For those who follow us on instagram, you have seen from our stories that one day we were in Central America, after a week we were already in Doha and then in Thailand. As?
When we started this trip we immediately learned a lesson in patience by waiting 15 days for car parts in a parking lot. And that taught us that we had to take it easy and take it slow. With our mammoth we traveled roads from Canada to Costa Rica and it took us 5 months. According to our plans, we would only have one or two more months, at most, to do South America. Or else we would leave Asia aside and know all of America. And then came an offer to buy the mammoth in Costa Rica.
We thought a lot, more than three days in which we only talked about this. We asked our family, close friends, professional travelers like Filipe Morato Gomes and colleagues from the travel writing course what they thought we should do.
- Sell the van in Costa Rica and head to Asia, leaving South America for another time.
- Heading to South America, which could jeopardize the trip to Asia, as we would have some extra costs, time doesn't stretch and we might not be able to sell the van there. In Brazil, import laws are prohibitive and we would always have to sell in Chile.
We ponder, and we listen. Here are the arguments for both decisions:
- South America is a must see, and has unique landscapes, but culturally, despite being different, it would never be as different as Asia.
- We've both been to Brazil, I to Colombia and Ivo to Peru and neither of them knew Asia. If we had to give up a continent to know which one would it be?
- We could travel through South America but only in March would we be going to Asia and that would compromise visiting some countries.
- Through the iOverlander application we saw that although violence is only mentioned in Mexico, the reality is that Peru was where we saw more exclamation marks from people saying they had been robbed.
- Sending the car from Panama to Colombia is a stress and everyone refers to this moment as the worst of the entire Pan American trip. You have to go to the port, do some paperwork, find someone to share a container, leave Panama by plane or take a cruise through the San Blas Islands. Arrive in Cartagena and go back to dealing with bureaucracy for two days. The process takes almost 2 weeks.
- Asia is a great destination for backpacking, safe, with good prices and if we weren't now on a backpacking trip, with overnight stays in hostels, we would hardly go again.
But on the other hand...
- Going to Asia meant leaving Duna in Portugal. It is difficult to cross some borders where 7-day quarantine periods are required. Others are dangerous with anger. We really like Dune very much and would never subject her to anything that could harm her.
- Leave the mammoth. And this vanlife life. We really enjoyed living in a car during these 5 months. The mammoth is perfect, you've seen all the space it has. We can cook. The seats are super comfortable to drive... and then we get where we want to go with it. We can go from village to village, stopping to photograph a landscape. Sleeping at a gas station when we're tired.
- Not to visit: Ecuador, Buenos Aires, Minas Gerais and other corners of Brazil....
If the reality is that flights to Asia are cheaper, on the other hand, we know that we can get good trips to South America at any time, with companies traveling to Brazil and that because we are so dear this is a country where we imagine ourselves returning several times. And why not go back to having a van life later on and go to Patagonia?
Of course we thought about doing none of this, taking the money and sending the van to Portugal. But the import costs for a motorhome type car with this engine were €16,000. Not even in our wildest dreams it was possible.
We took advantage of the money we were going to spend sending the car and bought our air tickets. From Costa Rica there are no direct flights to Portugal, that's why we don't want stopovers because of the Duna. We bought a flight to Newark, stayed in New York for 3 days enjoying the city at a time when it only smells like Christmas and then we went to Lisbon with TAP. The idea was to show up by surprise at each one, but TAP set us up and canceled our flight when we were already at the airport and with Duna on the plane. The experience was terrible because we didn't have any assistance as we were traveling with a dog. But I don't want to bore you with it. We arrived home on Wednesday and would leave on Saturday.
Duna stayed in Portugal, amidst my many tears. If it takes a village to make a dream come true, we ask many people for help. She'll stay with Ivo's mother, who's going to have a lot of trouble getting her together with Pancho the cat! will have a walk every day with the fantastic Patas&Patinhas. If, by any chance, it starts to get really sad, let's hope it doesn't happen... we go home. She is more important than any of our dreams. (Update, we've been here for more than two weeks and you don't miss us at all. So good).
And as for the mammoth, well... we're on the trip to collect moments and not things, so we bring great joy to its new owners.