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Thread: Amazon rescuers find ravine crash couple in MB Unimog

  1. #51
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Montreal & San Francisco
    Apparently (I have not read it yet) the latest digital edition on Zinio of the magazine Practical Motorhome (UK) has published a story on this written by the couple.

    CTO Expedition Portal

  2. #52
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    I bought the above magazine, and thought I could summarise the article, put together when the couple visited the UK to source parts.

    The trips mentioned in the blog that Bruce did in the 70's was as an expedition leader driving a Bedford 4x4 with up to 25 people from London to Cape Town.

    Arriving in Jan '06, they explored Mexico, Belize, Guatamala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama with four others, then Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay then Brazil.

    "We'd been reassured by the Police that the road (from Porto Velho to Manaus) was passable in our vehicle; the army was rebuilding it for the July 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and it wasn't the rainy season," said Lesley. "Unfortunately the maps didn't mention that there were more than 100 wooden bridges to cross."

    The road hadn't been easy to that point and they were reluctant to turn around. They'd crossed bridges with missing planks that had been OK, then two that were perfect so assumed they had reached the newly improved road. "The next bridge looked good and solid, painted with tar, with no loose planks, so we started to drive across."

    "As soon as we left the road I could see the front wheels coming off the side of the bridge and I knew we were going over," said Lesley. "My side of the vehicle was plummeting towards the ground. We had seatbelts on, but my window was open, so Bruce grabbed me, heroically, while attempting to steer the Mog back onto the tipping bridge - he was trying to save me from losing my arm or head through the open window. We landed and slid further towards the river at the bottom, but luckily stopped before we hit it. The windscreen smashed, but we were both unhurt. We struggled out of our seatbelts, climbed into the back and out of the skylight. It was 3.30pm and was unbelievably hot and humid - for the next hour we carried things up the ravine."

    After phoning for help via the UK on a Sat phone, knowing help was on its way (arriving 20 hours after the crash), they declined a lift from a local who had turned up. They made a makeshift shelter for the night. When the helicopter did arrive they did a deal with the local to guard their stuff. 2 days later a knife weilding gang on mopeds threatened him so he left. 3 days after the crash 2 policemen drove to the crash site with the couple, leaving at 7am arriving at dusk, stopping cars and mopeds they passed and retrieved a few things. Another camp out with the 2 police at a nearby fibre optics sub-station.

    Next morning there was a queue of cars beside the road. People had already cut a new route through the jungle, built a makeshift bridge and were driving and pushing their vehicles up the other side. Everything in the camper had been taken except the mattress and the cutlery, the draw had jammed shut, but in the 3 days everything had been forced open and taken.

    The police introduced them to "Mr Big" (a local ferry and fish distribution business) who wanted 1300 to take the Mog to Manaus, if he couldn't there would be no charge. His team of men righted the vehicle, drove it down through the water and up a makeshift track, then on for 200km, reinforcing bridges as they went until they reached Castanho, 100km from Manaus. Lesley and Bruce got the vehicle back a week later as promised, with repairs made in Manaus to the steering and some welding. The Mog is being rebuilt by motorhome manufacturers San Ignacio in Gramado, Southern Brazil who offered to do the work after hearing of the accident.

    "In South America we generally meet friendly, happy people, whose motto is 'we work to live'. And we couldn't agree more"

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