ROAD TRIP LOG

To declutter my blog page a little bit, I removed all 43 (almost-)daily posts from the front page without deleting them.  You can still find them via the Navigation page or by clicking on the dates in the following list:

DATE START END KM
Sep-01 New York City (USA) Ocean City (USA) 429
Sep-02 Ocean City (USA) Atlanta (USA) 1197
Sep-03 Atlanta (USA) Austin (USA) 1497
Sep-04 Austin (USA) Austin (USA) 24
Sep-05 Austin (USA) Austin (USA) 24
Sep-06 Austin (USA) Monterrey (MEX) 642
Sep-07 Monterrey (MEX) San Miguel de Allende (MEX) 670
Sep-08 San Miguel de Allende (MEX) Jorobas (MEX) 257
Sep-09 Jorobas (MEX) Mexico City (MEX) 72
Sep-10 Mexico City (MEX) Veracruz (MEX) 431
Sep-11 Veracruz (MEX) Villahermosa (MEX) 490
Sep-12 Villahermosa (MEX) Campeche (MEX) 393
Sep-13 Campeche (MEX) Mérida (MEX) 204
Sep-14 Mérida (MEX) Mérida (MEX) 307
Sep-15 Mérida (MEX) Belize City (BEL) 546
Sep-16 Belize City (BEL) El Remate (GTM) 273
Sep-17 El Remate (GTM) Cieneguita (HON) 349
Sep-18 Cieneguita (HON) Tegucigalpa (HON) 401
Sep-19 Tegucigalpa (HON) Managua (NIC) 388
Sep-20 Managua (NIC) Córdoba (NIC) 252
Sep-21 Córdoba (NIC) Moyogalpa, Ometepe (NIC) 83
Sep-22 Moyogalpa, Ometepe (NIC) Moyogalpa, Ometepe (NIC) 59
Sep-23 Moyogalpa, Ometepe (NIC) Uvita (CRI) 499
Sep-24 Uvita (CRI) El Valle de Antón (PAN) 496
Sep-25 El Valle de Antón (PAN) Panama Ciudad (PAN) 162
Sep-26 Panama Ciudad (PAN) Panama Ciudad (PAN) 0
Sep-27 Panama Ciudad (PAN) Colón (PAN) 134
Sep-28 Colón (PAN) San Blas (PAN) 172*
Sep-29 San Blas (PAN) San Blas (PAN) 0
Sep-30 San Blas (PAN) Capurganá (COL) 200*
Oct-01 Capurganá (COL) Cartagena (COL) 430*
Oct-02 Cartagena (COL) Cartagena (COL) 0
Oct-03 Cartagena (COL) El Cármen de Bolívar (COL) 127
Oct-04 El Cármen de Bolívar (COL) Medellín (COL) 532
Oct-05 Medellín (COL) Cali (COL) 422
Oct-06 Cali (COL) Pasto (COL) 376
Oct-07 Pasto (COL) Quito (ECU) 344
Oct-08 Quito (ECU) Cascajal (ECU) 373
Oct-09 Cascajal (ECU) Pimentel (PER) 711
Oct-10 Pimentel (PER) Lima (PER) 793
Oct-11 Lima (PER) Lomas (PER) 527
Oct-12 Lomas (PER) Arica (CHL) 720
Oct-13 Arica (CHL) San Pedro Atacama (CHL) 696
Oct-14 San Pedro Atacama (CHL) Taltal (CHL) 555
Oct-15 Taltal (CHL) Santiago (CHL) 1107
Oct-16 Santiago (CHL) Concepción (CHL) 510
 TOTAL 18.072

Oct-15

Today not much happened. I got up quite early and then drove 12h to Santiago de Chile, CHL, where I arrived safely at 7:30pm. I am staying with a friend that I’ve met at the Chilean consulate in NYC where we both applied for our visas. Although we had only met for a few minutes, she and her boyfriend invited me to stay with them. Thanks!

In case you are wondering why I am not in Concepción yet, although my work will start there tomorrow morning: Since I got into time problems in South America, my plan was to do the 5h drive from Santiago to Concepción on Monday morning. This is also why –  despite arriving quite early – I didn’t go to see any of the city. I should have gone straight to bed but eventually we ended up chatting a bit. I hope I’ll not be too tired tomorrow!

Oct-14

This morning I overslept as I wasn’t able to set an alarm yesterday. Afterwards we had a relaxed breakfast together. As the idea was to split the 18h until Santiago into a short and then a long drive, we could still do some of the desert adventures this morning.

In a group of 5 went to the Ojos de Salar, two completely round lagunas where we jumped into. Afterwards we went to the Laguna Cejar, where the water is so salty that you float – it was awesome!

Going back to the village’s center and quickly doing this and that, it suddenly was 3:30pm when I left. I was angry at myself für letting timing go out of my hand so badly but still decided to make it as far as possible (I didn’t have another option anyway).

I safely arrived at Taltal, CHL, where I now have to go to sleep as soon as possible because I have a 12h drive ahead tomorrow.

Oct-13

It’s not that I forget writing the blog articles, but when I go to bed I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open…

Yesterday was a true Friday the 13th. First we overslept, but that was not bad luck, that was because we were really tired. Then we had an awesome breakfast. The host prepared porridge, fruit salad and eggs and bread, cheese and ham were not the cheap ones but really good. That was also no bad luck, but hold on…

Our destination for the day was San Pedro Atacama – the place where the Argentinians had worked in a hostel for a month and where the second one wanted to stay for work again. Although it was a small detour I decided to go there with her as they told me so many amazing things you could do there – stargazing tours, lagunas with water that salty that you float, geysers etc. The plan was to stop by a laguna on the way and to do a stargaze tour at night.

As we were late we had to hurry a little bit. Turns out we hurried a little too much. When I saw the police car it was too late already. We were stopped for going 130km/h where the maximum was 100km/h. But as this was Chile, the bribe zone was officially over. Instead of giving a high price for a ticket and then asking to pay immediately, they didn’t even know the penalty amount. I would have to pay it on the following business day and they would keep my driver’s license until then. Again, instead of using this fact as a pressure to make me pay immediately claiming we wouldn’t be able to continue driving otherwise, they gave me a piece of paper and told me I could without any problem continue driving with that and present it if I would be stopped again (and it actually worked later on!). They would even mail my license to Concepcion. Let’s hope that this will work. When I asked again for an estimate of the amount, the officer said it could be around 10,000 Chilean pesos (about $160) but repeated that he wouldn’t know. In the end I don’t know whether I prefer corrupt assholes where you can at least get out with paying less or these helpful but correct officers where I’ll probably have to pay a big fat ticket.

Shortly after this incident it was already forgotten as we got into bigger problems. Leaving Arica in the morning, we refueled. Unfortunately the inattentive employee misunderstood my standard sentence “when it stops, please don’t fill more” and stopped filling when the tanque had reached half only. We decided to simply fill up at the next gas station. The problem was: there was none. The tanque emptied and we were in the middle of nothing in the desert. Even worse: we hardly had any cash. As there was still nothing, 20min after the empty tanque light had gone on, we stopped at a little restaurant at the cross section of two country roads. They usually do sell gas, but were out. The next gas station would be 40min away. Another group in the restaurant told us we should go as far as we could and then they would pull us for the rest. Luckily I had a gas reserve. We filled in the 7l and continued going. We reached the next village just when the empty tanque lamp came back on. We stopped and asked around. The next gas station would be 20min away but we found an old lady’s rural “hardware store”. With almost our last cash we bought another 7l of overpriced gas and filled it in the tanque.

20min later we finally arrived at the gas station. They accepted card and even gave us some cash out! In exchange we helped the employee to secretly smoke a cigarette hidden behind our car when pretending to help us clean the windows and check the tires’ air. From now on we would fill up completely at every gas station. The next one was 3/4 of the tanque away…

After all this “Friday the 13th” chaos we were too late for the laguna but at least on time for a stargazing tour at midnight. We safely arrived at the awesome hostel in San Pedro Atacama, CHL, cooked dinner and went to the tour… Which was canceled because of a cloudy sky. The perfect ending for a day of bad luck.

Instead, we had a beer and watched the stars on ourselves. When we started freezing we went back to the hostel where I fell asleep on my bed with my phone in my hand intending to write this article.

Oct-12

Today we got up super early to leave at 4am again. We had a long way to go – 12h. But it was one of the smoothest drives I’ve had so far. In the afternoon we arrived at the border and I finally reached my county of destination: Chile!

Shortly after, we safely arrived in Arica, CHL. We strolled through the city center and had typical Chilean street food for dinner. We ended the day with a beer at the beach.

Oct-11

I apologize again for not posting a blog article this day. Again, we stayed at a place without internet connection. But from the beginning:

As we went out the evening before, we got up a little later and had a relaxed breakfast. It was our last time together as one left our road trip team to stay in Lima. After saying goodbye, the other Argentinian and I continued traveling south towards the Chilean border.

On the way, we stopped at the laguna Huacachina in Ica. From what we had seen in the internet we expected a picturesque oasis in the middle of the desert far from civilization. Unfortunately it wass entirely circled by touristic edification. Anyway it was a nice place with impressive dunes.

We continued driving and I noticed again how wrong my image of the Peruvian landscape was. But also we saw how beautiful a desert landscape can be.

The idea was to stop at a gas station and to sleep in the car. When the sun set, we decided to continue driving a little bit to make up for a bit of the time we had lost by leaving late, by visiting the laguna and because my credit card wouldn’t work and we had to run from one ATM to the other, to banks until we finally decided to exchange some of my emergency USD.

Unfortunately for the next 1.5h after deciding this, there was nothing but stones and sand until we finally found a gas station and stopped for the day.

Oct-10

Today would have been the first day of my internship and I haven’t exec reached the right country yet. I am more than grateful that my office was open to move the start date for one week.

We got up as early as yesterday and stared driving towards Lima. The entire drive we passed through a desert. A different, but also interesting landscape.

Just at sunset, we arrived safely at Lima, PER. When passing by a beach, despite the cold weather, we jumped into the ocean. Awesome!

Then in the evening we watched the world cup qualification soccer match between Colombia and Perú at a public screening. The winner would qualify, the loser would be out. Unfortunately, the result was 1-1, which means that Colombia is in, Perú still has the chance and Chile, my new home, is out.

Anyway, after the match we celebrated the qualification results in an international group: We were from Brazil (in), Argentina (in), Colombia (in), Perú (chance to get in, would be their first world cup), and Germany (different continent, but also in). It was lots of fun. ¡Nos vemos en Rusia!

Oct-09

Today we got up super early and left at 4am. We continued our ride towards Lima to see how far we would make it.

Pretty early we were stopped by the police claiming we had gone to fast. As always in this area we had to bribe them a bit.

Other than that not much happened. As I still didn’t get any internet signal we stopped at a hotel and connected to the internet for a while. Later, when we passed the border to Perú, I noticed that I had mobile data turned off the entire time (I must have turned it off at one point with the intention to turn it back on in hope to get signal via reconnecting and forgot to turn it back on).

We arrived at the border crossing at the worst time possible: lunch time. But as we were the only people at this remote border crossing, it didn’t take much longer as usual even though we had to wait for someone to finish his meal twice.

Perú’s landscape is so much different from what I expected. Having images of Machu Pichu in mind, I thought it was one of the most hilly countries. In fact, after crossing through all the mountains of Colombia and Ecuador, Perú – at least the parts we’ve crossed – is super flat and desert like.

After almost 16h we eventually made it to Pimentel, PER, where we arrived safely, put our feet in the cold pacific ocean, thought for a moment the ocean had taken our shoes including the car’s key, paniced, then found them, laughed a lot, then found a hostel and will now go to bed to get up early again tomorrow and hopefully make it all the way to Lima.

Oct-08

Excuse the missed blog post. Yesterday we stayed in Cien Familias, ECU, at a place without internet and also in all Ecuador I haven’t had mobil internet so far.

There would have been a lot to tell about yesterday but as there al is no mobil internet we only stopped shortly at a hotel in Pindal. Shortly we will cross the border to Perú.

As soon as I will have internet, I’ll add to this posting the story of yesterday and also a picture.

UPDATE:

It should have been the “day without stops”. The plan was: going to the “Mitad del Mundo” park when it opens at 9am, then from 10am driving 8h straight, using a full tank of gas, eating in a car, to see the sunset at the pacific coast of Machala at 6pm and even put our feet into the water a little bit.

The first part worked out very well. The park was awesome and we couldn’t stop taking pictures.

As soon as we left, troubles began: According to the GPS, the route was now 9h instead of 8h. Then we got lost as many as 3 as within the first hour because of roads which didn’t exist or which were closed for whichever reason. This way we lost another 30min.

We accepted to not arrive in time to see the sunset. Also, we noticed that 3 drunk minds might not think of everything. For creating our strategy to “roll” with the broken window, we found solutions for all the security questions… But we totally forgot that we still are in the rain season here. As soon as we noticed, we put all our hopes in good weather, such worked out fine… For a while.

When it started raining a little we stopped and closed the window with a transparent plastic bag. Unfortunately it wasn’t transparent enough – I couldn’t see anything anymore. This way I didn’t want to drive, so I ripped it off just afterwards and put a towel over my knees.

After asking countless not very helpful people and knocking at some doors we finally found a mechanic which worked on Sunday. As the window motor was broken, all he could do was unscrewing the window, moving it up and fixing it with stuffing papers in the seal.

We continued our way and as realized that we wouldn’t reach Machala anymore, we decided to take a look at the map. But as mobile Internet didn’t work (today I’ve noticed that it was simply turned off on my phone – how stupid!), we are desperately looking for Wi-Fi. Again, we had to ask a whole bunch of people until we found a restaurant, where we stopped to reroute.

The new plan on this “day without stops” on which we in the end stopped as often as at no other day, was to simply put Lima, Perú, as destination and to see how far we get.

Again we drove through the most beautiful mountain landscapes while heavy rain and strong sunshine exchanged constantly. At one point it suddenly started hailing. Shortly before the sun was setting we saw an entire mountain range formed by clouds below us. It’s hard to describe, but it was stunning!

When it got dark, we stopped at a Motel in a little village. As motels are, the whole thing was made for having sex… But at least it was super cheap.

[ Photo still following ]