After much long driving from the eastern side of Uruguay, all across the Pampas to the edge of the Andes, we arrived for New Years Eve at the home of the Suzy the Kombi (Rose & Charly) ! It was just super to see my old friend again, though it was having some mechanical problems (no engine) after a massive trip all over Brasil and Argentina for one year. After arriving in the town, Villa La Angostura, I decided it was time to never leave again. So like the last time I saw Suzy, I refused to start. No dead battery trick this time; instead I just cut the entire electrical system. Lots of fun was had as we spent the night next to Suzy. The next day, the slaves were confused with the no start situation, but once again they figured out a way to push start me. Rose's father decided to drive me around the town with everyone in the back. So as Curt was in the back for the first time, I decided to give him some music; clunk, clunk, clunk. Just a little something to worry him as payback for starting me when I most assuredly wanted to stay. After a few days, the slaves gave up trying to coax me into behaving, and we went to San Carlos de Bariloche for some mechanic time! Once we hit the streets, Curt flagged down the first LR Defender he saw and got a recommendation on a top notch mechanic; Beto. Beto changed my rear shock absorbers, my alternator, and greased my U-joints. It was a great day, so we headed on to El Bolson for the night.
It was a lovely day at Santa Teresa PN and we were all set up for camping. Everything was going great, I was even playing nice with the batteries and the excessive fridge/lights usage. All of a sudden there is a big ruckus to pack everything up and drive to the border town of Chuy; instead of enjoying the beach, the slaves though it would be a good use of a day to drive to fill up on cheap Brasilian diesel.
After the diesel was purchased, the slaves had some mix up at the immigration controls and had to wait 5 hours in the parking lot. Along came the famous Hans whom they passed the time with while the immigration staff changed shifts. I wasn't privy to what happened the office, but all of a sudden we were off like a rocket in the wrong direction for the Brasilian border and across into Brasil without stopping for anything. It was dark, nearing midnight and we just kept going; which is something I do not like to do. So I prepared a little surprise for the slaves. I knew they had no Brasilian money so when all of sudden a toll booth appeared on the road, I disabled the clutch. Curt's face was white as he tried to get us stopped heading at 100 km/h into the the toll booth with no clutch. He showed me that he wasn't so stupid after all when he down shifted without a clutch from 5th all the way to 1st and got us into a crawl speed; just enough for him to yell out the window that we had no money to pay and we could not stop so open the gate! At the other side of the gate Curt turned off the engine, knowing full well that I was not going to be moving again; stuck in the middle of the highway at midnight. Much to my surprise, a few minutes later I was up on a platform truck and racing down the highway to an unknown location! Finally I was deposited with the slaves at a fuel station for the night. That was a little scary, so after Curt gave me a full bottle of clutch fluid, I smartened up a little and gave him just the minimal amount of clutch action to move us.
The next day we headed to another border crossing and entered into Uruguay again without issue. Then we started to follow the GPS across some off road conditions for many hours. All of a sudden the GPS indicated there was a ferry ahead! What? In the middle of a farmer's field? Two minutes later the dirt road ended without warning on the bank of a river. But there wasn't a ferry in sight. Out of the forest popped an old gnome with a long white beard and only shorts to say hello. He said the ferry man was having lunch and to pass the time would we like to see his home. Curt followed the gnome into the bushes to see a cot bed covered with a tarp and a fire pit. They man had lived there 18 years.
The ferry man arrived from lunch and told us we were very lucky to be on the ferry now, because the price doubled in the evening to 50 cents because of all the traffic (2 per hour). With all this new outlook on life, I decided to behave myself and let the clutch function enough to get us back to the campground, the waiting chairs, and Hans. The slaves rewarded me with a campground overhaul of my clutch master cylinder. I liked the sound of that.
Today after being left for dead for over a year, a slave arrived bearing gifts! I've been in a dark dirty parking garage with many other cast-offs. My tires had all flattened, my oil was unstirred, and I was covered in layers of dust. But when Curt hooked up my battery cables, I showed my appreciation and started up on the first turn of the starter. Tires were pumped up with my on-board compressor, and then we headed over to Santa Ana; a place where I'm a pretty famous visitor. We took a spin past Horst's place where I once spent a week in 2009. Horst & Barbara had moved to Germany and sold their house. We headed over to the campground where I had spent a week with Hans & Bente in 2011. At the campground Curt unveiled a big surprise for me: a new fridge/freezer. He had brought a 43L fridge as his baggage on the plane from New York just for me. The old 3 way fridge was given away and I was the proud owner of low power consumption compressor fridge! Curt told me this was not a gift, it was his way of eliminating one of my favorite tricks; running the batteries dead with 15 minutes of fridge usage.