Feb 13, 2013

365 Days On The Road!

Remember when we used to write a blog? 

Oh you forgot about our blog. That's cool, so did we...

Well much has happened since Guatemala and our last blog post. As a matter of fact, we've officially been on the road for over 365 days now. Yep, that's right.  We recently celebrated the 1 year anniversary of our nomadic lifestyle by visiting the ruins of Machu Picchu. An entire continent away from where we last wrote about. You know what the kicker is? THE 4RUNNER DROVE US HERE. I know, that's still a silly concept. Over 16,000 miles on the clock and we're still on the road to freedom.

Sure there was that stretch of the Darien Gap, where we had to pack our vehicle into a shipping container and sail to Colombia to avoid FARC guerillas and narcotraffickers, but really that only saved a few hundred miles. After dealing with port officials for several days, I couldn't help but wonder if we'd be better off driving across the gap. Sure it would have taken us over a year, but that almost sounds better than spending a day in Colon.

Shipping was definitely the low point of our trip, but to be honest it really wasn't that bad. Thanks to the Three P's: patience, politeness, and persistence; the process took us thirteen days from start to finish.  Kudos to Mac and Kate for showing us the Three P's.

In the past six months we've learned a lot. For instance, a blog takes WAY too much precious travel time to write and edit posts so for now we'd much rather just post photos on Facebook or Instagram. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and obviously when given the chance to write a thousand words I'll ramble on until three thousand are on the page.  So social media is safer for me, because I can't get too long winded.

From now on our blog will serve as more of an info page with basic details about our trip.  If you see future posts from us, it will only be when the moment strikes us and we have loads of free time and good WiFi (which is close to never).  We much rather spend our time away from the computer and enjoying the splendors that South America has to offer us.

If you want to see details of our travels, I recommend you check our Facebook page for frequent updates. Don't worry hermits, you don't have to actually join in order to see our activity there. You can stalk us while keeping your precious privacy, and Facebook really isn't as complicated as the old folks make it sound.  We have actually created a 'Photos' tab at the top of our site, which can take you directly to our Facebook.  To see trip photos intermixed with post-PanAm photos, you can go to our Instagram feed.

Here's another lesson we've learned: Spanish takes serious time to master. Vocabulary and accents vary from town to town and some locals refuse to anunciate no matter how politely you ask.  We've finally reached a point where we can converse well and not sound like complete idiots, although some countries were easier than others.  In Costa Rica, it was difficult to get someone to actually speak with us in Spanish.

Spanish practice with a little geography lesson.

We've loved Central America, even though most of our time spent there was during the rainy season. Sure it was wet, muggy, and difficult to drive at times, but on the bright side there were far less tourists and the locals were actually happy to see us there stimulating the local economy. We never had to deal with pesky reservations and overbooked hostels. I lost count of how many times we saved money by staying in a dorm room, only to find we were the only ones staying there. A large private room with multiple beds, at the price of a dormitory? Don't mind if we do!

Sadly Mexico and Central America are long gone, but rest assured we have been enjoying the hell out of South America. Some day we'll return to these countries for an anniversary or two, and hopefully we'll see some of the places that we missed during our ten months there. In honor of all the blog posts we never wrote between here and there, let's take a look at photos from some of the highlights that we never wrote about.

WARNING: These photos are not safe for work.  If you click on the following links, you will lose all productivity for the next few hours.  You may or may not be convinced to quit your job and head south.

Tikal Ruins (Guatemala)

Yaxha Ruins (Guatemala)

End of the road (Panama)

By the time we reached Panama we were very ready for South America.  We enjoyed our time in the northern highlands, then our French friends Bruno and Vally told us they were in Panama City waiting for a shipping partner.  With our ride south waiting by, we rushed thru Panama and dealt with the shipping process while surrounded by fellow travelers waiting for their ships.  Thankfully we were taken in by friendly American ex-pats for Thanksgiving, saving our holiday spirit and giving us a taste of home.  Thanks Jerry and Kay, greetings from down south!

Recovering our vehicle from the Port of Cartagena. Welcome to Colombia!