On Board The Ultimate Road Trip . . . Around The World

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

“Ah . . . yeah, I’m pretty convinced you won’t make it, idiot. In fact, I would recommend hiring three women armed with machine guns to protect you through Colombia.” That’s not exactly how the conversation went, but more or less, that’s the advice Nicolas Rapp got about his little road trip idea.

On November 15th he quit his job, packed up a ’96 Land Cruiser, and began his adventure, driving around the world — sans the women with guns. He, and his travel mate, Nadia, began in New York and, according to their blog, are currently en route to Buenos Aires. The Chicago-Sun Times has been following their 13,000 miles through Costa Rican rainforests, Peruvian llama herds, Mayan ruins in Honduras, and on Nicaraguan beaches.

The two plan on finishing off South America, shipping their truck to Africa while they catch a plane to meet back up with it, then head north to Europe, where they then head east through Asia where they’ll drop off their ride on another boat and finish the trip with a jaunt across the U.S. Not a bad road trip, I’d say.

However, roughly a quarter of the way through the trip so far, it hasn’t all been flamingos and sun tanning.

In Cuzco they were bogged down in mud for a few days until finally being rescued. In Honduras the steering failed, they crashed (luckily unhurt), destroyed an axle, and were helped out by a Nicaraguan with a blow torch. In Bolivia truck drivers were staging a nationwide protest with blockades, but they got through by joining a media convoy. Then there’s the ever present border crossings — with U.S. license plates nonetheless.

At every border crossing, we filled out stacks of meaningless papers, always looking for the next stamp. In a few places, police officers seeing U.S. license plates pulled us over for imaginary infractions. In Honduras, I pretended not to understand and they went away. In Mexico, a cop asked us for $5 to buy a chicken. I gave him $2 and he was happy. In Managua, we got stopped by police 15 times; at one point, I had to pay $15 when they threatened to keep my license.

That reminds me of a comment I overheard in a Macau customs line not long ago. “Have you ever been to the States, mate? The U.S. customs is the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Mental note — remember to give U.S. Customs agents two bucks next time I cross . . . or a chicken.

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