. Despite being at the highest spot around, the land was sodden. The view was not as good so returned before we lost EC in the fog. The fog didn’t last long and thinned quite quickly.

Drove up to the aerials for a better view before driving out.

John chose an ecological park for us to camp in. We arrived about 16:40hrs when the guard was locking the gate. He let us in so we followed him to the management office. Cost us A$40 to stay the night. There was a group of scouts here as well. Met a group of biologist of which one had good English. We went for a short walk with them up one of the trails. It was great as they could identify the foot prints for us and tell us about the trees, animals and environment. we then had a look at the bat they had caught as they are studying the small bats in the area.

We walked past many of these Tarantula's. They were not as big as the black spiders we had seen on the roads.

We camped near one of the lakes. A bus load of uni students arrived as well. The park had about a dozen huts and is used for research and education.

2017-12-08 Day 218 Fri

We were heading for the escarpment as the geology on the map looks really interesting. Again we tried to stay on yellow and orange roads. It was about 300km’s and we did feel that we had had a big day.

We came across big acreage of apple orchards they just marched on for km's. Some just freshly planted thru to well developed trees.

We stopped at a waterfall for a quick look. Had to walk over a farmers property but he had a special gateway so it looked ok. The paddock was very wet.

As we continued the last few km’s it started to become foggy.

As we turned towards the escarpment a farmer stopped us to say road was blocked, I thanked him and said we’d send the night and come out in the morning.

We found the end of the road and camped on the verge with what we hoped would be a great view in the morning. Our visibility was about 10m.

2017-12-07 Day 217 Thu

Once again we tried to stay away from the main roads. Rhe roads we traveled were quite damaged by the weight of the trucks passing.

We saw two animals get chased from the road by a car and realized that they were trying to rescue their young who had been hit. We stopped and the car behind was a little annoyed. John was not quick enough to get a photo of the parents (raccoons perhaps). We drove on and the guy from the car behind got out and picking the young one up by the tail carried it over to the road side.

We were traveling lots of steep little hills and followed a truck who’s brakes were smoking.

We ran into a downpour just before we arrived at another hydro-electricity dam, we camped at the far end of the wall. The air has become quite cool so we had a hot chocolate followed by a hot shower. First in a month or so. Nice not being really hot and sticky all the time.

2017-12-06 Day 216 Wed

I awoke to the school bus passing at 06:30hrs. Must be a community at the end of this road. Rang Muff and Puff and had a good chat catching up on the news. Also had a call to Cynthia, best call quality we have had in Brazil so far.

We tried to stay on yellow roads or orange roads to stay away from the traffic. We had a good run with most of the roads being of good quality with little traffic.
Crossed another Dam wall. There is certainly a lot of water around here.
Found some loop white roads and travel them looking for a suitable camp did not find one so continued to the next.

Finally found a site in a quarry with a bit of a view. It rained quite hard in the night so happy for the rocky camp.

2017-12-05 Day 215 Tue

Chatted to the couple in the combi for a couple of hours. They have spent one year traveling Brazil.

The roads here have very strange roundabouts and intersections. The roundabouts have stop signs in them giving the right of way to the main road. So confusing!

These parks we have stayed in and seeing are wonderfully set up with fire place, bench, sink and running water. We have discovered that they were built by the company that owns the power station. I guess as part compensation for flooding the valleys and moving people out.

Off to the border of Paraguay. Stopped at a supermarket to spend the last of our Brazilian money. Then on to the border. 

Crossed out of Brazil; discovered we had no visa for Paraguay; so got into the queue to cross back took us about an hour then we had to get our passports stamped and a new Aduana for EC.

There is a lot of traffic crossing this border. Most do not clear customs in either direction. Some on return to Brazil have electrical goods to declare and get to pay 50% on its value. The customs appear to hold all goods to process it and put into big boxes. The owner then returns and pays the taxes and takes it home. It is still cheaper than buying locally in Brazil. This is only for private use. If the person is suspected of selling on the goods they are then confiscated and auctioned, donated to a good cause or destroyed.

Drove up a side road which was cobbled with flat sharp edged stones. When the cobbled road turned to the right we continued straight on a dirt road and found a camp site perched over the gutter and hard up against the trees. A quiet night.

2017-12-04 Day 214 Mon

Drove out to the car park at the falls, bought our ticket and were on the first bus at 0900hrs.

The falls were majestic and plentiful. The 1.5 km walk gave a fantastic view of the hundreds of falls - some small some huge. Most of the falls were on the Argentina side, but that was good as we could see them all.

The end of the trail had a walk way out into the shallows below one fall, and above the other. Got a little wet with the spray but a great viewing spot.

Didn't have a great view of the devil throat fall that is best from the other side. The site was beginning to get crowded as we retired from this magnificent spectacle. A very relaxed type of tourist attraction, buses left every ten minutes to return to the park entrance. Very easy to grab a bus when one had had enough.

Next stop, the biggest hydro power generating plant in the world, since installing last two turbines in 2007 it has exceeded the output of the 3 dams venture in China in 2015 & 2016