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Driving from Texas to South America in an '87 4runner

Old 06-05-2012, 08:03 AM
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this is absolutely amazing, im wising that i would have found this thread much later so i would have more to read and look at.

your descriptions are well worded and make for an enjoyable read. the pictures are breath taking. My longest vacation was a month long. I can only imagine how it would have been better to do it the way you are. but you can only ask so much when you spend it in Jordan.

I cant wait for the next update!
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:19 AM
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Thank you for the kind words, we're blushing right now

Thinking back to previous adventures, some of our favorite memories are from 2-4 week trips. A trip like ours just eases the culture shock and gives you more time to let the unexpected run it's course. We would love to see Jordan and it's neighbors someday but that will probably be another journey.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:22 AM
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Great adventure! We, who are stuck behind our office desks, will be following you with envy and best wishes. Happy Trails and following wind.

Earlier I wrote, "Maybe you'll cross paths with defrag and Lauren (T4R)."

Oh! Turns out you guys know them. More power to you guys!

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Old 06-05-2012, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by RAD4Runner View Post
Oh! Turns out you guys know them. More power to you guys!
Yep, unfortunately we're a long ways behind them since they just got to South America. I doubt we'll catch up at this point which is too bad because they're a fun bunch indeed!
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by RAD4Runner View Post
Great adventure! We, who are stuck behind our office desks, will be following you with envy and best wishes. Happy Trails and following wind.
Originally Posted by hiemsnox View Post
this is absolutely amazing, im wising that i would have found this thread much later so i would have more to read and look at.

your descriptions are well worded and make for an enjoyable read. the pictures are breath taking. My longest vacation was a month long. I can only imagine how it would have been better to do it the way you are. but you can only ask so much when you spend it in Jordan.

I cant wait for the next update!
Ditto. I really hope someday I can embark on such an awesome adventure. Thanks for including us in your experiences!
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:40 AM
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scrib'd just found your thread
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Old 07-22-2012, 07:51 PM
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hey... you guys also have this same thread on ih8mud. anyway I'm also planing a year long trip to south america once I graduate college. I have a 2nd gen 4runner getting a SAS, diesel engine and a bunch of other goodies. I have had this dream for a long time and it finally looks like I am going to have the money to make it happen.
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:06 PM
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this looks so cool. i have always wanted to do this
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:55 PM
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Talking

Originally Posted by beachrat View Post
this looks so cool. i have always wanted to do this
welcome to yota tech... do you plan on doing something like this someday?
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Old 08-12-2012, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by nathanmyers View Post
hey... you guys also have this same thread on ih8mud. anyway I'm also planing a year long trip to south america once I graduate college. I have a 2nd gen 4runner getting a SAS, diesel engine and a bunch of other goodies. I have had this dream for a long time and it finally looks like I am going to have the money to make it happen.
Glad to hear Nathan! Once you hit the road you'll find a dozen similar new friends to cross paths with along the way southbound...it's half the fun meeting some like-minded individuals with interesting stories!

SAS and diesel engine swaps are always fun for a crawler...but keep in mind that big vehicle mods aren't completely necessary. I understand where you're going with it though. Pre-trip preparation was a fun part of this journey for me, just remember to try to keep it simple...people do the trip in Mini-Coopers, citroen's, and mopeds too

I often say that if we would have just hit the road after buying the 4runner, and made repairs/modifications along the way as necessary, we could have saved a ton of money and time. I'm not so sure we needed the expensive OME suspension and the rear swingout, but I will never regret cutting that hole in the roof for the vent-fan! You meet some great people and live to tell some wild stories once you breakdown in unknown territory
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Old 08-12-2012, 07:00 AM
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Fast Forward to Now: bribes, counterfeits, and dysentery

First of all I'd like to formally apologize to our readers, all five of you, for the serious lack of updates we've had over the past few months. I hadn't realized how far behind we were until we won the award for "Most Slackerest Blog" (new word courtesy of James at Home On The Highway). Between fighting Shannon over the keyboard and actually putting the computer away to actually enjoy our trip, it's been a little tough to update our experiences. I'll do my best to sum it all up to date, and get things back on track.

We've had a few highs and lows over the past few months...



In Mexico, we fell head over heals in love with the small town of Guanajuato. Admittedly I already had a serious love affair with GTO, but after I introduced Shannon to the charm and beauty of this pueblo magico in Central Mexico, it became a full-on complicated love triangle. We spent over a month there and could have easily just put the 4runner up on blocks, and slipped away into the daily grind as full-time expats there.





In Mexico City, while shopping for a wedding dress and size 4 heels for Shannon (an experience that all overland travelers should seek out) we were robbed not once but twice by taxi-drivers...well robbed may be stretching the truth a bit. There were no weapons involved, no threats, and we didn't even notice it was happening but after the ride we realized that one driver slipped us a fake bill in change and the other had given us an out-of-circulation bill that was worth less than a dollar. Another souvenir for the road and another lesson learned.



Occupy Oaxaca in full effect...teachers on strike made it difficult to appreciate the downtown architecture



In Oaxaca and Chiapas, we blazed through at least 4 of the unofficial roadblocks that we had heard so much about. Basically two people holding a rope or cable across the road, we were warned that these were attempts to stop you while men in the bushes come out to rob you. Admittedly it appeared that these were all simply attempts to sell elotes or tamales by the road, we drove through anyway, not really in the mood for a snack.



I'll be happy if I never eat another chapuline (grasshopper) again




We crossed paths with Crossing Latitudes, who we went into the Sierra Norte with, eventually giving a ride to two colorful characters in a small mountain village. The six of us followed a lead towards a nearby party and stumbled on a 600 year-old religious tradition in a small village that I couldn't even pick out on a map. We were treated like royalty and the villagers were warm and friendly. I may or may not have consumed fire-water straight from a gasoline jug...I survived, but for a second I thought that I may go blind.



Going where the wind takes us




The reason for the celebration




Our new friends Mindy & VJ, Aaron & Aneta




Our border crossing experience to Guatemala was gentle at La Mesilla, however the nice man at Migración did ask for the unofficial Q20 fee for each of our visas. Thanks to Life Remotely and WikiOverland, we knew what to expect beforehand so we kindly asked for a receipt.

"The stamp in your passport is the receipt." He claimed.

Without skipping a beat, I replied "That's cool, but I just need an official piece of paper that says I give you Q20 and you give me the stamp to receive the visa."

We went back and forth like this for a while, referring to notes that I had made on a piece of paper. Since I had obviously done my homework and I was not going to budge on the matter, he quickly changed his story to "You pay the 20 quetzales for the visa when you LEAVE Guatemala" in a disappointed tone. Sure buddy.



Not a bad view for the next month




Tractor-powered ferris wheel of death in San Juan La Laguna



We spent a month in San Marcos La Laguna and this was our second time finding home away from home. A quiet village on Lago de Atitlan, we spent three weeks taking spanish lessons from Homer of San Pedro Spanish School. We now feel very confident with our spanish conversational skills and we've definitely noticed a difference in daily interaction. We made a few friends on the lake and even managed to pick up some informal lessons in Kakchikel, the local Mayan dialect...although the local girls giggle every time we attempt to pronounce it.




One of many lancha rides across the lake



Our new friend Sean, we bumped into him at one of our favorite haunts in San Marcos La Laguna




My sister and brother-in-law came to visit us in Guatemala and they brought our 4-month old nephew so we could finally meet him. This kid is so awesome...not only does he live in Madagascar, but he's going to have more stamps in his passport by the age of one than most of my friends back home do.




International man of mystery in training




Getting stamped out of Guatemala, officially in "no man's land"



We decided to make the short trip to El Salvador for some surf and sun. On the way there we had a few options to get to the coast...








Easy does it




Enjoying a beer on the ferry to Monterrico



This border crossing experience was a little more interesting now that we were officially in Central America...we had read stories about the "helpers" that approach like zombie hordes and harass you into paying them to get your paperwork completed. We decide along time ago that we wanted to do it the hard way, completing our paperwork for ourselves and hopefully becoming border-crossing pros. We did not however, expect the helpers to barrage us on motorcycles, before we even got near the border. Imagine the final chase scene from Mad Max: Beyond The Thunderdome...post-apocalyptic thugs chasing us on bizarre machines riding alongside the 4runner for the chance to hop on the hood, while screaming "Let me help you! I will take care of your papers!"



Approaching El Salvador's border



While I may be exaggerating a little, the description is not too far off. The sketchy moto-helpers were riding through oncoming traffic, tapping on my window, pleading to be the one to help us take care of the border crossing red-tape. Once we parked at the border, we had at least fifteen helpers literally surrounding us in the 4runner before we even stepped out. They were all banging on the windows and claiming to help us "for free", while we just sat for five minutes in pure shock. We had to brush them off and make our way to the migración, but one helper who spoke very good english would simply not leave me alone. I told him we wanted to do everything on our own and we already knew what to do, but he was like a fly in my ear at every step. He would tell me what to do AS I was already doing it, while I was politely telling him that he was actually making the process more difficult since we could not hear the border officials talk to us. I finally ditched him when I needed a copy of our vehicle title...he waited for me at the copy-shop while I went to the 4runner to get a copy I already had. Overall the border took us almost 3 hours, most of that time was spent waiting for the kind folks in El Salvador's aduana to notice us and actually give us the time of day.


Note the convenient handle above the bed and the toilet paper dispenser



We got lost trying to find Parque Nacional El Imposible, stumbling past MS-13 graffiti and eventually ended up staying for the first time in an auto hotel. In case you're not familiar, an auto hotel is a place where you pay by the hour and they have a little garage for each room so you can hide your car from sight. The menu had condoms and lubricants...probably not the best way to welcome your family to Central America, but it was unforgettable no doubt.



Keeping a low-profile in gang territory



Sunset in El Salvador



The volcano of Parque Nacional Cerro Verde




While in El Salvador my brother and I got to enjoy some surf at El Zonte, where I was desperately trying to avoid swallowing the water while half-drowning. The surf break is about 200 yards from a river outlet that is undoubtedly flowing with sewage. Needless to say, while attempting to duck dive my lower lip was ripped open by the powerful surf and I ingested more crap-water than I had hoped.




The break at El Zonte



A week later when we finally found Parque Nacional El Imposible (it is indeed fairly impossible to locate),where I spent 48 hours trembling in bed with a fever of 103, surrounded by hallucinations of a tombstone that read "DIED OF DYSENTERY" while wondering if Shannon would continue the journey without me or find an El Salvadorian sancho to replace me. Unfortunately Shannon eventually got just as sick, so we took turns nursing each other to health and trying to cool each other down.








So that pretty much brings us to present day, with a couple of exceptions. The 4runner is currently out of service right now for some maintenance and repairs, so we're trying to figure out our next move from Antigua. We may write a few updates that will fill you in on some of the specifics that I've left out, but for now we will consider our story updated. James, you can stop harassing us now...

I almost forgot to mention the highlight of our trip so far: 31 of our favorite people came from all over the world to see us on the lake...



And we got married!





Stay tuned for more details on our recent nuptials. :sombrero:

Last edited by Ruined Adventures; 08-12-2012 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:27 AM
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You can add one more reader to your list. Your trip looks like loads of fun and can only wish to make my own one day. Look forward to your next update.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:55 AM
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Our friends Kamil & Zuzanna we met in Mexico City (and again in Oaxaca, and again in San Marcos La Laguna)




Watch out for this dude if you go to Mexico City, we caught him peeing on our rig while we were sleeping inside




Laundry Day at our campsite in Oaxaca




Some of our new friends at the Oaxaca Campground





Found an apartment in Oaxaca for $5/day with no furniture and serious mosquitos...no problemo!




A short hike in the Sierra Norte




With Crossing Latitudes, exploring a watch tower and suspension bridge




One of our favorite campsites in Oaxaca, despite the fact I was sick as a dog




Pulling up to Monterrico on the "fun-ferry"




Stealing as much air conditioning as possible from the Aduana office in El Salvador




The guest bed in our sleezy auto hotel...still can't figure out why there was a little closet-sized garden?




Obligatory overlanding photo for Parque Nacional El Imposible




Sweet little Suby we saw in El Salvador




Tuckered out little traveler




Everyone has their preference








I ain't skewered...
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Baggedgmc1995 View Post
You can add one more reader to your list. Your trip looks like loads of fun and can only wish to make my own one day. Look forward to your next update.
Glad to have you along for the ride! We'll try not to slack again on the updates.
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Old 08-12-2012, 07:35 PM
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Yea I completely see what you are saying. I know I could definitely simplify modifying a vehicle and could probably get away with just a stock vehicle for the most part. But I also enjoy building things especially cars and I am okay with spending money on a vehicle. I have a good job and living expenses are not much for me. Although I have changed my mind. I gave it some serious thought and figured It would be very difficult building an overland vehicle out of a DD so I don't know what I will be driving now. I also think something slightly bigger would be just a little better. I have narrowed it down to a first gen 4runner, fj60, fj55, fj80, and an fj45 troopy not that I can find a troopy or afford one even if I do but they are my favorite land cruiser so I have to throw it in. I don't know if I will be doing an engine swap if I get something other then a 4runner though. I'm on crags list every day looking for new stuff so ill get something eventually. I'm not in a big rush to buy anything. The trip is a few years off so I have plenty of time to figure it out. anyway I heard you got married? Congrats!!! also I saw that you guys were at lake atitlan. That is one of my favorite places in the world. It's just beautiful and I will definitely be going there. are you going to tikal? that is an awesome place too. not just the ruins but the entire area around there. If you do go to that area I would recommend going to "Pizzeria “Picasso”. it is on the "island de flores" on lago peten itza. It's worth a try.
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Old 08-13-2012, 09:01 AM
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Thanks for the update! Seems like your making the best of your trip so far... Congrats on getting married... looks like you had it at a pretty amazing venue. I'll keep following.... waiting...being jealous...
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by nathanmyers View Post
Yea I completely see what you are saying. I know I could definitely simplify modifying a vehicle and could probably get away with just a stock vehicle for the most part. But I also enjoy building things especially cars and I am okay with spending money on a vehicle. I have a good job and living expenses are not much for me. Although I have changed my mind. I gave it some serious thought and figured It would be very difficult building an overland vehicle out of a DD so I don't know what I will be driving now. I also think something slightly bigger would be just a little better. I have narrowed it down to a first gen 4runner, fj60, fj55, fj80, and an fj45 troopy not that I can find a troopy or afford one even if I do but they are my favorite land cruiser so I have to throw it in. I don't know if I will be doing an engine swap if I get something other then a 4runner though. I'm on crags list every day looking for new stuff so ill get something eventually. I'm not in a big rush to buy anything. The trip is a few years off so I have plenty of time to figure it out. anyway I heard you got married? Congrats!!! also I saw that you guys were at lake atitlan. That is one of my favorite places in the world. It's just beautiful and I will definitely be going there. are you going to tikal? that is an awesome place too. not just the ruins but the entire area around there. If you do go to that area I would recommend going to "Pizzeria “Picasso”. it is on the "island de flores" on lago peten itza. It's worth a try.
I hear ya man, just throwing in my two cents. I love our 4runner, but I keep saying that if I didn't already own it before we decided to do this trip, I probably would have gone the van route. Although if I had never bought the 4runner and randomly stumbled on RambleWriter's website, we may not have ever come up with the idea to do this trip...funny how that works.

The 4wd Toyota vans I see down here would be awesome, but difficult to find in the states. However GMC Safari Astro-vans are all over down here and obviously cheap in the states...I'd try to find an AWD model. There's a couple doing the trip right now in one, check out Anywhere That's Wild. Aside from the obvious interior space, you can lift the van for more ground clearance, throw a bed in the back, and for the most part you're ready to rock!

Thanks for the info! We're heading up to the Peten region soon, and we'll be hitting up Lago Peten Itza, Tikal, and a few other sites in the region...getting pretty excited for the next leg of the trip! Lago de Atitlan is awesome, I highly recommend it.
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by porcelain View Post
Thanks for the update! Seems like your making the best of your trip so far... Congrats on getting married... looks like you had it at a pretty amazing venue. I'll keep following.... waiting...being jealous...
Thanks for the kind words! It was a great venue indeed, Hotel Isla Verde...it's a very nice & affordable hotel in Santa Cruz La Laguna, on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. You should check it out for yourself someday
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Ruined Adventures View Post
Thanks for the kind words! It was a great venue indeed, Hotel Isla Verde...it's a very nice & affordable hotel in Santa Cruz La Laguna, on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. You should check it out for yourself someday
Just added it to the bucket list...

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Old 08-19-2012, 05:02 PM
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We've officially sold out!

Shannon and I try really hard to keeps it real, but admittedly the corporate world has sunk it's teeth in...

More details on our 'Sponsors' page

Last edited by Ruined Adventures; 08-19-2012 at 05:33 PM.
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