The cable stopper that I was missing to put my bike together arrived while I was out and so I set to putting my bike together on the Sunday. I had to finish installing the gear cables, and then when that was done, take the bike apart again! I got one cable installed, cut the other one and then… another missing part. This time I was missing a female bayonet connector and I had a problem. It was Sunday, Monday was Easter Monday and I had a plane on Tuesday morning. I looked through my pile of screws and parts before a bad feeling hit me. I looked at pictures from my tour with Gaz and realised what had happened. I’d attached it to my bike with the idea that it was the safest place to be, it was, until I rode my bike and it must have come undone and fallen off somewhere on the roads of Wales.
My mum and I found a bunch of local shops that claimed to be Rohloff dealers, but being bank holiday weekend they were closed. There was nothing that could be done, but pack the bicycle up. People I’d met in Brazil had mentioned that they’d flown both to and from Brazil with TAP and taken their bikes for free, but when I’d called TAP they said that that was definitely not the case and that if I used a bike box I’d get to pay €150 (£125). Having paid a good chunk of cash for the S&S couplers the year before, it was time to make back part of the money, and so my mum (I helped a very little) set to packing it up in a home-made 26x26x10″ box, the biggest that the airline would accept for free. It took a lot of re-jigging, but with her platinum Blue Peter badge that was no problem! While she was doing that, I got on with packing my other things – a much easier job.
We set off to the airport in time to visit the couple of nearby bike shops that would be open before my flight, but neither of them had the part in. They tried calling around to other bike shops, but it sounded like the only one that might have the part wouldn’t open until 10am. With a flight at 10:55 and the shop being 20 minutes away, that would leave me horribly close to missing my flight if there was any traffic.
That left me with my backup option, the Brazilian Rohloff distributor. I called him and organised to buy the piece, for 3x as much as it would have been in the UK, including next day delivery. I’d looked at shipping from the UK, but for anything faster than 7-10 days it would have been around £80 for a piece that weighs maybe 5 grammes at best.
The flight went without a hitch, and I napped enough that when I got to Brazil I wasn’t tired. It still didn’t matter. The 6 weeks that I’d been getting used to European weather had softened me up and I started dripping with sweat just walking off the plane as it was 28c and very humid past 10pm. The boxes my mum had done a great job of packing arrived, and there wasn’t a mark on them. TAP had tried to make me sign something to wave any responsibility they had because I’d used boxes, but I’d avoided that, and so I’d been nervous that something might happen.
I took a taxi back to Pablo’s house. I’d considered putting the bike back together, I’d done it when I got to Mexico a year earlier, but that had been 90 minutes of miserable sweatiness, and the taxi was reasonably cheap as Pablo lives less than 10km away.
I’m now in Salvador, waiting for the part. It was meant to be overnighted and so should have got here on Wednesday. I’ve got a tracking number, but that just means I compulsively refresh the page at least once an hour to find it’s still not here. Yesterday (Thursday) at 11am it got to Salvador, and was on it’s way from the distribution centre to the post office, but as of Friday morning it’s apparently still on it’s way. Pablo told me one story of how he ordered a violin from Europe, which took 3 days to get to Brazil and then 25 days to make it’s way across Salvador.
When the piece arrives, the idea is to head inland towards Chapada Diamantina, definitely worth a look on Google Images, and then through the mountains on the way to Rio. I think I’m meeting Gaz in Buenos Aires in about 3 months, and that’s about 5000km away depending on the way I go. Here’s to my 3rd stint in Brazil.
All the free time has at least meant I’ve had the time to finish working on a blog re-design. It’s not completely done, and I need to re-do a bit of the content. But I think it looks better than it did before. It should also be easier to update, and more compatible with other plugins, as the theme I was using before isn’t being maintained while this one definitely is! Dave from Tiredofit is being a hero and giving me a hand sorting some things out. For example he coded the new AWESOME PERSON thing on the front page, which is something I’ve had in mind for a while. It will show the face of someone that’s helped me on the trip and a link to the relevant blog post. They all need to be manually entered, so it could be a while until they’re all ready.