I was asked when I arrived in Rio Grande how long I’d be staying, but wasn’t sure. Duda however seemed to know and told everyone that I’d stay for the whole week, until he would travel to Gramado with his aunt Silvia, uncle Eduardo and cousin Gui. That would just about work, but leave things a little tight for getting out of the country in time before my visa expired.
My main goal was to get things organised. I had a sleeping pad that had once again started leaking, too many t-shirts and most importantly the weld on my saddle needed fixing again.
Jon, from Manta, continued being incredibly communicative – which really has helped me be more accepting of the saddle issue – and detailed a few ways to get it bandaged up to get me to Montevideo where a brand new one would be waiting. His plans called for a ‘decent welder’ and it just so happened that Duda’s cousin Fabriçio, aka Bear after Bear Grylls, was a mechanical engineer with a serious love of tinkering with things, a man cave full of exciting tools and the imagination to come up with a solution – especially with Duda’s engineering brain too.
Rather than just re-welding where the frame had failed before, as had been done in Blumenau, Bear and Duda came up with the idea of a plate that should in theory make the thing rock-solid. We spent hours in Bear’s man cave on the Monday evening, firstly welding the crack up, and then designing and perfecting the plate that’d get inserted. On the Tuesday morning we went back and, following Jon’s suggestion, covered the Manta in wet sand, to protect the plastic, and set about securing the plate. It was given a test ride, and seemed very solid. It lost the adjustability that it normally has, but I’d be very surprised if the rails fail again, and we’d positioned the saddle exactly where I want it anyway making adjustments not necessary.
The other two issues didn’t get resolved so well. I arrived at the house with 10 t-shirts, and after giving 3 away to Duda, ended up with 10 t-shirts as both Gui, and his brother Fred, gave me tops for their favourite football teams, Inter and Grêmio, as well as one for the local, and oldest team in Brazil, Rio Grande – founded in 1900. In my 6 months in Brazil I have been given 14 t-shirts! It’s just a perfect example of the incredible warmth and kindness of the Brazilians that I have met. Those tops are, 5 football tops (Rio Branco, Avaí, Grêmio, Inter & Rio Grande), 3 bombeiros t-shirts (Rio, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul), 2 bicycle shop t-shirts (Savanna bikes in Fortaleza and Ecociiclo in Aracaju), a t-shirt from Rodrigo in Guanambi and three from my dear friend Wilson back at the start of it all on the banks of the Amazon in Macapá (including my one long-sleeved top which was my xmas present). I gave Duda the 2 bike shop ones and the one from Rio to keep or pass on to others he hosts in the future.
The air mat got resolved even worse. We set about finding the hole in the mat, and instead of finding a couple of small holes, as I was expecting, found more than your average shower head. The mat hasn’t gotten particularly wet, but seems to have developed a light black colour in parts – possibly mould – and short of sleeping on a cactus field the only explanation I’ve come up with is that the material is failing. I’ve got in touch with Big Agnes, but they’ve not got back to me yet.
Video I recorded for Big Agnes
Outside of that, I got to meet and hang out with plenty of Duda’s family – especially his grandparents Adolpho and Yvonne. Adolfo had worked for a British telegraph company in the past, and was very proud to tell stories of his wonderful bosses. I also met uncles and aunts, including one uncle who is the mayor of Rio Grande who invited us out for dinner. The next day, possibly on his suggestion, the local newspaper turned up for an interview. You can see it here