Travel Including a Plane Stuck in the Mud

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Anon

The plane taxied to the end of the runway but it never took off for it was stuck in the mud. Well, actually the problem was not so much mud but the heavy rain during the night had washed out a channel in the red soil. Since the DC-3 prop plane needed all the space available, the pilot had tried to turn right at the end of the runway . Perhaps he never noticed what had been the riverbed from the night or he thought his plane could handle anything.

But we were stuck even though he raced the engines. Finally he gave up; but there was another solution, perhaps one he’d encountered before. About half a dozen men—I suppose we might refer to them as caboclos—men of mixed ancestry who often populated the interior. They came down the runway carrying the wide-bladed hoes that were used among the coffee bushes and with them scraped away the soil that held the plane’s wheel making a ramp out of the trap.

The pilot raced the engine so that the plane escaped and we headed down that uneven dirt runway on its itinerary to the city of São Paulo. That was a 600 kilometre trip by train and though it was an overnight trip it spoiled two days. That flight was one of the few plane trips I remember for it was more costly than any other transportation. I suppose buses were available but they were a poor excuse for that long trip especially when the roads were just dirt. I do recall one trip that was so cold I thought I would perish from hypothermia. That adds to my reasons for taking that plane.

My beautiful picture

The little village of Neves

But why would I go to the big city especially since I’d leave Doris and the children alone, isolated in a small village in the middle of coffee plantations? You see, São Paulo was the only reasonable place to change money. Then in the city there were a number of places that exchanged money but one especially that would always take personal cheques. That ended in them going bankrupt. The story is that men from the U.S. began to supposedly invest in Brazil till they were trusted, then huge NSF cheques bounced.

On top of that errand I’d check on our car that had been kept in customs in the port of Santos. That involved a trip from the plateau where São Paulo is located, down the mountains to see our despachante. Nothing could be accomplished in the government bureaucracy without a despachante for he was an agent who knew how to get things done. Often that time in Santos meant another night in a hotel. By the way, we never did get that 1955 Plymouth out of customs till during our next term in Brazil.

My beautiful picture

The new car and was old when we got it out of customs.

 

On the return trip we took the train back to Rio Preto and by bus to Neves where Doris was holding the fort. She took on my responsibilities in ministry, as well as those of our family and the preaching points we’d started.

My beautiful picture

Doris with her accordion with a layman speaking in a home.

 

To us both at that time, this seemed a normal pattern of life. Of course we were young then and had lots of energy. But looking back now, I am sure we had more ambition than good sense. In any case the fruit of our ministry made it all worthwhile—even being in a plane that got stuck in the mud.

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