september 2008 driving across the united states
Leaving our home in San Francisco,
CA on July 4 marked a unique Independence Day for us. While we did plan on
visiting some of the amazing natural wonders the US offers, our main goal
for driving around the US was to visit as many friends and family as we
could. We headed across the flat plains of Nevada to the amazing Rockies of
Utah and Colorado before entering farm country in the midwest. After driving
through the cornfields of Nebraska and South Dakota we spent time with our
grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins in Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Illinois and Missouri. We then headed for the East Coast, spending a couple
of days as tourists in New York City before visiting more family in Boston.
Finally we headed south to Florida for the last round of relatives and then
into the great unknown of Mexico.
november 2008 mexico
While we were initially nervous
about driving into the unknown of Mexico, we quickly fell in love with the
beautiful Pacific beaches, amazing colonial towns and fantastic food.
Highlights include visiting the re-awakening ghost town of Real de Catorce,
beach-bumming down the Pacific Coast from Sayulita to Puerto Escondido, and
seeing our first pre-Columbian ruins.
december 2008 guatemala
Again we felt the same fear of the
unknown as we left what now felt like home to us, Mexico, and entered
Guatemala. We spent an amazing three weeks living with a family and taking
intensive Spanish lessons, shopping in the bustling market town of
Chichicastenango, wandering the colonial streets of Antigua, visiting the
amazing ruins of Tikal, and seeing the Caribbean garifuna culture in Rio
Dulce and Livingston.
- january 2009 el salvador & nicaragua
Some more beach bumming and surfing
in El Salvador before meeting friends in Nicaragua. While we weren't too
impressed with Grenada, we lived it up in San Juan del Sur, surfing,
hanging, and developing our Drive the Americas website.
april 2009 costa rica & panama
We settled down to really get our
surf on for a month on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, before exploring the
jungles, volcanoes, and Caribbean coast. Panama continued in a similar
fashion to Costa Rica - surfing, exploring a coffee plantation, and spending
2 weeks in Panama City to figure out how to ship our car to Colombia. Once
that was settled, we boarded a yacht for a 5 day adventure. 3 days in the
Caribbean paradise of the San Blas Islands was followed by 2 days of hellish
ocean crossing to arrive in Cartagena Colombia. I have never been so happy
to be on land!
This one of the great surprises of
our trip. Colombia was truly magical. Perfectly preserved mountainous
colonial towns, gorgeous Caribbean beaches, great food and friends in
Bogota, and the whole time we felt very SAFE.
Leaving behind the warm weather we
entered the amazing landscape of huge Andes mountains and Inca culture.
Llamas dotted the high altitude farms as volcanoes pierced the high clouds
to amazing heights.
july - august
We headed in to the heart of the
former Inca empire primed to explore its amazing cultural heritage. We got
WAY off the gringo trail in northern Peru to visit pre-Inca ruins of Kuelap
on an amazing week long trip through the Andes. Southern Peru didn't
disappoint either - it packed the highest density of amazing Incan and
pre-Incan culture between Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca, and the ruins around
We were getting a little beat up by
the constant cold and high altitude of the Andes, but Bolivia continued to
amaze. We got our car blessed by a shaman in Copacabana, biked the Death
Road, and visited the amazing Atacama desert and salt flats of Uyuni.
november 2009 argentina & chile
After the cold and harsh conditions
of Bolivia, we gratefully descended in to Argentina's wine country. We spent
an amazing week in Mendoza eating unreal steaks and drinking lots of Merlot
before checking out the beaches of Chile south of Santiago. We then crossed
back in the Argentina, touring its gorgeous Lakes District before heading
south to the end of the road in Ushuaia. While it was technically
springtime, we got snowed on a lot during this part of our trip. The
grueling drive through endless (and mainly boring) Patagonia was brightened
by a couple of highlights - watching the Glacier Perito Moreno calve into
its icy blue lake and spending some time with the 2nd largest penguin colony
(outside of Antarctica). After reaching the end of the road we headed back
North to Buenos Aires.
uruguay and buenos aires
Before completing our trip we spent
3 wonderful wees in Uruguay. We relaxed at natural hot springs, and learned
to ride horses, herd sheep and cattle on a working ranch. We then spent 2
weeks in Buenos Aires soaking up the culture, food and wine before handing
over the keys to our car at the port and boarding a plane back to the US.
Our car made it safely back to the US after a month-long boat ride from
Argentina to Florida in the US.
We're currently spending time with our parents, working on our resumes, and
trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives.
For a full accounting of our trip, see our blog at The Darien Plan -
For those considering driving the Pan-American Highway, we have collected
information on border crossings, car shipment, road conditions, gas prices,
and everything else we found useful as road trippers during our travels at
Drive the Americas -