Monday, March 30, 2020

Sign the Documents Day, Curitiba Brazil – 21 May 2018

21 May 2018 – I will walk to the Mundial Import and Export Solutions building today and find their office in the building. This building has many floors and if I can’t find the floor directory of the building, I may have a problem. If all fails, I have their business card and I can ask around till I find their office. I gathered up all my motorcycle documents and started off to Mundial Import and Export Solutions building. I took my directions along from yesterday just in case I might forget the street names. I pretty much remembered the route but once I got to the large intersection, I had to watch how people were getting through it. You just had to be careful. The local people didn’t have a problem, just me. Anyway, a little more practice and I’ll be just as good as the locals.

I arrived at the building and walked in. I scanned around the small entryway. I didn’t see a floor directory right off. Someone nudged me and said something. I didn’t understand him and showed him the business card. He motioned that it was up on the second floor. I could take the elevator or the steps. I took the steps, always looking for any sign of the office. Then I came to the door with a large “2” on it. I open it and looked in. There it was, two glass doors with green writing that spelled out, “Mundial Import and Export Solutions.”

Before entering the office, I saw the first hurdle I had to jump. The front door receptionist. I had to communicate to her that I wanted to see Vinicuis Mendes about flying / shipping a motorcycle to Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. I also told her I didn’t speak any Portuguese. I’m sure I used my cell phone translator for this. She in turn told me to have a chair and wait. She called someone and I sat and waited for about 15 minutes. Eventually Vinicius and Yazmin came into the lobby. They introduced themselves to me, and I to them. They were very cordial and invited me into a conference room. Yazmin spoke very good English and Vinicius not as well. When I spoke, I spoke very slowly for them, with no slang. It's not easy to not use American slang in normal conversation.

They asked for all the information on my motorcycle and I provided it. They needed the name of my representative in Brazil, the original title… copies, my border crossing paper work and the address in Los Angeles, California and my representative in Los Angeles, California. I provided all of it and they made copies of all of it. When we finished with all of that, they started putting together an Air Way Bill and pricing. Everyone was happy. Yazmin told me I had to sign, let's say, a release form that had to be Notarized and registered with the City of Curitiba, Brazil. I think it gave permission for Mundial Import and Export Solutions to ship my motorcycle and handle all the paperwork. It was a formality because I had to sign it in front of witnesses.

We left the office and went across the street to a government office to handle this formality. We almost get to the window and Yazmin realized she had forgotten her Identification. She had to make a hasty trip back to her office to get her identification before we could move forward. We had been standing in line for about 30 minutes before she realized it. She felt bad about that but I wasn’t too worried about it. I had been standing in lines for hours, maybe weeks, since the start of my trip. We got all the paperwork taken care of and all was well. It was almost 12:00 p.m. when we walked back to her building and parted ways.

I returned to the hotel and left a note with the receptionist that I was expecting James Meurer Sr. at about 2:00 p.m. I asked them to call my room when he arrived. At 2:00 p.m., the receptionist called me and let me know James Sr. had arrived. I went down to the lobby and met with him. I told him I needed to go back to my room and get all my motorcycle paperwork and then we’d leave for Mundial Import and Export Solutions. I asked James Sr. to represent me in case I needed someone to speak or translate Portuguese for me when no one spoke English.

We met with Vinicius Mendes and Evelyn Stinglin again. The final price was established for shipping the motorcycle and all the paperwork was completed and signed. All money transactions were going to be handled by electronic bank transfer in Brasilian Reals currency. The wheels were set in motion and everything was looking good. Tomorrow I was scheduled to deliver my motorcycle to the Aeroporto Internacional – Terminal de Cargas – Importacao / Exportacao. Things were looking up.

We walked from the Mundial Import and Export Building to James Sr.’s Apartment Building.

He introduced me to the Security Guard who controlled the wrought iron car gate. He also showed me where to park tomorrow on spot #6 or #8. I can’t remember because the number has been rubbed / worn off. He then gave me a tour of his apartment and told me everything I needed to know about it. He also stated that the apartment didn’t have wi-fi. We left the apartment building and walked over to the near by shopping mall. It was called the Mueller Shopping Center. We took a walkabout and James Sr.’s showed me where I could by airplane tickets, exchange money, the food court and where to sit to get free wi-fi.

As we were leaving the shopping mall James Sr. recommended a good restaurant. So, we walked over to see what’s being served. They were serving pizza. James Sr. said, I know a better restaurant out near the Walmart Store. It was a Brasilian Steak House. We ate our fill and I mean over fill. On the way back to the apartment / hotel we stopped in the Walmart store. One of James Sr.’s favorite. I purchased some luggage tags for my bags when I fly back to the U.S.A. We then returned back to the truck parking lot and I walked back to the hotel. Oh boy, what a day.

Dry Run, Curitiba, Brazil – 20 May 2018

20 May 2018 – Hotel IBIS, like the previous hotel I stayed in, also provided a very good breakfast, which I was grateful for. The brain always works better on a full stomach. Today I’m going to plan my route to my shipment broker's building “Mundial Import and Export Solutions” and to James Sr’s. apartment. I looked up both of the addresses on Google Maps. I’m going to walk to both of these buildings so tomorrow when I visit them, I won’t get lost. I wrote down all the names of the streets to the different addresses and started off walking.

Much to my surprise, my broker's building was only 5/8’s of a mile / 1 Kilometer away from my hotel. I was expecting about a 2.5 Miles / 4 Kilometers walk. Only one intersection was a little tricky. I think four streets came together and the street signs were a little goofy. It made the intersection difficult to navigate but I made it thru ok without getting run down by a car or bus. I found the Mundial Import and Export Solutions building ok. It was Sunday so it was locked up. This building was right downtown near the City Center Plaza. I made a mental note of where the building was and set off to find James Sr. apartment building. I don’t think I walked much more than .62 Miles / 1 Kilometer either before I found the building. It was quite tall and had 9 or 10 floors. I also made a mental note where that was.

I returned to the hotel to think about what I needed for tomorrow when I speak to the import / export broker. During my walking I was looking for anywhere I could buy food. I would probably be getting hungry later in the evening. I never found the perfect street vendor or restaurant. Just a side note about Google Maps. I still say what you see on Google Maps never seems to match the streets once you start walking or driving on them.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hotel Hide and Seek, Curitiba, Brazil – 19 May 2018

19 May 2018 – I left Irati for Curitiba to make preparations to ship my motorcycle back to the United States. I didn’t leave before I ate a filling breakfast. Man, this hotel has the best breakfasts. Anyway, I got my bike loaded and checked my room that I didn’t leave anything behind. I was off into the unknown again. The route to Curitiba was kind of short and quite easy to drive. I entered into the city maybe 5 Miles / 8 Kilometers later and found a safe area alongside the road to park. I didn’t want to get hit by a passing car. You know how you always hear about how tourists are injured on their last day of vacation. They're so focused on leaving they get into car accidents or hit by a car crossing a busy street. Hence, I needed a safe parking spot to enter the GPS coordinates of the hotel.

I entered the GPS coordinates and set Blanche to finding my hotel. I safely merged into traffic and followed her directions. I see I’m nearing the hotel within 2 miles / 3Kilometers. I’m excited because I’m getting close and I want to get out of this traffic. Soon I’m less than .62 Mile / 1 Kilometer. I’m closely watching the street signs and where I have to turn. I make a left turn and follow the street. The GPS tells me to turn left on a one-way street going the wrong way. The streets are narrow with very little shoulders. I’m within .4 Miles / .6 Kilometers of the hotel. I could almost throw a stone and hit the hotel. I keep going straight and take the nearest left turn and follow the GPS again. It’s recalculating but not fast enough. I stop on the shoulder to let it recalculate. It’s becoming very apparent my GPS Maps are not current with the streets. I either have old maps or the direction of the traffic has been changed recently.

Finally, Blanche gives me directions and I follow them. I come to the corner and she says, make a right turn on Rua Mateus Leme. My GPS / Blanche is annoying me. The GPS say 300 Feet / 90 Meters to the hotel. I get to the side of the street so traffic can get by and ease up to the corner. I look to the right trying to see the hotel sign. I can’t see it and there’s a lot of fast traffic. This is annoying. I’m thinking and thinking and I get an idea. I waited till the traffic light on Rua Mateus Leme stops all the traffic and then I’ll drive down the street. That way I’m safe from traffic till the traffic light changes again. I saw an open parking spot and jump in. My GPS says, I’m here.  

I parked my motorcycle which takes forever. It’s a slight hill or uneven ground. Getting my kickstand down is a pain. Finally, I can get off this motorcycle and look around for a hotel sign. I’m looking for Hotel Ibis Styles. People are looking at me like who is this stranger in my town. Their looks weren’t mean, just curious. Well, I still don’t see a sign anywhere. I glanced up and there were three small signs / banners about 12 Inches / 30 Centimeters square mounted near the top edge of the window frame. Well, blow me down! Blanche did eventually get me to my destination. I have to check out this parking situation. Maybe they have a time limit I can park here before I get a ticket or, God forbid, be towed away. It looks as though I can park for at least 30 minutes.

I see what looks like the entrance to the hotel. It really isn’t very visible. I just saw a woman carrying luggage in from a taxi. I followed her and then I saw the front door to the hotel. The lady passed thru and I after her. I would say from the sidewalk it was about 20 Yards / 20 Meters to the front door of the hotel. It was kind of enclosed and not very visible. I checked into the hotel. The desk clerk spoke some English which was helpful. I asked about secure parking for my motorcycle. He said it was outside and down another level. The parking was separate from the hotel and all parking issues are handled by the parking attendant. I asked the hotel desk person if he could show me where secure parking was located. He did and introduced me to the parking attendant. He also showed me what entrance to use when driving in etc. etc. 

So, I went back to my motorcycle and checked the traffic. I had to drive backwards into traffic to get to the secure parking entrance. I waited till the traffic light stopped all the traffic and then zipped into the entrance and down into the secure parking area. The parking attendant looked curiously at my motorcycle. I took out my cell phone translator and we talked about my travels. He was genuinely impressed from where I started riding, till I arrived in Curitiba. I showed him the route on my Mexico, Central and South American maps. I also gave him both of my blog cards, which he checked out on his cell phone. The one where I rode my motorcycle around the world and my current blog which I haven’t finished yet. He gave me a good spot to park my motorcycle where I wouldn’t have to worry about a car hitting it.

I started unloading my motorcycle. Two trips later I had my motorcycle unloaded and covered up. While I was unloading my motorcycle, I couldn’t help noticing how close those cars were parked next to each other. I believe they were separated by no more than 12 inches / 30 Centimeters. I’m not kidding, I don’t know how the attendant got in and out of those cars. He was the only one parking the cars and moving them around. Before I went up to my room for the final time, I asked the desk clerk if they had any food. He said they had sandwiches and soft drinks. I purchased a Sprite and two sandwiches. Very expensive. So, I was good for the rest of the night. I started thinking, what are my next steps for tomorrow? How well will I navigate the Brazilian Bureaucracy???

Friday, March 27, 2020

Change in Plans – Irati, Parana, Brazil – 18 May 2018

18 May 2018 – I decided to stay an extra day. I needed to finalize my route out of Brazil into Argentina. I tried to avoid all large cities and just pass through the small towns. I needed to get Blanche, my GPS, up to speed, write down my directions on my gas tank and decide what city I would be staying in tomorrow night.

As I was working, I received an e-mail from James Sr. It said that he located a shipping company that would ship my motorcycle back to the United States from Brazil. It was located in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil. Well, that was quite a surprise. I texted him back and said, I would like to ship my motorcycle out of Curitiba. I asked him if we could me meet at a designated place and could he guide me into the city. That didn’t work out, but he provided me with two hotels where I could stay. Hotel Blumenau and Hotel Ibis Styles. I decided I would stay at Hotel Ibis Styles in Curitiba Centro Civico. The route I planned out of Brazil into Argentina was thrown into the trash can along with all my handwritten notes. I will be planning a new route to the hotel in Curitiba. I planned my route, programmed my GPS, found the GPS coordinates to the hotel and wrote all my directions on the gas tank again. Before the dinner meal in the hotel I had all my travel plans formalized for tomorrow. I knew where I was going and how to get there. Supper was going to taste good tonight. 

Goodbye, Friends! - Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 17 May 2018

17 May 2018 – I checked James Sr.’s house again to make sure that I didn’t leave anything behind. James Sr., Elis, and James Jr. have left already for the store. I set about loading my motorcycle and getting organized. I put on my red riding suit pants and backed my motorcycle out to the curb. I walked back to the house, put on my red jacket, locked the house up and set about leaving. It was a sad moment. I hated to leave but I had to go. I wanted to be back in the United States by 1 June 2018 and I needed to get my dupa in gear. These people fed me and let me stay at their house for a month. I didn’t want to put them out for that long, maybe two weeks. The shipping of my motorcycle gummed up all my best laid plans and in the end it never happened. I walked down the hill from the house out to the gate. I pulled it shut, said good bye to the place / house and locked it. The gate is 8 feet tall / 2-1/2 meters tall. Security is a big concern so everybody lives behind tall fences and gates.

I rode my motorcycle down to the store to say good bye to my friends. James Sr., Elis, James Jr. and Robson. They all saw me off. I asked James Sr. to guide me out of town to a by-pass road so I didn’t have re-ride the road construction I rode into the city. When we got to the by-pass road he stopped and shook my hand. We said our good byes again. He promised he would be in Sturgis, South Dakota again in August. It’s the annual Black Hills Motorcycle Rally. He gave me Voo Livre Cards with the pictures of Jesus and Mother Mary on them. I put them in my top box because I didn’t want to lose them or any of the luck that they may bring.

I straddled my trusty motorcycle and set out toward Irati, Parana, Brazil. It was odd to be out riding again after a month of not riding. I found the hotel I wanted to stay at quite easily. I was staying at Hotel Monte Libano. It was a new hotel with a pleasant staff. The room rate wasn’t excessively high and they provided meals in the evening and a breakfast in the morning. I unloaded my motorcycle and got settled in my room and then started researching routes I wanted to take to Buenos Aires. I never really told James Sr. the route I was planning on taking, just to keep life simple. I wanted to cross into Argentina where I would have least probable problem with my motorcycle title. I have spoken with Dakar Motos and they have stated that the title must be correct beyond a shadow of a doubt. If a discrepancy is found the bike would be impounded in Customs / Aduana. It would be held there till the discrepancy was resolved before it could / would ship to the United States. This is not something I took lightly. I went to bed that night saying, “I’m on the road again.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Preparing to Leave – Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 14 May-16 May 2018

14 May – 16 May 2018 – I continued searching for Air Cargo Shipping Companies and it was becoming very evident that I would not be flying my motorcycle back to Los Angeles, California from Brasil / Brazil. I knew I was facing a decision…..when was I going to leave Telemaco Borba. This was not how I wanted it to work out. I would have to tell James Sr. and Elis and I didn’t want to see the concern on their faces over my safety. James Sr. told me some pretty scary stories about tourists being abducted and killed etc. etc. I also needed to start preparing my routes to Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

I had my oil changed and the tires were good enough to get me to Buenos Aires. So, my motorcycle was ready to go. I had to tie up some loose ends and get my bags packed. I checked all the nooks and crannies so that I didn’t leave anything behind. 

Elis keep me fed. I would walk down to the store at noon and she would have dinner waiting for me. That walk was the best I did to get me back in shape. I had to asked her not to feed me so much. I was gaining weight. I would also swing by my favorite ice cream store and pick up 1 ea. pint / 500 Milliliters for snacking later. I also stocked up on water, bread and Snickers candy bars for my motorcycle. I never knew for sure when my next meal would be. 

James Sr., Elis and I would eat some extense / estendido meals which usually ended with my favorite coconut cake or chocolate cake. During one meal / dinner he videoed us three eating and talking. He said he was saving it in case I ever come back to Telemaco Borba. So, we both could revisit it. He has it stored somewhere on a computer. I have no idea when I might see it again. I was now pretty much ready to leave Telemaco Borba. I have Blanche ready to navigate and my written route taped to my gas tank. I’m ready to leave tomorrow. I went to bed.

Family Dinner – Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 13 May 2018

13 May 2018 – I was thrilled to be invited to Mother’s Day dinner with Elis’ family. I was met at the gate to the home by Elias and cordially invited in. They were a very inviting family despite me not be able to speak a word of Portuguese. Also it was very nice to eat a home cooked meal. I can’t tell you how many times I struggled with my cell phone translator to get a hamburger / hamburguesa to eat. It had been months since I sat down and ate with a family. 

  Everyone ate their fill and were sitting around the living room talking. I asked if I could take a picture. It was ok with everyone. From left to right: Great Grandma Zulmira 97 years old, James Jr. (filho), Sandro, Herminia (Linda), Kelly, DaveR, Elias, Cibele, Elis and James Sr. taking the picture. 

Before we all left, we toured the new home next door. It was a beautiful new construction, all white. It was nice. I could live in it very easily. The first thing I noticed in the kitchen was it had four-plus electrical outlets. I couldn’t believe it. I believe it was Cibele whose forward thinking had those extra outlets installed. Usually most kitchens I was in had only one outlet. I never understood that. I often wondered why when newer homes were built they never installed more than one outlet. It was a beautiful house. 

We eventually all left and on the way back to James Sr.’s house we stopped at a grocery store. Elis was shopping for something and James and I stopped at the sweets counter. He ordered two cakes. He knew I liked both the coconut and chocolate cakes and he wasn’t wrong. When we got home, I dove into the different cakes and ate my fill. I couldn’t resist, and then went to bed happy.

Complications – Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 9 May-12 May 2018

9 May - 12 May 2018 – I pretty much continued on the routine James Jr. and I established. I would go down to the store and eat there at noon. I spoke to James Sr. about shipping my motorcycle out of Curitiba or Sao Paulo. He was thinking I was going to ship my motorcycle back to the United States by ship which would have been quite easy but I told him no, I wanted to fly it to Los Angles, California or maybe Miami, Florida. That definitely complicated things. James Sr. started calling and looking for Air Cargo Shippers out of Curitiba and Sao Paulo. If we found a company or companies that might ship my motorcycle, I would e-mail copies of my passport, motorcycle title and Brazil Motorcycle Import Document requesting a quote to fly my motorcycle to Los Angeles, California or Miami, Florida. Most of the phone calls where we left messages fell on deaf ears or the messages were disregarded. 

Our search went on for two or three days. We also were waiting for return replies from the e-mails. I didn’t realize it at this time, but Brazil was going to be a huge challenge for me.
As my e-mails started coming back to me our hopes were dashed again. The standard reply was, we ship / fly cargo for companies not individuals. No joy here!

The only e-mail that brought any joy was Dakar Motos. They said, give us several days’ notice before arriving so we can have all the scheduling and arrangements completed. The only bad thing is……they're located in Buenos Aires, Argentina about 1,250 Miles / 2000 Kilometers South of Telemaco Borba, Brazil. The more I ponder this dilemma the more I think I will be shipping my motorcycle out of Buenos Aires. I really don’t want to.

Reunion, Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 8 May 2018

8 May 2018 – James Sr. and Elis left on a bus out of Curitiba and arrived in Telemaco Borba late in the afternoon. They didn’t arrive home till after they checked in at the store. I’m sure they were catching up on how things were going at the store and what I was up to since my arrival. It was the first time I saw James Sr. since August 2016 in Sturgis, South Dakota. I met James Sr. and James Jr. on main street during the 2016 76th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I talked with them on Friday and Saturday night and James Sr. invited me to come to Brazil. I have been in contact with them off and on since then. James has been very helpful with suggestions on how to cross the Panama Canal and the best way to communicate while in Mexico, Central and South America. We caught up some and they then went to bed. It was a long day for them and it sure was great to see them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Nice Guy!, Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 7 May 2018

7 May 2018 – I stopped in at Robson’s paint store today. He introduced me to all his employees. He actually has a set of identical twins working for him. That’s kind of amazing. We talked some about motorcycles and then he helped me download the United States Maps for my GPS. He has Wi-Fi in his store so we attempted to use his computer to download the Maps to my GPS. After several failed attempts at downloading the maps we decided my U.S. Garmin GPS did not like his Brazilian laptop computer. I have no idea why. We switched to my computer and eureka the maps down-loaded successfully. I asked him if he knew where I could purchase Yamalube 20W-50 oil. He said it wasn’t sold in Telemaco Borba and had to be purchased in another town nearby. He offered to purchase it for me as he was traveling to that town in the next few days. I said that was great and can you buy me 3 Quarts / 3 Liters please. I wasn’t sure but I may be riding my motorcycle down to Buenos Aires, Argentina to fly my motorcycle back to the U.S.A. I told him I would pay him for the oil and the gas to pick it up for me. 

James Jr. told me his parents arrived in Curitiba today and will stay the night in Curitiba. We could not drive down to pick them up because it was a school day and James Jr.’s uncle drove a school bus for the school system. Tomorrow they will catch a bus from Curitiba back to Telemaco Borba.

A Nonstarter – Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 6 May 2018

6 May 2018 – James Sr. and his wife Elis were to arrive in Curitiba, Brazil today but their flight was cancelled in Miami, Florida. James Jr., his uncle, and I were to going to drive to Curitiba and pick them up at the airport but everything those plans were put on hold. That would have been an interesting trip, too bad it was canceled. I was looking forward to it. They will make new flight arrangements and arrive in Curitiba 7 May 2018.

A Way Out – Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 3 May through 5 May 2018

3 May – 5 May 2018 – James Jr. and I continued our routine except he now was attending night school. I was sitting around and I came up with this idea. It’s not a novel idea but it's a good one. I have been wearing this red riding suit now for six months and I have sweat profusely in it. It hasn’t been washed or cleaned once. James Jr. showed me on the roof of their house they have clothes lines where they dry their clothes. Eureka, I’m going to hang my riding pants and jacket up there in the bleaching sun to dry out. I hung them out before 10:00 a.m. and didn’t take them down till after 5:00 p.m. I made sure they hung in the full sun, no shade. When I took them off the clothes line, they were so stiff they could stand up themselves. I knew I had killed all the bugs that had accumulated in the jacket and pants. When James Jr. came home, he told me that his mother and father were in New Jersey visiting with friends. They would be home in a few days.

I got an e-mail back from Dakar Motos. They said they could ship my motorcycle back to Los Angeles, California. Whew, that was a load off my shoulders. They just needed a ship date and copies of my passport, motorcycle title and Brazil Motorcycle Import Document to start processing the paperwork for the motorcycle shipment. I e-mailed them all the paperwork and told them my departure date had not been established yet. Things were looking up if no arrangements could be made out of Brazil. I’m going to wait till I speak with James Sr. before I decide on whether I will ship my motorcycle out of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

Here's a photo of inside Voo Livre, the store owned by James Sr.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Routine – Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 30 April-2 May 2018

30 April – 2 May 2018 – As the days passed, James Jr. and I kind of fell into this routine: he gets up early and leaves on his bicycle for the store. He is responsible for his dad’s store while his parents are out of town. I get up later and check my computer for e-mail’s and do some research for companies that can fly my motorcycle out of Brazil. James Jr. orders the dinner, then texts me dinner is on the way. I walk down to the store and James and I eat dinner together. Well, that’s supposed to be the way it works but I’m usually a little late. If we walk it’s usually after James Jr. closes the store for the day. On one of our walks we found an ice cream store that sold ice cream in pints. 1 Pint / 500 Milliliter. Frequently when I walked by myself, I would stop and buy 1 pint / 500 Milliliter and eat it when I got home. They also had a food store near their store where I bought apples, bananas and whatever else I might need. His parents are presently traveling in Spain and Morocco. I learned the basics of the city by walking back and forth to the store for dinner. I walk a few different routes which I would take from time to time. I got lost a couple of times and had to use my cell phone to navigate me to the store or back home. 

I worked on the computer some during this time, but somehow, I just couldn’t seem to type or write anything for my blog. I was getting frustrated to the point where I was thinking it would be impossible to ship my motorcycle out of Brazil back to the U.S.A. I sent out several e-mails to shipping companies asking if they could fly my motorcycle back to the U.S.A. If I received a return reply it was usually, no. I began to start thinking I would have to return to Buenos Aires, Argentina to ship my motorcycle out of there. As a precautionary measure I decided to send an e-mail to Dakar Motos and request a quote to fly my motorcycle to Los Angeles, California. I know they will because two of my friends who I met with in Ushuaia, Argentina flew their motorcycles home thru Dakar Motos. They came with high recommendations.

The Price of Being a Slug - Telemaco Borba, Brazil - 29 April 2018

29 April 2018 – James Jr. and I got up and we rode our motorcycles out of the city on PR-239 crossing Tibagi River / Rio Tibagi, past the paper mill and then on to Harmony Club / Harmonia Clube for Brunch. This is a large facility with a dining hall, swimming pool, tennis courts etc. We went inside and chose our food from a buffet. Everything looked really good. You have to remember I mostly ate apples, bananas, peanut butter, bread and Snickers candy bars for the last six months. I met James Jr.’s uncle. I believe he worked as a manager in the restaurant.

After we finished eating, we went outside by our motorcycles and took a couple of pictures. We rode down to the main gate and spoke to another gentleman who worked as security and managed the club grounds etc. He was a Harley-Davidson enthusiast. We talked about Harleys as best we could. I told him I owned a 2010 Harley-Davidson and showed him a picture. We took pictures, shook hands and returned back to the house.

 Later in the day James Jr. recommended we go for a walk or maybe for a run. I said maybe a short walk as I haven’t really walked any distance for over six months. So, we went for a walk. James Jr. tried to walk my legs off. I would guess the walk was about 1.75 miles / 3 Kilometers. My legs really started aching after about 5/8 of a mile / 1 kilometer into the walk. The truth is I really needed some exercise. The only exercise I got was checking in and checking out of hotels. Otherwise all I did for the last six months was sit on my motorcycle.  When we got home my calves were in spasms….threatening to cramp up if you touch them. James Jr. also said walking at night or during the hour of darkness wasn’t really smart or safe. 

Later in the day Robson, a friend of the family stopped by for a visit. Robson could speak English and had been to the United States vacationing / holiday for sure once, maybe twice. We mostly talked about motorcycles and our travels. Robson like to ride his BMW GS Adventure motorcycle long hours and distances. He spoke of riding in Paraguay and Bolivia and said he got a flat tire in Bolivia. God, I hate flat tires they're nothing but a pain. I’m sure he has ridden in more countries than that but I can’t remember them. We also talked about navigational devices. I told him I used a Garmin Zumo 660. It was a pretty good GPS but Blanche my GPS still liked to navigate her way. I hate to say how frustrating that can be when traveling thru foreign cities.

When I rode through Ecuador I found out I didn’t have any GPS maps for the country. Once I crossed the border into Ecuador, Blanche went blank. There was a road under me, and then suddenly there wasn't. That was a rude awakening when you thought you had a map and really you don’t. In that situation, with Mary’s help we downloaded the maps for Ecuador on my Micro SD Card. I thought it would be another file but no, it overwrote the already existing United States maps. The United States maps were gone. No joy here. The only reason I bring this up is because I’m about to leave Brazil and go back to the United States. I would like to have the maps again when I land in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. to navigate out of that city. Robson offered to help me download the maps whenever I get a Micro SD Card. I get free U.S.A. maps for my GPS for life. I told him I would get back with him in a few days. I’m still trying sort out how I’m going to fly my motorcycle out of Brazil.

Arriving in Telemaco Borba, Brazil – 28 April 2018

28 April 2018 – I got up and went downstairs to eat breakfast. The hotel served an excellent breakfast and again the hotel staff was very friendly and helpful. I took my time loading my motorcycle as it was still early. I told James Jr. I wouldn’t arrive till 12:00 / 12:30 p.m. today and I only had to drive 16 Miles / 26 Kilometers to get to Telemaco Borba. I left about 10:30 / 11:00 a.m. with plenty of time to get to Telemaco Borba. As fate would have it, Hwy 160 / PR-239 had road construction on it which included stop and go traffic most of the way to Telemaco Borba. No joy here. I picked my way thru the road construction and eventually arrived at the outskirts of the city. I selected the route in my Gps to James Sr.’s store and then set off to find it. As I neared the street the traffic became more congested and when I turned on to Avenida Horacio Klabin, the traffic stopped. It was a busy Saturday in downtown Telemaco Borba. While I was waiting for the traffic to start moving again someone took my picture.    Whoever took the picture texted it to his friends and asked if anyone knew who I was. They could see I was traveling by the tires loaded on my motorcycle. James Jr. received the texted before I arrived at the store. The traffic started moving again and I found a parking spot I could squeeze into near the store. It was on uneven ground which I hate but I was able to get the kickstand down. I also put my two extra wood supports under it to kept it from falling over to the right.

I walked down the street maybe 50 yards / 50 meters to James Sr.’s store. Before I arrived, James Jr. saw me. It was good to see him. We shook hands and laughed that I had finally arrived in Telemaco Borba. I told him it was a long ride. I could also tell he had lost some weight since I saw him in 2016 in Sturgis, South Dakota. He asked me where I parked my motorcycle. I told him. He said it was illegally parked and I may have problems with the parking police. They patrolled the sidewalks daily looking for violators. He said because it was Saturday, I probably wouldn’t have a problem but you never know. 

James Jr. invited me into their store. The name is “Voo Livre” / Fly Free.    It’s a clothing and shoe store. We talked more about my travels and I then met James Jr.’s Uncle Sandro. He was an uncle on his mother’s side of the family. He also introduced me to some of his Dad’s friends. We talked some more about my travels. Later James Jr. suggested we eat dinner and asked if it was ok if we ate at a buffet near downtown. I said, no problem. James Jr. secured the store and we collected our motorcycles.

We rode over to the buffet and ate. It was a long time since I was able to eat my fill of food. When we finished eating, we rode our motorcycles back to James Sr. and Elis’s home. I parked my motorcycle in the entryway into their home.    James Jr. showed me into their home and where my bedroom was. I unloaded my motorcycle and then sat down and took a break. Later on, James Jr. asked me if I would like to eat dinner / brunch at his dad country club. I said yes. He said we would have to leave before by 11:00 a.m. I said ok. So that was the plan for tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Condiments Are a Problem - Imbau, Brazil– 27 April 2018

27 April 2018 – Time to mobilize. The hotel had a nice breakfast buffet of which I ate heartily, and then I started loading my motorcycle. Jean a member of the hotel staff came out and was interested in my Kawasaki.    He also liked riding motorcycles and was quite enthusiastic about my travels. He spoke some English which was helpful during my stay in the hotel and our present conversation.   We spoke a bit more about my travels and my motorcycles. When I had my bike loaded Jean and I took pictures. I also give him one of my blog cards so he could follow my travels. 

I was off, riding down Hwy 376 toward Imbau. It won’t be a long ride and I should arrive in Imbau by 4:00 p.m. I knew I was coming into the city and was watching for any sign of hotel Chalet / Chale. I was looking for the hotel driveway off of Hwy 376. According to Google Maps there was a driveway into the hotel. Nope, Hwy 376 was scarcely 30 Feet / 10 meters out from the front door of the hotel. I almost blew by it. I was hard on the brakes so I could make it in to the parking lot. The only way I recognized it was because it looked like a Swiss Chalet / Chale. 

Since the internet pictures were taken there has been some road construction around the hotel. I’m guessing the hotel lost some of their property to a 4-lane highway. The hotel was owned by an Asian man who tried very hard to speak English to me. Between his broken English, my pigeon English and my cell phone translator I was checked into the hotel. We also talked some about my travels and I gave him one of my blog cards so he could follow my travels. 

I got my motorcycle unloaded and everything hauled upstairs to my room. I asked about secure parking and was shown where I could park my motorcycle. Before I parked it for the night I adjusted and oiled the chain. I said to myself “I wonder if this is the last time I adjust this chain before I get back to the United States?” I parked the motorcycle, threw the cover over it and went back to my room. The owner of the hotel told me they have an evening meal if I was interested. I will check that out when I start getting hungry about 7:00 p.m.

After spending sometime in the hotel room, I head down to the front desk and asked about eating. The man at front desk was having some problems trying understand me and I was having problems answering his questions. Mainly it had to do with the menu and what was available. We struggled along and eventually I placed my order. His chef / cook was able to cook it up for me. You had to laugh, everybody wanted to help me, but that minuscule of information that couldn’t be communicated always gummed up the works. For example: You order a Hamburger / Hamburguesa. That’s not the problem. The problem is, do you want an onion? Ketchup? Mustard? Lettuce? That is always the problem or the hangup. Anyway, the food was great and I went to bed. Tomorrow, I will hook up with James Jr. at his store. It should be pretty exciting because of have not seen him or his father since August 2016 at Sturgis, South Dakota, U.S.A.

Planning Day – Laranjeries do Sul, Brazil – 25 April 2018

25 April 2018 – I woke up and decided to stayed another two days. I had to hustle because I was cutting it a little close on breakfast. The hotel staff was already cleaning up the breakfast area when I arrived. I still ate a pretty good breakfast. I’ve been in contact with my friends in Telemaco Borba and James Jr. told me on Saturday he will be closing his store at 12:30 p.m. I figure I will try to get to his store just before he closes on Saturday. That way I won’t interrupt the activity in the store too much. Anyway, tomorrow I will be traveling to Imbau and stay the night. I have to work out my route and find a hotel. 

I found the perfect hotel. It’s the Chalet / Chale Hotel at the intersection of Hwy 376 and Hwy 160. It’s 16 Miles / 26 Kilometers to Telemaco Borba. My present hotel is located across the road from an athletic field. I’ve been hearing the voices of 5, 6, and 7 year old children. I looked out my hotel window and saw these children were in training to play soccer / football. They were all dressed up in their uniforms and the coach was running them through these different soccer / football drills. This went on for couple of hours. These kids kind of reminded me of the 6, 7, and 8 year old kids with football pads and helmets trying to learning how to play American football. So, I had my plan for tomorrow put together and it was time to eat another meal of hamburgers / hamburguesas and fries.

What's with the Buns? - Laranjeires do Sul, Brazil - 24 April 2018

24 April 2018 – I awake 8:00 a.m., eat breakfast, load my motorcycle and depart the hotel about 10:00 a.m. I was driving out of the city and waiting for a signal light to change when a Harley-Davidson drove by on the shoulder of the road. This is the best part…… was a 2010 Harley-Davidson CrossBones. It was exactly like mine except it had glossy black paint and mine has the black denim paint. It kind of made my heart go pitter-patter-thud when I saw it. I last rode my CrossBones in August 2017 to Sturgis, South Dakota, U.S.A. The traffic light changed and he was gone. I worked my way out of the city and out on to Hwy 277 to Laranjeires do Sul. It would be a short ride but it was all about getting moving again. 

I arrived at the Garda Hotel about 4:00 p.m. I was unsure if the hotel would have a room or not. It was a very nice looking hotel.    
I got out my cell phone translator and hotel check in cards written in Portuguese. I hope this check in goes smoothly. It turns out everything went smoothly and I got a room. Someone at check-in could speak basic English. They informed me that they served an evening meal which I must purchase, and a complimentary breakfast meal. This hotel just got a 5-star rating from me. I was able to park my motorcycle in a secure parking area and which had a roof over it. Nice. I unloaded my motorcycle and took all my stuff to my room. 

As I was riding my motorcycle to Laranjeires do Sul I realize my motorcycle trip / travels was fast coming to an end. If everything worked out, I should be back in the United States in 21 days plus or minus a day or two. That seemed odd / sad to me because my whole goal was to get to Ushuaia, Argentina which I did and now in a couple of weeks I was leaving for the United States from Brazil. I’ve been on the road now for six months, finding a hotel every night, getting food, changing oil in my motorcycle, crossing international borders, flying my motorcycle in new countries, buying motorcycle insurance for each country, purchasing and exchanging foreign currencies weekly and meeting new people. In a strange way the purpose and the challenge of this motorcycle trip was going away. The focus of my trip now was changing into how do I ship my motorcycle out of Brazil or will I have to go back to Buenos Aires, Argentina to ship it. This seemed a bit daunting. 

Well, time for evening dining. The hotel serves hamburgers / hamburguesa with fries. It came highly recommend and I am starving. I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned this. Every time I order a hamburger / hamburguesa and take the first bite into it, the hamburger / hamburguesa bun falls to pieces. From there on you use a fork and knife to eat the hamburger / hamburguesa. Somehow Mexico, Central and South America need to work on this bun problem. Otherwise the hamburger / hamburguesa tastes great. All around a great hotel, great bed and good food. I went to bed happy.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Kids Are The Same Everywhere - ITAIPU Binacional Hydro-Electric Plant - 23 April 2018

 23 April 2018 – I woke up this morning and quickly wrote a postcard to a former co-worker of mine, Frank. I worked with him for 7 years and considered him a good friend. I wanted to surprise him with a postcard from Brazil. Anyway, once I finished it, I was off to the post office to mail it. It didn’t take me to long because I knew where I was going, unlike the other day. Now we get to the scary part. I walk into the lobby and of course everything is in Portuguese. They have this kiosk which you have to select from 3 buttons the type of help you require. Well………..I can’t read any of it so, I just pick one and hope for the best. Your ticket tells you which window to go to but you have to wait your turn by sitting in the waiting area and watching the monitor. There are no lines in front of the window. When the individual who is being helped is finished, they push a button for the next number to come forward. If you miss seeing your number, you're passed over and the next number / person goes forward. Well, I didn’t miss my number and went to the window. The postal person looked at me and said something. I didn’t understand a word. Then I got the look like “Oh no, I don’t need this trouble / crap today.” When she found out all I needed was a stamp she became a little more friendly. She understood I wanted to send the postcard to the United States, put on the correct postage and pitched it to the correct holding bin. When I say pitched, I mean she turned about 90 degrees in her chair and just flicked it like a frisbee. Kind of like when you're dealing cards. The bin was 6 – 7 Feet / 1.5 – 2.25 Meters away. I said to myself, god I hope that doesn’t get lost and makes it way to the United States (USA). 

I hiked it back the way I came and stopped at the soft ice cream vendor. I purchased a vanilla / chocolate ice cream cone again and sat outside on one of the blue tiled square concrete blocks. You kind of had to hurry to when you ate it because the heat of the day would cause it to melt and cause a mess. You were only given a single thin napkin to wipe up any mess. I was not the only person eating an ice cream cone. A young father and his 4-year-old son were sitting on the next blue concrete block over from me. These concrete blocks were 4 Feet / 1.25 Meters square and about 18 Inches / 45 Centimeters tall. They had finished their cone and were resting. The 4 year old son decided to jump off the block down to the sidewalk and was having a great time doing it. He had a few near misses where he almost bumped his knees. His father had warned him he was going to get hurt. That did not deter him. He also had an audience that was all smiles as he was performing his antics. The more they smiled the braver he got and then the big crash. He must have turned his ankle or skinned one of his knees and was crying. The father wasn’t exactly giving him the attention he wanted. A well-meaning stranger offered to console the young lad and the volume went up. She gave up as the child was not quieting down but getting louder. Another well-meaning person offered to console and the volume hit a new fever pitch. He was beet red from the screaming. The lad was near a melt down and a larger crowd was gathering. All the well-meaning people were whispering how sad, to see the young lad screaming with such intensity. The father, being annoyed with the son’s antics, called grandma who arrived on the scene in minutes. She got out of the car with a small baby blanket and wrapped it around him. In one fell swoop she grabbed and whisked him off to the car. From her arriving on scene to their departure was less than a minute. I left the area when grandma sped away.

I continued on to the hotel and started preparations to leave tomorrow. I needed to decided my route to Telemaco Borba. That will require me to search out this route on my computer. I wish I had a map that would show the different routes I could take instead of looking them up on the computer. Route planning is much easier when I can do that. Well anyway, I’ll get on Google Map and start my search. I decided to make my trip in two days and stick to the major highways. Sometimes in leaving a city where I have stopped and rested for a few days I’m slow to get motivated and usually have a late start. So, the first night I will stop in Laranjeiras do Sul and second night I will stop in Imbau. I can get my route numbers and cities written on my gas tank's masking tape. I also can get my Gps / Blanche programmed. I also need to know my route out of this city. With all of the above pretty much completed I got myself ready for the taxi ride out to the Itaipu Binacional hydro-electric power plant.
I needed money to pay to get in, cell phone, camera and my motorcycle riding boots. You can’t go on the tour into the plant with open toe or tennis shoes. I went downstairs and told the front desk I will be waiting in the lobby for the taxi cab driver which they acknowledged. They also asked if I had the correct shoes on to get into the plant. I drank a Coke while I waited and right at 3:00 p.m. the taxi cab driver walked in the front door of the hotel. The front desk called me over and we settled how I was going to pay for the taxi fare. The taxi cab driver also checked to see if I had on the correct shoes to go into the hydro-electric power plant. I checked out ok and we were off.

On the way to the power plant the driver attempted to speak with me. I couldn’t understand a word. When we arrived, he made a strong point with his watch that he was leaving and would be back to pick me up at 7:00 p.m. sharp. He then directed me to the ticket office and then reminded me again that at 7:00 p.m. he would be back. I assured him I would be waiting. I purchased a ticket for a plant tour which included an English speaking tour guide. That was helpful and nice. I was off to the waiting room where people congregated before the video was shown.   

It demonstrated and showed how the hydro-electric plant was built. The room had a cutaway of how the water flowed through the turbine and various pictures taken during construction. Most of the pictures were sequential showing the start of the project, earth moving, pouring of the concrete, the 1st turbine and generator installed and an aerial photo of the completed plant. The video was also in English. We English speaking people were the last tour of the day. 

In the video it said ITAIPU Binacional Hydro-Electric Plant was the largest in the world. As of 2012 the Three Gorges Dam in China took over the #1 spot of the largest hydro-electric plant replacing the ITAIPU Binacional now in 2nd place. Anyway, you look at it……’s an impressive place. Here’s a little more info about the ITAIPU Binacional. The ITAIPU name comes from Guarani language and means “The Sounding Stone”. It’s constructed on the Parana River located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. ITAIPU Binacional is owned by Brazil and Paraguay. Each country receives 50% of the electricity produced from it's 20 generator units. The daily flow of water for two turbines / generators is roughly equivalent to the daily average flow of water over the Iguacu Falls. That’s the same falls I toured yesterday. That’s an impressive amount of water passing through those 20 turbines / generators daily. When the video was over, we were direct out to the tour bus. But before we can get on we must be checked for weapons. Guess what? I had my Swiss Army knife with me and security found it. Immediately they said I had a switch blade and it had to be confiscated. My blood just boiled. After the ruckus settled down, they said they would hold it till the tour was over and then I could reclaim it. I didn’t say anymore and got on the bus. Had they truly kept my knife I would have left the tour and asked for my knife back. There was no joy here. 

We did tour the hydro-electric plant. It’s huge, and I mean huge. The concrete in the whole plant had a low-level vibration in it and you could hear a slight sound of rushing water. We toured past the control room where they monitor the rpm’s / revolutions per minutes of each generator. The rpm’s must be maintained otherwise the 50 Hz / 60 Hz (Cycles per Second) will vary affecting the operation of electric clocks, electric motors and all other sorts of other electrical devices. Clocks will slow down or speed up and electric motors will speed up or slow down. This will also affect their output power. I’m sure that it’s only one of many things that is monitored in there. In the hallway outside the control room was a yellow line and it divided the hallway. It’s the International Border between Paraguay and Brazil. On one side you’re standing in Paraguay and the other you’re in Brazil. I took a picture of my feet one on each side of the line.  

  From there we took the elevator down to one of the generators / turbines. We could see the spinning shaft between the turbine and generator. I would say the shaft was 1 Yard / 1 Meter in diameter. I steadied myself and looked at the spinning shaft to see if there was any visible run out in it. I didn’t see any and the finish on this shaft indicated somebody had their feeds and speeds (machining terms) correct when the shaft was turned. I asked the tour guide who did the machining work for the power plant and he said the Germans did. I would guess not all the machining was done outside the country, just the work that required large industrial lathes, milling machines and grinders. I just had a feeling Brazil didn’t have this equipment or capability. I think someone asked how often the bearings were changed in the turbines and generators. I think the reply was something like X amount of 1000’s of hours of operation. There are 8766 hours in a year. They keep two generators shut down and ready to operate when maintenance is preformed on any of the 18 other generators or turbines. I’m sure the control room keeps track of this and schedules regular maintenance. A German lady asked a real good technical question about the maintenance of the turbines, generators or something. I can’t remember what the questions was, but I said to myself I got to find out what she does for a living. 

If you look at the large red circles on the floor in the pictures, underneath each of these red circles is a turbine and generator. If maintenance is required on a turbine or generator a hoist is position over the top of the opening and can lift out the generator, turbine or both. The tour continued on to the outside of the plant. I had an opportunity to talk with the German lady (Michaela). She said she was a surveyor and didn’t go into any details at the time we spoke. When we walked outside, I had my picture taken under the sign of ITAIPU Binacional. It looks pretty good.   We could take more pictures of anything outside on the backside of the dam. You can see the water pipes that feed the turbines of the power plant. They're huge.  
 We got back on the bus again and we toured around the spillways and back waters of the dam. This whole dam operation employs over 3000+ people. I know if I was looking for a job, I would want a job working in that hydro-electric plant. It’s clean and I’m sure it provides a steady income. While touring around with the bus I had another opportunity to speak with Michaela. This time she told me, she works as a surveyor in some capacity on the Brenner Base Tunnel. This tunnel is to reduce heavy-load traffic (i.e. truck traffic) off the roads going over the mountains to rail traffic going through the mountains. It will be constructed between Innsbruck, Austria and Fortezza, Italy. It will become the second longest tunnel in the world with a planned length of 35 Miles / 56 Kilometers. We eventually returned to the tourist center and one of the tourist people came running over to give my Swiss Army Knife back. I thanked her for the return of it. I’m glad they remembered.

I asked Michaela if I could take her picture. She said yes. I took her picture by the sign which says, “Amaior Usina do Mundo” / “World’s Largest Power Plant”. She was one of the first English speaking people I talked to since I left Ushuaia, Argentina. She also had been traveling in Argentina and Brazil. We were laughing about some of the experiences we encountered in our travels. We were mostly laughing about our language problems and you really can’t understand it till it happens to you. Anyway, I saw the taxi cab arrive. We talked a few more moments, shook hands and I was off to my taxi. It was nice to speak to someone in English. 



I arrived back at the hotel and set about getting myself ready to leave the hotel tomorrow. I checked over my motorcycle and loaded up anything I could put in my boxes. I then hiked over to the convenience store where I bought water, apples, and candy bars. I needed to resupply my water for my trip tomorrow. While in the store, the store keeper's son was there. When he found out I was from the United States (USA) he started speaking English to me. His English was American English not the Queen's English (England). I asked him where he learned to speak English. He said, his father and he were Lebanese and that he learned English from the American G.I.’s that had a base near his home. They immigrated to Brazil in the not too distant past. We were talking and they wanted to know where I lived in the United States. I took out my United States map and showed them. Then I showed them a picture of the house I lived in. I showed his father first and then the son. Guess what the first words out of the father’s mouth was? You have no fence around your house! People can break into it and steal your property! All through Mexico, Central and South America, if you own a nice home you have a brick wall / fence with concertina wire and broken glass on the top of it to keep the bad guys out. Some people even have live electrical wires running through the concertina wire. He assumed all houses and businesses must have security walls, but that was not the case in the United States (USA). I left there with my water and went back to the hotel to finish packing for tomorrow's departure. I also notified my friends in Telemaco Borba that I was departing Foz do Iguacu.

Here are some pictures from my hotel room.