March 24, 2009

Transportation Options

The other week we were up at the sitío when D’Artist stopped by to say hi.


He’s back from some adventure somewhere on the globe. He brought news with him that our strategic lunch with the mayor is yielding some results.

There are two serious problem spots on the road into our valley. One day a spring just sprang -- right in the middle of the road. The southern part of Minas reaps the rewards of sitting on top of the Guarani aquifer and is full of towns with natural springs and healing waters. Our area is no exception although the waters frequently create more consternation than healing. I say that on one hand, but on the other, we have two springs on our property that run all year round, one of which will be channeled into the house as our water supply. We are very grateful for them. Just not when they decide to pop up in the middle of the road and make it an impassable muddy sinkhole (there's Mother Nature again, having a riotous old time...)


We left the car as usual up top and walked down, while D’Artist, astride a most sensible form of transportation, showed up to informed us that the mayor was sending workers to dig a drainage ditch and install some drain pipes to direct the water off to the side of the road. It’s a start, but it’s going to take a lot more in the way of sand, gravel and cement to really get things going.

Here we have an example of the two more practical ways the locals have come to deal with the muddy roads around the village.


The horse and the Fusca.

Fuscas are what old Volkswagon bugs are called here in Brazil. In some ways I think they are the true work horse behind the means of production in this country. They are cheap, easy to repair and the inexpensive spare parts can, in most cases, be carried around in the trunk – practical indeed, because they break down all the time. Even better, because they are so lightweight, they can get around on all sorts of terrain and perhaps should be celebrated as the original off-road vehicle.

A friend of ours who owns a pousada in the village loves to tell the story about driving up in the rain and seeing a bunch of wealthy Juiz de Forians who had gotten their R$200,000 Mitsubishi 4x4 stuck in the mud on an uphill. They all pointed and shouted in disbelief when he puttered past in his 1976 Fusca right up the mountain.

The only downside – they are loud, have no shocks and really hard to shift. Even so, I’m pretty smitten with them. I've been on a campaign to convince C that we should seriously consider getting one. We love our bio-diesel beast, and we actually do need its size and space for C to lug music equipment around, but we’re beating it up pretty badly every time we drive it to our land and I wouldn’t mind the adventure of a thundering, bouncy little punch buggy.

Its either that, or we get horses. They eat a little more, but there are no spare parts to carry.



Ray Adkins said...

This post is hilarious!
I would love to have a slug bug!
A 4x4 Ford Expedition is more my style, but I am sure they would cost an arm and a leg in Brazil.
I would have so much fun with a slug bug, that would be the ultimate adaptation!
The horses are a great idea too...

corinne said...

I vote for the horses.