Despair. Agony. Devastation. Mind numbing depression. We boarded the plane in São Paulo expecting the worst.
We quizzed our veteran overland friends on the homecoming and transition process. The general consensus was bleak. We just spent 15 months living out our wildest dream and the hangover from that sustained high was sure to be severe.
For the last three years our mission, mantra, purpose could be summed up in five letters: PAN AM. Once you board that plane, it’s all over.
We left a lot of ourselves out there on the road less traveled. Our egos and identities would be in dire need of substance. Like the first days on the PanAm we would be green and vulnerable.
Yet Continue reading
Initiating reintegration procedures now. This may take a few weeks. Please standby.
The Seven Lakes Drive would be our last dance with the Beast and we set out to choreograph a graceful exit. Logan geared up with a rod and fishing license. I shuffled through our pile of unread books and picked some favorites, more than ready to forget myself in someone else’s adventures.
There would be no more kidding ourselves about the end. This was it and it filled us both with a deeply unsettling heartache. A final dirt road venture would be our coup de grace.
This was our kind of PanAm perfection, deserted roads, lonely landscapes, crystal clear lake water, sunshine, and a roaring fire each night. Wide open space filled only with our quiet thoughts and the occasional Continue reading
Although we’re currently set up in Bariloche on the edge of the Argentine Lakes District, our minds are elsewhere. The million dollar question: What’s next? We still have the better part of a month to go on the road but our home life is rumbling toward us like a Bolivian semi barreling down a one-lane.
Thanks to Carl and Heather, we’ve been rescued from the soul crushing fiasco that is vehicle shipping. We hand over the keys in just a couple weeks and they’ll begin their PanAm journey north. 15 months ago we happily downsized our lives from a one-bedroom apartment to a truck camper. There is no storage unit back home, now we must figure out how to fit Continue reading
Unbeknownst to us, protests were raging and roadblocks were going up in Chile’s Aysen region. We were heading into the capital, Coyhaique, the only reliable place to refuel on the 1,200km Carretera Austral. We rolled into town on a sunny Friday afternoon expecting only to resupply and hit the open road once again.
Despite the remarkably relaxed atmosphere in town, we learned fuel service had been suspended for the past three days. This was hard to believe, no one seemed bothered. The military presence on every other corner seemed like overkill. Soldiers in riot gear had no one to preside over except kids flying by on bicycles and tourists browsing local crafts. So we followed suit, wasting away the Continue reading
Overland advice series, 10 of 10. Neither of us are medical professionals. What follows are our amateur observations. Consult your doctor before making a decision.
- The majority of Westerners driving the PanAm do not take prophylactic medicine for Malaria.
- We never encountered a local who was taking a prophylactic for Malaria..
- We found Doxycycline (Spanish: Doxiciclina) to be the most commonly used. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic taken daily.
- Doxy and other Malaria medication can be purchased over-the-counter in most of Latin America
- Brianna was on Doxy for much of the trip and had no noticeable side effects. Logan did not take a prophylactic but carried a month supply of Doxy to take if symptoms appeared.
- Most of
Now on the Pacific slope the first thing we notice is that everything is a brilliant green. Coming from the Argentine side, where endless golden plains stretch out in all directions, the scenery here is all the more captivating. In Chilean Patagonia luscious foliage hangs over the roads and infiltrates every square inch of unattended land.
The Carretera Austral connects far-flung rural communities through 1200km of mostly rough, unpaved road. The year 2000 saw the completion of the last 100km, 34 years after construction began. The logic behind Pinochet’s masterpiece drew much criticism due to the impossibly remote terrain, but this bumpy stretch of highway maintains a permanent place in overland folklore.
Our first day on the fabled road had Continue reading
Continuing north, El Chalten was in our sights. The town was quickly put together in 1985 by the Argentinean government in an effort to beat Chile to the land claim. At a population of 600, it is not much of a town. Gas, groceries, and ATM service is infrequent. Chile’s official maps of this area don’t include the border but rather an asterisk indicating that it is still in dispute.
Despite the lack of services this frontier town is a backpacker’s Mecca. Thousands of ice climbers, trekkers, and mountaineers from around the world descend upon the town each austral summer. They are here for the Fitz Roy Mountain Range and Cerro Torre. On the rare clear morning each peak Continue reading
Overland Advice Series, part 9 of 10:
Spend a long weekend in Puerto Vallarta and it’s easy to believe you’ve mastered the Spanish language. The reality is you know how to order a beer and ask for the bathroom. That margarita weekend won’t get you far at the Guatemala border crossing. The first step is to admit ignorance.
How far you stretch your Spanish skills will determine how your trip will play out. It’s entirely possible to get by on the usual memorized phrases. But with an increased comfort level, your options for exploration expand enormously and as a bonus side effect, costs go down. When you find your organized campground no longer exists and you’re 200 miles from the Continue reading
Northbound on RN 40, Argentina’s granite spires and snowcapped peaks grow more prominent emerging from the arid plains stretching endlessly east. These mountains were the destination for Yvon Chouinard’s famous PanAm journey with Doug Tompkins in 1968. Inspired by the area, Yvon would go on to found the Patagonia brand. Similarly, Doug started his own little company called The North Face.
Officially Patagonia is a large geographical region in Argentina and Chile (i.e. ‘The South’ in the US). It begins south of the Rio Colorado, 400 miles south of Buenos Aires stretching from coast to coast, 1,000 miles down to Tierra del Fuego. A Buenos Aires newspaper described it as “…just emptiness. A back alley where different cultures swirled Continue reading