Saturday, August 11, 2007

A happy end, Brazil here I come...

[Coming into Santos]

Well, Friday was a pretty hectic day. Starting off with Eliana and Bravo Customs Brokers, who had the necessary paperwork prepared, first for the bank and then for Marihna Mercante. With the usual burocratic delays, Marihna Mercante was presented with a document they liked, I signed, she stamped it and entered the data in her computer and that was that. Not too hard ( of course it helped that Eliana from Bravo knew exactly what to prepare and how!!)

Next, the payment to the bank, and once that was done, the payment was registered electronically with Marihna Mercante, and the receipt printed out and I was ready for Nivio and customs again!

So after lunch that was where I headed. Again, with the correct document, things went smoothly. He signed everything off, and the papers were off to the inspections department.

Here the papers made the rounds and around 17:00 I was taken to the warehouse where the extremely nice Claudia worked overtime to get my paperwork processed on the spot, and together with the inspector we went and opened my box.

[Someone broke open the tank and stole my air pump and some odds & ends!!]

Yes, it was here, and I finally got to see my bike, for the first time in nearly 3 months! First off, it had been opened. Where, I have no idea. But when I looked inside, there was oil everywhere. The tank had been forced open, and the instrument console had also been pried open. So, I wasn't exactly in a good mood after seeing that.

[and, someone pried open the instrument console!]

The inspector got the frame number and looked in one of the boxes and he was satisfied. With that the customs was finished. The bike was now cleared by them. The next hurdle loomed.

[Claudio gets his hands dirty]

Ok, Claudia informs me that it will not be possible for me to unpack the bike and just ride out of the warehouse. Silly me for thinking that since everything had been cleared it would be that easy.
Turns out that in order for the warehouse to clear the bike (cargo), it had to be registered in their system as having left the premises. This was not possible since their system could not handle the registration information for my bike.

[Unpacking Strider]

So, I had to either truck the crate out, or find someone with a car who could help me out. With this information I returned to Allink, where Claudio was waiting for me to find out what happened. I informed him, and gave him the contact information for Claudia, whom he then called. He confirmed what I had said, and then started looking around for a truck. Turns out that hauling it out of there would cost me another 250$.. When will this end?
So Claudio then volunteered to accompany me to the warehouse in the morning, and provide me with the required alibi. Hey great. Maybe we can pull this off after all. I went back to Sao Paulo and crashed, it had been a long day, but in the end Claudio felt that we should be able to get the bike out on Saturday.

[After 3 1/2 hours, and help from practically everyone it is back together and packed..]

At 8:30 Claudio picked me up at the bus station and after having dropped his wife with the promise that he would pick her up at 12:00, we headed off to the warehouse.
With the papers which were processed the previous day, my passport, my vehicle registration papers, my CPF number, Claudio's car registration, Claudio's drivers license, and a release form, dictated by the person in charge, and written down by Claudio, and signed by me, they had all they needed to start entering the data into their system. One and a half hour later (as the office closed), we were done, and were allowed to enter the premises to start unpacking the bike. Of course, this sounds simple, but let me tell, you Claudio had animated discussions with practically every employee there, including the warehouse manager. Incredible, but somehow he managed to sort it all out. There were naturally some conditions, mainly, I was not allowed to ride out of the compound. The bike had to be pushed to the gate, and I had to exit via another gate, and then return to this gate where I could finally push the bike outside. Hey at this point, nothing surprised me.
We entered the warehouse and got started. The crew there were extremely helpful and curious. At one point, they even came over with a fork lift to lift the bike off the pallet instead of trying to roll it off without a front wheel, which is pretty difficult. (I need to put it on the center stand to put the wheel on, and I couldn't do that while it was on the pallet.).
Slowly I got everything unpacked, and mounted. The battery connected, and cranked the sucker up. Sure enough, it started, but the oil light was on and it sounded a bit funny. So I shut it down and checked. All the oil was gone! I assumed that the oil inside the crate was from the front fork seals, but on closer inspection it looked like engine oil. But there was no leak anywhere!! Where did the oil go?
I am assuming that they opened the crate either in Kolkatta or Singapore and removed the oil by pumping it out. The oil inside the crate being oil which spilled while doing this. The reason they did this was more than likely because of security against fire. I was aware of the fuel issue, but not engine oil. The didn't get the gear oil though.
First pump up the tires, both of which were flat, and since someone stole my air compressor I had to do it with my hand pump, which took a while.

Besides the air compressor, they also stole a set of mini sockets, an elbow connector used to put air in the back tire, and a can with a spare clutch cable. They had also taken a bag with charging cables out, and thrown it in the corner of the crate. What I am going to miss the most is the compressor, we have been together for the last 17 years or so, and they simply don't make anything like that anymore, this was a solid, heavy duty air compressor in a very small package. Everything today is just plastic and falls apart after a short while. Not to mention how difficult it is to fill and seat a flat tire with just a hand pump. But I will manage...

After the tire was pumped up we head off to the nearest gas station and bought some oil.
Once the oil was in, I started it up and let the bike run a while, everything seemed fine.
Was this really it?
Yes, it was. We rolled the bike to the gate, and the guys at the gate, threw caution to the wind and let me ride out into Brazil without making me exit and come around the whole building. Not bad. Met up with Claudio at the gas station where I had just filled out, and we were both smiling ear to ear. I am not sure which one of us was the happiest to finally be finished with this ordeal, you judge... (of course it was now 14:00, and his wife was still waiting!!)

[Claudio and I, finally outside the bonded warehouse and in Brazil proper..]

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