Completely around Brazil, from north to south, around the entire line of the country’s map, to know the truth, the inhabitants and the borders of each region of this nation of continental proportions. In the 1990s, this dream was developed by friends Alessandra Pasquale Silveira Peixoto, better known as Leca Peixoto, Flávia Renault and Mariana Pimenta, all three at the age of 20. They were university students and in 1995 they decided to suspend their studies for a while to fulfill that dream.
They soon realized two major problems implementing what they called Project Contornos: they had neither the experience nor the money. They asked for help and tips from meteorologists, physical trainers, travelers, geographers, researchers, sociologists, natives, car mechanics, cartographers, travelers, doctors.
And so they established an itinerary divided into four main areas – the Tropical Atlantic, from São Paulo to Maranhão, the Amazon, from Pará to Rondônia, Grande Chico, from Mato Grosso to Rio Grande do Sul, and Costa Sul, back to São Paulo.
With these plans, they managed to find sponsors, who, however, helped more with their products than resources. And the main thing was still missing: the car.
The worst part of the trip, in Maranhão: 8 hours to cover only 150 km – Photo: Projeto Contornos/MIAU
The girls were able to arrange a meeting with Fábio Steinbruch, then an official importer of Subaru, at the 1996 Motor Show. Being fond of travel and rallies, he immediately offered a wheeled Impreza. But it was not a 0 km car but a A 1993 model that had already participated in other trips and adventures, with 100 thousand kilometers shown on the odometer.. It was what he had, and they immediately took him up on the offer.
And they left, Flávia, Leca, Mariana and Subaru, from São Paulo, from the Ibirapuera Obelisk, December 3, 1996. The car carried the three travelers, their luggage and equipment. In contrast, it had only a satellite tracking system: a computer, installed on a fixed base in São Paulo, showed the vehicle’s location in real time, as well as allowing the exchange of written messages via the on-board computer. And that’s it: no GPS, Waze, Google Maps, Whatsapp, smartphones…
Perrengue is not enough to describe what the three faced along the way, but always in a good mood. During the trip, Leca contracted conjunctivitis and Mariana and Flávia contracted dengue. There were almost no clean bathrooms, let alone hot showers. They slept in the car several times, it was very hot and cold, they got bitten by every kind of insect you can think of, they were stranded on a deserted beach with the waves rising…
Improved, permanent bridges in Transpantaneira, in Mato Grosso – Photo: Projeto Contornos/MIAU
The worst of all the bad roads they faced was in Maranhão, from São Luís to Barreirinhas: 152 kilometers of dirt covered by heavy rains and puddles of mud covering the Impreza’s hood. It took eight hours to overcome the short stretch.
The biggest difficulty, however, was machismo. What they heard the most was “three women alone? You won’t be able to” or “you are crazy”. At the very beginning of the journey, they stopped going out at night in the cities where they stayed overnight, as the men crossed the border when they realized that they were traveling alone – they even received curses. They were even chased by two drunken men in a truck in the area of Praia de Pipa, in Rio Grande do Norte.
On the tarmac, drivers sped up when they realized they were being overtaken by a car with only women – one of them even damaged the Palio’s engine by demanding more accelerator than the car’s condition allowed. Because of that, they cut their hair very short and drove with sunglasses and hats, so that it wouldn’t be obvious that there were only girls inside the Subaru.
On the other hand, in Blumenal (SC), already on the last stage of the journey, the mother approached and told her daughters, raising her finger, that there are examples of modern women and that, from that day on, they should. always remember the faces and courage of those three.
They were invited by the Indians to meet the tribe in Ouricuri, Pernambuco — Photo: Projeto Contornos/MIAU
Subaru was a great partner: the trio spent an average of seven hours a day behind the wheel, taking turns driving. He went back and forth in one piece, aided by inspections at vendors along the way, but, like travelers, he showed signs of fatigue at times. First it was an easy flat tire, in Bahia (changed in twelve minutes). Then, an electrical failure on a dirt road in Roraima, in the middle of a storm and at night, turned off the headlights and panel lights – the solution was to light the way ahead and control the oil pointer on the base of the torch.
The brakes also gave trouble, coming to a stop unexpectedly, but fortunately in low-speed maneuvers. The battery did not withstand the effort for a long time and had to be replaced. And in Mato Grosso do Sul the exhaust part decided to abandon the trip and stay there.
While we were still in Rondônia, the car started leaking engine oil through the crankshaft seal, forcing the trio to repeatedly top up until they found a dealer to do the repair – which ended up happening thousands of kilometers later, in Cascavel, Paraná. On the way, sometimes oil leaked onto the exhaust, causing smoke, which several times caused the drivers to honk their horns warning that the engine was in danger, and they calmly replied: “Okay, thanks, it’s just a noise.” seal”, to the general surprise.
Return to São Paulo, ten months and 58 thousand kilometers later – Photo: Projeto Contornos/MIAU
The fact is that the Impreza returned the trio safe and sound to São Paulo, and its hood served as the stage for a champagne burst that celebrated the successful conclusion of the Contours Project. In total, the travelers traveled for 296 days, or almost ten months, crossing 23 states and covering 58,000 kilometers.. The official arrival took place on September 25, 1997 and the final stage of the journey was again the Obelisco do Ibirapuera.
The car was returned to Subaru and displayed at shows, exhibitions, shows and even at Auto Shows. But with the change of the importer, in 1998, his glory ended up being forgotten little by little. Today, according to data from Detran-SP, the model has not been licensed for 14 years and accumulates more than R$ 2,500 in debt to IPVA alone, which indicates that its fate may be to be dismantled – to the shock of Flávia, Leca, Mariana and us all of us.
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