Barb and Reinie
Birsay, Saskatchewan, Canada
Reason for taking this trip
We brought property in Nicaragua.
Why did you decide to drive?
We have been flying to Nicaragua for the last couple of years, and always wondered what it was that we were flying over, so we decided to drive and find out.
Are you also taking along pets?
We have a dog, Daisy.
Are there any special things you need to do since you're traveling with a dog?
We pay for her at every border, and need to have a certificate from her vet stating that she is in good health and up-to-date on her vaccinations. The certificate needed to be stamped by the Canadian Food Inspection Service. It can sometimes be a little tough to find hotels that let you bring your dog into your room with you.
What type of car are you driving?
We're driving a 1987 Volkswagen Westafalia camper van.
Did you make any modifications to your car for this trip?
We bought this car fully equipped and modified. Before our travels, it had already driven down to South America, as well as across Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. The previous owner installed a Porsche 9-11 3.2 L engine, 16" wheels, and airbags in the back of the vehicle so the read can be lifted during high river crossings. We have added a trailer so we can haul extra spare parts, a small fridge/freezer, 2 extra batteries, and 100 L of fuel. We also installed two inverters so we can charge small appliances of its 115 amp power source. We have a solar panel as well, but it's only 15 watts; we really need 50 watts for it to be useful. Because we're pulling a trailer, we have to pay double at border crossings, since they essentially count that as an extra vehicle.
How long do you plan on traveling?
We will head back at the end of February, 2008.
Where do you plan on driving?
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, is as far as we'll be driving, as that's where we own our property.
What were your family’s and friends’ reactions when you told them about your trip before you left?
My sister asked me if we planned on installing bullet-proof windows, and I replied, that could be a good idea since we will be driving through the US. In general, when we started coming to Nicaragua people thought we were crazy, even before we decided to drive this time.
Did you speak Spanish before you left your home country? How much Spanish? Are you taking more Spanish lessons as you travel? If so, where and for how long?
We didn't speak much Spanish, but we have been taking some lessons, and it really helps to speak with the people here for practice.
Do you have a favorite place or country that you have visited during your trip?
In Mexico we really loved Puerto Arista on the southermost coast in Chiapas. There was a great campsite - Jose's - and the beach was unbelievable with incredibly soft sand. The town was nice and quiet as well. We also really liked Zihuatanejo in Mexico.
What was the worst border crossing?
When we crossed the Mexican-Guatemalan border in Tapachula, we hired someone to help us cross and we think we payed way too much. After that I learned to follow the border-helper around and ask for receipts for every transaction so I would know how much I should pay.
What was the worst road?
The frontera road from when leaving Honduras for Nicaragua. It is under construction, so hopefully it should be better soon.
Would you do it again?
Yes, definitely. And we hope to make the drive all the way to the tip of South America in the next 5-10 years as well.