Everything is fine, just fine…

We had a bit of an adventure today…. Ruby broke!

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(Ruby on her way to the garage…)

We moved this morning from the orange and lemon campsite during a thunder and lightening storm. We arrived in a small town with very cute small streets and the rain stopped and it got a bit warmer. Then Ruby’s clutch broke… and we were stuck on one of those cute small streets for four hours. Yep we were.

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(Can you see the planks of wood? They will become important later)

It is an example of the truly amazing agility of the Portuguese drivers that they were able to manoeuvre around us. And there was not one beep of a horn or a cross word. In fact people were coming out of the woodwork to help us. First, there was a man sitting patiently as he waited for his wife and saw our predicament. He directed Denis to a mechanic (as luck would have it the word for mechanic sounds the same in Portuguese) while I stayed in Ruby and searched high up and low down for the emergency triangle. (An emergency triangle is one of the things you must have in your vehicle in Europe… let this be a warning to you…)

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(It was a bit fiddly but I managed to assemble our triangle)

I found the triangle after only a little hyperventilation, managed to wrestle it out of the plastic wrapping and stand it behind the van and then I just sat inside communicating my apologies as expressively as I could to the passing motorists. Within an hour Denis was back with the mechanic who didn’t speak any English, although he didn’t need to, it was clear we were stuck. Then an English and Portuguese speaking Ireland-loving Swiss doctor knocked on our door (yep!) and he translated between Denis and the mechanic and his boss who has just arrived. Turned out the doctor spent a very enjoyable holiday in Ireland and loved all Irish people and couldn’t do enough for us. He was offering to go home and get his jeep to tow us to the garage but the mechanic reminded him that it’s illegal to tow vehicles in Portugal (another useful piece of information, you’re welcome.) We have to ring him on Monday to tell him how we got on.

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(Ruby getting a lift from our new friend)

The street was bustling with people by now and Denis was on the phone to the emergency breakdown people who said they’d be there in 45 minutes. The man with the tow truck arrived in 40 minutes. Everyone was gone home for lunch when he arrived. It took an hour for him to manoeuvre Ruby into place. She’s a little low on the back so he had to use numerous planks of wood under the back wheels to keep her from scratching along the ground as she was winched onto his truck. It’s not as simple a procedure as you’d imagine. He had to run through the whole wooden planks in reverse when he dropped us off at the garage and here we sit… on the road outside the garage.

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(That car on the left is a BMW and we were too close to put Ruby down here… eventually the tow truck man had to put her down in the street and both he and Denis pushed Ruby to the curb. Me? I was steering)

The garage is closed until Monday. Then they will investigate our problem and order a part and hopefully we’ll be motoring by Tuesday. In the meantime our grey water is empty so no problem there. We will be making great use of the public toilets in the town so that’s fine. We have a half tank of clean water so that should be okay. But our battery power will probably only last until Monday morning, we will need to do something about that then. Our wifi will probably last until Monday too but I haven’t seen a MEO (mobile internet provider) shop in the town so we may have a challenge with that. And lastly we are parked in a place that’s not designated for motorhomes so we may be getting a visit from the GNR (police)… but you remember our friend the policeman in Soure? Hello Rui! He’s still following us on Facebook and he did say if we every needed his help…

To be continued… Mairead.

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