It was a few weeks before our cruiser arrived. Mario and his family graciously hosted us and took time to show us around. We are very appreciative.
The ship arrived on the 4th September and after 5 days of waiting we finally headed for the port. We arrived at the dock to wait for our cruiser to arrive in the container and clear customs. We hitched a ride to the shipper’s yard where it would be off loaded.
After reattaching the roof top tent to the roof rack we were off but we first needed to get some gas.
The unloading crew gave us a good luck Portugal banner to sped us on our way south.
We drove out of the bonded warehouse facility with only 5l of fuel in the tank so had to find a gas station a s soon as possible. Fortunately their was one close by and I hastily pulled in just as the motor started sputtering. 100 Euros later we were back in the car and after driving only a few meters the cruiser lurched and struggled then PHOOWW and black smoke everywhere. This time Tom really muttered and even slammed the door. “I think I put diesel and not gasoline into the fuel tank” In my haste to fill up I did not take the time to check and I thought that “gasoil” was Portuguese for Gasoline WRONG!!! The gas station owner confirmed our fears we had just filled the gas tank with diesel. It all had to be drained out. Was the engine seriously damaged. Was our trip doomed even before it had started. I offered the mechanic he could have the diesel for free if he would assist us. he agreed and so the messy operation of draining the tank began.
Once all the fuel was drained out we pushed the cruiser back to the gas pump and filled it with gasoline. I anxiously turned the ignition key, would it start? After a few minutes and the belching out of blue diesel smoke, the gasoline hit the carburetor and the trusty 4.7 litre straight six sprang into life. Whew. Our decision to use a Toyota Land Cruiser for these trips was the right one. After 2 hours at the gas station we were finally on the road heading back to Lisbon, the image of the helpful mechanic cleaning up receding in our rear view mirror.
Now the task of packing and organizing the cruiser was to begin. What an arduous job, we have so much stuff. Fortunately we were staying with patient and generous friends, Mario and Bibi who without their help our start to the trip would have been much more challenging
Our first night on the road and settled into our tent for the night, we listened as the wind got stronger and a storm blew in. Our little tent struggled in the wind and we knew from experience that we had to take the tent down before it took off like with us inside and blew us all the way to Africa. Our second night on the road and the campsite seemed idyllic situated in on the southern coast of Portugal. We pitched tent and it wasn’t long before we realized we were within 50 meters of a railway line, under a direct flight path and surrounded by roads and during the night the sounds of sirens filling the air. In fact there were so many sirens we wondered what was happening; a reminder of our first visit to Portugal in 1974 when we got caught in the left wing military coup.
Tomorrow we head for Spain. We stopped briefly in the historic town of Ronda on route to Algeciras where we caught the ferry for Ceuta, the Spanish enclave on the northern tip of Africa.
Africa here we come!