Well, I don’t know what to tell you, I don’t know where to start.
It’s been over a year since I posted on here. Things were very different then. There was three of us. Now it’s just Minnie and me.
Posting on this blog is time consuming and that created very serious tensions between France and I. Serious enough that it came to a point where I had a choice to make. Either continue the blog or the trip… Since there was not going to be a blog anyway if there was no trip, I pulled the plug on the blog.
I was sorry, I still am I did that but it was the best I could do back then.
I thought of starting this blog again with the new year. Then I thought I should maybe re-start it from when I came back to south-america after Frances funeral. But then I thought you may like to know how it all happened.
Here we go.
We had had a rough time in Colombia with the multiple policia pull-overs, the impounding of the car, the extreme heat and humidity in Cartagena, the cold in El Cocuy, the different problems with the car and camper equipment… In short, Colombia was tough on us.
Then, Ecuador was much better. Easier.Good.
And then Peru, where we had both some of the best and worst. Extremely bad roads near Huaraz, incredibly wonderful scenery in reserva ntl de Paracas, roads more dangerous than Bolivias death road in canyon del Pato, sophisticated Inca ruins in Valle Sacrado, the Nazca lines, the corrupt road cops who wanted cash, and of course, the floating islands of lago Titicaca.
Which brings us to Bolivia. Where, in El Alto, we were faced with [the usual] road blocks. Men and women picking up rocks and threatning to throw them at us. Until I shut the car off and went to talk with them, explaining we had nothing to do with their problems, that we only wanted to reach our campground. To which they replied that was not their problem. More talks and some time later, they let us thru, until we get stopped again with more of the same issues. Long story short, we made it thru with no bruises other then to our schedule.
And you thought we were on “vacations”. Travelling is not always easy.
Then we “survived” the death road. Piece of cake. Really. Well over rated. And we did it during a thunder storm. Back in the days, I guess it was much more the drivers that were deadly on that road. Now that it’s super touristy, its even got rail guards where most roads in Bolivia don’t.
France and I decided she would fly out of Santa-Cruz, Bolivia on october 5th and that, while she was in Canada for three weeks, I would do a loop in Brazil to see the Pantanal. That area is what comes closest to an african safari as you can get this side of the Atlantic. So, on the morning of the 5th of october, I kissed France goodbye at the airport and we said we would meet again on october 27th.
I had asked my friend Jil if he was interested in joining me. He gladly accepted and off we went. We were fortunate enough to see tons of birds of all types and colors, thousands of alligators and even 8 jaguars. Life was good. Even despite some mechanical issues with both cars, life was good. And hot. Like 40* hot.
As time was pressing, we made tracks and found ourselves in Campo Grande on the afternoon of the 20th. We found a hotel (with A/C !) and, by about 5pm, we were having a burger and a beer after having travelled over 480 kms that day. A record for me in south-america. Life was good.
That evening, I was a bit puzzled for not getting a reply form France to my message stating my exploit of the day.
The next morning was even more puzzling as I saw that France not only hadn’t replied to other emails but hadn’t showed up to our friend Christiane presentation of her book.
Then when I saw that email from Jessie saying how much she was worried as France hadn’t showed up to babysit Sam, her sweet Sammy, her grandson, I knew something was wrong, seriously wrong.
At about 1pm, I started getting emails from family members urging me to call them. I called Math, Sams dad, and he broke the news to me.
France was last seen when she left our friend Rollands place at about 4:30pm on the 20th. She then went to our place, into our garage to grab various items she wanted to bring back to south-america. Then she probably felt “dizzy”. Having been diagnosed with epilepsia 2 or 3 years prior, she knew what was coming. Or so she thought. She laid down on the floor and used a galon of anti-freeze as a pillow so as not to hurt herself falling.
The young lady who rented our house found her lifeless on the garage floor the next morning.
After having been in extremely close proximity with me for over a year, after having been with friends and loved ones for two solid weeks, she died alone on a dirty and cold concrete floor. There is no such thing as justice in this world. It’s disgusting.
In an instant, in that hotel room in Campo Grande, my whole world collapsed. It was so completely incredible, to this day, I still can’t believe it. She is gone.
She will never get to see little Sammy talk, walk, grow up, go to school… She will never get to enjoy retirement at our Arizona house. She will never get to finish this trip, with me.
We will never get to enjoy retirement, period. She had 15 months of retirement, period.
I still can remember very clearly Jil holding his head with both hands and saying “C’est pas possible, c’est pas possible!” (It’s impossible, it’s impossible)
I was so fortunate to have Jil with me then. I don’t know what would have become of me if he hadn’t been there. He was so supportive all the way to when I was on the plane, flying home.
Thank you, Jil. Sincerely.
I got home on october the 23rd and, by the time the funeral was arranged, I saw France again on the 27th, exactly as planned. Only she was in her coffin.
For the next complete month, I litterally surfed on the support of the best friends and family members one could have. Incredible demonstration of love and caring.
Thank you guys. Sincerely.
I was scheduled to fly back on the 21st of november but only when I got to the airport did I find out ALL CANADIANS need a visa to enter Brazil. This came as a surprise as I was never asked for a visa when I drove into Brazil the first time. Of course, what are the odds that the Policia Federal officer who let me in had ever seen another Canadian driving into his country from Canada? And what are the odds he cared?
Ten to fifteen work days, is the time frame Brazil estimates to get a visa. I lucked out, I got it after twelve work days, that is 14 days total. I lucked out. I was able to spend this time with my parents. At age 81 and 82, they let me have my dads room for as long as necessary. I was treated like a prince, ate well, had access to my dads car and everything.
Thanks Mom and Dad. Sincerely.
But inside, I was like a lion in a cage. All this time, I had all this time to think. I thought I was going to go nuts. I even consulted a social worker. Finally, the visa was ready and I was able to fly back.
Can you imagine I was a little nervous at the airport?
The first days in Campo Grande were horrible. Thank God Minnie had been in good hands at the kennel and she was doing great. No4 also was in good shape at the back of the parking lot of the hotel where I had left it.
Was it hard to get back into No4? It was more than hard. It was terrible.
On the morning of the 18th of december, I got back on the road. The goal: Ushuaia, Argentina. For us. For me. For my sanity.