22 Apr 2018

A New Lease of Life

My apologies if the last blog was not up to its normal standards, but I was somewhat concerned about events occurring with the cruiser. As well as the steering problem we had re-broken a bracket on the rear suspension (one that had already been welded in Peru) and also needed fuel filters and front brake pads changing, so Hans took me to the garage that was currently repairing the radiator on his Land Rover.

The mechanics cleaned the oil from the steering box, identified where the leek was coming from and said they were believed they could fix it and that although Toyota did not have the appropriate seals they were confident that a specialist company could match all of the seals and O rings with those from other manufacturers. I confess I was very dubious but agreed to let them go ahead. They said they would need to keep it for 2 or 3 days so Hans let us stay in the spare room in his house (actually a converted barn) for the same price as camping (all 6 rooms in the hotel were occupied anyway so worked out very well for us.

Two days later Hans took me down to see how they were doing with both vehicles and my steering box was spread out on a bench (and was a lot bigger and heavier than I realised).
Next afternoon they called to say the steering box was finished, they had made a new bracket to replace the broken one and changed the front pads, but would not have the filters changed until the following morning.

On the morning of day 4 I picked up the truck and took it on an 85 mile trip into the mountains with quite a few bends and although there was no apparent leak the level had dropped and needed topping up! The hope was that there was air trapped in the system and that all of the bends had managed to purge the system, so the day after we did another 100 miles and this time there was no leak at all!

So, having resigned ourselves to doing the minimum in order to get back to Uruguay, suddenly we get a new lease of life and decide to go on a mini adventure. 

We had been told of an excellent gravel mountain road north west of Mendoza (with 360 bends in one section), so the following day we headed for this road and continued in a 6 day loop north of San Juan with lots more gravel roads and hairpin bends and ended up reversing the excellent mountain road on the way back as it was so good.

So we are now back with Hans, having done over 1,000 miles (and a lot of bends) since I last topped up the steering fluid and it hasn't lost a drop (and thank God I don’t have to carry the steering box back to the UK to get it fixed!), and almost ready to start back towards Uruguay and home. We have stayed on the western side of Argentina as long as possible as the weather here has been 25 to 30 for the past few weeks, but the weather on the eastern side, i.e. Uruguay and Buenos Aires, has been awful.  But leaving the best till last we went back to Finca Agostino for lunch yesterday (we went there last year) but this time we had the 5 course meal with 5 different wines (we had the 3 course last year) and it was even better.

Posada Cavieres, a 6 bedroom Hotel designed built and run by Hans, originally from Belgium.
He has a Landrover (but he can't get everything right)

The Lounge

We camped by the barn.

with lots of parrots in the garden

This and the last photo care of Andy Murray (no Jenna, not the tennis player), a doctor from Scotland now living in Australia with his wife (from Northern Ireland) also a doctor.

A quick trip round to check out the steering

lots of bends

and a Reservoir

Satisfied the steering is no longer leaking we set off on a mini adventure

With instructions on how to react if you are attacked by a Puma (fat chance of seeing one let alone being attacked by one. There have been reports of them attacking passing cyclists tho!

and up a gravel road with 360 bends in it and of course some fabulous views

and then head north, on a dead straight road for about 60miles (100k)

and past a lake near a place called Rodeo, there is apparently a kite surfing school on this lake because it is so windy here

We go past a park that apparently has a lot of fossils and is also supposed to be very similar to the parks in Utah, but the only way to visit is in convoy and would have been dark as we finished, we could have stayed in the car park but was very exposed and extremely cold and windy, so we have put this on the list for next year. (the dinosaur skeleton is fibre glass)

then we wild camp next to a lake.

This was on the green of a tiny village, commemorating Mate, which just about everyone in Argentina drinks.

More mountain roads, this time very smooth tarmac

We drive up a small canyon behind the camp site we stayed at in Barreal for a view of the Andes in the distance

and stop at a dried up river bed that they use for land surfing, but here is absolutely no wind at the moment

and then back down the road with 360 bends, in this direction possibly the scariest road I have driven on!
another wild camp just outside Mendoza

Before we head home we have to re-visit Finca Agostino 
and have a glass of champagne on the roof terrace before lunch

I won't put pictures of all 5 courses (and appetiser) or the 5 different wines that came with them, but this was the second course, pickled local fish (similar to pickled herring from Denmark) on a bed of thinly cut melon and lettuce  (and other salad bits) covered in a type of local pop corn and served with chilled rose.
The main course was steak, done to perfection of course, and served with an oak aged Malbec


Hans took this as we left, I cleaned the cruiser the day before and given the varios batterings it has had it looks as good as the day we left! Of course he had to get his Landrover in at the end

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