Home Top

Archive | Budget

<div><span>Coming into Copacabana, we found a road that looked passable to take us down to the lakeside.  The steep incline ended with us in a swarm of cars along the lakeside.  Following the GPS, we turned away from the edge of downtown and the swarms of food stalls and cars, and drove along the wide dirt road.  “This...this is a <i>ways</i>out,” we muttered, wondering if we'd be able to find the hostel.  After passing a very fancy hotel, we indeed found our place.  We had been warned it was a tight fit for vehicles, but we made it inside without a problem.  We were immediately struck but the sheer volume of Argentinian hippies that were calling this place home.  We were to learn over the coming weeks that Argentinians like to travel on the cheap, and its basically the 60's down here.  Most of them are carrying musical instruments or things to juggle.  We settled in and set up camp, spending half of our time answering questions about our camping process from the 9 year old daughter of the proprietress. </span><br /><br /><span></span> <br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zeg29Sop4dA/VP856kAGa8I/AAAAAAAAG30/D7MIZQ1JWyU/s1600/IMG_1302.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zeg29Sop4dA/VP856kAGa8I/AAAAAAAAG30/D7MIZQ1JWyU/s1600/IMG_1302.JPG" height="204" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-P8ZUY2qp9Vo/VP85cmSAyiI/AAAAAAAAG3k/yir9W4tECno/s1600/IMG_1307.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-P8ZUY2qp9Vo/VP85cmSAyiI/AAAAAAAAG3k/yir9W4tECno/s1600/IMG_1307.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Seems secure</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-STkg-7Qe5bs/VP9CxVxFuGI/AAAAAAAAG9I/zhNF3_Hai30/s1600/IMG_2383.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-STkg-7Qe5bs/VP9CxVxFuGI/AAAAAAAAG9I/zhNF3_Hai30/s1600/IMG_2383.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>The hostal owner would periodically let their pet parrot loose and he curiously gave Sweetcakes a good look-over.</span></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We strolled into the town afterwards and grabbed a big plate of rice, potatoes, and fried trout <span>(a specialty on the shores of Lake Titicaca)</span>from an old lady selling it lake-side.  Saddling up and asking for food, she proceeded to uncover the food from beneath some blankets to keep it warm.  We paid our $5 for the meal after thanking her for it, and continued to run some errands:  cell phone, fruit and snacks.  After stocking up on a kilo of figs, we munched on them and fried banana chips as we walked back.  On the way, we bumped into a huge parade for carnaval, and took some time to just enjoy the amazing costumes and people having to awkwardly dance without music because they were too far ahead of the bands.  We made our way back into town later that evening, hoping to find some good food and cheap drinks; we found one! At Nemo's bar that evening we hopped in and found they had from-scratch pisco sours at 3x50BS [$7]  We did that, and I snagged an IPA from Bolivia.  As we enjoyed our drinks, we also enjoyed getting to know Aaron from Vancouver – a cool dude who's retired after busting his butt and is now taking 6 month trips every year to a new part of the world and getting his exploration bug worked out.  We shared tips on places to see and gave cheers over travel at any age.</span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-78GSWj4jiB4/VP85zh3JU6I/AAAAAAAAG3s/TJ70zejmHtg/s1600/IMG_1321.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-78GSWj4jiB4/VP85zh3JU6I/AAAAAAAAG3s/TJ70zejmHtg/s1600/IMG_1321.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Note to self: potential Halloween 2015 costume confetti monster. This group was too far ahead of the band so they were silently doing their thing. Rock on. </span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Dtc8OZ3uTh0/VP858YivXbI/AAAAAAAAG38/ag9szh_uH3c/s1600/IMG_1335.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Dtc8OZ3uTh0/VP858YivXbI/AAAAAAAAG38/ag9szh_uH3c/s1600/IMG_1335.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-llXgVGMcTO4/VP86h8Li2RI/AAAAAAAAG4I/E1sABP7eeX0/s1600/IMG_1340.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-llXgVGMcTO4/VP86h8Li2RI/AAAAAAAAG4I/E1sABP7eeX0/s1600/IMG_1340.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m_LMEvn91WY/VP86pMOm_tI/AAAAAAAAG4Y/-EVyo69qbBo/s1600/IMG_1346.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m_LMEvn91WY/VP86pMOm_tI/AAAAAAAAG4Y/-EVyo69qbBo/s1600/IMG_1346.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div></div><div><br /></div></div><div>“<span>They said the boats were slow, but this is f----n' ridiculous.” I muttered to Bethany the next morning as we sat on the boat taking us out to Isla del Sol, said to be the birthplace of the sun by the Incans.  We sullenly sat as the boat made its way through the water at what was essentially idle speed.  After finally arriving at the island [over 2 hours later, for a 10km trip. AWFUL.]  We departed and realized that the reason our hostel wasn't crammed to the brim was that dozens of other hippies were strung out along the beach here on the island.  We couldn't walk ten feet without tripping over a drum circle or a guy and his acoustic guitar. We made our way up to some of the sacred sites and braced ourselves against the strong wind and cool air. We were hiking around 4k meters, and there was a fair amount of up and down.  I found myself acclimated pretty well and the cool air kept me moving hard, but we paused as needed for Bethany.  We were hiking from the NE to SW ends of the island, and wanted to make sure we got to the end before the last boat left at 4pm.  We were making great time though and stopped for some lunch, then made our way down to the docks to catch the 3pm.</span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mo-YDew-4A0/VP9C8V6TKqI/AAAAAAAAG9Q/5El63_BsW0o/s1600/IMG_2386.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mo-YDew-4A0/VP9C8V6TKqI/AAAAAAAAG9Q/5El63_BsW0o/s1600/IMG_2386.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><div><span>What a great time we're having</span></div></div><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-V2sRssFJrAI/VP86kwYsEGI/AAAAAAAAG4Q/qNTie3EgqT4/s1600/IMG_1358.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-V2sRssFJrAI/VP86kwYsEGI/AAAAAAAAG4Q/qNTie3EgqT4/s1600/IMG_1358.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Argentinian hippie tent town along the beach.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZbIbymJzqzI/VP87I5d2RPI/AAAAAAAAG4g/G5VwnQ3O9R8/s1600/IMG_1362.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZbIbymJzqzI/VP87I5d2RPI/AAAAAAAAG4g/G5VwnQ3O9R8/s1600/IMG_1362.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-w_Orqy9Qalk/VP87LRWTfOI/AAAAAAAAG4o/fwE1FersjMk/s1600/IMG_1363.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-w_Orqy9Qalk/VP87LRWTfOI/AAAAAAAAG4o/fwE1FersjMk/s1600/IMG_1363.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tg_G3nOTht4/VP87Xk0zWaI/AAAAAAAAG44/dtoVc1QqAkA/s1600/IMG_1365.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tg_G3nOTht4/VP87Xk0zWaI/AAAAAAAAG44/dtoVc1QqAkA/s1600/IMG_1365.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-u_uICUS4zmo/VP87n4OhqEI/AAAAAAAAG5A/Zs_HEbJoqLo/s1600/IMG_1369.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-u_uICUS4zmo/VP87n4OhqEI/AAAAAAAAG5A/Zs_HEbJoqLo/s1600/IMG_1369.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Observe! The...the stone table of stone!</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-M4vUdmNMyMU/VP87sS7u4YI/AAAAAAAAG5I/loH4rKdUy_M/s1600/IMG_1375.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-M4vUdmNMyMU/VP87sS7u4YI/AAAAAAAAG5I/loH4rKdUy_M/s1600/IMG_1375.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Not quite up to Machu Pichu standards</span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xA4hiuwRc0U/VP88B6liZtI/AAAAAAAAG5Q/7wI0OwJ5WPY/s1600/IMG_1377.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xA4hiuwRc0U/VP88B6liZtI/AAAAAAAAG5Q/7wI0OwJ5WPY/s1600/IMG_1377.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-egPpuJcwILM/VP881tDoPmI/AAAAAAAAG5w/EINRPMkcs7I/s1600/IMG_1379.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-egPpuJcwILM/VP881tDoPmI/AAAAAAAAG5w/EINRPMkcs7I/s1600/IMG_1379.JPG" height="180" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-p12KXo73ozU/VP88WMyBJjI/AAAAAAAAG5Y/4F788YDZZAo/s1600/IMG_1389.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-p12KXo73ozU/VP88WMyBJjI/AAAAAAAAG5Y/4F788YDZZAo/s1600/IMG_1389.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div></div><div><span>We had been straddling the spine of the island along our hiking path, and descended the 400 meters to the water side, and upon getting there realized that while it had boats, they were ones that needed repairs and we had descended to the wrong side of the island.  Furious at the lack of signs, we now had to blast back up the 400 meters and get down to the other side before the hour was up.  We miraculously made great time <span>(but about died in the process)</span>.  As we waited to board the boat, I heard a couple next to us speaking English.  I walked over and asked them where they were from.  “Miami!” came the answer from Cris and Tanya.  Cris' family is from Bolivia and he and his girlfriend Tanya were visiting and exploring Bolivia.  We chatted for a while, and agreed to meet up again after it turned out we were on different boats [despite what the woman who sold us tickets said].   We met that evening for some more drinks and food, agreeing to meet up for the bike ride down the death road in a couple of days.  They were taking off for La Paz first thing the next morning as Cris lost his passport and needed it replaced to get home.  But alas things weren't meant to be.</span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mk6pqmlJy4k/VP88zfEgP0I/AAAAAAAAG5o/yDe7ntPaa5A/s1600/IMG_1394.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mk6pqmlJy4k/VP88zfEgP0I/AAAAAAAAG5o/yDe7ntPaa5A/s1600/IMG_1394.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Ike was thrilled after we realized we hiked down the wrong side of the mountain.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1EJdjAg89ec/VP884htyVjI/AAAAAAAAG54/EtPogyluFTI/s1600/IMG_1395.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1EJdjAg89ec/VP884htyVjI/AAAAAAAAG54/EtPogyluFTI/s1600/IMG_1395.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>The local villages charge "tolls" for passing through on the trail that spans the length of the island. So many tickets! </span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g4TMzaX7t10/VP8-dOarNRI/AAAAAAAAG6s/07j4HrLJvT4/s1600/IMG_1633.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g4TMzaX7t10/VP8-dOarNRI/AAAAAAAAG6s/07j4HrLJvT4/s1600/IMG_1633.JPG" height="320" width="240"/></a></div><div><span>We forgot to take a pic together, but here's a cute polaroid of our new friends Cris & Tania. </span></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>I awoke the next morning sick, most likely from altitude and the hard hiking  from the previous day.  I was down and out the entire day, with Bethany nursing me back to health.  Cris and Tanya also spent the entire day at the consulate trying to get the passport issue resolved, so they weren't able to do the bike tour either. We rolled out to La Paz the following morning, after taking a couple of hours to explore the back roads of the peninsula near Copacabana.</span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VUi-eLhrmeo/VP9Dc6c55xI/AAAAAAAAG9k/mgvyqbrdUFc/s1600/IMG_2412.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VUi-eLhrmeo/VP9Dc6c55xI/AAAAAAAAG9k/mgvyqbrdUFc/s1600/IMG_2412.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>#nofilter</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-3QPyi0mAVME/VP9DcuqftoI/AAAAAAAAG9g/raCp2YzRDxw/s1600/IMG_2421.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-3QPyi0mAVME/VP9DcuqftoI/AAAAAAAAG9g/raCp2YzRDxw/s1600/IMG_2421.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YM6saHiYj5I/VP9Dn3CBqpI/AAAAAAAAG9s/-aYFJW9EOXo/s1600/IMG_2425.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YM6saHiYj5I/VP9Dn3CBqpI/AAAAAAAAG9s/-aYFJW9EOXo/s1600/IMG_2425.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>I spy a Sweetcakes!</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XwruLLAn3vg/VP9QMKFjDEI/AAAAAAAAHEc/hd9R-qQ73mo/s1600/IMG_1409.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XwruLLAn3vg/VP9QMKFjDEI/AAAAAAAAHEc/hd9R-qQ73mo/s1600/IMG_1409.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>If it's good enough for a bus, it's good enough for us!</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fp7f-OrRZAA/VP9Qtp2UE1I/AAAAAAAAHEw/LQIQhTnavYA/s1600/IMG_1414.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fp7f-OrRZAA/VP9Qtp2UE1I/AAAAAAAAHEw/LQIQhTnavYA/s1600/IMG_1414.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>We stopped here for lunch en route to La Paz. I love how all the Bolivian lunch ladies pack up their homemade deliciousness in these little lunch carts and serve a plate up fresh for you.</span></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>A highly recommended Swiss hotel for overlanders was our destination.  Rolling in, we decided to celebrate Bethany's birthday [a few weeks prior] by having fondue.  Asking how big the portions were, the waitress told us you would need to be very hungry to finish both the meat and cheese fondues with just two people, but she assured us we could combine the two.  Well, we learned that by 'combine', she meant order both of them.  So as natural scavengers, we ate all we could and proceeded to scrape the rest into a carry-out box.  </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GQvPtLaZlXY/VP9QlAQdrvI/AAAAAAAAHEk/nV0H0iNMf-0/s1600/IMG_1419.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GQvPtLaZlXY/VP9QlAQdrvI/AAAAAAAAHEk/nV0H0iNMf-0/s1600/IMG_1419.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Is there such a thing as too much fondue?</span></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Taxi-ing into the city the following morning, we enjoyed the view of La Paz rising up to meet us as we descended through the mountains to the city.  We gave up on taking a <i>colectivo</i>after waiting unsuccessfully for one for over half an hour.  We arrived at one of the main plazas and hopped out, waiting for the tour van that would have a bunch of bikes on top.  Hopping in, we met Edwin from Quito and Fernando, <a href="http://mayhembolivia.com/" target="_blank">our guide</a>.  We spent the next hour winding up roads on the way out of La Paz on the other side of the city.  We started to see snow capping the bits of mountains we were passing, and then crested and moved into a new valley where a fresh layer of snow covered everything except the road.</span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IqRJ-dWbzaU/VP9SI-JttAI/AAAAAAAAHFc/nv--POGl2wI/s1600/IMG_1440.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IqRJ-dWbzaU/VP9SI-JttAI/AAAAAAAAHFc/nv--POGl2wI/s1600/IMG_1440.JPG" height="196" width="640"/></a></div><br /></div><div><span>Hopping out, we began suiting up and unloading the bikes, looking around wide eyed at life at 4400 meters.  We got a brief rundown from Fernando on safety, took the bikes on a little spin around the gravel lot to make sure we felt comfortable in them, and then we were off.  </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rbaQK-_aTds/VP9RMJWbFQI/AAAAAAAAHFE/1SHhbqVkmTU/s1600/IMG_1449.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rbaQK-_aTds/VP9RMJWbFQI/AAAAAAAAHFE/1SHhbqVkmTU/s1600/IMG_1449.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-9zOp2VueU6U/VP9RuWILq9I/AAAAAAAAHFU/biErPKR9ta0/s1600/IMG_1465.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-9zOp2VueU6U/VP9RuWILq9I/AAAAAAAAHFU/biErPKR9ta0/s1600/IMG_1465.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><br /></div></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Let's all be honest with each other for a moment here: riding a bike downhill is lots of fun.  Riding a bike on pavement downhill is even more fun.  Doing it for 17 km's straight, through a valley with snow, wisps of clouds, and passing engine-braking trucks is just <i>the best.</i>  Being over 200 lbs while you do all of that though? That's just icing on the cake.  See, there's this amazing thing called momentum, and it means that you start kissing the high 40 mph range on your bike.  Fernando was all about speed, and would crouch down over the handlebars to lower his wind resistance and would zip out ahead.  And then I would lean myself forward over the handlebars, and all of a sudden he's not going so fast.   </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_YZDQwaHmQc/VP9TarWBchI/AAAAAAAAHGc/nwW7sqpzOmg/s1600/10644964_893951723959259_5248646674536015246_n.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_YZDQwaHmQc/VP9TarWBchI/AAAAAAAAHGc/nwW7sqpzOmg/s1600/10644964_893951723959259_5248646674536015246_n.jpg" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JBMmdzMftpI/VP9TS4qKz7I/AAAAAAAAHGU/6dTVunFCbvM/s1600/10386291_893952750625823_5940091351375043142_n.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JBMmdzMftpI/VP9TS4qKz7I/AAAAAAAAHGU/6dTVunFCbvM/s1600/10386291_893952750625823_5940091351375043142_n.jpg" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div></div><div><span>A few short minutes later we stopped for a snack, and then made our way onto the death road proper.  We were stoked for this part, as we'd seen clips from it when the <a href="https://youtu.be/NmBzlg2kgH8?t=33m46s" target="_blank">Top Gear crew made their way along theroad in their Bolivia special</a> nearly a decade ago.  With the completion of the paved road, though, traffic on the old gravel road is almost exclusively tourists who want the thrill of driving it, with less death than used to be standard.  Riding along the road, it was hard to imagine traffic going two-ways along it, much of that traffic large trucks.  We felt cramped enough with the bicycles.  As the bikes ate up the 54kms we descended, we noticed the change in air temperature, eventually stopping to shed our cold-weather gear.  A little while later, we were at the end of the road and stopped for some lunch.  And then we waited.  And waited some more.  And spent 3 hours twiddling our thumbs as we waited for Fernando and the driver to eat, and shower, and flirt with the teenage Argentinian girls wearing lingerie instead of swimsuits in the pool. [can't fault him on that one]  We eventually found ourselves back in downtown La Paz later that evening and hopped into a cab to get back out to the hotel, pretty well worn-out.</span><br /><div><br /></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FtLnxYVUMs0/VP9TiAuhWHI/AAAAAAAAHGk/Gt4Dk2-iWpY/s1600/1511597_893955053958926_4644113349592557493_n.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FtLnxYVUMs0/VP9TiAuhWHI/AAAAAAAAHGk/Gt4Dk2-iWpY/s1600/1511597_893955053958926_4644113349592557493_n.jpg" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>We didn't die!!</span></div><div><br /></div></div><div><span>The next day we made our way into the city for errands.  We'd heard it was possible to purchase auto insurance that would be valid in most of the rest of South America.  After some confused wandering around and asking locals, we finally tracked down the company, and were pleased to see that the coverage would nearly take us through the rest of our trip.  We were told to stop back at the end of the day to finish the paperwork. We then made our way to a Moneygram to swap all of our US$20's to US$100's to get better rates of exchange when we hit up the blue markets in Argentina.  We celebrated all this hard work with an absolutely huge lunch of authentic Korean bibimbap.  We walked it off, got our insurance, and made our way back towards the campsite via the new funicular over the city.  The views were great, and given the topograghy of the city, the funicular is actually an efficient mode of public transit. </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TJK9dlBkQLk/VP9TE8hV5sI/AAAAAAAAHGE/IJSMi8X5Eyo/s1600/IMG_1535.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TJK9dlBkQLk/VP9TE8hV5sI/AAAAAAAAHGE/IJSMi8X5Eyo/s1600/IMG_1535.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>We put the FUN in---aww nevermind</span></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nCW17Tdbgbk/VP9QtriangI/AAAAAAAAHE0/txd88GV2tQg/s1600/IMG_1420.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nCW17Tdbgbk/VP9QtriangI/AAAAAAAAHE0/txd88GV2tQg/s1600/IMG_1420.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Glad we avoided driving through downtown La Paz traffic...</span></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>After getting back, we met Chris from Austria, another overlander who has a killer Land Rover rig.  We swapped information about great spots as he was heading north.  </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZN8Yo1VNNaA/VP9TkP-bZUI/AAAAAAAAHGs/uAJKwN2r9pM/s1600/IMG_1562.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZN8Yo1VNNaA/VP9TkP-bZUI/AAAAAAAAHGs/uAJKwN2r9pM/s1600/IMG_1562.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-l4P-ueQVOy0/VP9TDyf78ZI/AAAAAAAAHF8/10YM5LHI37c/s1600/IMG_1549.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-l4P-ueQVOy0/VP9TDyf78ZI/AAAAAAAAHF8/10YM5LHI37c/s1600/IMG_1549.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>I encountered this massive beetle stuck on his back and, after many tense attempts, successfully rescued him. Paying it forward! (Does that work with bugs?)</span></div><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PC42JY0xwi8/VP89FR7phbI/AAAAAAAAG6A/KqoFEHx8t5U/s1600/IMG_1570.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PC42JY0xwi8/VP89FR7phbI/AAAAAAAAG6A/KqoFEHx8t5U/s1600/IMG_1570.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>"Suspicious autos will be burned." Eep, keeping a tight leash on Sweetcakes.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PRrvJNLr9PU/VP9ELUzIGFI/AAAAAAAAG90/slO6GxDGE7M/s1600/IMG_2472.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PRrvJNLr9PU/VP9ELUzIGFI/AAAAAAAAG90/slO6GxDGE7M/s1600/IMG_2472.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>The city of La Paz is built in a stunning valley of crumbling mountains. We don't know why the city is located here, and were amazed by the houses that were built right up to the edge of the eroding cliffs.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kUvqJdAT17M/VP9EoUhpeAI/AAAAAAAAG-I/xWoeJXqBks8/s1600/IMG_2493.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kUvqJdAT17M/VP9EoUhpeAI/AAAAAAAAG-I/xWoeJXqBks8/s1600/IMG_2493.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div></div><div><br /></div><div>“<span>Ok, so first we ask for gas, but then if they say no to us because we're foreigners, then we say we don't need a receipt. Then if they say something about the cameras, then we say the cameras don't see the license plates, right?”  I asked Bethany.  We were about to attempt to purchase gas, and we'd read online about how much of an ordeal it is to buy gas in Bolivia as a foreigner.  We were running through the checklist of reposites to convince the attendant to sell us gas.  Arriving, we went through the list with her, to no avail.  We asked where we could get gas then, and she told us.  We whipped out the map, and she showed us.  We told he were weren't going that way though, and we needed the gas!  She finally relented and told us it would be the foreigner price of 7 bolivianos a liter. Coming in at less than double the local cost, that was a decent price, so we readily agreed.  </span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>The hassle for gas was so great that I drove with a very light foot, trying to coax every MPG out of Sweetcakes.  We followed our way along smooth highways south towards the border with Chile and the outskirts of Sajama national park. </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4qMIMLIDOfw/VP89r7NqeqI/AAAAAAAAG6M/GfKmoiRpnWs/s1600/IMG_1580.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4qMIMLIDOfw/VP89r7NqeqI/AAAAAAAAG6M/GfKmoiRpnWs/s1600/IMG_1580.JPG" height="278" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RnGt8H4r0GM/VP9EsCcZE2I/AAAAAAAAG-Q/7VzldW7_A8A/s1600/IMG_2571.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RnGt8H4r0GM/VP9EsCcZE2I/AAAAAAAAG-Q/7VzldW7_A8A/s1600/IMG_2571.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>After checking into the park, we took the gravel road back into the park, making our way back towards some hot springs, enjoying the wide valley dominated by several mountains on the horizon, including the behemoth volcano that's the tallest peak in Bolivia and is the park's namesake.  We arrived later in the afternoon and verified we could just camp in the parking lot that led back to the hot springs.  Since the tickets were only valid for a single day, we said we'd be back the next morning.  We spent the rest of the afternoon  watching clouds bunch up on the mountain, then turn into scattered thunderstorms that dropped frequent bolts of lightning among the foothills.  Looking around, I quickly realized that Bethany and I were among some of the tallest things around.  We finished setting up our tent and hopped in Sweetcakes and her rubber tire protection to continue watching the bolts.  The night air quickly plummeted in temperature as soon as the sun moved behind the mountains, and it was with all of our layers that we laid down in the tent that evening. </span><br /><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PsjlZwHc_No/VP9FHrcT3zI/AAAAAAAAG-g/uZDkdw0rJ78/s1600/IMG_2592.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PsjlZwHc_No/VP9FHrcT3zI/AAAAAAAAG-g/uZDkdw0rJ78/s1600/IMG_2592.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-aAZ4WXAKAmc/VP8-Odod-5I/AAAAAAAAG6k/5_DDCwkbCDA/s1600/IMG_1590.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-aAZ4WXAKAmc/VP8-Odod-5I/AAAAAAAAG6k/5_DDCwkbCDA/s1600/IMG_1590.JPG" height="138" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fU_vlyecaBk/VP9Fj2qHJ3I/AAAAAAAAG-o/9Abkuspe_HE/s1600/IMG_2636.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fU_vlyecaBk/VP9Fj2qHJ3I/AAAAAAAAG-o/9Abkuspe_HE/s1600/IMG_2636.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Smznnil6agA/VP9Fm1NCv-I/AAAAAAAAG-w/K0TjlbyicbA/s1600/IMG_2639.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Smznnil6agA/VP9Fm1NCv-I/AAAAAAAAG-w/K0TjlbyicbA/s1600/IMG_2639.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FlK5eGA9J_0/VP8-CiinhhI/AAAAAAAAG6U/C4AuPFtLouo/s1600/IMG_1605.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FlK5eGA9J_0/VP8-CiinhhI/AAAAAAAAG6U/C4AuPFtLouo/s1600/IMG_1605.JPG" height="224" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><span>Waking the next morning, we noticed that the snowfall on the mountains was much more extensive than it had been the day before, extending down into many of the foothills that didn't look all that far away.  [We learned that distances are deceptive in these huge valleys.  Frequently things look quite close but then you drive towards them and realize they're 5-10 miles away, or more.]  We moseyed over to the hot springs, settling into them with signs of happiness as the heat soaked the cold out of our limbs.  We'd periodically stand up and hop out of the springs when we got too hot, letting the cold brisk wind cool us off before retreating to the hot water again.</span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xI89nG7UvsE/VP8-OVT5ygI/AAAAAAAAG6g/HJBEw_bgYxQ/s1600/IMG_1617.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xI89nG7UvsE/VP8-OVT5ygI/AAAAAAAAG6g/HJBEw_bgYxQ/s1600/IMG_1617.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nmfMhB7OqNs/VP9GG-DiQRI/AAAAAAAAG_A/VDX6BoCy1wk/s1600/IMG_2652.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nmfMhB7OqNs/VP9GG-DiQRI/AAAAAAAAG_A/VDX6BoCy1wk/s1600/IMG_2652.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XyfcBln6uWM/VP9GNe-gE5I/AAAAAAAAG_I/ugsMO8b1cGw/s1600/IMG_2657.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XyfcBln6uWM/VP9GNe-gE5I/AAAAAAAAG_I/ugsMO8b1cGw/s1600/IMG_2657.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>The afternoon involved making our way over to a nearby lake and walking around the outside of it trying to snap photos of the flamingos that inhabited it.  We'd make our way around part of the lake, gradually getting closer to the birds, which would then fly to the opposite end of the lake.  Our dance continued the entire time we were walking.   Really, I was just happy for any excuse to drive around the park because it meant we got to keep fording the stream near our campsite. </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Tj68hn-TClA/VP9GYBkhqiI/AAAAAAAAG_Q/4hv9O-HUWLE/s1600/IMG_2719.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Tj68hn-TClA/VP9GYBkhqiI/AAAAAAAAG_Q/4hv9O-HUWLE/s1600/IMG_2719.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5NMQajyq-y0/VP9G3pisqMI/AAAAAAAAG_g/hAiCBv97r1k/s1600/IMG_2725.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5NMQajyq-y0/VP9G3pisqMI/AAAAAAAAG_g/hAiCBv97r1k/s1600/IMG_2725.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VTzBaCuBPU4/VP9G3I7gDyI/AAAAAAAAG_Y/ZG8hmBXRhH4/s1600/IMG_2729.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VTzBaCuBPU4/VP9G3I7gDyI/AAAAAAAAG_Y/ZG8hmBXRhH4/s1600/IMG_2729.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qvIbKKIEEbk/VP9HCV_vbeI/AAAAAAAAG_o/8e5up6_NSVE/s1600/IMG_2737.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qvIbKKIEEbk/VP9HCV_vbeI/AAAAAAAAG_o/8e5up6_NSVE/s1600/IMG_2737.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>We've seen flamingos in the wild a couple of times, but seeing them against the snow-capped twin volcanoes was otherworldly. </span></div><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kYZgGoN6KgU/VP9FoHRI9hI/AAAAAAAAG-4/dfJYfeHo9qI/s1600/IMG_2611.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kYZgGoN6KgU/VP9FoHRI9hI/AAAAAAAAG-4/dfJYfeHo9qI/s1600/IMG_2611.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><span><br /></span><span>The rest of the afternoon was rainy and windy, with more storms to watch.  Later that evening a group of travelers [two young french men, and a family of a Portuguese / Swiss and their son] came back to the parking lot and we chatted for a bit.  Again a cold night greeted us, and before we left the following morning an older man who ran the hot springs swung by and chatted with us.  Before long we had another offer to buy Sweetcakes!  On our way out we went to the other side of the valley where the group we met the previous evening had been camping to see the geysers.  Unlike Yellowstone, there were not railings or walkways, so we gingerly made our way around, trying to minimize our footprints [literally and figuratively].</span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0FJ9WSFeFsk/VP9Hh2geliI/AAAAAAAAG_w/4J5Zn-dLcd0/s1600/IMG_2749.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0FJ9WSFeFsk/VP9Hh2geliI/AAAAAAAAG_w/4J5Zn-dLcd0/s1600/IMG_2749.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Beautiful little church in the town of Sajama.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MpjsHXZQG0Q/VP9HnHlIV_I/AAAAAAAAG_4/Je7Qq3ASqiU/s1600/IMG_2758.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MpjsHXZQG0Q/VP9HnHlIV_I/AAAAAAAAG_4/Je7Qq3ASqiU/s1600/IMG_2758.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rOAlWTOJNNw/VP9IMipbB-I/AAAAAAAAHAE/1csJv0FpXXM/s1600/IMG_2767.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rOAlWTOJNNw/VP9IMipbB-I/AAAAAAAAHAE/1csJv0FpXXM/s1600/IMG_2767.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Driving out of the park, we were stopped by the guys running the entrance gate and they promptly tried to extract some more cash from us, saying there were additional fees.  Frankly, the attempts at bribes in Bolivia are adorable.  It's like they're sheepish about asking for them, and after the stiff attempts we had in Central America, we found these attempts easy to sidestep.  After they quickly relented, we made our way near the Chilean border to fill up with gas.  Due to the proximity with the border, the attendants were having none of our attempts to barter down the price, but thankfully they didn't turn us away either.  Unfortunately that meant we were paying over $5/gal for gas, and then came the formal receipt process, where we had to provide our  name, passport #, license plate # and country.  It took longer for the attendant to fill out the receipt than it did to fill up with gas.</span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T4RSLg_u2Bk/VP9IMzjTUpI/AAAAAAAAHAI/zLguYT1wMI0/s1600/IMG_2803.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T4RSLg_u2Bk/VP9IMzjTUpI/AAAAAAAAHAI/zLguYT1wMI0/s1600/IMG_2803.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>The roadside to Sajama was dotted with <i>chullpas</i>, or funeral towers. The indigenous would bury their family in urns and place them in these towers.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4zuhtNdkdiM/VP9I6iSjpgI/AAAAAAAAHAY/60iSmH5PvQA/s1600/IMG_2820.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4zuhtNdkdiM/VP9I6iSjpgI/AAAAAAAAHAY/60iSmH5PvQA/s1600/IMG_2820.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Trying to capture the hardworking, Bolivian <i>campesino</i> way of life as we drive by.</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iIeywsRr5VA/VP9JYUHC9QI/AAAAAAAAHAo/vRejolg2Kcw/s1600/IMG_2841.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iIeywsRr5VA/VP9JYUHC9QI/AAAAAAAAHAo/vRejolg2Kcw/s1600/IMG_2841.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div></div><div><span>Attempting to cover lots of ground towards the Salar de Uyuni after stocking up on gas, we were making good time.  On the outskirts of Oruro though, the traffic thickened up then came to a stop.  Hopping out into the rain, I began walking forward through the stopped buses and trucks to see what was up.  We had a sneaking hunch that there could be a roadblock, as most of the vehicles still on the highway were larger rigs, the cars all sneaking out via the shoulders.  Unfortunately, we hadn't planned ahead for this eventuality and were wedged between other huge vehicles.  As I approached the front, I saw the lamest roadblock ever: a short truck that didn't even block all of the lanes, some small rocks strewn across the road, and 6 guys standing around a burning tire on the shoulder trying to keep warm.  Along the center median, lots of women huddled under cardboard to keep dry.  “We could blast through this, no problem.” I said, frustrated. “Uh, we're not breaking through a road block in a foreign country unless they let us through.” Came Bethany's measured reply.  Asking around, we were told the road block would be breaking up soon, as the protesters felt they'd made their point.  It did indeed wrap up, but darkness was quickly coming, and the wild-camp spot we were hoping to make it to said it could be difficult in the rain, and coupled with the approaching darkness we didn't like our odds.  Instead we opted to stay at a hotel that was pretty nice [and pretty pricey].  We spent our evening eating cheap roasted chicken and watching the Hobbit. </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OFUJSObYNgU/VP8-xK8viBI/AAAAAAAAG68/sqsIUTmU5vg/s1600/IMG_1634.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OFUJSObYNgU/VP8-xK8viBI/AAAAAAAAG68/sqsIUTmU5vg/s1600/IMG_1634.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>JEALOUS OF OUR WAY OF LIFE NOW?</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u-L3ErDvHww/VP9JjfRIZ3I/AAAAAAAAHAw/9tSElxLyCcs/s1600/IMG_2858.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u-L3ErDvHww/VP9JjfRIZ3I/AAAAAAAAHAw/9tSElxLyCcs/s1600/IMG_2858.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Enjoying the pristine highways before we rattle ourselves crazy on the gravel roads.</span></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Our goal was to reach the edge of the salar [salt flats] the next day.  Progress was great, until the GPS decided to go bonkers and take us along some roads that were little more than rock paths or roads under construction.  We realized that we ended up taking the long way around the large mountain, and spent several hours blasting through tough roads, eventually ending up behind a grater that was putting the first real level into the new road that had been dug out.  The path was so rough that our skid guard that protects the underside of the engine shook loose, and it was time to break out the baling wire again. We camped along a rock wall to help break the wind, looking out into a vast sea of salt, excited for the next day.</span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r7T27W9oNPE/VP9KTtOHDnI/AAAAAAAAHBM/2TfNC8PeCwk/s1600/IMG_2889.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r7T27W9oNPE/VP9KTtOHDnI/AAAAAAAAHBM/2TfNC8PeCwk/s1600/IMG_2889.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zt5d0b1nrXU/VP9KDHuB0DI/AAAAAAAAHBA/dxo8YZGcVQw/s1600/IMG_2908.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zt5d0b1nrXU/VP9KDHuB0DI/AAAAAAAAHBA/dxo8YZGcVQw/s1600/IMG_2908.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2ImP-T-p_-c/VP8_J9qEFhI/AAAAAAAAG7M/SoVsSmVLVg8/s1600/IMG_1645.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2ImP-T-p_-c/VP8_J9qEFhI/AAAAAAAAG7M/SoVsSmVLVg8/s1600/IMG_1645.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-BqYc-l53NrI/VP9KToM7F-I/AAAAAAAAHBQ/rwKTM7gBKXg/s1600/IMG_2933.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-BqYc-l53NrI/VP9KToM7F-I/AAAAAAAAHBQ/rwKTM7gBKXg/s1600/IMG_2933.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><br /></div></div><div><span>Parking near the edge of the salt flat, I took off my sandals and tentatively stepped out into the film of water over the salt flat.  The water over the salt flat made beautiful views, but also made travel on the salt flat much more difficult.  We'd heard stories of people getting stuck for a couple of days in the soupy mixture that the salt and water created.  The salt flats are slightly conical, so the edges are the most likely places to get stuck.  The water was quite cold, which was actually a boon, so I quickly could no longer feel the sharp crystals of salt poking into my bare feet.  Satisfied that the water wasn't too deep [always a good rule to walk any section you're planning to 4x4], I made my way back to the car and we began airing down our tires.  From there we put it in 4LO, crossed our fingers, and hesitantly made our way out onto the flat.  After about a KM the water was just a thin reflective film on top of the salt, and we were clear!  From there we basically just picked a direction, tried to find some other tracks, and followed them. </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zqRounSNxnw/VP9K1UfN2WI/AAAAAAAAHBY/BZ4PEjKyGCo/s1600/IMG_2937.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zqRounSNxnw/VP9K1UfN2WI/AAAAAAAAHBY/BZ4PEjKyGCo/s1600/IMG_2937.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Good morning guys!</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8hpGgpa76Kg/VP8_bnVCeAI/AAAAAAAAG7U/hSlY9KpG6Kc/s1600/IMG_1653.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8hpGgpa76Kg/VP8_bnVCeAI/AAAAAAAAG7U/hSlY9KpG6Kc/s1600/IMG_1653.JPG" height="244" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-t2OVItIbJXk/VP8_GIaZLKI/AAAAAAAAG7E/U5uyj9sp4Tc/s1600/IMG_1655.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-t2OVItIbJXk/VP8_GIaZLKI/AAAAAAAAG7E/U5uyj9sp4Tc/s1600/IMG_1655.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rc6pIFESWh0/VP8_hEnponI/AAAAAAAAG7g/09dIp9ZGo4g/s1600/IMG_1659.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rc6pIFESWh0/VP8_hEnponI/AAAAAAAAG7g/09dIp9ZGo4g/s1600/IMG_1659.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><div><span>First time airing down. Not the last though!</span></div></div></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><span>The flats are basically God's zen garden, with outcrops of rocks sticking up like little islands among the vast expanse of salt.  Some parts of the salar were wet and we were a bit nervous about getting stuck, but we saw that the tires weren't really breaking through the top crust of salt, and felt better.  As it dried out we could open the speed up a bit more, a few times topping 60, but nothing really crazy.  We'd heard of others trying to push 90, but that seemed a little kooky to us. </span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q9wtPLPjm2E/VP9LGe131OI/AAAAAAAAHBg/JsxXED4_6Eo/s1600/IMG_2954.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q9wtPLPjm2E/VP9LGe131OI/AAAAAAAAHBg/JsxXED4_6Eo/s1600/IMG_2954.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uhCsMvkAWOc/VP8_htz5W0I/AAAAAAAAG7k/C7gLpCS3WDk/s1600/IMG_1668.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uhCsMvkAWOc/VP8_htz5W0I/AAAAAAAAG7k/C7gLpCS3WDk/s1600/IMG_1668.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Let the winds take her where they will - Sailor Ike</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cdViVE-tVDI/VP9LX8jj1gI/AAAAAAAAHBo/sxo4AvgZ3c4/s1600/IMG_2959.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cdViVE-tVDI/VP9LX8jj1gI/AAAAAAAAHBo/sxo4AvgZ3c4/s1600/IMG_2959.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><span>We had to stop and attempt some perspective pictures, famous on the salar. We had some issues with the focus on our camera, so some are more successful than others.</span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xdQuINA3Th8/VP9LqKnSSxI/AAAAAAAAHBw/7KM4Qt0L6Kc/s1600/IMG_2964.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xdQuINA3Th8/VP9LqKnSSxI/AAAAAAAAHBw/7KM4Qt0L6Kc/s1600/IMG_2964.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>Ike squishing Sweetcakes.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YZI7is3nH4w/VP9L47U4FuI/AAAAAAAAHB4/4a9Tj15XrPg/s1600/IMG_2980.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YZI7is3nH4w/VP9L47U4FuI/AAAAAAAAHB4/4a9Tj15XrPg/s1600/IMG_2980.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>Bethany giving Sweetcakes some love.</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OAgUIRTYXoY/VP9Mp4h4zGI/AAAAAAAAHCQ/q2H1aPm-cBc/s1600/IMG_3028.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OAgUIRTYXoY/VP9Mp4h4zGI/AAAAAAAAHCQ/q2H1aPm-cBc/s1600/IMG_3028.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Sweetcakes takes revenge. </span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-L4UJ3poyO4M/VP9MD8rAnZI/AAAAAAAAHCA/WN8pYgOsW4Q/s1600/IMG_2993.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-L4UJ3poyO4M/VP9MD8rAnZI/AAAAAAAAHCA/WN8pYgOsW4Q/s1600/IMG_2993.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>And then Bethany fell off the fruit mountain.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_betZGoJiG4/VP9MQ3A5UFI/AAAAAAAAHCI/6HLERjmNuus/s1600/IMG_3006.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_betZGoJiG4/VP9MQ3A5UFI/AAAAAAAAHCI/6HLERjmNuus/s1600/IMG_3006.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>And Ike fell into the (blurry) beer bottle.</span></div><div><br /></div><span>Eventually we found our way to Fisherman's island, circling around to the back side of it and finding a nice spot to camp nestled against the island.  Setting up, we broke out the sunshade, as the strength of the sun was outstanding.  This was great for the solar panel though, as we could run the fridge and inverted and still have volts to spare.  We spent some additional time that afternoon hiking to the top of the island.  We'd put on sunscreen, but that wasn't enough.  I burned my lips for the first time ever, and I could feel the spots on the back of my legs I'd missed.  Yowza! <span>(My arms are still peeling from that day as we write this blog several weeks later.) </span>The hike was enjoyable to see the vast salar from above, and we paused for a few minutes to watch a large bus make its way across our view, quite possibly using the salar as it was the fastest route from points A to B.   Sunset that evening was incredible, with a huge storm front building up around the edges of the salar, so the rich hues were offset with flashes of lightening.  </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QvyeyPIHwyc/VP9MxiZp4fI/AAAAAAAAHCY/sa2QnPNrOxY/s1600/IMG_3067.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QvyeyPIHwyc/VP9MxiZp4fI/AAAAAAAAHCY/sa2QnPNrOxY/s1600/IMG_3067.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-byq4pQdVUQU/VP9AHBcRU6I/AAAAAAAAG78/q2HSypGXmiM/s1600/IMG_1670.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-byq4pQdVUQU/VP9AHBcRU6I/AAAAAAAAG78/q2HSypGXmiM/s1600/IMG_1670.JPG" height="226" width="640"/></a></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Rolling into the town of Uyuni the next morning after leaving the salt flats, we found a car wash to remove the thick coat of salt from poor Sweetcakes.  Asking to verify they used <i>agua dulce </i>[literally 'sweet water', aka not salt water], we got her cleaned up and then proceeded to head towards the <i>Lagunas</i>route, also known as Bolivia's southwest circuit. </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HcL1TQ55icI/VP9M6UcM-EI/AAAAAAAAHCg/CN6SBwS8bRM/s1600/IMG_3101.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HcL1TQ55icI/VP9M6UcM-EI/AAAAAAAAHCg/CN6SBwS8bRM/s1600/IMG_3101.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Sky reflecting in the layer of water covering the salar.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5mp5nKy9Je0/VP9NWHXFamI/AAAAAAAAHCo/MlwDTNzuZCM/s1600/IMG_3111.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5mp5nKy9Je0/VP9NWHXFamI/AAAAAAAAHCo/MlwDTNzuZCM/s1600/IMG_3111.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><span><br /></span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--cDLGoXkG1Y/VP9ABm6mMcI/AAAAAAAAG70/4JC2n88vvS0/s1600/IMG_1686.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--cDLGoXkG1Y/VP9ABm6mMcI/AAAAAAAAG70/4JC2n88vvS0/s1600/IMG_1686.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Time for a much needed bath to wash away the salt.</span></div><br /><span>As we made our way along the gravel / dirt mixed roads, we quickly lost our clean car as I blasted through mud on an alternate 'road' as we tried to bypass additional road construction on the main road.  We hit strong washboard again and realized that our tailpipe that we'd had soldered in Quito had shaken loose again.  Looking under the car, we saw the break was on the other side of the plate that joins the muffler and tailpipe.  We called it a day early, stopping in the picturesque <i>Valle de Rocas</i>, and proceeded to wire up the tailpipe again while the weather was nice, just barely finishing it before the storms came rolling in with a strong wind.  </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-g_iaFEnvbIM/VP8_8FvGj_I/AAAAAAAAG7s/H30eAI42oA4/s1600/IMG_1691.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-g_iaFEnvbIM/VP8_8FvGj_I/AAAAAAAAG7s/H30eAI42oA4/s1600/IMG_1691.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lPANJwhkBm0/VP9NacV8vCI/AAAAAAAAHCw/noTcV3FmmNE/s1600/IMG_3125.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lPANJwhkBm0/VP9NacV8vCI/AAAAAAAAHCw/noTcV3FmmNE/s1600/IMG_3125.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-t5yj7GIXopA/VP9NmaBVroI/AAAAAAAAHC4/Sui1-US83Gw/s1600/IMG_3132.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-t5yj7GIXopA/VP9NmaBVroI/AAAAAAAAHC4/Sui1-US83Gw/s1600/IMG_3132.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Xb3ANqIdoPE/VP9B7JBnGHI/AAAAAAAAG8g/oLEcA_97t0w/s1600/IMG_1695.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Xb3ANqIdoPE/VP9B7JBnGHI/AAAAAAAAG8g/oLEcA_97t0w/s1600/IMG_1695.JPG" height="212" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wFEr-0rTVSs/VP9OOSoyfsI/AAAAAAAAHDI/E2xJazk8ZWI/s1600/IMG_3156.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wFEr-0rTVSs/VP9OOSoyfsI/AAAAAAAAHDI/E2xJazk8ZWI/s1600/IMG_3156.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-re4jQD4AN6c/VP9N7L5hvYI/AAAAAAAAHDA/cWiTdu3bN2E/s1600/IMG_3171.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-re4jQD4AN6c/VP9N7L5hvYI/AAAAAAAAHDA/cWiTdu3bN2E/s1600/IMG_3171.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>#NoFilter</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-C9a4xWp2R3Q/VP9BpLWKV3I/AAAAAAAAG8Q/kpJxyYBTWew/s1600/IMG_1702.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-C9a4xWp2R3Q/VP9BpLWKV3I/AAAAAAAAG8Q/kpJxyYBTWew/s1600/IMG_1702.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><span><br /></span><span>The following day we continued on, seeing some of the famous colored lakes, and making our way up to 5000 meters to have the Bolivian <i>aduana</i> stamp Sweetcakes out of the country. <span>We had heard that the customs officer's presence at the actual border was somewhat spotty, so it was best to take care of the paperwork in the middle of the park, even though we still had one or two more days left in the country. </span></span><span>The customs agent took our paperwork.  “Do we get a copy to give the men at the border to Chile though?” Bethany asked.  “Oh, you don't need it!” came the bright reply.  “Really??” Bethany said with doubt in her voice.  The agent looked over at the man working across from him.  A doubtful frown and shrug greeted him from the other employee. “Ok, let's make a copy.”</span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U4qP_dL6ksQ/VP9OtqzYykI/AAAAAAAAHDY/dd6NDLGMtek/s1600/IMG_3223.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U4qP_dL6ksQ/VP9OtqzYykI/AAAAAAAAHDY/dd6NDLGMtek/s1600/IMG_3223.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Flamingos in the Laguna Colorada. "Lake" is a generous term, since its average depth is under 1 inch.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rWk_6gf1mrc/VP9OxvPa7gI/AAAAAAAAHDg/uMco1XjekwA/s1600/IMG_3237.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rWk_6gf1mrc/VP9OxvPa7gI/AAAAAAAAHDg/uMco1XjekwA/s1600/IMG_3237.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jHS3JDA3Xy0/VP9O2sA7NkI/AAAAAAAAHDo/nwn2T3gffbQ/s1600/IMG_3247.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jHS3JDA3Xy0/VP9O2sA7NkI/AAAAAAAAHDo/nwn2T3gffbQ/s1600/IMG_3247.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gYu_H20O0Ec/VP9ORjkReiI/AAAAAAAAHDQ/U1zI2ZqIvoM/s1600/IMG_3180.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gYu_H20O0Ec/VP9ORjkReiI/AAAAAAAAHDQ/U1zI2ZqIvoM/s1600/IMG_3180.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-N1XONYPZ-p4/VP9Bc3mmlpI/AAAAAAAAG8I/hzfaPlaJHDE/s1600/IMG_1704.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-N1XONYPZ-p4/VP9Bc3mmlpI/AAAAAAAAG8I/hzfaPlaJHDE/s1600/IMG_1704.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>At 5033 meters (16,512 feet) this has to be the world's highest customs office.</span></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>From there we parked at another hot spring, and slipped into the warm water, watching storms on the horizon, chatting with a middle-aged German couple who were biking the route, and a group of hippies who were heading north on their bicycles.  We thanked our lucky stars once again to have a car and called it an evening.  We awoke the next morning with the vehicle surrounded by a swarm of LandCruisers.  We'd seen the tour groups blasting through the roadways periodically the previous day, but as all the groups stayed on roughly the same time-frame, we were now in their midst. </span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JlFUGPCcHQQ/VP9B5NSu6EI/AAAAAAAAG8Y/HH3isDwTAOs/s1600/IMG_1708.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JlFUGPCcHQQ/VP9B5NSu6EI/AAAAAAAAG8Y/HH3isDwTAOs/s1600/IMG_1708.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Hot springs and cold air; great combination. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bWkVeupapNA/VP9B77hAZSI/AAAAAAAAG8o/C5EOpAUMndw/s1600/IMG_1709.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bWkVeupapNA/VP9B77hAZSI/AAAAAAAAG8o/C5EOpAUMndw/s1600/IMG_1709.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>So I'm looking for a Land Cruiser?</span></div><span><br /></span><span>We fled the hot springs, forgoing our planned morning dip and instead moving on to another lake and attempted to make some breakfast, but it turned out we had just moved ahead of the rush, and as we were setting up breakfast the fleet began to arrive and the spot we'd picked out, which was touted as being above and beyond the tour groups' route instead began to flood with them.  At one point one of the tour drivers attempted to kick us off the mirador, telling us that a park ranger would be along shortly and would ticket us if he saw us up there.  We found a spot along the lake edge down in the valley and called that home for breakfast, spitefully hoping we were ruining the photos of the tourists.  [Yes, we were feeling vindictive.]  But the anger quickly melted as we continued on the road, the scenery replacing the frustration with awe.  As we approached the border with Chile, grins were on our faces as we marvelled at the drive that had seemed like we were traversing mars, instead being on earth, but at 15,000 feet. This had been another part of the trip I had eagerly anticipated for months, and  after a bumpy start, it still met [and exceeded] my expectations.</span><br /><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ehjd22O4lUQ/VP9CaDPUU8I/AAAAAAAAG84/VrV1kE1DKyQ/s1600/IMG_1711.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ehjd22O4lUQ/VP9CaDPUU8I/AAAAAAAAG84/VrV1kE1DKyQ/s1600/IMG_1711.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--AFU4hQFWCQ/VP9CPvbA9HI/AAAAAAAAG8w/MN-x87hgsag/s1600/IMG_1712.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/--AFU4hQFWCQ/VP9CPvbA9HI/AAAAAAAAG8w/MN-x87hgsag/s1600/IMG_1712.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Mountains peering through the morning fog.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pRKu4nsjxi0/VP9PjbCfgkI/AAAAAAAAHD8/oIYJU5-lG9o/s1600/IMG_3252.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pRKu4nsjxi0/VP9PjbCfgkI/AAAAAAAAHD8/oIYJU5-lG9o/s1600/IMG_3252.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pM17oMJmtyE/VP9PnBdho7I/AAAAAAAAHEE/CdhRtd1gr98/s1600/IMG_3269.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pM17oMJmtyE/VP9PnBdho7I/AAAAAAAAHEE/CdhRtd1gr98/s1600/IMG_3269.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xNsqe0pLXJw/VP9PbJPm8CI/AAAAAAAAHD0/xUdbTKv5Opc/s1600/IMG_3279.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xNsqe0pLXJw/VP9PbJPm8CI/AAAAAAAAHD0/xUdbTKv5Opc/s1600/IMG_3279.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>The mountains reminded me of  sand art.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aQeNw5tLEu0/VP9QKDqG5MI/AAAAAAAAHEM/wsPDwB7ltnA/s1600/IMG_3296.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aQeNw5tLEu0/VP9QKDqG5MI/AAAAAAAAHEM/wsPDwB7ltnA/s1600/IMG_3296.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Laguna Blanca.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-eyJb1Qsc8CI/VP9QLmoNDpI/AAAAAAAAHEU/ekUqLr0ajUI/s1600/IMG_3318.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-eyJb1Qsc8CI/VP9QLmoNDpI/AAAAAAAAHEU/ekUqLr0ajUI/s1600/IMG_3318.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div></div><div><br /></div><div><span><span><span><b><span>Bolivia budget recap:</span></b></span></span></span></div><div><span><span>Our budget was ambitiously low for Bolivia; additionally, visas & car insurance (not included in our daily spending budget) were both expensive. This meant we completely blew our budget, but it was totally worth it. <br /><br /><b><span>Expected days in country: </span></b><span>14</span><br /><b><span>Actual days spent in country: </span></b><span>14</span><b><span></span></b><br /><br /><b><span>Daily budget: </span></b><span>$41 (Hah!)</span><br /><b><span>Actual expenses: </span></b><span>$78 (excluding car repairs)</span><br /><b><span>Difference: +</span></b><span>$37 (+90%)</span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span>Ouch! We blew our (ambitiously small) budget in Bolivia. Here are a few of the contributing factors: 1) Gas was much more expensive than we had budgeted (see below); 2) We spent a lot more on tours and entrance fees than we budgeted for, but it was totally worth it; 3) Our budget doesn't include things like visas and auto insurance, two big ticket items for Bolivia.</span><br /><br /><b><span>Average price for gas: </span></b><span>$4.50/gallon (8.08 Bolivianos/liter)</span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span>Buying gas in Bolivia as a foreigner is hard work! The government subsidizes gas for locals, but taxes the hell out of it for foreigners. The “international” price is about 2.5 times as much as the local price. Ok, so gas is expensive. We can deal with that, but the problem doesn't stop there. Many gas stations refuse to sell to foreigners because they have to fill out additional paperwork. Thankfully we were only refused gas once, but of the 4 times we filled up in Bolivia, twice we paid the full international price and twice we were able to barter for a lower rate (which means the attendant pretended we were locals, and pocketed the difference between the local price and the price we agreed to). All in all the experience wasn't as bad as we had anticipated, but we are happy the days of Bolivian gas hassles are over. </span><br /><br /><b><span>Expected miles driven:</span></b><span> 1000</span><br /><b><span>Actual miles driven: </span></b><span>1,143</span><br /><b><span>Difference: </span></b><span>+14%</span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span><span>If you haven't guessed by now, when we budgeted for miles driven it was really a shot in the dark. We picked a few cities or locations in the country and asked Google to calculate the mileage. </span></span></span></span></div><div><span><span><br /><b><span>Average gas mileage: </span></b><span>22.6 mpg</span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span>We attribute the better than normal average to Bolivia's excellent highways and our driving at slower speeds. That being said, our last few days in Bolivia were on some very rough gravel/dirt roads that probably hurt our average. </span><br /><br /><b><span>Average miles driven per day: </span></b><span>62</span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span>I'm surprised how low this is. We spent several non-driving days in both Copacabana and La Paz, and our last few days spent driving rough roads equated to lots of hours but few miles. </span><br /><br /><b><span>Biggest daily expenses ($/day): </span></b></span></span></div><div><span><span><span><b><span>#1 – Food ($18.84/day): </span></b><span>When we weren't wild camping we ate out a lot! Including a splurge for Bethany's birthday that included cheese and meat fondue at a Swiss restaurant. Noms.</span></span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span><b><span>#2 – Entertainment ($17.92/day): </span></b><span>This includes the $150 we spent on our bike tour of the “Death Road” and several park entrance fees. All totally worth it, just more than we had included in our budget.</span></span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span><b><span>#3 – Visas & Insurance ($15.75/day): </span></b><span>Our budget doesn't include things like visas and car insurance, but they were both significant in Bolivia. Single-entry visas are currently $55 USD per person. We purchased a 6-month car insurance policy that covers us in Bolivia and all surrounding countries (Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay), basically everywhere we plan to go except Uruguay. </span></span></span></span></div><div><br /></div><div></div><div><span><span><span><span>Is this the first time gas didn't make the top 3? Shocker!</span></span></span></span></div>

Bolivia: Life in the sky.

Read the original post and follow Nomadizens's overland adventures on their website: Nomadizens.


Coming into Copacabana, we found a road that looked passable to take us down to the lakeside. The steep incline ended with us in a swarm of cars along the lakeside. Following the GPS, we turned away from the edge…

Budget: Bolivia

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 115, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 91.42857142857143, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "shared rooms/board", "totalSpentUSD" : 2.142857142857143, "category" : "Hostel" },…

Budget: Peru

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 243.6666666666667, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 192, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "shared rooms/board", "totalSpentUSD" : 40, "category" : "Hostel" },…
<div>Happy to have made it across the border in less time than expected, we set off down the Panamanian highway. According to our GPS we were a few hours away from our destination for the night, but soon it had us turning off the main highway and said we were only 20 miles from the canyon where we planned to stay. That can't be right... It turns out that Panama is in the Eastern Time Zone, but there hadn't been any signs informing travelers of the time change at the border.</div><div><br /></div><div><span>Our GPS took us the wrong way in the little town near the canyon, but eventually we found our way. We were surprised to see someone sitting near the entrance collecting a fee, but realized that it must be due to the new year's holiday. We drove back into canyon area and parked Sweetcakes in a small lot away from the other visitors' cars. Most people were swimming in the narrow part of the canyon, jumping off the 10ft high rock walls on either side. We decided to hike back along the trail <span>[after Bethany declined my offer of having us drive Sweetcakes back since the trail was really an off road trail]</span> to see if there was another good swimming spot that wouldn't be so crowded. We found some nice, deep pools with clear water. Perfect for bathing since we hadn't showered in a couple of days. Feeling refreshed, we made a quick trip back into town to stock up on supplies for our new year's eve festivities. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing, drinking mojitos, and listening to fireworks going off in town. Happy 2015! </span><br /><span><br /></span><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JdkqS6rCZEE/VLpfwLwtRrI/AAAAAAAAGLo/FdRA9Z-3cKU/s1600/IMG_0177.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JdkqS6rCZEE/VLpfwLwtRrI/AAAAAAAAGLo/FdRA9Z-3cKU/s1600/IMG_0177.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /></div><div><span>The next morning we awoke to the sound of several carloads of people unloading near where we were parked. Really, who is here before 7am on New Year's Day? Apparently the canyon is <i>the</i>spot for the locals to relax and celebrate the new year. We made a big breakfast, did some yoga, then went for another quick swim in the stream. We were happy to get on the road in the morning because on our way out we saw what had to be the whole town walking/biking/driving to the canyon to hang out for the day. </span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Our destination for the night was Panama City. We had found out Monday night that the ferry would be taking cars the following Monday, so we booked it from north of San Jose, Costa Rica to the border on Tuesday, spent Wednesday crossing the border, then had to arrive in Panama City by Thursday night so we could take care of all the paperwork and inspections on Friday, to be ready to ship on Monday. It was a tight schedule with no room for error. Our drive to Panama City should have taken us 4 hours, but due to the holiday, traffic back into the city was atrocious. We saw a handful of fender-benders during our 6 hour drive, but luckily we arrived in Panama City unscathed. We had our first glimpse of the canal as we drove up and over the Bridge of the Americas and entered bustling Panama City. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FbQBXaImkFY/VLmrYshY2kI/AAAAAAAAGFY/zTBbJGRUXSk/s1600/IMG_0184.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FbQBXaImkFY/VLmrYshY2kI/AAAAAAAAGFY/zTBbJGRUXSk/s1600/IMG_0184.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Bustling Panama City</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>That night we parked near the yacht club, where most overlanders hide out while waiting to ship their vehicles. We assumed we'd bump into other travelers trying to catch Monday's ferry, and we were right! We met Willy from Germany, Spoons from Australia, old friends Colin & Aurelie from France, and a few other travelers who were northbound and had just recovered their vehicles from the port. We spoke with everyone and gathered as much information as possible about the paperwork and inspection process for tomorrow, which was supposed to be a doozy. <span>[don't forget to include links to either FB or blogs]</span></span></div><div><span><span><br /></span></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cp0M55-dzhY/VLmrYvKmT5I/AAAAAAAAGFU/sSX62l_vkjM/s1600/IMG_0185.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cp0M55-dzhY/VLmrYvKmT5I/AAAAAAAAGFU/sSX62l_vkjM/s1600/IMG_0185.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>A beautiful church we passed driving around Panama City</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We had read in other travelers' blogs that the temporary vehicle import permit we received at the border had to be exactly correct. Any typos in the VIN or other information, and you would have to run around Panama City for a few hours getting it corrected. We were also told that the VIN had to appear in both the VIN and engine number boxes. We checked all this at the border, but didn't notice that there were actually 3 boxes where the VIN could/should go: VIN, engine number, and chassis number. Our VIN appeared in two of the three boxes, but the engine number was listed as “0.” Uh oh, no bueno. After comparing our permit to the other travelers' permits, we began to worry that we would have trouble during our inspection tomorrow, which could mean that we wouldn't be able to take Monday's ferry. We crawled into the back of Sweetcakes that night hoping for the best. Between worrying about the paperwork and the high humidity, neither of us slept very well. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-K-fNbLIhE7g/VLmrokMiuOI/AAAAAAAAGFw/yZ27RCBZGYE/s1600/IMG_0189.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-K-fNbLIhE7g/VLmrokMiuOI/AAAAAAAAGFw/yZ27RCBZGYE/s1600/IMG_0189.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>A crazy skyscraper in Panama City</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We woke up early the next morning, repacked our car, then set off to find the DIJ inspection area. Before exiting Panama with your car, you must undergo a vehicle inspection in which they check your car's plates, VIN, and any other information against your paperwork. After verifying this information, the DIJ office runs some checks with interpol and other agencies to make sure your vehicle's record is clean. You have to return to the office in the afternoon to pick up your DIJ form giving your vehicle the “all clear.” Seems easy enough, right? </span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We left the yacht club at 7am. The DIJ was 10 minutes away, but we had been warned by other travelers that it was difficult to find. We exited the highway and saw where we needed to go, but could not get there due to cement blockades and one way streets. We drove in circles around the slum neighborhood trying to find the way into the secret street, eventually driving the wrong way for 3 blocks down a tiny one way street. Finally we found a police officer who told us how to get there. We pulled in at 7:30 and see our friend Willy in his green sprinter van. Inspections were supposed to start at 8am, but the engine needed to be cool. We had to make photocopies of our import permit from the border, so ran across a 6 lane highway to a copy shop. On the way back to the DIJ lot we noticed the pedestrian bridge across the highway. Doh! Copies in hand, we prop open Sweetcakes' hood to help the engine cool faster, and wait. And wait. Finally the man doing the inspections comes out of the office. Willy had the same problem on his import permit with the missing engine number, so we paid close attention while the officer inspected his vehicle. No problem with the missing engine number, but the license plate on his motorcycle had a typo on the import permit. So off went Willy to find the customs office and have his paperwork fixed. Ike and I were both sweating nervously as the officer took our paperwork and checked all of our vehicle numbers. Ten minutes later and we got the all clear! Hooray! <span>[“When he said, 'Todo bien', I could have kissed him!” -Bethany]</span></span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We had 4 hours to kill before having to return to pick up our paperwork, so we set off to find the Ferry Xpress office to pay for and receive our tickets. We knew their office was located in the Multicentro shopping mall complex, but we weren't sure exactly where. We found a place to park our car and headed over to a Subway in search of wifi and breakfast. They had both! The Ferry Xpress office was on the other side of the mall, so we gingerly made our way across the busy multi-lane streets and found the office. Thirty minutes later and we had our tickets in hand... there is a chance this ferry thing actually might happen! </span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We still had a few hours to kill, so we headed over to the mechanic that Colin & Aurelie had recommended. We explained to them the problem with the shock dampener and how we needed to replace the shock mount. They proposed to repair the part by welding on some metal disks instead of replacing the part. After several minutes of back and forth, we relented. They said our car would be ready by 3, but we had to return to the DIJ office at 2. We grabbed our books, some cash, paperwork, closed-toe shoes, and our dirty laundry, and set off to take care of errands while Sweetcakes was being fixed. We found a Chinese self-serve laundry (a rare find in Central America!) and washed all our stinky clothes while we watched the babies play on the floor. We returned to the mechanic to drop off our clean laundry and saw that Sweetcakes was in the shop, progress! We met up with Colin & Aurelie who had to return to the mechanic, and the four of us went to a nearby Chinese/Panama fusion place for lunch. We returned to the mechanics, enjoying their AC lounge while we waited for news on Sweetcakes. At 1:15 I asked how much longer it would be, explaining that we had an appointment at 2pm, but we could take a taxi if necessary. The car was ready in 20 minutes and they charged us less than they quoted, double success! </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-so154ioQi1Q/VLnaW5YxiTI/AAAAAAAAGK0/nq9SgYrGFos/s1600/IMG_0584.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-so154ioQi1Q/VLnaW5YxiTI/AAAAAAAAGK0/nq9SgYrGFos/s1600/IMG_0584.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Central Americans are all about the bright colored leggings right now</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We hopped back in Sweetcakes and it felt like we were driving a brand new car. The shock absorber had been detached since somewhere in Guatemala. This meant that every time we went over a bump, the driver's side bounced and reacted a lot more than the passenger's side. We didn't notice the unevenness and assumed that the roads were just <i>that bad</i>. But with the shock mount repaired, we instantly noticed the difference in our ride, even on the nice paved roads of Panama City. No wonder our lower backs had been so sore...</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We put on our closed-toe shoes and zipped on our full pants as we prepared to enter the Secretary General's office. Apparently they have been known to turn away other travelers that showed up in the overlanding uniform of shorts and flip flops. We get our visitors badges and enter the lobby. There sits Willy in swim trunks and flip flops. We were starting to learn that Willy plays by nobody's rules... We gave the people behind the desk our name and passport numbers and were told to wait. And so we waited and waited some more. Eventually a large man entered and sat down next to us. He heard us talking about the ferry and asked if we were also taking it. It turned out that there was to be a Harley Davidson convention in Colombia next week, so this man was taking his motorcycle on the ferry along with “the boss of Harley Davidson,” who just happened to be this man's friend from the military. We didn't probe for the details. He complained with us about the stupid bureaucratic process, but eventually received his papers and was on his way. We were left waiting with Willy. Another half hour later a woman shows up and calls each of us up to fill out a form with her. She returns 15 minutes later and we have our paperwork. It turned out to be a relatively painless process, just lots of sitting around and waiting, uncertain of what will happen next. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZAP9V9Tj3Kw/VLmrcdSeBrI/AAAAAAAAGFg/wHM9cSJkJoY/s1600/IMG_0187.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZAP9V9Tj3Kw/VLmrcdSeBrI/AAAAAAAAGFg/wHM9cSJkJoY/s1600/IMG_0187.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Another example of the leggings craze</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We made our way across town to the Courtyard Marriott hotel where we would be staying on points for the weekend. Ahh, the luxury of AC, a bed, hot showers, ice, internet, TV, the list goes on and on. While we still enjoy camping and our adventures on the road, we don't mind taking a break and shacking up in a hotel for a few days. We spent the next 3 days bumming around the hotel, leaving only to get our complimentary breakfast in the morning and setting off for a nice dinner in the evenings. Our families sent us some money to celebrate our anniversary, so we indulged in sushi, Argentinian grilled meat platters, and Indian food throughout the weekend. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6u41MKFqauI/VLnLEpA_HYI/AAAAAAAAGGY/OMMKk1ZrPDc/s1600/IMG_0207.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6u41MKFqauI/VLnLEpA_HYI/AAAAAAAAGGY/OMMKk1ZrPDc/s1600/IMG_0207.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Are we dressed classy enough? Don't care.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cL8MlpOubZ8/VLmr3AIFaMI/AAAAAAAAGGI/MsisEiWSZEM/s1600/IMG_0206.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cL8MlpOubZ8/VLmr3AIFaMI/AAAAAAAAGGI/MsisEiWSZEM/s1600/IMG_0206.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Sushi anniversary celebration</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KtWYaKFmqxw/VLmrvksR8UI/AAAAAAAAGGA/k4p8UflYyBM/s1600/IMG_0204.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KtWYaKFmqxw/VLmrvksR8UI/AAAAAAAAGGA/k4p8UflYyBM/s1600/IMG_0204.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Sake to celebrate our anniversary</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5KIoBoUzhMw/VLmrpjMNTHI/AAAAAAAAGF4/MzKGWgyGOUw/s1600/IMG_0202.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5KIoBoUzhMw/VLmrpjMNTHI/AAAAAAAAGF4/MzKGWgyGOUw/s1600/IMG_0202.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Complimentary wine & cheese tray from the hotel, yes please</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-AMqVw_c3Ja0/VLmrm4GcrOI/AAAAAAAAGFo/SPdKHUftjpY/s1600/IMG_0197.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-AMqVw_c3Ja0/VLmrm4GcrOI/AAAAAAAAGFo/SPdKHUftjpY/s1600/IMG_0197.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>View of Panama City from our hotel room</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6Zj3eodyVWo/VLnMoS6Zv6I/AAAAAAAAGHA/O1QTI7T3sr0/s1600/IMG_0224.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6Zj3eodyVWo/VLnMoS6Zv6I/AAAAAAAAGHA/O1QTI7T3sr0/s1600/IMG_0224.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Tron-esque building in Panama City</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iDRSwoh5KTA/VLnMiwIZpyI/AAAAAAAAGG4/8aqK8AyvIKQ/s1600/IMG_0221.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-iDRSwoh5KTA/VLnMiwIZpyI/AAAAAAAAGG4/8aqK8AyvIKQ/s1600/IMG_0221.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Argentinian grill platter</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2r5MccLtOos/VLnLxTTggKI/AAAAAAAAGGo/diNIq11VG14/s1600/IMG_0219.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2r5MccLtOos/VLnLxTTggKI/AAAAAAAAGGo/diNIq11VG14/s1600/IMG_0219.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>"Salad bar" at the Argentinian restaurant</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-72nyP7K_ZGk/VLnMF6uBx9I/AAAAAAAAGGw/8LmHO-HpUg4/s1600/IMG_0218.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-72nyP7K_ZGk/VLnMF6uBx9I/AAAAAAAAGGw/8LmHO-HpUg4/s1600/IMG_0218.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>More anniversary splurging</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JNUW0iQsBPc/VLnLktL6w6I/AAAAAAAAGGg/vWGrBMFi0lc/s1600/IMG_0217.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JNUW0iQsBPc/VLnLktL6w6I/AAAAAAAAGGg/vWGrBMFi0lc/s1600/IMG_0217.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Our hotel was right next to this mall and it felt like we were back in America</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WaIm5XYYJBw/VLnM-sMt6wI/AAAAAAAAGHI/fSZlcgRQ-Qo/s1600/IMG_0227.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WaIm5XYYJBw/VLnM-sMt6wI/AAAAAAAAGHI/fSZlcgRQ-Qo/s1600/IMG_0227.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Indian food on our last night in Panama City</span></div><br /><div><span>Most overlanders headed to Colon on Sunday because we had to arrive at the port Monday morning at 8am to take care of more paperwork and inspections. We decided to bask in the luxury of our hotel for one more night. So we woke up bright and early Monday morning and were on the road by 6am to make it to Colon, a little over an hour's drive, and on the Caribbean coast. That's right, you can drive from the Pacific to Caribbean coast in just over an hour in this narrow part of Panama. A great place for the canal indeed! We were the first to arrive at the port. The security guards were a bit confused when we said we were taking our car with us on the ferry, but we expected there to be confusion. We had heard the stories of disorganization and confusion from other travelers who had taken their cars on the ferry. We pulled into the parking lot and saw the ferry tied up at the port, looking quite majestic in the morning sunshine. It's real! </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ITvMyvBbb-k/VLnNoLW96ZI/AAAAAAAAGHo/SDLyNQZKIuo/s1600/IMG_0236.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ITvMyvBbb-k/VLnNoLW96ZI/AAAAAAAAGHo/SDLyNQZKIuo/s1600/IMG_0236.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Monday morning and we are ready to board that ferry!</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SzeDNxbnSGY/VLnPZf8QJmI/AAAAAAAAGIo/Xt4Z_igQFyQ/s1600/IMG_0432.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SzeDNxbnSGY/VLnPZf8QJmI/AAAAAAAAGIo/Xt4Z_igQFyQ/s1600/IMG_0432.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>Fellow overlanders Jurgen & Katharina from Germany. Their rig is a converted firetruck from the 1980s.</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UgbcySW-Ugc/VLnXvL60ntI/AAAAAAAAGKM/AaqqZmqf3k4/s1600/IMG_0531.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UgbcySW-Ugc/VLnXvL60ntI/AAAAAAAAGKM/AaqqZmqf3k4/s1600/IMG_0531.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>We had plenty of time at the port to watch the ships being loaded and unloaded</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_BExRLbzZ7E/VLnXuWXpDvI/AAAAAAAAGKE/PIvG2V3dpdc/s1600/IMG_0528.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_BExRLbzZ7E/VLnXuWXpDvI/AAAAAAAAGKE/PIvG2V3dpdc/s1600/IMG_0528.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Such monstrous ships!</span></div><br /><div><span>Thirty minutes later and  other overlanders began to pour in. We met <a href="http://paulnomad.blogspot.com.au/" target="_blank">Paul</a>, an Australian traveling on his motorcycle, then came <a href="https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008373647480&fref=ts" target="_blank">Colin &Aurelie</a>, followed by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/babellamericas?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser" target="_blank">Antoine & Stella </a>(a French/Chinese couple traveling in a US RV), then <a href="https://www.facebook.com/HolesdugwithSpoons" target="_blank">Spoons</a> pulled in with his Mercedes van, followed by Jurgen, Katharina and son Movitz in their converted 1980's German firetruck rig, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/amon.dumhard?fref=ts" target="_blank">Willy & his wife</a> in their green sprinter van, and finally <a href="https://www.facebook.com/tim.linsser?fref=ts" target="_blank">Tim </a>in his Land Cruiser. A good looking bunch if I might say so myself! We waited and waited and around 10am someone showed up and we could begin the paperwork process. First up was to review our Bill of Lading to make sure all of the information was correct. Most of us noticed some errors in the document, so the woman from Ferry Xpress said she would take care of it, but we had to wait. Surprise surprise. Early that afternoon the travelers with correct Bill of Ladings started the customs inspections and their cars were stamped out of Panama. The rest of us were still waiting to get our corrected Bill of Ladings back. We started to get nervous as midafternoon approached. The ferry was scheduled to depart at 7pm, and soon the foot passengers would be arriving. Around 3pm the woman from Ferry Xpress called us all over and said that due to the strong winds, they would not be taking cars today. Whomp, whomp. All our hopes and dreams were crashed. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5tO9v_49cZg/VLnNkumpocI/AAAAAAAAGHg/P-0JfVxv-ak/s1600/IMG_0239.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5tO9v_49cZg/VLnNkumpocI/AAAAAAAAGHg/P-0JfVxv-ak/s1600/IMG_0239.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Waiting was the name of the game at the port in Colon</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>After a bit more back and forth and lots of confusing information, we determined that 1) they would try again on Wednesday, and 2) the vehicles that had been stamped out of the country were not allowed to leave the port. The rest of us discussed our options, but Colon was not a great city to be stuck in and there weren't any good camping options nearby. We decided to all stick together and camp in the port parking lot until Wednesday morning came. They tried to tell us we would each have to pay $5 to camp in the port, but we laughed them off and eventually they changed their minds. We tried to get more information from the ferry employees about the situation and what the odds were that the ferry would take our cars on Wednesday, and with heavy hearts we watched from the parking lot as the ferry finally departed later that evening. We passed the evening swapping stories from the road and discussing the likelihood of the ferry taking our cars on Wednesday. <span>[Before we packed it in that night, we spent several hours badgering Ferry Xpress for updates on the likelihood of them taking us Wednesday and what options would be available as compensation to us since we were told we would be leaving Monday.  I got the pleasure of seeing Colin go into Beast Mode.  Normally, Colin has a huge grin that splits his face and squishes his eyes up into squints, so seeing this was a little intimidating.  First, he pulled someone from Ferry Xpress aside and asked to have a cell phone to call their office.  After they unsuccessfully tried to pawn him off on hold, he pulled a port officer aside and told the man he needed a cell phone.  When the officer said there was maybe one around back, Colin said unequivocally, “Take me to it.” and was gone for 20 minutes.  As sun set he strode into the building where passengers were loading, walked up to the front desk and demanded compensation for us stuck here.  The man behind the counter tried to tell him that there was nothing he could do, so Colin told him to call his boss.  The poor man quickly dialed his boss, and Colin spoke to him. They first said they would try and track down the harbor master to assist us, so we spent an hour sitting in the corner of the passenger terminal, a determined look on Colin's face. After nothing came of that, Colin was right back up at the desk asking for the phone. They agreed to try and find us hotel rooms for the evening, and would call back in 10 minutes.  They didn't, so Colin blew their phone up all evening, before we eventually caved in.  “I don't like seeing an angry Colin, but I'm glad he's on our side.” I said to Aurelie halfway through this stint.  “Ah...sometimes when he wants something...it's better to stay out of his way.” She replied with a laugh.] </span></span></div><div><span><span><br /></span></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-sq1hR0V6jMQ/VLnNKPdVqTI/AAAAAAAAGHQ/1FpkYWk898Y/s1600/IMG_0241.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-sq1hR0V6jMQ/VLnNKPdVqTI/AAAAAAAAGHQ/1FpkYWk898Y/s1600/IMG_0241.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Dat feel as you watch the ferry leave</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>The next day we decided to visit the Gatun Locks on the canal, since we hadn't taken the time to visit the canal during the weekend. Antoine & Stella were also interested in visiting the locks, but their RV was already stamped out of the country, so it couldn't leave the port. No problema, you can ride with us! We emptied all of our crap out of the back of Sweetcakes into their RV, and Stella and I piled in the back. Approaching the gate to leave the port, the security guard stops us with a “Hey where are you going?” We explained that they had not completed our customs paperwork yesterday, so we were free to leave with our car. Suddenly no fewer than 5 people appeared out of thin air to try to prevent us from leaving. Seriously, where were all these customs people yesterday when we needed to complete our paperwork? After a bit of back and forth, they agreed that we were allowed to leave with our car. </span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Cruising along towards the locks, we notice a government pickup truck pulled over on the shoulder and the man was swatting at something in the grass with his jacket. “I think that's a sloth!” Antoine exclaimed. Ike pulled over and we all piled out to check out the action. Sure enough, a sloth was lying in the ditch. The man was trying to get the sloth to claw at his jacket so he could lift up the sloth and relocate him to the tree that he had apparently just fallen out of. The sloth has to be one of the most ridiculous animals I have ever seen. It's cute little face had the biggest “DERP” expression on it the entire time the man was swatting at it and then eventually carrying it to the nearby tree. Seeing a sloth? Check that off the to do list. Back in the car, we drove a few more minutes and arrived at the Gatun Locks.</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7tJe9zvrs10/VLnQ6cFcDgI/AAAAAAAAGJE/CUt4k_mdy2s/s1600/IMG_0436.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7tJe9zvrs10/VLnQ6cFcDgI/AAAAAAAAGJE/CUt4k_mdy2s/s1600/IMG_0436.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Sloth mid-rescue. Look closely and you can see his derpy face to the left.</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>The locks just celebrated their 100<sup>th</sup>anniversary and they were still impressive to my 21<sup>st</sup>century eye. I can't imagine how grandiose they must have seemed when they first opened. We arrived at a prime time, with two ships going through the second of the series of three locks. We watched the ships move ahead to the third and final lock, pulled along by electric trains, watched the water level rise, and then watched the ships depart. A ship can move through the set of 3 locks in about 80 minutes. We learned that approximately 40 ships per day pass through the canal. With each lock having 2 lanes, that's nearly 1 ship per hour per lane. Pretty impressive. As we watched the ships pass through, it was obvious that today's ocean liners are built to the canal's specs. There were only a couple of feet of clearance on either side of the behemoth. In fact, the fit is so tight that the ships' captains turn over control of the ship to a special canal driver for the journey. A new set of locks is currently under construction and all ocean liners currently in production are being made to fit the new locks, which are deeper and wider. We learned that ships pay by their weight and/or capacity, with the average fee being somewhere around $250,000. The lowest fee ever charged was $0.36 for some dude to swim through the canal in the 1920s(?). Pretty baller. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oJAB98ztBg0/VLnQYVuyujI/AAAAAAAAGI0/knPWmD9WaOc/s1600/IMG_0443.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oJAB98ztBg0/VLnQYVuyujI/AAAAAAAAGI0/knPWmD9WaOc/s1600/IMG_0443.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>Electric trains pulling ships through the locks</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mp7OItZtLiY/VLnT3o64TeI/AAAAAAAAGJw/F_DzJ0Vusz4/s1600/IMG_0506.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mp7OItZtLiY/VLnT3o64TeI/AAAAAAAAGJw/F_DzJ0Vusz4/s1600/IMG_0506.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Watching the impressive process of moving through the Gatun Locks</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WWOOgUxjaMQ/VLnSrFe98wI/AAAAAAAAGJk/RSSLviYHNuY/s1600/IMG_0480.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WWOOgUxjaMQ/VLnSrFe98wI/AAAAAAAAGJk/RSSLviYHNuY/s1600/IMG_0480.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>Massive double gates separate the three locks</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CIorujP-PqE/VLnSE_8u_FI/AAAAAAAAGJY/H86az5lmLEk/s1600/IMG_0465.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CIorujP-PqE/VLnSE_8u_FI/AAAAAAAAGJY/H86az5lmLEk/s1600/IMG_0465.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>View from the second lock, looking back over the first</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bhp2bChgTwU/VLnRnVfFB_I/AAAAAAAAGJQ/KQ9JmU2ykIE/s1600/IMG_0458.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bhp2bChgTwU/VLnRnVfFB_I/AAAAAAAAGJQ/KQ9JmU2ykIE/s1600/IMG_0458.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>We arrived just in time to watch a Norwegian oil tanker and cruise ship move through the locks together</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xGwrP6tunnM/VLnQ5Bz0zwI/AAAAAAAAGI8/1ckaVHjC7oQ/s1600/IMG_0444.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xGwrP6tunnM/VLnQ5Bz0zwI/AAAAAAAAGI8/1ckaVHjC7oQ/s1600/IMG_0444.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Massive ships, with little room to spare on either side</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZcPfoAh1W4g/VLnUiRDyfSI/AAAAAAAAGJ4/hoexIcH-KHY/s1600/IMG_0517.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZcPfoAh1W4g/VLnUiRDyfSI/AAAAAAAAGJ4/hoexIcH-KHY/s1600/IMG_0517.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>"Citizens from all over the world are proud of the Panama Canal."</span></div><br /><div><span>Back at the port, Colin & Aurelie announced they would be making a metric ton of crepes to share with the group that evening. One thing led to the next, and pretty soon we had an overlander potluck of epic proportions. Ike started off things right with his now world famous french fries. We had German sausages, Chinese rice with mushrooms, cheese stuffed grilled pita, brownies, and of course all you can eat crepes. Noms noms noms. We all went to sleep with full bellies and positive thoughts for the ferry the next day. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cpwS02trgSY/VLnNiu1ieLI/AAAAAAAAGHY/CRtdwS24MUI/s1600/IMG_0245.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cpwS02trgSY/VLnNiu1ieLI/AAAAAAAAGHY/CRtdwS24MUI/s1600/IMG_0245.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Overlanding potluck</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aOCQAY1lAiY/VLnN06Zvw7I/AAAAAAAAGHw/UNTx14_g5Bw/s1600/IMG_0250.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aOCQAY1lAiY/VLnN06Zvw7I/AAAAAAAAGHw/UNTx14_g5Bw/s1600/IMG_0250.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Aurelie's amzing crepes!</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>["Is that for shade?" I ask Jurgen as he and Spoons are setting up some tentpoles from an extension on his truck. "No, it's for reflection!" He replied.  A puzzled look came over my face.  Looking at the silvery tarp, I wasn't really sure how he'd use reflection for anything. "Yeah, I set this up, and reflect the sun directly into your face.  Of COURSE it's for shade." Jurgen finished with a laugh.  Spoons shook his head with a grin.</span><br /><span><br /></span><span>"Will you go to Venezuela?" Willy asked us while we were discussing future destinations after the ferry got us to South America.  "No way, it's too dangerous!" Bethany replied.  "Yes...but the gas is cheap!" came Willy's emphatic reply.  Classic Willy.</span><br /><br /><span>Despite the initial frustration over being stuck in the parking lot for 48 hours and no idea if we'd actually get out, we tried to look on the bright side: all of these new friends we were making and old friends we were getting to hang out with!  It was really a true silver lining.]</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>The next morning Ike and I followed Aurelie's lead and took a shower in our swimsuits under a garden hose hanging from the fence. What a classy life we live! Around 7:30 we hear the rumble of a couple dozen motorcycles rolling in. A few hours later the Ferry Xpress woman was back to issue our new Bills of Lading. We were told to knock on the customs window to start the inspection process. We knocked several times, but the people inside the office did a great job of pretending they couldn't see us. At some point a Colombian man walked up, knocked, and eventually opened the window himself. Once he was done I stepped up to the window before the woman could go back to ignoring us, but she told us “Not yet.” Ok.... we sat around and waited and waited. Finally the Ferry Xpress lady, by now given the nickname Tiger Lily due to the tiger print jumper she wore that day, told us they were going to process the paperwork for all the motorcycles first, because they were still not sure that they could board the cars today. Ughhhh, not again! We retreated to our vehicles and continued to pick up our belongings with the hope that we would indeed get on the damn ferry today. A few hours later the customs workers decide they will at least take our paperwork to begin the process. </span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iPofeEj0FYg/VLnOMpPQxbI/AAAAAAAAGII/Effbfk7tHdg/s1600/IMG_0262.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iPofeEj0FYg/VLnOMpPQxbI/AAAAAAAAGII/Effbfk7tHdg/s1600/IMG_0262.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Wednesday morning 2 dozen motorcycles showed up</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7fyNWyGD71g/VLnOCVfBLBI/AAAAAAAAGIA/wN5AN-mgM8k/s1600/IMG_0258.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7fyNWyGD71g/VLnOCVfBLBI/AAAAAAAAGIA/wN5AN-mgM8k/s1600/IMG_0258.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>More paperwork and waiting on Wednesday</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We wait and wait and around 3:30 someone high up at Ferry Xpress comes over to talk to us. Luckily Spoons had had the foresight to email Ferry Xpress the previous evening and kindly asked that they send someone to assist us with the process today. This was our man! He assured us that they intended to load cars today and that the ship would dock perpendicular to the port to let the cars from Colombia disembark, and then we would drive on. Then the ship would turn parallel to the port so the passengers could disembark and then all of us southbound passengers would board. Hooray! We told him we were ready and waiting for his signal, but that we needed him to intervene with the customs officers, who had our paperwork all day but still hadn't approved it. “Ok, but we need to be delicate, because they are a public office.” Yes, we understand, but help! He and the port manager spoke with the customs officers, then magically everything fell into place. <span>[He also offered all of us personal apologies and told us we would all be receiving free upgrades as compensation. Bravo to customer service!]</span> All our paperwork appeared, ready for our signatures. Vehicle inspections took place, and soon we all rolled our cars over to the loading dock. We must have looked like a group of 5 year olds on Christmas morning, with our huge grins and shouts of YIPPEEEE as we practically skipped from vehicle to vehicle. After more than 48 hours of buildup, we were finally driving onto the ferry! <span>[All the horns honking as we started to drive up to the ferry, the cheers and huge grins were just fantastic.  None of us actually believed it until we were on the boat. But what a relief it was!]</span></span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-n_Z1uzM4MVk/VLnZDtojPYI/AAAAAAAAGKY/0LTPis2CyDU/s1600/IMG_0543.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-n_Z1uzM4MVk/VLnZDtojPYI/AAAAAAAAGKY/0LTPis2CyDU/s1600/IMG_0543.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Moving our cars to the dock to board the ferry!</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-VEtu8Yg2PYU/VLnZc9fTz0I/AAAAAAAAGKo/1na61H3FUWo/s1600/IMG_0559.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-VEtu8Yg2PYU/VLnZc9fTz0I/AAAAAAAAGKo/1na61H3FUWo/s1600/IMG_0559.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OqbTqRxJXBE/VLnObE0v1MI/AAAAAAAAGIQ/sskXO9f7-SQ/s1600/IMG_0271.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OqbTqRxJXBE/VLnObE0v1MI/AAAAAAAAGIQ/sskXO9f7-SQ/s1600/IMG_0271.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Sweetcakes looking classy</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8SmPQl19x3c/VLnZYzElPdI/AAAAAAAAGKg/FT40_ysTS2A/s1600/IMG_0565.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8SmPQl19x3c/VLnZYzElPdI/AAAAAAAAGKg/FT40_ysTS2A/s1600/IMG_0565.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Punching the ferry for being late</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YPsO_ufzbWA/VLnN8WajdnI/AAAAAAAAGH4/A2o-NWIjbpg/s1600/IMG_0270.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YPsO_ufzbWA/VLnN8WajdnI/AAAAAAAAGH4/A2o-NWIjbpg/s1600/IMG_0270.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sgzFQsCDaqk/VLnOvldlA4I/AAAAAAAAGIY/DrawwyOTbOE/s1600/IMG_0276.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sgzFQsCDaqk/VLnOvldlA4I/AAAAAAAAGIY/DrawwyOTbOE/s1600/IMG_0276.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>And we're on!</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TjVeLiZhD8s/VLmq9P8QXOI/AAAAAAAAGFI/2zwE5ckoVE4/s1600/10891732_773261802728711_2240486092719641505_n.jpg"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TjVeLiZhD8s/VLmq9P8QXOI/AAAAAAAAGFI/2zwE5ckoVE4/s1600/10891732_773261802728711_2240486092719641505_n.jpg" height="478" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>The ferry crew, ecstatic that our cars are on the ferry!</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Cars in place, we all had to exit the ferry and go wait in the boarding area with the rest of the passengers. The ferry was scheduled to depart at 7pm, but we were told it was now delayed by an hour due to the high winds and big waves. We wait and wait (do you sense a theme here?) and finally are allowed to board the ferry around 10pm. We had all been upgraded to exterior rooms due to the delays in taking our cars. After dropping our belongings, most of us met up in the restaurant and enjoyed some surprisingly delicious brick oven pizza. Before its Panama – Colombia route, the ship had been somewhere in the Mediterranean and most of the restaurant crew was Italian, speaking only very very basic Spanish. The ship left port around 11:30pm and we all retreated to our rooms for the evening. The waves were very strong and it was difficult to walk on the ship. We spent most of the time laying in our beds, very grateful for the complimentary upgrade!  <span>[This made it very difficult for me to surreptitiously order the three beers for Spoons, Alex, and Tim as repayment for their purchases of empanadas and sodas for the group while we were stuck waiting to board.  “Tres cervesas por los tres hombres, pero en mi cuenta.”  I said to the waiter.  Who promptly walked over to the three of them, and while pointing at them, yells back “Tres cervesas aqui?!?”  “Thanks Ike!” “Cheers mate!” “Appreciate it!” from the guys.] </span></span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P9XIZmyjeSc/VLnbRm99DgI/AAAAAAAAGK8/0VX5QCLa64c/s1600/IMG_0588.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P9XIZmyjeSc/VLnbRm99DgI/AAAAAAAAGK8/0VX5QCLa64c/s1600/IMG_0588.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>At the port in Cartagena, Colombia</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We arrived at the port in Cartagena, Colombia around 10pm. The journey took around 24 hours instead of the normal 18 hours, due to the rough seas. There was a bit of chaos once we disembarked, as the port employees didn't seem entirely sure of the import process. Eventually they sent us to immigration to get our passports stamped. We then had to fill out some paperwork to import our vehicles. We all lined up to fill in the remainder of some partially completed paperwork (I assume Ferry Xpress had started it), and then wait some more. The customs officer needed 3 copies of this form, but they only had 2 ready. In addition he had to make a photocopy of the stamp page in our passport. This meant that the process that should have been straightforward dragged on and on. Eventually the copier decided it was quitting time, and started overheating. The customs officer kept opening it up and fanning it off, but it would only help for one photocopy. There were 30 of us needing to be processed, each needing 2 or more photocopies. Finally sometime after midnight a few of the guys from our group asked the man to take all the documents and go find a copy shop somewhere. We couldn't wait another 3 hours to be processed, especially since we had been informed we were not allowed to sleep in our vehicles in the port that evening. The officer returned 20 minutes later with all the copies in hand. Everyone was processed, then the drivers returned to the vehicles for some additional paperwork and inspections. Around 1am we were given the “all clear” to leave the port. Hello South America! We found a place to park on the street that night and doozed off as soon as our heads hit the pillow.  <span>[Noootttt quite.  Only one person from each vehicle was allowed to go back after the import paperwork was completed, and they had to complete the security.  Thankfully the women working back there spoke some English.  While we were back there working on the paperwork, Alex asked one of the dock workers for a recommendation on where we could spend the night, since all the other employees had told us was that we could either 1) sleep right outside the gate or 2) sleep across the street at the gas station. WOOF.  One of them told us about some waterfront free parking, which is where all of us went, in convoy, as we left the port.  Upon arriving, we pull in under the lights, and enjoy the view for a minute while we look around and make sure it seems like an okay play to sleep.  After a minute, a police officer on a motorcycle pulls up and asks us what we're up to.  Tim explains to him that we've all just left the port, are all very tired, and will only spend the night there sleeping in our vehicles and leave first thing in the morning. “I'll have to ask my boss.” was the reply.  A few minutes later, another motorcycle pulls up with two police officers on it.  Tim repeats the plea to them and receives the reply of, “Nope, not ok. Follow us.”  Groaning as it's nearly one in the morning, we start the convoy up again and drive a few minutes, but are pleasantly surprised to find that they'd taken us next to a park that is across the street from the police station.  We gratefully pull in and fall asleep, bidding everyone else a good night and happy that we'd survived the ordeal of getting our vehicles around the Darien Gap.]</span></span></div><div><span><span><br /></span></span></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eP9m9pRZA6A/VLnPG_UOluI/AAAAAAAAGIg/yifLMCR6mI8/s1600/IMG_0286.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eP9m9pRZA6A/VLnPG_UOluI/AAAAAAAAGIg/yifLMCR6mI8/s1600/IMG_0286.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>No fun waiting in port customs for 3 hours after we arrived that evening. Pic taken at 12:45 am</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span><span><span><b><span>Panama budget recap:</span></b></span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span><span>Panama officially has their own currency, the balboa, but for all intents & purposes they use the US dollar. After so many new currencies and exchange rates in the past few weeks, this was a welcome change. The balboa is set equal to the US dollar. We only saw US bills, but they use a mix of US and balboa coins (which are identical in size and color). </span></span></span></span></div><div><br /></div><div><span><span><span>Overall we came out right on budget, but our expenses were not at all as we budgeted. We spent a mere $2 on lodging, but treated ourselves to several nice meals in Panama City, so blew our food budget. We had to skip a few places in Costa Rica & Panama to catch the one-time-only car run on the ferry, but it was worth it because we saved around $2000 and several days by not having to ship our car. </span><br /><br /><b><span>Expected days in country: 7</span></b><br /><b><span>Actual days spent in country: 8</span></b><br />In hindsight, we did not budget enough days in Panama. When we started this trip, we expected to have to ship our car, a process that takes 1 week. We should have budgeted a week for sightseeing and a week for shipping. <br /><br /><b><span>Daily budget: </span></b><span>$64</span><br /><b><span>Actual expenses: </span></b><span>$67</span><b><span> </span></b><span>(excluding ferry costs)</span><br /><b><span>Difference: </span></b><span>+$3 (+5%)</span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span><span>We celebrated our anniversary while in Panama. Our families generously gave us some money to celebrate, so celebrate we did! We went out to eat at 3 nice restaurants while in Panama City, which means our food expenditures were higher than budgeted, but all other categories were under budget. </span></span></span></span></div><div><br /></div><div><span><span><span><b><span>Expected costs to ship car and get ourselves to Colombia: </span></b><span>$2000 for car, $700 for plane tickets</span></span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span><b><span>Actual costs: </span></b><span>$600 total</span></span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span>Our skipping the southern half of Costa Rica and most of Panama to catch the ferry was well worth it for the cost and time savings. We hope the ferry is able to get their act together and resume regular car service. It is a huge benefit to overlanders!</span><br /><br /><b><span>Average price for gas: </span></b><span>$2.51/gallon ($0.66 per liter). </span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span>Hooray for cheap gas! We filled up our jerry can before leaving the country. </span><br /><br /><b><span>Expected miles driven: </span></b><span>450</span><br /><b><span>Actual miles driven: </span></b><span>454</span><br /><b><span>Difference: </span></b><span>+1%</span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span>We basically drove directly from the border to Panama City, then up to Colon. If we had more time to explore the country, we would have driven quite a bit more. </span><br /><br /><b><span>Average gas mileage: </span></b><span>20 mpg</span></span></span></div><div><span><span><span>Most of our driving in Panama was on high quality highways.</span><br /><br /><b><span>Average miles driven per day: </span></b><span>57</span><br /><br /><b><span>Biggest daily expenses ($/day):</span></b><br /><b><span>#1: </span></b><span>Food - $47.50 (but a big chunk of this was at nice restaurants to celebrate our anniversary)</span><br /><b><span>#2: </span></b><span>Gas - $9 (including filling our jerry can)</span></span></span></div><div></div><div><span><span><span>We stayed at a hotel on points in Panama City and camped for free at the port in Colon. Our only lodging expenses were the $2 we paid to enter the canyon our first night. </span></span></span></div>

A very ferry New Year in Panama

Read the original post and follow Nomadizens's overland adventures on their website: Nomadizens.


Happy to have made it across the border in less time than expected, we set off down the Panamanian highway. According to our GPS we were a few hours away from our destination for the night, but soon it had…
IMG_9249

America’s cooler brother to the south

Read the original post and follow Nomadizens's overland adventures on their website: 66° of Separation.


We had a leisurely night in our hotel room in Cancun the night before we flew back to Chicago for our friend’s wedding. The next morning we picked up the remnants from our mojito-fest the night before and did other…

Budget: Ecuador

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 518.5, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 161, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "private room establishments", "totalSpentUSD" : 340, "category" : "Hotel"…

Budget: Colombia

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ // ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 548.421052631579, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 295.7894736842105, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "private room establishments", "totalSpentUSD" : 231.578947368421, "category"…
FuelCostBasedOnMPG

Budget: Mexico & Central America

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ // ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 2900.848787878787, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 1992.953636363636, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "private room establishments", "totalSpentUSD" : 789.95, "category"…

Budget: Panama

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 12, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 12, "category" : "Camping" } ], "category_description" : "camping, hotels, propane, laundry" }, { "totalSpentUSD" : 44,…
Somewhere along Lake Superior- Day 2

Stats Canada

Read the original post and follow JFDI Overland's overland adventures on their website: J.F.D.I. Overland.


Below is some data that we plan on publishing for each country.  Let us know if there is anything that you’d like added and we’ll see what we can do.Days in country: 16Money spent: $2866.26 (daily average $179.14)…

Budget: Costa Rica

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 54.54545454545455, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 36.36363636363636, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "laundromat or clothes cleaning services", "totalSpentUSD" : 18.18181818181818, "category"…

Budget: Nicaragua

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 84, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 84, "category" : "Camping" } ], "category_description" : "camping, hotels, propane, laundry" }, { "totalSpentUSD" : 52.68,…

Budget: Honduras

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 454.95, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 57, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "private room establishments", "totalSpentUSD" : 397.95, "category" : "Hotel"…

Budget: Guatemala

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 130.6666666666667, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 122.6666666666667, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "laundromat or clothes cleaning services", "totalSpentUSD" : 8, "category"…

Budget: Belize

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 51, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 51, "category" : "Camping" } ], "category_description" : "camping, hotels, propane, laundry" }, { "totalSpentUSD" : 2.375,…

Budget: Mainland Mexico

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// ![CDATA[ var budgetData = [ { "totalSpentUSD" : 1832.84, "category" : "Living", "subCategories" : [ { "category_description" : "camping sites", "totalSpentUSD" : 1383.08, "category" : "Camping" }, { "category_description" : "private room establishments", "totalSpentUSD" : 392, "category" : "Hotel"…

Budget: Baja, Mexico

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.


// We spent 43 days in Baja, Mexico and spent a total of $1,471.60.  That means that we spent on average $34.22 per day. Our largest expense was food ($757), followed by transportation ($417), and then living expenses ($253 –…

Connect with other Overlanders!

Join our

Overland Group

FBGroup

×