How we ended up at the end of the world.
01.06.2014 - 12.06.2014
So Africa was off. It was decided that we had to come up a new plan. Like many an explorer before us we decided the best location for a planning meeting was in a country pub. Beside a roaring fire over a few pints we banded around a few ideas. Drive to Everest base camp, or Beijing or do a lap of South East Asia. However the world is going to hell in a hand cart at the moment. Getting to many of these places involved travelling through places such as Iran, not such an exciting option for Ellie and I, full Burqas are just so unflattering. Burma was also on the list, and which ever way you look at it travel there helps the regime and dictatorship, not exactly ethical travel. However easy Top Gear make these jaunts look, for the common traveller, without a BBC research team, it becomes nearly impossible. China even requires you to take a written driving test in Mandarin. As none of us are blessed in the language department this really wasn't an option.
We really wanted to keep the spirit of an adventurous road trip, one with challenges of terrain, boarders, dealing with local culture and customs. We also loved the idea of getting from one end of continent to the other. Although Terry, Andy and I had traversed a small section of the land in 2010, South America seemed to offer everything we wanted. We could start at the very bottom and head north. Such romantic names as Patagonia, Terra del Feugo began to fly of the tips of our tongues and it was decided. The great Pan American Highway would be our new adventure.
Now, the record for the whole highway, that is from the very most southerly point in Chile to the most northerly point in Alaska is 11 days. This was however a rally team with a full back up. Terry, Ellie and Jacko had a month off work and Andy and I had 3 months to play with, but there was no way we wanted to do the whole thing in just a month. So it was decided that we would try and get South America covered as a team leaving Andy and I to carry on through central and northern America alone. We still feel we have set ourselves quite a challenge and we shall see how much of the journey gets completed.
The race was on to get everything organised. It takes a surprising long time to ship a car to the other side of the world. Well over a couple of months in fact. There was one very important element we had to complete before we could ship our lovely taxi. We had to fur the vehicle. Yes you read that right, fur it! This involves buying silly quantities of fake fur and grip fill. This for the uninitiated, is horrible stuff builders use for something or another, but after much research we have found the best stuff to bond fur to metal. We settled on a lovely Dalmatian or more to my liking a snow leopard print. Predominantly white might not turn out to be the cleverest colour to choose but time shall tell. There were various mechanical bits to sort which fell to Jacko and his dad, (a big thanks to him, esp for our very cool jerry can holders on the back). We also drafted on a the help of highly sweaty mechanic in Bristol to sort out last minute problems. The thing about going on a trip like ours is it is bonkers, and we all know the great British public love a bonkers plan, our sweaty mechanic was clearly taken with the plan heaping spares and advice on us. We had lots of help and people pitched in, a day spent with Anne and Kate was a big help, we wouldn't have cool spots on our roof rack with out their help, and in just over a week we raced the car to some godforsaken eastern port or Tilbury as it known, and said goodbye for two months, next stop Punta Arreas, Southern Chile.