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Thought We’d be Chillin’, PGY

September 8th, 2019

So we’re back from our vacation to Brazil and as mentioned at the end of that post, it’s HOT!

Next day, after “moving our livin’ “back to the hotel in Ascunión cause it’s so cheap and they have a pool, we spent the rest of the day by that said pool.

That night we decided we had to use our AC and as we are plugged in, that didn’t seem that it should be a problem.  After about an hour running the AC, the power died and when Doug went to check, the transformer was really, really hot and the adapter at the wall outlet had burnt out!  So rather than temp fate, we left Tigger unplugged for the night.  We tried to use the generator but again after a half hour, it quit which meant the AC quit so it was an uncomfortable night with just fans blowing around warm air.  So the mechanic shop we took it to earlier this month did nothing.  ?

Monday, Doug made his way early to a hospital Sebastian had recommended to sort out getting his kidney stones checked and he needed a dentist due to some recent pain in two parts of his mouth.

When Fran got up she noticed the solar panels were not as low as they should have been running two fans all night and the fridge, so she went to check the fridge and it was NOT running!  The freezer had defrosted and nothing was very cold.  She turned it off and it would come on for a few seconds then stop.  Also the solar panels seemed to be struggling to charge so she shut off the main switch and then it seemed to begin charging up again.  Also the fridge began running so it’s a mystery why that part happened.

So Doug did get in to see a doctor and got an appointment for a tomography the next day; this hospital was much more organized.  Then after a checking out a few dentists he found one that could take him right away and began to sort out the two pain issues he had.  He got temporary fixes for both and has to return in two days to get them finalized.

While Fran stayed back at the hotel, she got some hand laundry and chores down before sitting by the pool again.  Doug returned mid-afternoon.

So Tuesday, we headed out to see about getting the generator repaired.  Doug’s dentist told us he’d take us to a place he’d found; we followed him through some narrow winding streets but they couldn’t help us.  They did recommend a shop (turned out to be a chain of them) but that turned out to be a dud as well; we found another location for the same shop and it had a “generators” sign outside that caught Fran’s eye so we pulled in there. They would not repair a gennie that they didn’t sell but referred us to a small engine mechanic a few blocks away.

This place looked promising as they were a small engine repair shop:  gennies, chainsaws, lawn mowers etc.; they began by waiting for the gennie to warm up with AC on; fortunately (for us!), it died as it has the night before.  So now we had to  empty and remove the right storage bin on the back so they could have better access to it.  (This is always a PITA as the hot water heater needs to be disconnected including the gas lines.)

The right box and hot water heater are off and the gennie has been removed for the repair.

They worked on this thing all afternoon before they diagnosed that the unit’s fuel pump was not functioning properly;

by now the parts store was closed so they will have to get the pump in the morning.  They said we could park there out front of the shop for the night and they offered us power access.

For a wild camp on the street, it wasn’t that noisy and we were up and at ‘em by 7:30 when the shop opened.  They got the pump at 8 am and installed it after a couple of hours determined that it was not strong enough still.  They purchased a bigger one and finally got the gennie running.  We ran the AC for an hour with no issues.  Fingers crossed.

While we’d been here, he’d also checked out a few places that might be able to get us a new transformer.  Now Doug had to get to the dentist to get his permanent crowns fitted and off we went.

Next morning Doug was off to a transformer place and brought back a new unit – 1000 W more powerful than what we have now.  Problem now is that it won’t fit in the same space as the old one so the cubby needs reconfiguring.

original transformer with Argentinian plugs
new smaller but stronger transformer








We returned to the hotel for the night and the next morning tried the generator – wouldn’t start!

We packed up (again!) and went back and after a bit, the mechanic determined the choke was not functioning well with the new pump and after some fiddling, got that sorted so off we left again.  While waiting, we took care of recovering the back cupboard door which has been looking a little forlorn recently.

We had some extra vinyl flooring pieces and cut out pieces to fit; while Doug watched the workers, Fran took care of gluing it to the cupboard.

She also replaced the screen door parts we’d been hanging on to for a while – now that the couch is recovered, the black gorilla tape on the door really stands out.

For several weeks we knew that Tigger was missing a muffler clamp so we got that taken care of next at a nearby shop.

Now Doug’s new dental work is not making his teeth feel any better so he reaches out to the dentist who tells him to give it a couple of days…..

We once again went back to the $2 a night pp hotel and settled in.  Next morning and twice during Friday, the gennie started without issues!  Yeah!

Doug spent the morning re configuring the transformer/water filter cupboard

and that afternoon we repaired the caulking on the kitchen floor.

When Doug went to do his monthly check of our auxiliary battery, he noticed that the air filter pipe had come unhooked again – this happens far too often and it seems that the connection piece is slightly skew and is the cause.  So we hope that was the cause of the on again off again “lurching” we were feeling while driving yesterday.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another and they seem to come in bunches – again:  first world problems.

To top it all off, Doug still had tooth pain in both places!

The weather was cool that past couple of days but is beginning to warm up for the weekend.  We expect when we get back in October, the temperatures will consistently be too warm and will only get worse once we begin our drive north along Brazil’s coast in January.

So… Saturday morning we tried the generator – it started right away but after ten minutes began making a rattling noise!  We let it run a bit longer, then turned it off and tried later – same.

We had also decided that the new transformer did not seem heavy duty enough and was getting quite hot far too fast so we’d return it and reconsider using the existing (we’ll have try again) or buy a new one when we go home.

We stopped to pick up the laundry Fran had dropped off yesterday, drove to the transformer shop – it was closed – and then returned to the small engine repair shop – luckily they are open Saturdays and they realized that the gennie exhaust pipe was making the noise and did a repair on that.  So once again we returned to the Westfalia hotel – should be the last time as we will return to Sebastian’s place on Monday for our flights on Tuesday.  That evening Fran noticed a pair of shorts she’d sent to the laundry was missing; we’ll have to go back on Monday.  (this happened in Argentina once with a top of hers, and it was never found so we are not optimistic but have to try).

That night we walked across the road and treated ourselves to pizza at Al Capone’s Pizzeria.  It was very good and we got the extra large size to have leftovers.  ?

We ran the AC on Tigger that night with the old transformer using a different adapter plug and it did run all night so it appears our 3000 W transformer IS sufficient to run that.  Sunday morning, Doug got the idea to install a fan in with the cubby with the transformer to assist in keeping it cooler (we have one on the compressor on our fridge already and had a backup fan in case that died).  He installed that and is more comfortable that it shouldn’t overheat.

(note that the transformer plugs were repaired back in Necochea, Argentina, hence the odd sockets so we have to use Argentinian adapters to use the transformer – life on the road!)

So….we thought Monday was going to be a nice day with hardly anything to do.  Best laid plans…..when we woke up we tried to check in for our flights for Tuesday; we had booked through United several months ago and after a few changes since we booked, it seemed to be all finalized last week but we could not check in with Copa Airlines – the carrier that both our flights to Toronto were with.  The Confirmation Code was not accepted on their website.  So we went to sit by the pool area where the Wi-Fi is better and Fran Skyped with Copa.  She got through in a minute and we were told their system shows our old flights, not the ones that were changed last week and they couldn’t check us in as there was a problem with the connections; duh!  that’s why they were changed by United and despite us have a confirmation from United, they could not help us; we’d have to call United to have them sort it out.

Well, that was an adventure in patience.  The United clerk could see our changed final flights and didn’t understand why Copa could not check us in so she’d have to speak with a supervisor and then after almost an hour, she had to call Copa.  Well after TWO AND A HALF HOURS total we finally had confirmation that the flights that United had booked us on were legit and we could do a web check in.  The clerk told Fran that Copa tried THIRTY times to issue the tickets before they were processed.  We were lucky we did not get cut off in all that wait time.

While Fran was dealing with that, Doug went to the laundry place but had no luck getting Fran’s shorts and was told they were too busy to look right now, come back tomorrow but they did take his phone number – so they are sadly, gone.

So we do manage to check-in online, get Tigger ready and leave the Westfalia.  We head to the transformer place where Doug returns the new transformer and buys two extra fans to have as spares.  We then head to get some lunch somewhere air conditioned as it’s 39º C / 102º F and pretty darn humid.  Thank goodness our Silverado has AC!

Now Doug’s new dental work has still not taken away the pain and so after messaging the dentist, he had an appointment for 3 that afternoon.  We got there early and he was able to take him right way.  Turns out the one tooth (after finally doing an x-ray) needed a root canal and he was able to do that right away.  The other tooth with the crown, showed no issues on the x-ray and would be costly to remove, so Doug decided to wait and see if it improves – maybe it’s just an “adjustment” ache.

We got to Sebastian’s campground around 5, had a cold one while sitting outside; a nice wind has come up and the night cooled off nicely for sleeping.

Sidebar: there is smokiness to the air in Asuncion today – from the Chaco fires they are telling us.

We were up before 3 am on the 17th, Sebastian took us to the airport and caught our flight to Panama City where we had an 8 hour layover before catching our flight to Toronto.  Since we couldn’t get our Copa confirmation code to work on their website, we stopped by a Copa customer service desk and got seats for our flights on the way back sorted.