Tag Archives: South America

Selling your USA regestered vehicle in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A step by step guide to selling your USA registered vehicle in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Everybody’s situation for selling a USA registered vehicle in Argentina may be different, depending on a variety of circumstances. In my specific situation: I drove my 2001 Toyota Tacoma to Argentina from the USA, then I sold my vehicle in Buenos Aires to another traveler from Germany and his girlfriend from the USA. Given these circumstances, from what I researched, this was the only way I was able to transfer my paperwork to someone else’s name. Most of this information is courtesy of Dan, from The Road Chose Me. It was posted on Wikioverland in the Argentina section. Wikioverland has been a great information source regarding Pan-Am travel, crossing the borders, etc. I highly recommend it. The entire selling process was relatively painless and stress free. The most difficult part travelers might face will be to actually find a buyer. I posted the truck for sale several months in advance on a variety of online resources, including: Craigslist (I got the most action on craigslist), Facebook travel groups, Expedition Portal, and my personal blog (Sardinetaco).

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The customs woman was freindly and extremely helpful.

 

1. Go to a Public Notary (Escribano Publico) and have a Power of Attorney (Poder) made authorizing the buyer to drive the vehicle in Argentina and all countries for an unlimited time period. (I found an English speaking notary where I got the power of attorney, They charged me $300 USD, Kier Joffe)

2. Go to a customs office (Google Map for downtown Buenos Aires) to cancel the current temporary import papers and have new ones made in the name of the new owner. This cost nothing.

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The customs office.

 

3. The new owner can now drive the vehicle in Argentina for as long as the temporary import papers allow. They can also leave and re-enter as many times as they like to get new papers, and they can drive to any other country they wish. The original owner can now legally exit Argentina. (Although, from what I concluded, there is no information in my passport that says I entered with a vehicle. I think I could have left the country via airplane without any of this new paperwork.)

4. For more info on selling your vehicle in Argentina, please visit Wikioverland Argentina.

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The deal is done!

 

Using this method was fairly easy, but you must remember, your vehicle is not officially sold, and you are really just giving somebody else permission, for an unlimited time, to travel with the vehicle. There is still a chance you could be held responsible (as the owner) if your vehicle is involved in criminal activity, vehicular homicide, etc. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. I am not very comfortable with my name still attached to the vehicle, but my only other option was to ship the vehicle back to the USA, and that was out of the budget. The new drivers of the vehicle and I made a written and verbal agreement, to work together once they were in a position to sell the vehicle, including, possibly shipping it back to the states (or doing whatever means necessary to remove both our names from the vehicles history.) I put a certain amount of trust in the new drivers that these things will be considered when they are ready to end their trip and sell the vehicle. I think it’s important, if you use this method, to trust the people you are dealing with (for obvious reasons). To some this may sound like a risky deal, but then again this was a risky trip. If your not a risk taker you probably won’t go on a trip like this to begin with. The entire trip was an amazing adventure and we have no regrets with anything we have done regarding the trip, except eating the airline food on the plane ride home, yikes!…

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This was the last time I saw the Taco in person… Sigh…

 

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…

McDonalds in Colombia Video

As some of you already know, we have a love/hate relationship with McDonalds. Although we don’t eat McDonalds back home, while traveling we have definitely taken advantage of the free internet and familiar paper cup of coffee. “Im loving’ it,” as the catch phrase goes. Sometimes its just easier.

“Im hating it,” when I walk in hungry and eat a little too much, more than I initially intended to. I exit the colorful building, hunched over and shamed. Its even hard to look in the eyes of the homeless parking attendant, but I hand him some pesos anyway. Then I would drive down the road and wonder where it all went wrong.

After visiting McDonalds on an international level, its cool to see the different food specific to each country. In Colombia you can order yucca fries while in New Mexico you can get green chile on your burger. For breakfast in Buenos Aires you will order a media luna, (Argentine croissant) and in New York you will get bagels. The little differences are nice, but the one thing they all have in common is the shame and regret you feel after eating a meal at McDonalds.

Bonsai Asado

We were lucky to be guests to an asado (Argentine BBQ & national dish) being hosted by our friend Jorge, one of South America’s top bonsai masters. Jorge’s garden is like a bonsai forest, with a number of pint sized trees that will consume whoever enters. He walked us through the forest and showed us some prize winning bonsais, along with a bonsai he planted from a seed as a child.

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We met Alan (Jorge’s son) back in the states when he was traveling. Now that we are in Buenos Aires he invited us to his family home for the asado. The asado included various cuts of meat, both beef and pork, as well as blood sausage, chorizo and plenty of bread and wine. We stumbled out their door as full as can be.

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Be careful not to step on Penelope when roaming the garden. She may be a tortoise over 40 years old, but she deserves respect.

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Photos of the Buenos Aires Streets

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Wandering aimlessly around Buenos Aires you might come across a nicknack strewn mercado, Che Guevara merch, doll heads, and old buildings plastered with graffiti. When you want to take a break from that, there are plenty of museums to peep, or just enter one of the several salami shops and gaze at the selection. Theres nothing like relaxing in a grassy well manicured park, cutting up salami and bread after a day of street walking.

Rain Soaked in Uruguay

It was three in the morning as I sat naked, confused, disoriented, and a bit groggy from the drinks of the evening. I was sitting in the reclined driver seat of my truck in a major city in South America, downtown, in an upscale neighborhood.

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It started as a travel day like any other, moving from one place to the next, just like we’ve been doing for the past fourteen months. We spent the past two nights camped at “The Point” of Punta Del Diablo on the Northern coast of Uruguay. We shot up to the border town in Brazil to fill up with gas and load up on some tax free goods. The skies were clear, the color of the ocean resembled chocolate, the wind was howling through a windowless structure. Its was a weekday, so the beaches were lonely.

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Hours were spent driving south down the coast, the landscape in Uruguay mostly rolling hills where cattle roam the fields waiting to be consumed by humans, the small crowds of tall trees growing close to one another in the wide open fields bearing resemblance to socially awkward teens in an auditorium at a junior high dance. The climate is not tropical, but palm trees grow wild. We would occasionally see small flocks of kermit-green birds spastically flying in close proximity to our faces. We watched for whales while surfing, the occasional startle from a curious seal as it popped its head out of the water only a few feet from where we floated.

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Then there was the drive through upscale Maldonado and Punta Del Este, the bright white skyscrapers contrasted against the blue sky. The sea was choppy and wind blown, so surfing was out of the agenda. There was a certain comfort provided by the upscale communities we had traveled through. The surroundings felt safe, the off season kept the crowds in check, and well groomed beach combers wished us well. This was all too easy, but the entire day still lay ahead. So we decided to go to Montevideo, the largest city in the country.

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Navigating large foreign cities in the truck is not our strong point. On any given day we would drive into a big sprawl, I would get an anxiety attack, and we would quickly drive out. But Montevideo was clean, organized with courteous drivers steering through the streets while locals exercised up and down the malecón. The clean city beaches below the high-rises, were separated by well-manicured lawns littered with mate sipping bystanders. Although we were in South America, it felt more like Europe.

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Camping in urban areas where we come from is often referred to as “homeless.” Our roof top tent attracts unwanted attention and firing up exotic curry dishes in the rear of the Toyota also attracts wandering eyes. Sometimes I wish we had a van.

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We found a spot to camp amongst other overland vehicles, sandwiched between a gas station and the Atlantic Ocean. The situation was suspiciously perfect. The gas station provided bathrooms and free wifi. The green grassy field we parked in had other overlanders (safety in numbers) and a horizontal view of the Atlantic lightning storm which we would later find out, would unexpectedly changed our night’s plans.

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The wind was strong all day, but the rain came around midnight, soaking the tent and shaking the truck violently. It was about 2am when the wind clocked in at over 30 mph, the roof top tent resembling a giant clam shell closing down on us while we helplessly tried to sleep inside. At this point Sara feared for her safety and retreated to the cab of the truck, pleading for us to join her. Lupe and I stayed in the tent giving in to the comfort of warm wet blankets and a half drunken slumber. The tent was on the cusp of eating us alive and then blowing away in the night sea.

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Rational thinking finally kicked in, the tent was on the verge of explosion, we needed to get the hell out, and quickly. I cradled the dog and exited the tent, instantly soaked we entered the truck and hatched a quick scheme. Wearing only a bathing suit and a rain coat, blinded by wind and rain, shivering cold, Sara and I struggled to break camp while Lupe laid comfortably on her bed in the cab of the truck. It was 2:30 am, the truck was now running, the streets were flooded, the downpour was torrential. Police barricades blocked flooded streets and we noticed were the only ones out in the city of 1.5 million people.

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We retreated deep into the city streets, wind blocked by apartment buildings, rain intercepted by tree. It was still uncomfortable, but compared to where we came from it was a better situation. We striped off our wet cloths, tired and disoriented, this was where the story began. How long could we sit here in the truck, naked, drying off, in an upscale neighborhood, and not get arrested. The storm was bad, no one was around so we had the night to ourselves. We re-setup the tent, laid in wet blankets in the soaked clamshell of a tent and surprisingly, we slept the rest of the early morning in downtown Montevideo.

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Waking up to the light of day, we climbed down the ladder from the roof of our truck, in a neighborhood where respectable citizens were on their way to work. They give us the “button eye” while they briskly walked past. I didn’t blame them, we looked pathetic. Then driving through the city we spotted the golden arches. There is no better place for a couple of pathetic Americans than a McDonalds. Americans seem to be the only people who travel thousands of miles to eat the same hormone injected protein we could get in our local shopping mall parking lots back home. We try not to make this a habit, but free internet, clean bathrooms, and hot coffee was hard to resist after a tiring night exposed to the elements.

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It looked like rain for the rest of the day in the entire country. All hopes of exploring the city were denied, everything was shut down. We were wet, everything was soaked, and we needed to find a room somewhere. So we headed towards the Argentinian border in hopes of crossing over within a few days. We drove towards Colonia, only a few hours away. The gasoline light illuminated; I had 30 miles left until empty but Colonia was only 10 miles away––no problem. Five miles from town, the traffic stopped. Then, cars ahead began to turn around. I was in desperate need of gas. I passed the line of traffic only to discover that the road had turned to a rapidly flowing river over 1/2 mile across. We headed back to where we came from, finding a gas station just as the last fumes were consumed by our engine.

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The next several hours were spent exploring the surrounding area, where we searched for a safe route to Colonia, only to be disappointed with more flooded highways. There was no way in or out of Colonia by vehicle. So after more hours of driving we pulled into the riverside town of Mercedes. The river was swollen but the town sits safety on a hill, protected from the waterlogged river bank and flooded parks. The day ended and the sun sank on the horizon. The sky and buildings turned the color of salmon, a rainbow spanned the late afternoon sky. The worst was over, we could sense it in the air. As the last few raindrops fell from above, we sipped wine and looked out the window of our rented room. Exhausted and relieved, we embraced our hard earned relaxation, the wine too good to describe. Tomorrow would be another day, one of drying wet clothes and gear. Such is life on the road.

 

3 Weeks in Chile

We were craving a bit of organization. When I say “organization” I’m mostly referring to safer drivers and pasteurized cheese. After traveling some of the poorer countries in the Americas, It will be an interesting transition back to the so called “first world.”

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We were not surprised we got denied at the Chilean border, Lupe’s papers were insufficient. Chile is  very strict about any pets, eggs, vegetables, and various other animals and food products one may try to pirate across national lines. For this might contaminate the country with disease and foreign fauna from the bordering countries. Being unsure of the specific paperwork we might need for Lupe, we just rolled in to see what needed to be done. Smuggling her across the border (like we did in Panama) is a risky move, because Chilean authorities have the ability to take your pet from you, for a variety of reasons, including no paperwork, so we’ve heard.

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Approaching the border we are surrounded by grey mountains of sand and rock. It could be the backdrop of any haunted desert movie. Everything was dreary, the overcast sky, the color of the sand, the trucks driving by. We had no choice but to drive the 20 miles back from the border to the Peruvian border town, in search a vet to provide the proper papers for Lupe.

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Before the days end we made it through the border legally. While approaching downtown Arica, I immediately notice a difference in the Chilean drivers good etiquette, as well as no senseless horn blowing. Not to mention we are in a beach town during the off season, and I can’t help but admire the resemblance of Arica, to the off season at the Jersey shore. I immediately liked Chile.

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Some of our food was confiscated at the border by the vegetable cops, so we decided to do a quick shop. The large grocery store resembled one from back in the states, genetically oversized veggies, pre packaged cheese and meat, individually packaged tuna burger patties. This was familiar, and noticeably more expensive than anywhere we’ve been this past year. Then we found the Chilean wine, which is only three dollars a bottle, so it all evened out.

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We camp on the beach every night with the overcast landscape, sounds of the ocean, and the occasional drizzle. Our mornings were spent watching surfers shred “El Gringo,” which is a large barreling wave that breaks on a shallow sharp reef. Expert surfers and body borders only, due to the danger factor, which is why watching proved to be entertaining. We were restricted to surf all the other breaks in the area, and did so every day we were there. The wind picks up in the afternoon, leaving the jaded vagabond to roam the beaches or explore the pueblo.

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Afternoons were mostly spent wandering downtown, buying car insurance, stealing wifi, eating epanadas and completos. “What the fart is a completo?” A completo is a regular sized hotdog in an oversized bun, laced with guacamole and mayo, and possibly other various sauce and toppings depending who you buy it from. This might sound disgusting and sloppy, and you are right, it is gross. I bought a completo and did not like it, plus it made a mess on my lap. Eating a completo while driving is not recommended. Unhappy with this hotdog creation, I just thought I went to a bunk vendor. I tried a new vendor and I got the same results. Sara got it all over her cloths forcing me to kick her out of the truck. The completo was not only messy for our relationship and apparel, it also does not look very appetizing to begin with. The popularity of the completo will forever remain a mystery.

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Ten nights in Arica, a daily routine, several acquaintances made, we could stay here longer (and later wish we had,) or start heading south down the desert costal highway. Arica is laid back, and an easy place to live in your truck. Our favorite city in the country we hardly traveled at all. Chile is safe, beach camping is not a problem. From what I gather, the most dangerous thing I experienced in Chile was almost chipping my tooth on an olive pit in my epanada.

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The costal road is littered with nameless fishing villages, sandy cliffs, and waves crashing on the rocky urchin covered reefs. Driving days spent passing several grassless golf courses, a suspicious number of pet cemeteries, one abandoned and possibly haunted house. Once again faced with the dilemma of having no place to be and no specific time to be there, we walked the cemeteries and wandered old buildings while overlooking the never ending Pacific blue.

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There is cloud cover every day, while a few miles inland the sky is as blue as can be, its that time of year. Over several days we drive through and pirate camped to the cities of Iquique, Tocopilla, then to Antofagasta. None of these places matched the relaxed vibe and waves of Arica, which is why we wished we stayed there longer. While questioning our next move we drove to the “Mano del Desierto” also known as “Hand of the Desert, and had a team meeting discussing our next move.

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We wanted to go more south, we wanted to see the rest of Chile. With the budget dwindling, It would be tough to make it work. You could easily spend 6 months exploring Chile and Argentina alone, we don’t have the resources at the moment to do it properly, so we decided to save it for the next trip.

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Our time in Chile was cut short. While leaving the “Hand of the desert” we unexpectedly decided to drive East and prepare ourselves to cross South America, with Uruguay as a final destination. The Atacama Desert, salt flats, and the Northern Argentinian farmland is what lies ahead for the next week.

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2 months in Peru

Petrol pumping on the beach, street side pork stands, reckless drivers, world class surfing, and glaciers. We must be in Peru.

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After an overcast couple weeks of mediocre wave riding in Ecuador, we decided to hustle down South to Peru. Peru has a reputation of being a country where the culture and history of ancient civilizations are abundant, amazing food for the frugal traveler hunker around every corner, the disconnect between the rich and poor are strikingly apparent, and travelers will experience a complete sensory overload, only comparable to our travels through Mexico.

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The border crossing was a piece of cake: new facilities, uncrowded, organized, and fast. Our paperwork was complete, the vehicle import permit granted, and a seductive glare from an auto insurance sales women sent us on our way. A generous bag of plantain chips was purchased, split open the top, and our greasy hands dug into the feast. Now we head Southbound through the desert.

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In need of the ATM machine, we search the streets of Tumbes. I park street side, enter a casino, and withdraw some bills (not knowing my bank is about to red flag my account because a transaction has been made in Peru). With cash in pocket, I return to the taco to find street folks trying to sell cocaine to Sara and Lupe. We brush off these clowns, lock the doors, U-turn on main street, and head for the desert highway. We are anxiously excited as we seek out the beach town of Punta Sal.

Punta Sal

Punta Sal, from what we have read and heard from other travelers, is a good first night stop while driving the coastal border crossing from Ecuador. It is on the beach, safe, and provides a welcoming first impression of the country. We find the gated entrance (most costal towns in Peru are gated with security guards), sign some paper that states we will not rob, rape or murder while visiting the community and creep down the dusty beach side road in search of a place to set up camp.

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We drive on the beach ready to set up for the evening, when a man (Jimmy) approaches us, and explains that we cannot camp on the beach. He then notices our New Jersey plates, and states that he used to live in Elizabeth, NJ, where he drove a taxi and sold cocaine in the 70’s. He smiles, shakes our hands, and politely insists that we camp in the driveway of his hostel. Jimmy has a clean, well manicured little hostel on the beachfront in Punta Sal. He performs Ayahuasca ceremonies (a psychedelic brew known to enlighten people spiritually) for people at his beachside crash pad. He was caring for a client at the time of our stay in his driveway, so we made sure to keep quiet, and respect his profession. Our first night in Peru was clear and starry, the desert beach was comfortable, and there was a noticeable difference in scenery and temperature from close by Ecuador.

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The next day we arrived in Lobitos. Lobitos is a town in the baron desert with little to no vegetation, off shore winds most of the day (in actuality it is a very windy place), and travelers seeking good surf. There is not much to Lobitos and if your not looking for surf there is absolutely no reason to visit this place. The noisy petrol pumping litters the sandy landscape, the ocean horizon is contaminated with drilling platforms, and 6 breaks of world class surfing with waves all year round. Although the town is not crowded, and very spread out, the surf is jam packed much of the day. If you can work the crowd in the water, the reward is quite superb. Lobitos has been, without a doubt, some of the best waves along our Pan-American journey. I describe this place, as the movies, Mad Max meets Point break. An industrial wasteland of abandoned dilapidated buildings amongst desert landscape, with consistently wicked surf. We rented a cabin (Tres Cabanas) in Lobitos for close to 3 weeks, surfing everyday under blue skies. Countless waves ridden, full moon, ceviche, windy afternoons. Would I come here again? I hope so.

After a full days drive Southbound, In search for more surf, we inspect several breaks to set up camp for another couple weeks. Anxious to surf Chicama (one of the longest waves in the world) we arrive to flat seas. If we hang out for several days, and wait, we will surely become overwhelmed with boredom. We move on. A couple days here, a few days there, a quick bribe to a corrupt cop at a traffic stop, and we find ourselves in Huanchaco. We set up camp at Huanchaco Gardens, a hostel/RV park on the north side of town. Huanchaco is famous for their reed boats that fisherman have been using for thousands of years. The town is booming, cheap street food is abundant, The waves are big, fast rolling masses of power with virtually no one else was in the water. The paddle out was difficult, the water was filthy, but the wave was amazing. At Huanchaco, I surfed the biggest, fastest, longest wave of the trip, and my life. All the way from the point, past the pier, into the bay. Several waves, and a very long walk back to the point through traffic and tourists, lets do it over and over again.

Peru is a beautiful country with a wide range of things to do and see. Like all places in the world, Peru is not without its problems. Especially the costal regions we’ve noticed just so much trash everywhere. In the desert, its hard to decompose, and the wind will take it flying down the coast. Driving behind a bus, people are throwing their styrofoam take out containers out the window for miles on end. I see people eating in the streets and throwing wrappers on the ground while a trash can is within arms length. People picnic while leaving bags of trash and miscellaneous rubbish to blow around the beach. Maybe there is no organized garbage pickup? Maybe there is no money to correct this problem? Maybe locals have zero respect for their home? Maybe people are blind to the disgustingness of this behavior? or maybe I am ignorant to the root of an even bigger problem? This was the disappointment with Peru.

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For the past month, surfing daily, satisfied and physically unscathed, we thought it would be a good time to head to the mountains and breath some clean air. We planned on a few days but it turned into a couple weeks. Snow caps, glaciers, hikes, and cheap living. The markets were similar to those of Mexico where you find meat for sale hanging from hooks on the streets, entire cooked pigs sit on tables while chunks get sliced off and sold to lined up street walkers. You sit and feast amongst locals and the plate of the day is a measly dollar or two. The markets are bustling, the eats are abundant. Its difficult not to enter a market and stuff yourself to the gills. The variety of food is unlimited, and cheap, so why not gorge? During this trip I have learned that my stomach is bullet proof, I have not been sick. I eat anything, served from anybody. This is a talent I’m proud to exploit. I am a pig with no self respect when it comes to street food.

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On the way to the mountains we accidentally stumbled upon the famous Canon del Pato (duck canyon.) The canyon carved by the Rio Santa gives one an epic few hour drive through a massive rock canyon going through 35 one-lane tunnels. This route is a must see to anyone driving through Peru. Once through the canyon opposite the coast, one is rewarded with unlimited opportunities of the mountainous inland life. Exploring the city of Huarez, and the surrounding area over the next couple weeks, we hiked to glaciers and lakes during the day, had wine and cheese at night, and purchased large bags of veggies and trout for only a few bucks. Camping in the mountains, (We recommend camping at the sustainable hostel outside Huarez “The Hof”) one is rewarded with stunning snow capped views, old rock rubbles are evidence of expired civilizations, and road side cheese stands under clear blue skies. While we explored underground tunnels built by ancient ancestors, Lupe the dog was not allowed entry. We each took turns trotting along the 2000 year old subway passages. With no other tourists around, the lonely tunnels gives one a haunted presence of life back then.

We want to get back to the ocean, the sea is always calling. We heard the beaches on the southern outskirts of Lima are supposed to be welcoming, so we head there.The drive through Lima was riddled with close calls of crashing the Taco. The drivers in Peru are the worst to date. Overall I’ve noticed the drivers here are dangerous and take unnecessary chances while passing on blind curves or with oncoming traffic. We make it out of the city in one piece, we camp here and there. The more south we go the less towns there are. The Pacific Coast of Peru then 1000 miles into Chile is all desert. Its a beautiful stretch of baron coastline, scary and desolate. Driving the Southern Coast of Peru into Chile, one is rewarded with awesome cliffside highways looking into the deep clear Pacific. This time of year the water is moving North, so the clean 1st world waters of Chile are reaching Peru, which makes the South coast a true beauty.

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Peru is a huge country covering half a million square miles. We only scratched the surface. The coast is mostly South West facing, making it a perfect wave making machine. The waves here will blow you mind, if you don’t mind wearing a wetsuit. This is a place of endless exploration, a rugged country that suffers on many levels. Amazing food for the broke and rich, and gold toothed indigenous selling anything one desires.

1 YEAR ON THE ROAD!

One Year on the road: 11 borders crossed, 4 vet visits, 1 bribe payed, 2 dead bodies seen, dozens of fish caught, countless waves ridden, and many friends made.

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Sometimes you get sick of it all; burnt out, tired, hungry, living in a truck, the rain, the cold, the heat, the bugs. There are fleas on the dog, fleas in the tent, sand in the pants, salt in the eyes. Washing dishes in the sea, showering with a bucket, dried food on the forks, dried sweat that makes your socks stiff like stale bread, stale bread and old eggs, fresh bread and local cheese. There are drivers with no regard for human life. Days with no propane means no coffee, no morning coffee is like a punch in the face.  You sample alien fruits, uncertain regarding the proper way to consume them. People are talking, not knowing what they are saying, just nod and smile, walk away, fake it. Locals yelling, selling, and talking at you, “grrrrrringo!” I would still take it any day of the week over the routine back home.

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Its not all stale bread and sandy butt crack, and it is always more good than bad. A bad day on the road is still a day on the road, and any day on the road, is a good day indeed.

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The markets South of the border, specifically in Mexico and Peru, provide access to all sorts of culinary delights. The food that we know as “Mexican”, in the states, is not Mexican food at all (I have yet to see a burrito south of the border). The tacos, salsa, meats, and price leaves one speechless. I will eat street food from anyone who sells it (no matter what it is). Often times I place my order without knowing what I will receive. They slide a plate my way, and I send it to my gut. They tell me what I am eating, but I don’t know what they say (my spanish is fickle). Down the hatch. I do this in every country, and sometimes several times in one day. There is fish stew for breakfast, guinea pig for brunch, ceviche for lunch, and trucha frita for dinner.  I find myself eating hamburgers with ham, while the pigs freely roam the dusty streets. The only bouts of food poisoning that I have experienced have occurred in the states (several times I might add).

All the locals have been welcoming and warm. Although each country has a different overall attitude (with kindness occurring on a spectrum), in general, people are good. People are happy. Locals are welcoming. They ask where we are from, shake our hands, ask how dangerous our dog is. Bravo? No matter how poor, or how rich, people have been universally good. But!… don’t forget, that no matter where you go, there will always be an asshole. Assholes are everywhere in this world, and just because you are in their country it does not mean that you have to be nice to them. In terms of the big picture, 9 1/2 times out of ten people have been awesome. In reality, most assholes that we cross paths with are American expats who can be found complaining about any number of things (usually locals).

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Camping south of the border is cheap, and many times free. If we pay to camp it means that we are taking showers, using wifi, enjoying the luxury of  bathrooms, and sometimes cooking up a fancy meal in the communal kitchen. There are sometimes even perks such as pools and flat screen tv’s, and “Law and Order” is always on. On average camping costs anywhere from $5 to $15 a night, but one must remember that this does add up, over time. Free camping on the beach is fun, but you are often exposed to the elements, and sometimes need to get creative with how you go to the bathroom (especially if the area is crowded with other beachcombers). We could write an entire blog post just on that topic, but we will keep moving forward. There have been several free camp spots that trump any pay site. This is due to seclusion, surf, scenery, adventure, and the general satisfaction that occurs when one discovers a pristine location with an unspoiled backdrop . We camp for free as much as possible, but when we start to resemble the hippies and homeless, with our smells, haggard appearance, complete disregard to how a successful society should function, then it’s time to take a shower, wash the cloths, and email the family. It is a slippery slope. Maybe not?

The experience has been educational, enlightening, and an overall eye-opener. People in the states are frightened to travel to the 3rd world, but we like to challenge this idea. We met a couple from Europe that did this trip from the South heading North. They claim the most dangerous place they visited was Florida. They got robbed multiple times (one of which was a break in to their hotel room while they were sleeping). But hey, that was just one couples experience. You also learn to listen to others, but be aware that it is their experience. One must remember that the most dangerous situations are usually involving being in the wrong place, at the wrong time.  As with anywhere, one needs to be smart, keep their eyes open and have personal awareness as to how they relate to their current surroundings. This is true whether you are in Northern Florida or Southern Colombia.

There is no denying that this has, in fact, been one big learning experience. For example, did you know that eggs and meat don’t need to be refrigerated, 90’s rock is huge in South America (from the remote villages of Colombia to the beach towns of Chile), and there are ALOT of people in Central and South America with family in New Jersey. In Peru when I ordered an egg, cheese, ham sandwich, they actually brought me an egg sandwich, a cheese sandwich, and a ham sandwich. Separately. In Central America its more glorious to drink beer from a can, rather than a bottle.  And people cannot comprehend how we are married and have no kids. In an effort to keep the mood light, we just tell them Lupe the dog is our kid. That always brings a smile.

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Life is short, work is hard, surfing is fun. After all working takes the best years of a persons life, right?

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