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The Globe Trol makes it to South America!

We arrived to Cartagena, Colombia, South America the same night that The Globe Trol did.  The very next morning we started the grueling task of retrieving our vehicle from the port.  Mounds of paperwork and back and forth in taxis all over this city, two eight hour days later Christian is at the container with his hard hat on and watching the doors open to find our beloved rolling home in one piece.

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We spent the next few days hanging out in the boiling hot colonial city of Cartagena, it was more perfect than I imagined.  If this was any indication of what Colombia was going to be like, we were going to have the time of our lives exploring the rest of the country.  On our way out of the city we get pulled over right away, which is nothing new to us.  They pull us over to let me know my bikini is on the hood of the car and about to blow away.  Whoops, I told them I was air drying it.

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Our next destination was Medellin and it was going to take couple of looooong driving days to get there.  We found a cool campground outside of the city high up in the mountains that overlooked the valley where Medellin sat.  We stayed there for over two weeks relearning a new slimmer budget due to the insane cost that it takes to ship yourselves and the vehicle from Panama to Colombia.  Outside the cost of camping which was extremely low we budgeted out our daily allowance to $12 for the two of us.  So each day we would come up with a strict grocery list and walk over to the market and only pick up three meals worth at a time.  By the end of the two weeks we saved a few dollars to take the bus to the national park nearby and ride the gondola down to the city for sightseeing, pictures, gardens, the center plaza and street food.  A few days later our friends that we met in Guatemala, Krystina and Bernardo (bkexplore) came to the campground and we traveled the rest of Colombia with them for about a month and a half.  At night up at the campground where we had wifi we would pull out netflix (thanks to my brother for sharing his acct) and watch Narcos season 2.  I mean we were there and its kind of like the city’s history.

Just a couple hours away from Medellin is a majestic lake called Guatape with a colorful quaint town.  We boon-docked here for a few days, made cute dinners together and we even made chocolate chip cookies out of the dutch oven.  It shocked me how perfect they came out.

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Cafeteros (coffee plantation towns) where next on the Pan-Americana road going south.  Home to hundreds of coffee plantations set in the Andean Mountains and in the middle of Colombia.  Coffee is one of the top three things that I love second only to red wine and chocolate.   I was stoked to go out for a tour and drink the best coffee on the planet.  On our way there we were going to stop at some thermals, it just so happened to be Colombian Valentines day so the thermals were packed and we were not going to be able to camp there for the night.  Instead on the way we saw a family off the side of the road near a river and with our tight budget we asked if we could park and camp next to them.  They were happy to have us and we drove onto their land and found ourselves in the muddiest place on earth and surrounded in cow meadow muffins.  The next morning they took us on a tour of their property on the other side of the river where I experienced my first mini jungle tour.  We bathed in the ice river that we camped next to and overall enjoyed ourselves for free in this mud-hole with the sweetest family.

Just before the coffee plantations was the Valley Cocora where the tallest palm trees in the world live.  It’s a little touristy but worth the visit, it also had a sweet little town called Salento outside of it.  Stay Tuned for the next chapter in Colombia, it only gets better.

Our Last Bit of Mexico, Chiapas

 

We left the insanely hot beach of Oaxaca, Mexico and headed straight for the Aguacero Waterfall in Chiapas.  It’s 742 steps down in 98 degree weather to a creek bed.  We walked through and across the creek bed and looked up at a breathtaking waterfall.  It pooled in several places covered in moss, plants and purple flowers.  The water was crisp and cool.  “We found Fern Gully!”  Christian gave me a hand and helped me up the slippery moss covered boulders to make our way to the bottom of the cascada.  We played under the chilling fall until our feet went numb.  Okay Chiapas, you got our attention, you are beautiful.

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That night we took a short drive to find the Sumidero Canyon.  We arrived after dusk and when everything was closed so it was diffilcult to find secure parking right away.  After an hour we found a locked gate fence where some guys where chatting under a street light near possibly the opening.   They figured out what we needed through some rough spanish and whislted for the night guard to let us in the parking lot of the canyon because we wanted take a boat ride the next morning.  We read other overlanders had done the same in the past and it seemed like a safe camping option for the night.  The next morning we headed down to the dock for a giant speed boat tour through the canyon.

The walls of the canyon were towering above us at 3,280 feet in some places.  This canyon is thought to be as old as The Grand Canyon.  The canyon was started by cracks in the earth’s crust and the Grijalva River dug its way for 35 million years.  Flying through the canyon our captain would abruptly stop for wildlife and the first stop was “Vulture Island.”  I don’t know, but to stop for a hundred vultures at once was probably the least appealing thing for me.  Moving along our next stop was a tree where two monkeeys were wrestling and showing off.  This was our “first monkeey sighting of the trip!”  Half way through the two-hour tour I notice that all of our life jackets have crocodiles on them and we haven’t seen one yet.  We get all the way down to the dam and pull up to a boat that is selling fruit, chips and soda.  Latin American culture “never miss an oppotunity to sell something” I believe is their moto.  For the return the captain speeds back through the canyon and then all of a sudden we come to an aggressive hault and a sharp turn.  I’m thinking “Hell yes, this must be it, the Crocs!”  This captain has laser eye sight or something?!  He pulls the boat right up alongside the croc so we all can bend over the side and take a million pictures, and nicely enough the crocodile stays motionless.  “How cool, it’s like he is posing!”  Them we speed off and head to another favorite spot for the captain where the next croc is out of the water and is also posing for more pictures.  A few minuets later a crocodile is actually moving and he swims by our boat for 10 seconds and then poof, gone.  The group is now satisfied and we head back to the dock.  When we got back I couldn’t let go of how strange our crocodile show was and I mentioned to Christian ” Do you think those crocs were real or staged? ”  Oh well if they were fake, they were really good ones.  Weeks later we ran into friends who had also done the tour a week prior and we compared our photos and had the exact same two crocs, same spot, same pose, same same.  However they never saw a crocodile swimming, Yea we saw a real one.

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Our last stop in Mexico was a spanish colonial town called San Cristobal de Las Casas.  It’s set way up in the mountains so the air was a lot cooler, and less sweating for us.  It rained a few hours every late afternoon, just enough to cool you off.  We found a campsite a mile outside of town and took the scooter back into town for sightseeing, groceries, chocolate and beer runs.  Our campsite was underneath tall evergreens, I absolutely loved it here.  I loved being in the woods but also only a mile to town, five days here flew by.   Chocolate shops, cheap decent wine and coffee everywhere, my little heaven and not a bad spot to spend a few dollars and a couple of days.

Next stop…Guatemala here we come.