So much of our experience is about the people we meet along the way. The community of people we create, made up of travelers doing the trip in a variety of cars, with or without kids (and/or surf boards), who all received similar warnings from friends and family prior to departing for their trips, completely enhances our own experience, and we look forward to meeting more overlanders along the way.
Hailing from Cairns, Australia, Mark, Carlie and Levi were the first official overlanders we met on our adventure. While Forest and I rented a beachside casita that made up for its lack of hot water and AC with its location on the beach and beautiful sunset after sunset, being the well-seasoned overlanding experts that they are, Mark & Carlie had secured a wonderful repeat housesitting gig which allowed them to live rent-free on the beach, with access to AC, a pool, and the same sunsets that we were entreated to throughout the summer. They have learned a lot on their travels and were extremely welcoming and helpful to us – the new kids on the block. You can follow their adventures here:
While in our first week of living our of our car, we met Alex and Cristina who had driven into the Patzcuaro campground with Wisconsin plates. Alex grew up in Madison, and Cristina is from Santiago, Chile. We shared a meal in the campground’s “living room” and look forward to running into them again somewhere south.
We were fortunate enough to wind up in Guanajuato during the Festival Internacional Cervantino where we stayed in a campground tucked away in the hills, along with a number of overlanders – most of whom seemed to have spent time together in Baja on the way down.
Sonia and Paul are traveling for one year from Quebec, through the U.S., down to Costa Rica and back. They put a lot of time and energy into designing a beautiful van that has room enough to stand up in, and all the amenities you could want in a very compact design.
Mike and Lyndsay are headed in a similar direction as us, with similarly vague pre-determined travel plans. As fellow climbers and surfers, we definitely look forward to running into them along the way. They are writing about their adventures here: RoamingRythm.com
Monika and Josef drove into the Guanajuato campground in an impressive rig that they are driving around indefinitely. They spent a bit of time up in Baja with a few of the Quebecois who we’ve met along the way, and spent a few chilly evenings admiring the landscape and stars with us in Guanajuato.
Fred and Catherine arrived in style, with four small children piling out of the camper for daily homeschool lessons, and eager interactions with everyone staying at the campground. Such a burst of energy having so many kids around. The family lives in Fez, Morocco but purchased a camper in the U.S. for the big adventure.
Jenna and Jonathon are traveling from Telluride, CO and we have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them from Mexico through to Costa Rica. Can we admit to having overlander BFFs? Looking forward to catching up with them in Peru…
Our stay in Puebla was limited to one night – just long enough to meet Yann and Natacha from Quebec. As our schedules were fairly closely aligned, we were fortunate enough to run into them in El Cuco, El Salvador just as we were all planning to cross Honduras the next day. Though the two border crossings were long, hot and pretty miserable, we all reconvened at the beach south of Leon, Nicaragua a few days later to have a much more relaxing beer or two with no pressure to cross any borders or make more copies…
In San Cristobal de las Casas, we met so many people who would form the core of our traveling community on wheels at least through Costa Rica. We met up with others, or exchanged advice for where to set up camp when we were ahead of the pack, trying to make sure we arrived in Costa Rica in time to meet up with family.
Dominic was traveling solo when we met him as his traveling partner had to return home just before this leg of the trip. He bought his rig in California and had a rooftop tent that we were just slightly envious of… it looks cozy up there. We’re not sure if he’ll continue on to South America, but we had a good time chatting with him around the fire in the central gazebo of the campground.
Ralf and Lisa started their travels by shipping their renovated German military van over to Canada. Their dog Sam was gifted to them in the Yukon and has been a big hit around the campgrounds ever since. They’ve been on the road for quite some time, but had to return to Germany in February for a bit before they continue their travels.
When Evan and Alyssa pulled up in their beautiful Subaru Forester with Colorado plates, we knew we would be fast friends. (#subarulove) They are on a tighter travel schedule than we are, but we managed to catch up to them again in Medellin after having followed their tracks through the painful shipping process in Panama and then on the other side in Cartagena. Both Evan and Alyssa take beautiful photos, and Alyssa is working on her blog here:
It was not easy to leave Lake Atitlan and especially Pierre’s amazing campground, Pasaj cap. We felt right at home amongst the community of overlanders there, which included many of those encountered above. The newest duo we met are a warm and inviting, creative couple from Peru and Long Island, NY, surfing their way down through Central America and beyond – Matty and Ingrid. We hope to see them again down in South America! Ingrid has created a beautiful blog here:
We’ve already ran into Josh of cruisingsouth.com in Nicaragua and again in Medellin. Though originally from Hawaii, Josh started his journey by driving up to Alaska and back from California before taking a few months to work and find a partner to accompany him through Panama. Max settled into the Pasajcap potluck crew, and has since headed back to California. Now Josh is joined by Katie, who if we see them somewhere further south, we’ll try to add a photo!
We ran into Kate Bell on Thanksgiving in an abandoned palapa-roofed building that was supposed to have
been a beachside bar. The money for the bar didn’t materialize and it now served as a very pleasant campsite with an unobstructed view to the sea. Rather than impressing her with our tale of driving down from New York, she impressed us with her tales of a) already having done that and made it all the way to Ushuaia; and b) her current trajectory of cycling alone through Central America. We met only friendly and hospitable people throughout Central America, but it still makes for a daunting solo voyage, especially for a female. And Kate had stories of some tight spots that she had already made it through. Now back in British Columbia, we hope to cross paths again, on some future adventure!
Skip forward to our least favorite part of the trip, in which the only truly great part of it was that we met some pretty fantastic people who teamed up with us to participate in our import/export scavenger hunt for photocopies, endless documentation and random offices.
I wish I had a photo of the whole family, but that would have taken so much more coordination that we just had no energy left to execute. Juan, his wife Caterina and their 4 kids began their travels in Florida where they purchased a gigantic motor home. We met them on the morning of the police/interpol inspection in Panama, and continued on to spend a lot of quality time together while waiting to send our autos to Colombia, and again when we waited to receive them in Cartagena.
I like to think that Javier and I (Jordan) have a special bond as we were the designated signers of the documents for our containers. It’s kind of an exclusive club. Together, over the course of about 7 excruciating hours, we were invited in and out of Ivan’s office at least 5 times to sign the exact same two documents (now, I know for a fact that all Aduana offices are intimately familiar with copy machines as we have made 100s of ‘copias’ so far on this trip and we’re not even half-way through). Anyhow, Javier lived in NYC but flew over to Alaska to purchase his overlander Jeep and started there. He has created some pretty spectacular projects to help build and, more importantly, maintain buildings and projects within communities that you should definitely read about. #ProjectLatitude
Last but not least in our shipping episode, we shared our container with a fun couple from Vancouver, BC. Steve and Denise started their journey up in Canada with their tiny furry friend, Roxanne, but will be dropping her off with the grandparents this March so that they don’t have any issues entering national parks and eliminate the extra border paperwork. We’ve enjoyed meeting up with them in Panama and Colombia – maybe we’ll see them next in Peru!