It’s almost a surreal thought, considering all we’ve been through and all that lies before us, but there’s no denying that we’re officially halfway through our 300 day adventure. Time flies when your only job is to cruise the continent looking for adventure! Here are a few stats from our first 150 days:
- 18,650 km driven
- 2,940 L of fuel consumed
- 5 countries visited
- 9 border crossings
- 3 tire rotations
- 0 flat tires
- 1 minor mechanical issue
- 0 bribes paid
- 1 bank card lost
- 30 new beers sampled
All-in-all, we are feeling more settled into our nomadic van-life, but we are still having some battles with the kids. Particularly Liam. Perhaps this is unavoidable when four people share 100 square feet of living space? Perhaps he still hasn’t completely figured out how to deal with his frustration and fear of living life in an unfamiliar and uncertain environment? Perhaps he never will. We talk with him about it often but, at age 7, he is unable to verbalize his emotions. We’ve also had countless conversations about our kids with other travellers and locals we’ve met along the way and they invariably say the same thing; “your kids are so lucky.” We have to agree with that, even if our kids don’t. We can only hope that they’ll eventually realize how lucky they are, even if that is 10 or 15 years from now.
That said, we’ve all begun to really enjoy some of the new routines we’ve developed in the last 150 days. For instance, after dinner we usually enjoy a few cookies while playing a card game (alternating between Uno and Rat-a-tat-Cat). After a few games we pile onto the back bench and read stories out loud. We’ve just finished Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, and the kids loved it. Our morning routine has also become very predictable. Rob usually wakes first and starts the stove to make coffee. Liam is always already awake and this is his cue that he can get down from the bunk for his bowl of cereal, which he eats while whispering with Rob about life. Averie usually stirs when she hears the cereal being poured into Liam’s bowl and Rob will lift her down from the bunk to snuggle with Mom in the bottom bed. This usually deteriorates into a tickle-fight, and then we open the blinds and start our day.
For this update we wish to present a series of lists from our first 5 months:
Things we wish had brought with us
- More/better maps
- We brought some very high quality Reise maps for the larger countries of the trip (Chile, Argentina, Mexico) and they were perfect. Unfortunately, we decided to “conserve space” by bringing one map to cover all of northern South America. The scale is way to small and it is useless.
- Sediment filter
- Our 0.5 micron ceramic water filler is very sensitive to particles in some of the well water we have used and it has caused clogging problems.
- Hose fittings
- There are at least 4 different hose connection sizes/types we have encountered so far. We only brought 1 connector and have had to scramble around to buy the others.
- Both spare electrical wire and some tough bailing wire to lash things together. Very useful when you really need it.
- Soldering Iron
- A lot of hard vibration can cause electrical connections to fail. We’ve had to borrow a soldering iron once already to repair some lights.
- Better electrical transformer
- The cheap “airport gift shop” version we brought is dying a slow death.
- Spare brake pads
- Driving in the Andes means a LOT of big hills and we may wear through the current pads. Finding pads in a pinch for this North American truck may not be easy if/when the time comes.
- Spare nuts/bolts/crews
- Its hard to believe that we would bring spare turn signal light bulbs and spark plugs, but not even a handful of spare bolts and screws.
Things we wish had left at home
- The kids scooters.
- We thought they would get to scoot around in the campgrounds and cities we visit. But, it seems most of South America is either gravel or cobble stone. Neither are conducive to scooters.
- The guitar.
- It seemed like a great idea (to Rob), but unfortunately there has just not been enough opportunities to play it to justify such a large item kicking around the van for the entire trip.
- Extra Hair dye.
- Believe it or not, but MJs hair is not naturally red! MJ brought a stockpile of dye from home fearing a shortage, but (aside from Bolivia) it is something that can easily be found everywhere we’ve been so far.
- Most of the kids toys and books.
- We filled a large bin with dolls, LEGO, books, games, etc. Only some of them get played with and most of them not often enough. Not to mention that new books and toys continue to be collected along the way.
Our 10 favourite new South American foods
- Chilenos (large sandwich cookie filled with Dulce de Leche, often covered in chocolate)
- Empanadas (pastry filled with melted cheese and meat)
- Dulce de Leche (Caramel. Sold by the bucket. Spread it on anything and everything)
- Churros (Deep fried dough sticks filled with Dulce de Leche and sprinkled with icing sugar)
- Pisco Sour (Cocktail of lemon juice, sugar, egg white, and grape brandy. Shaken with ice)
- Churrasco (Chilean steak sandwich served on bun with avocado and egg)
- Swordfish (A hearty and lean fish. Served with lemon butter and veggies please!)
- Medio y Medio (Typical Uruguayan drink mixture of sparkling and white wines)
- Inka Corn (Salted deep fried corn kernels)
- Inka Cola (Yellow Peruvian soft drink with bubblegum flavour)
Our 10 MOST favourite things we’ve done
- Driving to all of the amazing archaeological sites of Easter Island
- Watching ice bergs calve off of the Perito Moreno glacier
- Exploring Machu Picchu (including the “fancy” train ride to/from Ollentaytambo)
- Doing nothing on the beach all day in Llanos de Challe, Chile
- Watching Star Wars The Last Jedi in Montevideo, Uruguay
- Making chocolate right from the bean in Cusco, Peru
- Celebrating Christmas at Playa Escondida Campground in Salinas, Uruguay
- Ridding in a dune buggy and sandboarding on the dunes in Huacachina, Peru
- Walking amongst a penguin colony in Cabo Virgines, Argentina
- Eating a delicious and authentic Argentinian meal at Cafe la Posia in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Bodyboarding in the waves at Zorritos, Peru
Our 10 LEAST favourite things we’ve done
- Driving through Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Driving through Juliaca, Peru
- Driving through Lima, Peru
- Driving through Valparaiso, Chile
- Driving through Piura, Peru
- Battling with a fly infestation in Uyuni, Bolivia
- Loading the ferry from Chiloé to Chaiten at 3:30am
- Paying the $500 Reciprocity Fee to enter Argentina (only to have the fee cancelled a month later
- Searching for facilities to fill our North American propane tanks
- Observing SO MUCH litter and trash pilled up everywhere (except Uruguay) around this beautiful continent.
Thank you all for following along. We’re looking forward to sharing the final half of our big family adventure!
Excellent! I’d be more than happy to trade places with Liam. I’ll take up less room than a guitar and I’ll bring nuts, screws and bolts with me. Have a great 2nd half of your adventure.
Looks like an awesome trip. Should have brought a ukele instead of the guitar – next time…