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Ecuador - Quito

On 10th May, with an engine warning light flashing, we aimed for the nearest Volkswagen garage in Quito The boss and staff at VW were fantastic. They spent at least an hour testing and tinkering, then announced that we needed a turbo specialist - we are not having much luck in the turbo department and reports we had just received from Garrett in the UK for the two damaged turbos we had returned (hoping for a warranty claim) indicated 'overspeeding', so something in the set-up or the engine was causing our problems and needed to be found and fixed. VW guided us the 10 miles to north Quito to the Ecuador distributor for Garrett: Garner-Espinosa. As for VW - no charge. Garner-Espinosa we discovered is a great family business, half English (Garner) and half Ecuador (Espinosa) - an unlikely encounter back in the 60's of an Ecuador engineering apprentice learning English in South Devon to become and engineer exams. Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable beyond compare and English speaking!

With the van out of service and in for diagnosis, we settled for an apartment in Quito's Historic Centre and a few days seeing the sights. We were joined for an evening by friends Margaux and Sev, ....and this is where Rachel (and Sev) made her 2nd menu error in two days. Looking forward to a vegetarian meal of avocado, potatoes and peanut sauce, plates arrived bearing the front section and rear end of a poor cute furry (formerly) guinea-pig. I was glad to see my chicken!

One of the strangest moments in Quito was seeing a wiry little guy trotting the length of a street with a washing machine strapped to his back - a delivery somewhere. Not a scene you'd see at home. We also got to catch the weekly changing of the guard in front of the Presidential Palace - quite the highlight.

Having enjoyed our stay, it was time to collect the van and set off again... well for a little while. The turbo had sustained some damage and while the guys at Garner-Espinosa think they've fixed the problem and have refurbished the turbo, they did recommend we test this one, whilst we wait for yet another one to be shipped from the UK. It seems the safer option to replace again rather than continue south into the high Andes with a slightly damaged unit. So off to see if we continue to 'overspeed' while doing an average 40mph - North and then West.

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