In order to get to the Pantanal we need to refuel along the way, so we are heading towards a small local area called Aquidauna which in there is an  Aero-club that has been recommended by Edimar a friend of our friend Martin. We plan to fly for three hours to this refueling stop and then a final 45 minutes to the nature lodge called Pousada Cabure deep in the middle nowhere accept for animals and birds. We fly for three hours and finally spot a very dusting red gravel runway. We land and carefully taxi to the fuel pump, and we see a young man, and old man and a small child waiting in the nearby hangar. As soon as we turn off our engine, the little child runs away and hides, the old man collects the ladder, and the young man brings out the calculator and the receipt. Talk about efficient!!!! These guys, the re-fuelling team may want to pass on some tips to our friends at Infraero in the big airports. As it can take over 2 hours to even have someone contact a refueling truck!!! So we refuel quickly and are ready to make the last 45 minute jump to the nature lodge. We are so pleased to finally get a break and not have to have any dramas today. So we crank the engine, to start and nothing, we crank it again, nothing, we do this about 3 times, and then we are scared to try it one more time as it may bleed the battery dead. WTF I think!! Chris suggests that it is over heated, as our engine is fuel injected and this type of engine despite being good are known to have problems starting when they very hot. And at 100 degree heat it is not surprising the poor engine can’t cope, shit I can’t cope and I AM quickly melting in this very hot humid place!!!Chris mulls over other reasons why the plane has not started such as vapour locks and bubbles but I am now not listening, my mind races to my sister again and getting home. I think that being in an air-conditioned bus on a 15 hour bus ride towards Sao Paulo sounds pretty sweet compared to being in the middle of nowhere with an broken plane with 3 people who cannot speak English,or can help us!
We do get the assistance of two of the “three amigos” (the re-fuelling team) to push the plane under a tree to get some shade and cool it down. We take the cowling off, and Chris waves maps and at the engine to help it get some cool air flow. I am in fact brooding, I can’t help it, its not like me, but I am frustrated and after several attempts to try stir up some help from the 3 amigos with no luck I am now stumped. We both sit under the tree with the plane, and I start to give the plane my “evil stare” and a good talking to in my mind. I start to think about if the plane does not start where can we stay, what do we do? We have no one around to help us. Chris complains that his cut is itching and notices that ants are now crawling under his band aid. I insist that we change it but he is too aggravated to sit still to let me clean it up and redress his wound. Suddenly a motorcycle turns up out of nowhere and a young guy who can speak a little English offers us cold water and assistance from his friends. I can’t believe it, I want to kiss him, and although he does not have a clue about how to fix our plan problem, he is a pilot, and is going to call some pilot friends and find a mechanic!!!It is although my prayers have been heard and answered, because with 10 minutes two more men who can speak English appear. They tell us they are also pilots, in fact members of the Aquidauana Aero Club. We explain our problem and one of pilots says he also owns a Cessna but it is a 182. There is a big discussion within the group about why it has cut out, the heat, the alternator, the battery etc. They inform us after several phones that the Aero Club mechanic is not around today so we have to go with what Chris has suggested. Just a hot engine being overheated in the hot sun, so we put the cowling back on knowing one more try may drain the battery. But to my surprise the plane starts up straight away, and off we go! We head toward Pousada Cabure, and I am starting to relax a little bit now, as we only have a 45 minute flight. I am looking out the window and trying to think positive when I notice that a red light which I have never seen on before is lit up. I point this out to Chris and he suggests there may be a problem with the alternator (a new problem) unrelated to the overheating issue we had on the ground. We now need to land somewhere ASAP to get this fixed, as the ammeter is not charging but decreasing meaning low voltage of our battery. I am totally freaked by this as I know that once the battery dies we may not be able to start again and what about the use of radios etc., don’t they use up power from our electric system too, will they be OK? Chris troubleshoots the airplane system and turns switches on and off, and in a calm and relaxed manner tells me we need to land. I concentrate on flying the plane, as he continues to trouble shoot and talks on the radio to inform we have a little problem, which is the correct procedure in a two person flight deck. Chris looks at our map and says that the large city of Campo Grande which is 60 miles east is our only option for a diversion. The problem Chris states it is not big but I am not convinced as I see the battery slowly trickle down. Chris tells the approach in order to conserve battery power we are going to turn off our radios, there is a pause and eventually we hear “OK you can turn off your radio and you now have a Brazilian Air Force escort". I am horrified as this just reaffirms to me that this is very serious, Chris is now totally pissed off and tells me they are over reacting. Anyway much to his delight he was able to get a photo of patrol aircraft, another one for his photo gallery!

When we land I am totally relieved, we taxi to a stand and ask the ground control for a mechanic. We are taken to meet Cleber who introduces us to Marcelo who kindly after a no English, no Portuguese exchange, using IPads and charades, kindly starts working on fixing our plane. He calls his son Viktor in Sao Paulo who spoke a little English, and translated to us his father’s intentions which was to take us to a local hotel, get the part and, put it in the next morning. Hopefully this small part will sort out our problem with our alternator and the plane should l will be good to safely on to Pousada Cabure.

 Our night in Campo Grande, was uneventful, we had a good local fish meal in the hotel, and the next morning Marcelo picked us up to return to the airport to put the new part in the alternator. After an inspection of his work Marcelo did some checks on our plane, and we were good to go!!

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