Road trip, Austrian style

You may recall my fascination with the unwieldy vehicles that arrive here,  most often from Germany. I’m equally (actually,  more) amused when I see a perfectly ordinary car that managed to brave the same territory.

Here’s one that has been traveling in South America for five years, driven by an Austrian who sold his restaurant and took to the road.

Austrian Land Rover, South America tour

He said that if he had a dollar for every time his rig had been photographed, he would never have to work another day in his life. I believe it!

Austrian Land Rover, South America tour

He leaves for Austria in a couple weeks. His final preparation will be to take off the front bumper, which extends forward maybe 30 cm, and strap it to the roof. Turns out the shipping company charges for a set length (I’m guessing 5 m), and with bumper in place this vehicle exceeds that.

Just pay a little extra? No, €1,300 without bumper, but €2,600 with — that’s good pay for an hour of simple mechanical work!


At the taller

While in the States in September, I got to thinking about the pobre Meriva, as our worker referred to our Chevy minivan after seeing the loads it carried. (I wanted to get a four-door pickup when we arrived in Uruguay; wife nixed that idea.) We got it in early 2010. Paint’s fading, windshield best replaced because of scratches from volcanic ash from Chile a few years ago. But it runs well, and the prospect of shopping for anything in Uruguay is generally dreary. So when I got back, I got some repairs done: replaced the serpentine belt in the engine at 90,000 km (supposed to have been changed at 45,000), body pained, and maybe the windshield one day soon.

Quite a few weeks after the paint job, I noticed the strip between the top of the doors and the roof was looking pretty bad.

incomplete car paint job
I’ve been parking inside. This after just a few weeks?

I took it back to the shop (taller) and showed it to the owner. He walked around the car. Whoever painted it simply skipped that area. No problem, he said. Of course, to finish the job will now take another three (Uruguay: read four) days.

While waiting in the garage, I became fascinated with the packaging of a replacement door.

replacement car door cardboard packaging

The strings aren’t added afterward. They’re an integral part of the design. They wrap around little round plastic fasteners.

cardboard package string fasteners

What an elegant (in the engineering sense) solution!




The getaway car

…may or may not be ready when you need it.

older Fiat car, Uruguay

But you will have easy access to the back.


The electrician’s ladder

Time to replace the ceiling fan in our bedroom, a job I was not going to do myself — too high. The electrician brought a four-part folding ladder that wasn’t tall enough, and neither would my extension ladder work. By itself.

improvised ladder, Uruguay

Since I had just started a massage in the next room when he arrived shortly after 2 PM (having said he’d be there at 10 AM), he poked around in my workshop, found rope and wire, and assembled this. My ladder is on the left; his is folded over it. Rope, many pieces of wire….

Hey, it worked!

But how did he transport a ladder on a motorbike?

carrying a ladder on a motorbike, Uruguay

Easy! Notice the tool box balanced in front of him as well.


Just another old car

Antique Fiat car in daily use, Uruguay

Many details don’t show in this photo, but the seat belt hanging out the door caught my eye. And the roof rack, indicating it’s still a beast of burden. Also, parked outside a meeting at Ajupena (social center for retirees and pensioners) suggests that maybe the original owner? I haven’t been able to determine the year. Maybe inherited? Who knows.