Overland travel through Chile and Argentina has been awesome, and we’ve encountered some spectacular things that we never would have come across without Old Grey. In all honesty though… it is far from glamorous travel! And truthfully, we’ve been living like straight-up vagabonds for about 2 months now.
It’s been weird living like bums, with no showers for a few days, lots of canned vegetables and rice, and mostly wearing dusty, grimy clothes from barreling down dirt roads on the daily. You know you’re a true adventurer when you pull into a gas station and people look at you like “damn… those people are rough…” and proceed to avoid eye contact.
We are constantly asked if we really drove the truck all the way from Colorado, and we stick out like sore thumbs like we never have before – in all our raggedy, dusty glory.
Other bum-like things we’ve been doing: Boiling water on the camp stove to wash dirty underwear and socks, then draping said underwear and socks over our propane tank to dry. Sometimes, we take showers at truck stops and gas stations, and power things with a car battery charger. Often you can find us drinking cheap-ass wine with a pasta dinner of ramen noodles… the kind that come in a cup. So classy.
We’ve been in this strange sort of limbo between adventure travel and road tripping as we Overland, and it seems like we always have lots of ground to cover. Both Chile and Argentina are huge countries to drive through. We are on the move almost constantly, and have had a few instances where we were terrified we would run out of gas before the next station. Luckily though, we’ve rolled our way to the pump just in time.
So far, we have driven over 4,000 miles in total through southern Peru, Chile, and now Argentina! However, we are coming close to the end of our journey on the South American continent. Old Grey ships soon, which requires squaring away customs documents at the shipping port, and unloading all of the camping gear we’ve been hauling around. We’ll also be experiencing a huge re-adjustment into backpacker travel following Old Grey’s shipment.
We wanted adventure when we left home nearly one year ago for Latin America, and we’ve gotten that for sure. But lately, we’ve been frazzled. Like super frazzled. For 3-4 days out of the week, we’re mostly driving and living out of the truck as Overlander bums, but we’re encountering truly epic adventures all the while.
The other half of the week, we find a place to stay with a real bed and good wifi to catch up on the blog and work, and actually get a few days off from adventuring to relax. Adventuring does get tiresome.
CLEARING UP SOME FREQUENT QUESTIONS
When we’re on the road and headed to the next destination city, we mostly camp, which saves us lots on costs and gets us to some truly gorgeous camp spots. We do have a tent, but we never use it. We make our beds up in the back of the truck, which consists of two Big-Agnes sleeping pads topped with blankets and sleeping bags.
After all, we’re in South America during the end of its winter season. Most of the time it is simply too cold and windy to house it up in the tent for a night. (In South America, all of the seasons are pretty much the opposite that they would be in the states: i.e. spring = fall, summer = winter and vice versa.)
Old Grey is both a warmer place to sleep, and our protector from the elements. Basically, we are always car camping when we’re on the road, which is a lot.
As adventurous and chaotic as Overland life may sound, we still have remnants of a routine. On Overlanding days, we drive half of the day or more, and stop to make lunch somewhere along the way. In the evening, we locate a camp spot (usually the hardest task of the day), pull in, and start cooking dinner before it gets dark.
While dinner’s cooking, we blow up our inflatable mattresses and make our beds, and spend the rest of the evening hanging out by the fire, taking in the scene, and maybe having a beer or two.
Likewise, the morning routine is just reversed. We deflate the beds and fold up the sleeping bags, cook breakfast, and load up the truck. After some light map study to figure out where we’re headed for the night, we’re on our way to the next adventure.
Despite having everything we need to sustain ourselves, the Overland routine can get tedious. The truth is, we’re not in our early 20’s anymore, and we’ve both worked hard labor jobs so much throughout our lives that we feel it in our achy bones even now in our early 30’s.
Our inflatable beds may be comfortable, but they’re just not enough for 24/7 use. Every so often, the comfort of a real bed is a necessity. We’ve found that our threshold for Overland travel is about 3-4 days, before we get cranky and need to find a place to rejuvenate.
WE’VE BEEN ON THE ROAD FOR FAR TOO LONG…
Every so often, it amazes us that we left home nearly a year ago, and that we’ve been traveling in a rough-and-tough place like Latin America for such a long time. As gorgeous and interesting and full of adventure as this part of the world is, Latin America is still made up of developing nations that can be very hard to travel in.
As we near the end of our expedition here, the lack of good infrastructure and limited access to things gets to be not-so-fun anymore. Being “labeled” as a tourist gets to be increasingly irritating. Sometimes, planning for the next sight to see or place to go also becomes draining and mundane.
Somehow, if you’ve been traveling too long, even the most spectacular sights can lose a bit of their appeal. When excitement begins to fade, and new destinations begin to feel jaded, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to return home and give the wanderlust a rest.
We miss our friends and family SO MUCH right now.
This is the most difficult part of long-term travel, and a constant side effect of leading an expat life. Some expats may not have good ties with their families back home, but Scott and I’s situation is the complete opposite. We both come from families who deeply value get-togethers and strong family ties. Leaving our families for long periods of time has literally been the hardest part of our decision to pursue lifestyle travel.
After our visit to Brazil, we’re going back home to beautiful Colorado for a while. Out here, we find ourselves missing our friends and families so much that it can bring us to tears when the road gets rough. Frequent video chats and phone calls only go so far, and we are feeling very anxious to be in the presence of our loved ones again. We miss them dearly, and find ourselves longing to reunite with them soon.
The comforts of home are calling to us.
We know this because we are frequently talking about what food we’ll be eating first when we get back to the states. We literally have this conversation Every. Day. We’re also going to be home for the holidays, so assuredly, we’ll be putting all the weight that we’ve lost out here right back on. And with no shame!
Seriously, it will be awesome to return home to thick cut bacon and actual dill pickles. We find ourselves drooling over the mere thought that we’ll have access to junky fast food drive-ins the whole drive back to Colorado. We’ll also be upholding our return-home tradition of hitting a Taco Bell the second we step foot on USA soil. Oh, how we miss those beefy five-layer burritos…
THIS PAST YEAR HAS BEEN ONE HELL OF A RIDE.
Living out of a truck is something we never would have seen ourselves doing even just two years ago. We’ve seen so much on this leg of our journey that there are no words for how much this adventure has changed us. It has brought us to new perspectives on our own travel style, and how much time we should spend traveling in the future. From the Rainbow Mountains of Peru, to dancing beasts and flower fields in Chile, and to the Patagonian wilderness of Argentina, we’ve had a truly amazing journey with Old Grey.
Wish us luck that Old Grey’s shipment goes smoothly, as do our last couple of months in Latin America! There’s still much of Argentina and also Brazil to experience, which are the 9th and 10th countries that we’ve visited on this trip alone.
This is the last stretch for year one of our official expat life, and though we’ve been living like dirty bums lately, it’s always the experience that matters. It’s almost time to see what the world has in store for us next year, and we are extremely grateful to have you along for the ride! 😊