I’ll never claim to be a travel expert. In fact, I even doubt the authenticity of those claim to be travel experts. Travel is by nature unpredictable, frustrating, confusing, and can leave you weary and questioning yourself time and time again.
That being said, it’s the only life I have now, and despite everything, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
By now you know that we’ve bought a truck and have a loosely formed plan to drive that beast from the United States to Argentina. This epic road trip will begin in a few short months. Do we have a plan? Kind of. Is it a rigid plan? Absolutely not and it never will be.
That’s the biggest appeal to me right now. No plan means spontaneity and adventure, but that control freak that lives in my head nags at me and reminds me that there will be paperwork, issues with border crossings, and those times when we’ll have miscalculated everything and may end up going to bed hungry or going without showers for days.
Am I still on board? Absolutely. And despite the fact that I say we have a plan, there really isn’t one but this is what the next six months look like, especially if you’re looking at them through murky water.
When you make a choice that will significantly alter the course of your life, you kind of want that life to start immediately. While I’d love nothing more than to leave today, there are a certain number of things that have to take place before we can go.
We still have just under four months left on the lease here in San Cristobal. We debated leaving a month early and forfeiting the deposit, but, in the end, we decided against that. We’ll remain here until August 11, so if anyone had any thoughts about coming to see us you might want to get on that.
I will be spending a month in Utah from late June to late July. My mom is moving to Spokane, Washington and I need to help her pack up her house and dive deep into the unknown that is all of my stuff that lives at her house. It’s nothing big, but it will involve a lengthy process of scanning thousands of photographs, cards, and letters and moving them to a hard drive.
I’ll come back to San Cristobal and we’ll begin clearing out the house, selling the furniture, and winnowing down our possessions to the bare minimum. This will be especially hard for me. I love my clothes, my makeup, and my collection of lotions and potions. I’ve already been told I can’t bring my hairdryer.
The United States
Sometime after the 11th of August, we’ll fly to Salt Lake City where Moby is stored. We only have 24 days to play with before we need to cross back into Mexico, so it’s not going to be a leisurely, make it up as we go kind of trip. So, this is where a semblance of planning has to jump into the ring.
We’ll spend two days minimum in the Salt Lake City area, making sure the truck is ready to go, stocking up on supplies and collecting the things we’ve ordered. After that, we’ll head east to Wyoming, visit some of Will’s family, and then go to Jackson and on to Yellowstone. I haven’t been to Yellowstone in almost 20 years and I’m really excited for this one.
We’d discussed heading for Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula after that, but ultimately that had to be scratched due to time. I’m pretty bummed about that. I think the Olympic Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places in the world and it was there that I saw my first whales in the wild, a pod of orcas and a minke whale. Plus, Seattle is just a really cool city.
So, in the interest of time, we’ll probably head straight west from Yellowstone to the coast of Oregon. This will probably include a stop in Portland and a continuation down the coast to Eureka, California. I have some very dear friends who live there, and I simply couldn’t leave them out of this itinerary.
While I’d love to visit San Francisco again, there just isn’t time. After Eureka, we’ll head southeast to Las Vegas. It would be easy to blow past Vegas and head for Will’s pick, the Grand Canyon, but I had to intervene.
Even though I’ve been around the world, I’ve never been to Las Vegas. While we’ll probably only stay overnight I just have to see it, and I want to eat at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Cheesy, I know, but I really want to experience one of the risottos that constantly trip up the contestants on Hell’s Kitchen and maybe, just maybe, have the opportunity to see the mythical British food unicorn in the flesh.
After Vegas, we’ll see the Grand Canyon. I’ve been there but Will has not. Then we’ll head south and cross the border into Mexico, most likely at Nogales. Or we may cross at Mexicali. That hasn’t quite been determined yet.
Back in Mexico
Here is where the time constraints really come into play. Will has a work function in Whistler, British Columbia in mid-September, so we need to find a base of sorts with a nearby airport and a place to park Moby. Overlanding in Mexico is relatively easy as there are secure campgrounds throughout the country. However, my choice for our first stop is Cabo San Lucas. If I’ve got to be alone for a week I want to do it on the beach.
Mexico is generous with their entry and exit requirements, so we’ll have 180 days to spend in the country before we need to leave, and we’ll then cross into Guatemala. Even though we’ve been in Mexico for over a year, there’s still so much to see. Many people underestimate the vastness of this country.
So, for our 180 days in Mexico, these are some of the places I’d like to spend that time in. I’d love to be back in Mexico City during November for their annual Corona Capital music festival. We had such a great time last year and I’m eagerly awaiting the announcement of this year’s lineup. I’d love to be back on the beach during the holiday season, so maybe Puerto Vallarta? Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Puebla, and San Miguel de Allende also make the list. Then, as our time begins to grow short, we’ll come south through Oaxaca and Chiapas and on to Guatemala.
Down the Road
It’s tough to say what will happen after Mexico. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua each offer a 90-day entry/exit time limit. I’m excited for 90 days each for Guatemala and Nicaragua. El Salvador and Honduras? Not so much. However, as is the nature of this adventure, plans can and will change.
Costa Rica offers a 90-day stay as well. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Costa Rica. It’s a beautiful country but it’s also quite expensive. Luckily, we have a house on wheels so we can save tons of money on lodging, and I’d be lying if I said the idea of camping on the beach for an extended period doesn’t have me starry eyed at this moment.
Then comes the best part. We get to go back to Panama. I love Panama, but it’s the amazing friends that we have there that are the real draw. However, Panama’s tourist immigration policies can be confusing. Travelers generally get 90 days on arrival, but depending on the agent who stamps you in that number could be higher or lower. It’s kind of a crap shoot. However, the general rule is 90 days, and if you’re driving on a US license in the country 90 days is the maximum.
Because of the fact that we’ll be shipping the truck from Panama to Colombia, we need to ensure that we have plenty of time to get all of that sorted out. Although I’ve heard that it’s not as complicated as some people think.
After that, all I know is South America is huge and we’ll have all new plans to make or not make, adventures to have, people to visit, and much, much more.
I really can’t wait.