July 3rd, 2012 - Brazil
As usual I apologize for the lack of updates… As you may have heard we are back in Canada for a visit and have left our motorcycles in Montevideo, Uruguay. Originally we had planned to stay in South America to work and live in a major city while waiting for the summer season so we can travel to the southern tip of Argentina, however many things were compelling us to return to Canada. I had to return for my good friends wedding and the cost of flying home for such a short period of time wasn’t a very logical decision. We then read that our Russian Visa’s would be easier to obtain on Canadian soil and the more we thought about it, spending 6 months in Canada just seemed to make sense. We could enjoy the beautiful Canadian summer with our friends and family, attend our friends wedding and earn some extra money. So here we are back at work and loving it. Crazy I know… but we have purpose and direction so come Dec. 1st we will be on a plane heading back to South America to pick up where we left off.
Simply put, Brazil is HUGE. After riding so many relatively small countries over a long period of time, entering Brazil was quite a shock and the fact that the spoken language is Portuguese also didn’t help. Despite our new found language barrier the people were as friendly and hospitable as ever. The first town we stopped in, Boa Vista, we were taken in, fed and entertained for days by an amazing couple. Even though our communication was lacking we still managed to enjoy each other’s company as they took us hiking and out for dinners. It was a wonderful introduction to Brazil.
South of Boa Vista my bike ran into some trouble at a construction site. I had shut it off while waiting and when I went to restart it she wouldn’t go. It was turning over but no ignition. I spent the evening stripping it down and diagnosing the problem. It was not getting spark and that was due to the Starter Interlock System, a system of safety switches that prevent the bike from starting if it’s in gear unless the clutch is pulled in and the side stand is up. I tested all the switches in the system and they all tested in good working order so it had to be in the wiring or the relays in the system. I have said it before that electrical is not my forte so before hacking apart wiring harnesses and hunting down the problem I decided it was better for a professional electrical mechanic to do it. The city of Manaus was only 450km’s away and it had a BMW dealership so that’s where we headed.
BMW got to work right away on my bike but I admit that I was a little sceptical in the beginning. I had told them what the problem was and that all they had to do was trace the fault or short but the mechanic kept coming in and telling me my battery’s water was low and my front brake pads were very thin. I know he was just doing his job and inspecting all possible problems but all I could see was dollar signs. Brazil is an expensive country and the shop rate is nearly equal to that in North America so the more time they spent on my bike the bigger the bill. We sat in their lounge on nice couches drinking fancy espresso while my frustrations grew… How much was this going to cost me?!? Before I let it get the best of me the service representative called us into the back. We walked through the shop to find my bike on the operating table wide open with multiple people probing and prodding in every nook and cranny. All of a sudden one of the guys hit the ignition and my bike fired up, ahh what a sweet sound. Any concerns and frustration I had felt were now gone, I was so happy to hear my bike running again. The mechanics explained they had found the problem in the Starter Interlock System but it would not be finished today. Relieved by the day’s outcome Erin and I headed back to our Hotel for the night.
They next morning we returned to BMW and enjoyed some more fancy coffee. We shared a couple laughs with one of the salesmen who had spent part of his evening on our website watching some of our videos. It was a comfortable atmosphere filled with great staff so we continued our wait on the couch losing track of time. Around mid day I spotted a bike ride by the window.
“That was my bike! He’s taking it for a test ride!” I said with excitement in my voice.
When the technician returned they sat us down and explained what they had done and drew me a diagram for future reference. Then there was a small awkward pause. It’s time for the bill… In a mix of English, Spanish and Portuguese the head of service manages to spit out:
“Now it is not time to pay.”
Erin and I look confused at each other. That must have come out wrong. We’re sure he meant to say “It’s time to pay” but then in perfect English he says:
“It’s a gift for your travels.”
We were ecstatic and jumped up smiling, laughing and shaking hands. All this time we had been dreading charges worth a day and a half’s work at a dealership and now we had no bill. It’s times like these that really blow your mind at how generous people can be. It also felt great to be riding a BMW and to be backed by such a great company and group of people. We thanked our new friend’s over and over then rode away absolutely overwhelmed by their kindness.
Stay tuned for more on our travels through the Amazon and an amazing new video.