Tag Archives: overland

Final Destination… Success…

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Cape Cod

 

The greatest feat of our journey was not surfing epic waves, eating delicious foreign food, or hiking to hard to reach glaciers in the Andes. In fact, the most rewarding part, was when all three of us flew into Newark, New Jersey safe and sound after 15 months of rugged travel, and seeing the face  of my smiling father when he picked us up at the airport. We set a huge goal and followed through till the end. That, my friends, feels so damn sweet, and that first jersey bagel we ate, tasted oh so good.

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Lupe on the plane asking for airline food.

 

Two and a half years ago we made a serious commitment to save all our money and travel. Although many of our friends and family thought we were nuts to even think about doing something so drastic, their support and skepticism were great motivators to make it happen and actually follow through. When times got tough and our tent smelled bad, we could always count on the comments and backing from our loved ones on our social media outlets. It would have been hard to do this without everyones amazing support.

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Breaded smelts ready for the fryer. Yumm…

 

After spending the holidays with our families, we finally reached our final destination (Cape Cod) where we will fry fresh smelts and remain until, who knows… I must admit, being able to stay in one place for a while is comforting, especially since we are minutes away from surf spots, have access to fresh food from the sea, and being able to view bayside sunsets every night. Rest assured, we do hope to go on an epic journey like this again, hopefully sooner than later. So stay tuned for our next big odyssey. Until then, we will do our best to keep telling tales from the road, and posting the progress of the building of Taco 2 (photos will be posted soon.)

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Taco 2… Can of worms, possibly?

 

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South America… a short video

Our bags are packed and we’re ready to fly home today. As this trip comes to an end, and another trip is in the planning stages, we will continue to tell tales from the road. So stay tuned…

Here is a short video showcasing some of the things we encountered during our travels in South America. Without cheating, can anyone name what 80’s movie this song is from? If you enjoyed this video please share it on your feed. Thanks everyone for following…

The Waters of Unknown Emotion

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G’mork:  Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.

Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?

G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.

Atreyu: What is the Nothing?

G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.

Atreyu: But why?

G’mork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!

…looking at the blog, reading posts from way back in the beginning, recalling people and memories that had slipped to the back of my mind…

I am in a daze flipping through pictures, in an attempt to reconnect with those moments “on the road.”

People ask, “Are you sad that it is over?”

“I don’t know.”

Sad feels too committed. I would rather wade in the Waters of Unknown Emotion: slightly dangerous, but equally exciting. The Waters of Unknown Emotion- It is like a land you would find in “The NeverEnding Story”, next to the Swamps of Sadness. The Swamps of Sadness– no way, not going there.  That is where the horse died: it just got sucked in and was never to be seen again. Perhaps you will find me basking on the Beach of Nostalgia, the swamp is behind me but the sound of ocean waves is nearby. I am just laying out, soaking in the rays of places and people past, feeling their warmth engulf my body as the sunshine penetrates my skin. My golden tan will hold me over as I envision the frigid winter weather that lay ahead (I am going to be digging myself out of emotional snow banks this winter). Come on, I must defend against the Nothing. Oh, and don’t forget my luckdragon…Lupe.  A fictitious flying dragon with a wingless elongated body, possessing neither magical talent nor immense physical strength, but distinctive in its unfailing serendipity” (www.wordnik.com). Yup. Right on.

Falcor (the luck dragon): Having a luck dragon with you is the only way to go on a quest. 

Not a child of the 80’s? Confused about the NeverEnding Story references?  Watch this: Neverending story trailor

Cold is okay, though. I will adapt, I always do. Shoveling is good exercise.

I try not to make situations too loaded. I do not want to invest too much emotion into an “end” because then it is just that: an end. From the get go, I had a strong desire to view this “trip”, “journey” (or insert your favorite related word) as a continuation of my life. I struggled to feel settled with this idea of “getting away” and then “returning” and was resistant to identify with concepts such as wanderlust, or any other romanticized notion that communicates a sense of escape, dreaming, and my personal favorite, “head in the clouds”. As G’mork stated, “Fantasia has no boundaries.” It is alive in all of us (all the time), but sometimes we need to go a quest to experience it’s true strength. And upon return, we are inspired, invigorated, grateful.

Besides, I identify more with the image of my head hovering above the water’s surface as my legs kick to keep me afloat- sometimes it is relaxing, sometimes it is exhausting. You have to find your rhythm. Although if you hand me some kid of floating device- I am golden. I could float around forever.

 The Childlike Empress: Bastian. Why don’t you do what you dream, Bastian?

Bastian: But I can’t, I have to keep my feet on the ground!

The Childlike Empress: Call my name. Bastian, please! Save us!

Bastian: All right! I’ll do it! I’ll save you! I will do what I dream!

Can’t it all be a continuum? All experiences will be gently protected under the umbrella of life, as opposed to this concept of leaving reality and then having to “go back” (wait for sound of heavy sighs).  In reality, when we refer to reality, or the return to “the real world”, are we not just referencing the concept of responsibility? People have strong opinions regarding the topic of responsibility. I think I may be considered irresponsible for even introducing the topic.

Bastian’s father: I got a call from your math teacher, yesterday. She says that you were drawing horses in your math book. 

Bastian: Unicorns. They were unicorns.

Bastian’s Father: What?

Bastian: Nothing? 

I feel your pain, Bastian.

I still don’t know. Can it be a continuum? Will it be a continuum? Or am I just over analyzing all of this? Most likely the latter. I am going with the Einstein quote these days, “Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  He was a smart guy.

We are on week 6 in Buenos Aires. The reality of returning to a different way of life (that is how i am framing it today- “a different way of life”) has started to reveal itself.  Already I find myself zoning out to CSI, and giddy with excitement about watching Girls (a series I had never seen due to our absence of cable.) Wow, we have HBO! Slowly I plug back in, and part of me hates another part of me for finding comfort in David Caruso’s face, and excitement from Lena Dunham’s escapades.

I am nostalgic for those slow, hot days in Central America when all I had was a papaya and a book. Conversations of “remember that?”, pervade the daily chatter.

As with all losses, there is that transitional space where you have to organize the experience.  You need to find a shelf for the books, a box for your letters, a closet for the clothes. The idea of everything being scattered on the floor can be unsettling (as I sit in this rental apartment with my belongings strewn about). It’s a heaping pile of mess and there is nowhere to put all your crap. And in the end you have to accept it (the mess), or be riddled with anxiety. I have a feeling all my crap from the last 15 months will lay out for a while. I have not developed a storage system for an experience such as this. It is new. And with that comes opportunity, perhaps even the possibility of invention!

The book shopkeeper, Mr Coriander- one of the only people to have been to Fantasia and returned, explains:

Bastian: What’s that book about?

Mr. Koreander: Oh, this is something special.

Bastian: Well, what is it?

Mr. Koreander: Look, your books are safe. While you’re reading them you get to become Tarzan or Robinson Crusoe

Bastian: But that’s what I like about ’em.

Mr. Koreander: Ahh, but afterwards you get to be a little boy again.

Bastian: What do you mean?

Mr. Koreander: Listen. Have you ever been Captain Nemo, trapped inside your submarine, while the giant squid is attacking you?

Bastian: Yes.

Mr. Koreander: Weren’t you afraid you couldn’t escape?

Bastian: But it’s only a story.

The sadness, reality that things will be different, hovers and you just leave it there… hovering… until that moment when it kicks in…”things will be different.” Ah-Ha!

Things will be different. I can handle that.

But at the same time, a part of you knows that things will be exactly the same. Ugh (heavy sigh).

And the cycle continues.

So, How long till we get out, again?

“Human  passions have mysterious ways, in children as well as grown-ups. Those affected by them can’t explain them, and those who haven’t known them have no understanding of them at all. Some people risk their lives to conquer a mountain peak. No one, not even they themselves, can really explain why. Others ruin themselves trying to win the heart of a certain person who wants nothing to do with them. Still others are destroyed by their devotion to the pleasures of the table. Some are so bent on winning a game of chance that they lose everything they own, and some sacrifice every thing for a dream that can never come true. Some think their only hope of happiness lies in being somewhere else, and spend their whole lives traveling from place to place. And some find no rest until they have become powerful. In short, there are as many different passions as there are people.”

Prologue (The NeverEnding Story)

 

Works Cited 

“Luck dragon”. Wordnik.com. 2014. http://www.wordnik.com/words/luckdragon (10 December 2014).

The Never-ending Story, Dir. Wolfgang Peterson. Perf. Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach. Neue Constantin Film, Bavaria Studios (in collaboration with); Westdeutscher Rundfunk.  1984.

“Never-Ending Story Clip- Gmork Scene”. Online Posting. YouTube,10 December 2014. Web. July 25 2007.

Using the Bathroom in Mexico

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The sun was freshly set when my stomach began to bubble. I felt the “plato del dia” sink low, to the dark haunting depths of my bowels, making its way to the end of the line. We have all been there. This can happen after eating 3 Brothers Pizza on the Jersey boardwalk, or even in your own home. This specific instance, while at high elevation in a Mexican forest, we were able to pull into a roadside posada during the early evening hours. Not wanting to drive at night, and desperate for a place to camp, we approached a small bundled up Mexican gent and asked for permission to camp in his lot. He was enthusiastic regarding our request, and welcomed us to camp for the night. We had been traveling Mexico via automobile for the past 3 months. This was just another day on the road.

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I strolled to the restroom just like I had done a million times before. I did not have much time to spare. The restroom was in my peripheral vision and appeared to be vacant. This was child’s play- no worries. I will mail the package, then resume my evening plans of sipping cerveza and discussing tomorrows drive to Oaxaca.

I finished my restroom meeting and reached for the flush handle. It was night time and there was no functioning light source. I pulled out my flashlight and inspected the situation, soon to realize, a flush handle did not exist. “Ok, just relax,” I thought to myself. “I can solve this riddle. I can pull the plug up from inside the tank and then be on my way.” Next, to my continued amazement, I shone my light to the depths of the tank and startled the insects inside. Not only was the tank bone dry, but there was a golf ball sized hole in the bottom where I could clearly see the grey concrete floor below.

I contemplated just leaving the scene, as is, and later warning my fellow campers to not use the “stall on the left,” but this would only prove that I am not just inconsiderate, but a complete asshole. The poor Mexican man that owned the establishment was extremely generous. He does not deserve such a gesture of disrespect from American travelers, especially those privileged enough to tour several countries over extended periods of time.

This predicament might baffle even the most “off the beaten path” traveler, but after being presented with situations such as these, numerous times, one has no choice but to educate him or herself on proper 3rd world bathroom use. This includes the ins and outs of how a toilet properly functions. One becomes an “amateur plumber,” in a way. You will soon leave these situations confident and coming out on top, literally.

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some tips:

-Bring your own toilet paper: Toilet paper is usually absent from both public and private bathrooms. On occasion,  you can purchase it on the spot, but it is always a good Idea to keep a roll handy when traveling. There is no guarantee that a given location will have some to sell, and exiting a bathroom with only one sock or sleeve will make you an easy target for possible humiliation.

-Keep spare change handy: Often times you will need to pay to use the restroom. It is never much, but it is indeed a reality.  Also note that having to break a 100 peso bill might prove difficult for some establishments, not to mention the lack of enthusiasm from the attendant to finish the transaction quickly. In this situation time could be your worst enemy.

-Toilets missing water tanks are still functional: When presented with this predicament, you can flush the toilet by pouring a bucket of water in the actual bowl, or in the hole where the tank once lived. Most likely there will be a giant drum of water outside the bathroom with a smaller scooping bucket for doing this.

-No toilet seats are common: In this situation, one may develop his or her own methods to cope with the inadequacy. You can do “the hover”, which can be tough on the thigh muscles. There is also “the one-cheek lean”, which people have mixed feelings about, but after a quick bowl rim cleaning this might prove to be sufficient.

-Do not flush toilet paper: The plumbing in most countries South of the border can not handle toilet paper. There will be a receptacle usually within arms reach. In the rare case the receptacle is absent, you can either throw it in the corner, or take it with you and find a trash can. But do not flush, because clogging a toilet can prove to be  not only embarrassing, but also a messy job to clean up.

Sometimes one needs to step out of their comfort zone and see what’s around the corner (no matter how dark it may be). You might have to sacrifice luxury in order to get a unique travel experience. Roughing it proves necessary in order to get things done when things get rustic. And to conclude the story above: I managed to find a large drum of water outside the restroom. After using the “pouring water in the bowl method” I was on my way.

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Our Baja Article in Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine

Check out our recently published article on Baja, Mexico in Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine. I posted the article below, along with some screen shots of the magazine, but I recommend you go to their website and check out the entire issue. CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE ENTIRE ISSUE.

“You’re driving through Mexico, are you crazy, it’s so dangerous, you might die.” This is a common response we receive when telling people about our upcoming travels through this unaccustomed country. My usual response entails something along the lines of, “Really. What do you mean? Have you ever been there?” This is traditionally followed by an answer  of, “Nooo. No, I’ve never been there.”

In the overlanding community, it is a fact that Mexico stands out as a major highlight of any Pan-American adventure.  This is mostly due to the country’s abundance of culture, incredible food, warm people, and one cannot forget that it’s great on the budget. As these parking lot conversations arise before your departure, attempt to just nod and smile. Don’t be rude. You know the real deal. You did your homework.

On Halloween 2013 we headed West in the Toyota Tacoma (the Taco) on the Southern most road in California. We were making our final preparations to cross into Mexico, at the Tecate border. This sleepy border town had no line and no stress, but we were rookies. There was no denying that we were nervous. After all, it was our first international border, and with us we carried a truckload of personal possessions that would be bringing us to the southern most tip of South America. In the end, we psyched ourselves out for no reason. It was easy, and Baja awaited with an abundance of possibility.

Baja has fish, and fish is good. We camped in Punta Conejo close to the river mouth. When I say river I actually am referring to the dried-up dirt arroyo that bared more resemblance to a Fred Flintstone highway. But over millions of years of floods and river deposits, a giant river rock reef translates into an abundance of fish to eat and waves to be surfed, making this desert wasteland paradise to some. It was paradise to us. Sunrise surfcasting off the point was a guaranteed meal, or should I say meals. It was here that enough fish were caught, in 45 minutes each morning, to not only feed ourselves everyday,  but also our fellow campers. The fish was also provided to the landowner who happily accepted Pargo instead of the small suggested camping fee. In the surf lineup they called me “the fish slayer”. This was a good thing. Amongst the catches were Snapper, Corvina,  and trigger fish, just to name a few. As a result of the ocean’s bounty, we were able to invent new recipes and make some new amigos.  When you catch your own food, you don’t have to buy food.  It is like putting money in your pocket, which extends your trip. This is Baja.

On the Sea of Cortez we managed to find a less traveled nook not far from the highway and we were able to park right on the beach. The sea was calm and clear, like a toilet for the gods. There was no one around. “Lets get snorkley!” After about an hour of diving in the shallow crystal sea, I counted over one hundred chocolates in my black mesh bag. Chocolate pronounced, “cho-ko-la-tae,” is a clam native to Mexico. “Clams for days” was the phrase of the week. When we craved some variety, we switched over to scallops. These were additionally as abundant as the clams, but required more work.  In hunting for Scallops, the end of the shell peeks out of the sand like a shy man at a singles retreat. Armed with a gloved hand, I wrenched at the creature. After a period of strangling and struggling, the ten plus inch shell fish finally revealed itself in its entirety. The process of cleaning scallops is messy and takes some time, but when your camping in Baja, time you have.

There are fish stories for days when overlanding Baja. I’m only scratching the surface. In addition to the surfboards and fishing gear, it is wise to pack a camera, because your friends won’t believe you. When you are not surfing, you will be fishing, and when you’re not fishing, you will be eating your catch. This baron desert is surprisingly abundant in sea life and if you should have the urge to fish, you will be successful. Besides remote camping and hunting for your meals, Baja provides plenty of opportunities for organized campgrounds (with hookups), cheap accommodations, and fish taco stands for miles. After not showering for weeks at a time, and finding fish scales in your pockets, campgrounds begin to provide a certain unprecedented sense of comfort.  There is an ability to get a room in town, or gorge one self on the never-ending array of tacos, simply due to  amazing affordability of this region.

If you’ve spent time in the desert you know that it possesses a magical quality. You know the polarity of it’s landscape, representing both strength and an undying sense of unforgiveness.  Baja is all beautiful, spellbinding, and dangerous rolled into one narrow peninsula jutting off California. It is best to remember that one must always travel with water, the proper recovery gear, and perhaps extra gas.  On some of the roads, you might not get a passer-by for weeks at a time. Also bring  your warm cloths because Baja can be cold, depending on where you are at any given moment. And always bring paper maps because your GPS might stop working all of a sudden.

We spent over 6 weeks surfing, fishing, driving the dusty dirt roads, buying hundreds of fish tacos, and traveling with friends we made in the desert. The stars were bright and the whales were swimming, but, as always, there is a time when one must move on. We drove the Taco aboard a two-story ship, parked on the top deck exposed to the sky. We were the only noncommercial, non tractor-trailer truck aboard the crowded vessel. The sky was clear, the truckers were drunk, and we departed La Paz before sunset. We set up camp as if we were back in the lonesome desert, popped the top, and spread the blankets. On the chilly clear night, the constellations were stunning. In less than twenty hours we landed in Matazalan, Mexico.