Monday 22.05.2006

Butantan Institute

1500, Doctor Vital Brazil Avenue
05503-900 Sao Paulo, Brazil

Location / Attractivity

Trouble ahead.

Our intention is to avoid the political problems in the north of South America. That's why we plan, after visiting Chris's relatives in Sao Paulo, to continue our journey in the South Pacific. Just before our departure we learn that the Sao Paulo Police was attacked: 60 policemen died and a third of Sao Paulo's public buses went up in flames. The reason beeing a prison revolution. The government tried to move high-level mafia-bosses to a high security prison. Troups are called in to re-establish law and order. Schools and offices were closed for a day. We decide to fly anyway. As we arrive, the situation seems to be under control again. It was said that the inmates demanded big-screen-tv sets to enjoy the soccer world-cup in Germany. The second demand was to receive cell-phones so the mafia-bosses could conduct business from prison much easier. It seemed that the mayor of Sao Paulo was able to reach an agreement with the criminals. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

We enjoy our stay in Sao Paulo at Lincoln's & Pat's house (Chris's uncle) in Alphaville, a fenced-in neigbourhood for Sao Paulo's upper class. We visit the Butantan Institute, where snakes are bread and kept to produce different kinds of anti-serum. Apart from the research facilities, one can visit a historical museum and a building where different kinds of snakes, spiders, scorpions, frogs and other poisones creatures can be seen.

Hotel Tabatinga

Hotel directly on the beach. Very good food.

Location / Attractivity

Hygiene in bathrooms

Security / Parking

Ubatuba / Tabatinga

Over the weekend we escape from the polluted Sao Paulo and drive to the coast of Ubatuba and Tabatinga. The last time we were able to swim in the sea was in Coasta Rica. We are eager to plunge into the wet and enjoy the water. Later we take a boat tour to an Island. We enjoy our time in Brazil and don't know any longer, why we are going to leave South America.

That's why we've got a Toyota ;-)

We've recived several e-mails asking for pictures and stories about real adventure-car-problems. This is kind of difficult driving a Toyota Landcruiser, but here is a good substitute:

On our way to the coast all the warning lights go crazy in Lincoln's car. The car is running fine and after a while the status indicators go back to normal. But then a noise starts to come from the engine. The more milage we put on the car, the louder the noise gets. On the way back, Lincoln decides to see a mechanic. Of course it's a Sunday and we are sent from place to place, because all the shops are closed. Finally we find a mechanic who is working. We thought he only has to tighten the V-Belt, but as it turnes out the entire tightening mechanism is broken. To remove the broken part, the air-ventilator has to be removed. Of course no replacement for the broken part is at hand, but with a brilliant idea of Reto and the improvisaton skills of the mechanic a solutions is found. Then the whole dis-assembling process is reversed. Surprisingly all the parts fit in again... However the mechanic charges an entire month's salary for his services.
By the way: the car is a Nissan ;-)

It's time to say goodbye again...

Time flies and we have to catch our plane to Los Angeles. But before we leave, we have a big family-get-together at Mildred & Renato's place (Chris's Aunt). Fortunately Amy (Chris's Cousin) can join as well, even though she was just released from the hospital. It was a great evening and we enjoyed to see everybody again.

Thank you very much. We miss you already...

"The land of the free..." - Yeah right...

After having left Sao Paulo we arrive in Los Angeles very early the next morning. Since our flight to Samoa will not leave before midnight we have a whole day to spend in L.A.

We would never have thought that we would start missing South America only after 12 hours having left. But the friendlyness of the people in South America is an extrem contrast to the emigration officers in the States. Nobody smiles, no friendly words while we are being treated like criminals. Fingerprints and a photo are being taken. Whatever for.... Please, I want to go back!!!

At the airport it's impossible to find a baggage storage. Since the 9/11 all baggage storages have been closed down. A very helpful, elderly lady at the volunteer (!) information desk explained to us that there are companies which can pick-up our hand-luggage and store it somewhere outside the airport. The only problem they had in the past was about returning the hand-luggage. Well, it that case we decide to carry our bags to Santa Monica and Venice Beach even though each of it must weights at least 10 to 15 Kilos.

Coming from South America we experience a culture shock when strolling through Santa Monica. There are so many options to spend time and money. We decide to go to the cinema and watch the "Da Vinci Code" movie. Afterwards we try to escape all the shops and glamour and spend the rest of the day at the beach before it is time to leave again.