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Love in the land of fire

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Today is Día de la Novia (Girlfriend’s Day) here in Argentina, and the perfect day to deliver some heartening news. Guess what happened here?

Bahía Lapataia in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the most romantic place in the world.

We got engaged! It was a lovely moment, as this was at the terminus of Ruta 3…the real end of the…

The end of the road

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We have made it to Ushuaia! It is billed as ‘The Southernmost city in the world,’ although there is a small naval town, Puerto Williams, a bit farther south–across the Beagle Channel in Chile.

Milo looks out for dogs over the Beagle Channel

I only found out recently that Tierra del Fuego is an island. We crossed the Strait of…

March in Pictures

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Just in case it wasn’t totally obvious, yesterday’s post was an April fools. We will make it to Ushuaia today, and we still have a few more months of travel.
Plus of course, we’d never let go of Milo. Or even sell the van, for that matter.
Here is the usual post with some photos we took this month.

 …

On our way back

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We were in Punta Arenas yesterday, and we decided that crossing the border twice and driving the extra 600 or so kilometers to Ushuaia doesn’t make sense. We’ve already seen most of Patagonia anyway.
Just when we were talking about all this during lunch, we got lucky: a guy overheard us and offered to buy the van! So we are…

Into the great wide open

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When we reached Punta Arenas, we checked into a hotel as a respite from two things that have become very difficult–staying warm at night, and fast Internet. We’ve seen so much in the past two weeks that it seems like a lifetime since our ride on the steam train in Esquel.
Driving through Patagonia feels like a real road trip–with…

Driving south

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In the last few weeks we’ve been driving down Patagonia.
A few weeks ago we rode a steam train:

And run into the cover Bruce Chatwin used for his book.

It is very windy in the plains of Patagonia.One problem with wind is that it makes you wonder: “how would palm trees look, blowing in this wind?”. The Argentine government…

In Patagonia

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We love Patagonia. The Chilean side had completely different vegetation, almost like a rain forest. After rain finally drove us off Chiloe Island, we camped our last night in this really cool forest preserve in Aracuria, where they had really nice hiking trails.

At the Salto del Indio, our last morning in Chile

From Aracuria, it was the easiest Argentine…

Road knits III

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It’s cold again, which means I finally get to wear the sweater I finished in Buenos Aires! It was so hot at the time that I could hardly bear to even try it on for size. This is only the second sweater I’ve ever knit. The first was a bad experience more than ten years ago. I lost an entire…

Chile to Chiloe

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A view of Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes

Traversing the Andes from Mendoza was spectacular, with clear days, good roads, and tons of happy roadside picnics. As much as we would have liked to have stayed in Argentina for much longer, the van’s 90-day visa was up.

Argentina-Chile border crossing through Paso Los Libertadores.

The border crossing into…

City Beautiful

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During our not-always-enjoyable month in Buenos Aires, I turned to Juan in Costanera Sur and asked him: Do you think Buenos Aires is a beautiful city?
We discussed. The answer, we agreed, was ‘no.’ Buenos Aires may have beautiful parts, but on a whole, it is not a beautiful city. It is crowded and dirty and most parts of it…

From East to West

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After leaving Punta Alta, we traversed Argentina from its Pacific Coast to its Western edge, in a matter of days. This meant crossing the low-lying plains of La Pampa. It felt like driving through the Great Plains on any rural highway: nothing to see, nowhere to turn, just straight and flat.

Formerly known as the town of Rivadavia, this sign…

The Argentine Herculaneum

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Epecuén was a little lakeside resort until 1985. Lago Epecuén is the saltiest of a string of lakes in the southwest of the province of Buenos Aires. As such, it was popular with visitors for its alleged properties curing all kind of ailments, from rheumatism to psoriasis.
The little town had 1500 inhabitants, and could host about 5000 visitors.
In…

Argentimes

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This has been a very special week, because Milo and I have gotten to meet Juan’s family and friends from his hometown, Punta Alta, in the southernmost reaches of the Buenos Aires province. After living as a transplant among so many others for all of my adult life, you get used to knowing people in isolated circumstances and having meaningful…

Mar del Plata

As Stephanie will mention on the post she’s writing right now, we spent a couple of days in Mar del Plata. “Mardel”, as people here call it, has been the vacationing place of the Argentine middle class for a hundred years. During the summer it becomes the most crowded beach in the world, or so it seems.
For a street…

San Francisco

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As if a month in Buenos Aires hadn’t been enough of a respite from the trip, we are now spending one week in the Bay Area.
I ate some of my favorite sushi:

Stephanie drank a latte that looked just like her:

And then we accidentally walked into the annual Burning Van event in Ocean beach. Nice to see some…

A month of Buenos Aires

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Our month in Buenos Aires is ending today.
I’ve shot very few photos here. Part of it is that I’ve been here before. Part of it is that it’s been so hot. And the other part is that I don’t like showing my camera because this city has the unfortunate reputation of being a den of thieves. During my last…

12 months in photos

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2013 was a great year. We started it in Mexico, in a beautiful beach, and ended it in Buenos Aires. And in the middle we drove.
I decided to select one of my photos for each month of 2013. Here they are:
January, in Chiapa de Corzo:

February, in Oaxaca:

March, in San Cristóbal de las Casas:
April, on the…

A toast to 2013

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This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding years, and most of my clearest memories are of the moments that were similarly both difficult and beautiful. Here are some of the year’s stickiest memories.
Chiapa de Corzo fiestas (January)
This was the only event that I planned on attending the entire trip, after my Chiapan roommate showed me…

Southern Christmas

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It is hovering around a hundred degrees this week. Spending Christmas in hot weather is even weirder than spending Christmas alone. Growing up in the Midwest, my brothers and I would complain if there wasn’t at least a foot of snow on the ground on Christmas morning.
Juan’s good friend Albano invited us to spend Christmas with his family. I…

In Argentina

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Both Juan and I have histories here in Buenos Aires. Juan lived for several years in the capital after moving from his hometown a few hours south, and I moved here shortly after finishing grad school, four years ago this month. It was near the end of the eight months that I was living here that the two of us…

So you live in a van.

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What’s it like to live in a van? I’ll tell you. Now.

 
My personal rock-bottom of our journey came in the town of Ajijíc, a charming town filled with American expats on Mexico’s Lake Chapala. After spending a first night in an expensive (450 pesos—almost $40) hotel because I was feeling sick, we went to Guadalajara and then returned…

Road knits II

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Llama-inspired street art in Copacabana at Lake Titicaca.

They are serious about llamas in this region of the world, and so I have stepped up my interest in llamas as well–by knitting with as many of them as I can. I never thought I’d knit a poncho, let alone wear one, but then again, I also never thought I’d travel…

Insta… Juan?

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A few months ago I started playing the Instagram game. So, inspired by Stephanie’s “Instavan” posts, here are a few square images.

Follow me on Instagram @juanbuhler.…

Volkswagen Maintenance, or A List of Breakdowns

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We’ve been in the road for fourteen months. It’s a lot of miles for a 24-year-old vehicle. Still, the Westy has behaved very well. I thought I would make a photo-list here of all the mechanical issues we had in this time.
Less than two weeks into the trip, in Baja, a CV boot failed. Not a big deal, just…

Anti-climax

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Machu Picchu is not an easy place to get to.

A lot of the waterfalls simply spill over the road in the mountains.

If you’re coming from anywhere outside Peru, your best-case scenario is a flight into Lima, a flight from Lima to Cusco, a two-hour train ride to Aguas Calientes (aka Machu Picchu Pueblo), then a twenty-minute bus to…

To Lima and beyond

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We ended up staying five nights in Lima, accomplishing important things like: showering, doing laundry, taking Milo to the vet, visiting the mechanic, SUSHI, and meeting our new friend Miguel and a bunch of other Westy owners. We also enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of The House Project, after struggling to find a place for all four of us–me, Juan, Milo,…

Lima, or a bad start with a good ending

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We arrived in Lima late in the day, about 6PM or so. We were coming from Cañón del Pato, and were dirty, tired and dreaming of a hot shower. A few days earlier, our new friend Dean, a Texan who’s driving a big and awesome Unimog from the 70s with a one bedroom apartment in the back, told us that…

Northern Peru

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We have made really quick tracks across northern Peru to arrive in Lima two nights ago. The drive from Huanchaco on the coast to the capital was still filled with a lot of desert and shantytowns, but also mountains and canyons and interesting little towns.

Canyon camping alongside the river below

Juan had been looking forward to driving through the…

Adios Ecuador, Hola Peru

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It was hard to leave Ecuador. All across the country, we found ourselves impressed with the people, the infrastructure, and the progressive mindset legible in all of the government propaganda. As you drive through the country, you see signs equating health care with freedom, technology with progress, patria with equality, water and forests with life. Ecuador is also one of…