After a long day on the road in Belize, we were happy to find a nice little BBQ joint right near the Belize/Guatemala border. We had heard the new facility was opening, from our friend, Damon Russell.
As we pulled through the arched entry, we were dismayed to see the large “closed” sign posted across the front. Oh man, and I could almost taste the smoked bbq!
We got out and we’re greeted by a smiling face, and invited for a private dinner. They were only open Tuesday through Sunday, but offered to make us a special meal on Monday! What service!
I couldn’t wait to try the big Southern Texas BBQ. The smoked smell of the meat was in the air, making me drool waiting for it to be served!
The smoked sausage, brisket, potato salad, and salsa, were well worth the wait! I even got iced tea served in a ball (Mason) jar! If it wasn’t for the palm trees, I would have sworn I was in South Texas, eating some savory BBQ.
If you get a chance on your way out of, or into Belize/Guatemala, do yourself a favor and give them a try! Just be sure to visit Tuesday-Sunday. See you on the road!
We had another great experience at Auga Caliente in North East Guatemala. This is one of our favorite spots in Guatemala. It features a cool flowing river, providing the water supply to the small village for washing clothes, bathing, and recreation.
The unique part is the sulfur heated sauna like waters that come crashing over the edge of the waterfall. Words cannot describe the feeling of wading through the comfortably cool and refreshing river, to be met with the steamy hot water of the waterfalls!
As the water begins to mix, it uncontrollably produces goose bumps, as you transition to the hot water. You can explore the caves behind the falls, and even swim behind the rushing waters beneath the caverns, for those adventurists. If you are claustrophobic, I wouldn’t recommend it!
We camped near the river, along side a local owned restaurant, an open air facility, with palapa roof.
This time we were greeted with a dozen or more children from the village, ages 6-10. Many of them were pedaling their goods, seeing us as their next customers. They were selling fresh, cold coconuts, banana pancakes, still hot from the fire grilled pan, and big smiles.
Angela bought a pancake, and I decided on a cold coconut for the sweet water. The 10 year old carrying the coconut, a large knife, and straws, informed me it was 5 quetzals. It was cool and sweet, sipping on the coconut. Between all of us, I think we had about 4 or 5 coconuts, so it was a productive day for some, though the girls only sold one pancake, as they were more interested in watching us and what we were doing at the campsite!
We carry children’s rings with the Lord’s prayer in Spanish to hand out to the kids we encounter. As usual, they were and big hit! Kids came out of the wood work, once we began giving them out. Several returned trying to get more than one. One of the boys tried at least 3 times, getting recognized each time, and told only 1 per person. I have to give him credit though, as he returned a 4th time, with his shirt off, and holding his hand out in the group, hoping to sneak by and get another. But we recognized him! A+ for effort though! Notice the little boy in the picture without his shirt, that is him.
We really enjoyed our time here and interacting with all of the kids. It’s always nice to talk with them, as we feel like that is where our Spanish level is, about 6-10 years old. 🙂 Another note able gentleman was in a cowboy hat. He had the friendliest persona, offering big grins, and welcoming us. We gave him a man’s sized ring as well, and he really appreciated it. It’s so nice to be welcomed into a country with no strings attached, just acceptance.
Ahhhh Antigua! Possibly (most likely), our favorite city in all of Guatemala. There is so much to see and do here. Countless restaurants, coffee farms, historic churches, and buildings, entertainment, and cobblestone streets! This is a place you could move to or visit, experience history, modern amenities, and everything in between. We have been here 5 or 6 times, and each time is more fun than the last. We find something new each time.
This time, we enjoyed a van ride straight up the side of a volcano to visit a restaurant, called Cerro San Cristobol. The views of Antigua were amazing! Breakfast with a volcano in the back ground, the city in the foreground, and fresh mountain air! What more could you ask for?
We visited the market several times. This place offers fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, clothes, tools, souvenirs, artisan crafts, and so much more!
The people watching is second to none. The arch is always a fun spot to see. It spans the street just blocks from centro, where it previously allowed the nuns to cross the street without being seen by the public. It is probably the most photographed location in Antigua.
There are numerous historic churches, both active, and some in ruins condition. They all make for a spectacular stroll through the city to look at them all.
We didn’t make it up there this trip, but worth mentioning is the huge cross that towers above the city, with amazing birds eye views of the city.
We always enjoy the tuk tuks, three wheeled motorcycle type taxis. These are great, because driving scooters or vehicles on the cobblestone streets offer bone jarring experiences, though that is a large part of the charm and character of this city. We found a new restaurant (which there are numerous), that offered a roof top terrace to enjoy dinner while viewing the volcano’s and sunset. Indescribably beautiful!
If you find yourself in Guatemala or looking for a great place to visit, do yourself a favor and get to Antigua! At 5000 feet Above sea level, the temps are comfortably around 75 in the day, and 50 at night. If you are lucky, and your chances are pretty good, you just might see a puff of volcanic smoke, or even lava ooze over the side of the volcano. We got our chance.
The local tourist police compound in downtown Antigua, is a city block walled compound, that they offer to travelers, like ourselves, to camp for free! Its a great service, that we have utilized each time we are here. One evening just after dark, our camper began to rock back and forth. We could not figure out who would be playing around outside for more than 30 seconds, rocking our camper. I went out to look, and Adam was poking his head out of his camper. We soon realized, it was a earthquake, 5.6 to be exact. As we looked out and around, we looked up to the volcano to see flaming red lave burst out of the top, and ooze over the side. It was surreal! Two natural phenomenons experienced within minutes of each other! Yep, we love Antigua!
Our first week in Mexico has been an adventure! We have experienced the mountains, jungles, and beaches. Temperatures are at both ends of the scale. It makes it fun to pack for!
Our first stop after climbing the rocks at El Potero Chico was a small town called Parras de la Fuente.
We found a campsite to spend the night from our trusted companion ioverlander. This is a great tool that provides campsite information from other overland travelers.
Adam found the coordinates on his GPS, so he lead the way. After driving the tight streets of the downtown area, and being careful with low power lines, we finally came to a stop on a back road. The GPS showed the route to drive under an archway. Not going to happen! At right at 11 feet tall, our vehicles, are limited. So we found an alternate route.
It was great to find out it was pecan season (thats “PEE CAN) for us southerners. We camped under the large trees on the orchard and watched the next morning as workers scaled the tall trees to set up for shaking the branches to drop the ripe nuts.
The next night we decided to boondock right at town square under the clock tower and in front of a large church. It was nice people watching (and being watched), as the locals sat on benches, kicked a soccer ball, and enjoyed ice cream. Some teenage boys were taking selfies with our trucks, so I decided to get in on the action. Adam even was able to engage the young locals, by enticing them with toys. It was interesting to speak to the children in Spanish, since our level of Spanish is at their level or lower!
We found a beautiful church perched at the top of a cliff, and decided to climb to the top. The views were incredible, and the cool breeze welcome. You could see the whole town from our vantage point.
Next we were off to take a tour of the oldest wine vinyard in the Americas. It was established in 1589. The tour was completely in Spanish, and the 6 of us were the only attendees. Nothing like total immersion to brush up on the Spanish comprehension.
Next we found a quiet little gem just outside of Durango Mexico. It was a Baleanario, or hot pool. This campsite was not on ioverlander so we added it. It featured grassy sites, with power and a pavilion with grills. The best part was the 8 hot pools heated by the Volcano’s in the area. The kids pool also had water slides. The 2 kids were in heaven! This has been the most expensive camping fee so far. It was 400 pesos or $21.00 US for the first night, which included 2 days of access to the pools and grounds. Each additional night was $200 pesos or $11.00 US/night. Amazing prices!
We stayed two nights. It was so amazing getting up at about 7 in the morning, making our way through the 45 degree temps to step into the large 105 degree pools! The fog rolled off the top and exposed a spectacular sunrise each time.
While we were there, Ashley found a cool little spot. Just 12 miles North of Durango is an abandoned Western film set. In the little village of Chupederos Mexico, is the main street to many films, including 7 of John Waynes movies! Ill do a seperate post on that visit!
We stayed at a nice campground on the U.S. side of the border called Casa Blanca in Laredo Texas. We took two nights to get prepared for the crossing, getting vehicles worked on, supplies purchased, valuables secured, etc.
While checking all of the compartments, I found something strange. My power strip and flashlight had been melted! And the compartment door was blackened. Was there a fire? A battery explosion?
No, the exhaust was too short, causing the heat to come off the pipe, straight into the back of the compartment. Obviously causing it to get hot enough to melt! Glad I caught it before catching the truck on fire! That would have put a damper on the trip!
So we made a quick stop at a muffler shop, where they welded an extension. Haven’t had a problem since.
So the next morning we were off to the border! We chose to use the Columbia crossing, which is about 20 miles West of Laredo, due to being a small crossing. We hoped this would expedite our crossing, and it did.
The crossing was empty when we arrived. We got out TIP (temporary import permit) for our vehicles, our visas, and insurance.
Next we were told we needed to drive through the large XRAY machine. This allowed us to avoid being subjected to a complete hands on inspection. It was a fast process. Both of our vehicles were through in less than 10 minutes.
Next they brought a sniffing dog around to make sure we were not bringing drugs back into Mexico. The officer and dog were both friendly.
Then we were on our way to our first stop for the evening, El Potero Chico, a rock mountain climbing area.
We had stayed in this area in 2012 when we passed through, so were anticipating catching back up with the people who ran the campground we had stayed at.
The drive was effortless and within 2-1/2 hours we arrived. The peaks were as incredible as we remembered. We checked out a couple of other campsites, but settled back on Homeros campground, as it is not expensive, and it is the closest one, literally at the base of the mountains.
We were saddened to hear that the owner, our new found friend from the 2012 trip had passed away in 2014. It was nice however, that his family continued on with running the facility, and welcomed us in.
The sites were only $80 pesos per person, or about $4.25 US dollars. We set up camp and ended up staying for 2 nights.
The hike to the top is well worth the views, as you can see for miles and miles. We enjoyed checking the area out, and met a fellow traveler named Betty. She was a single European girl traveling for 8 months throughout Mexico and South America. We shared coffee each morning, and swapped stories. It is always great to talk with fellow travelers along the way.
We planned a launch for our one year + overland trip to take off from Asheville North Carolina. For those instagram followers, we created the hashtag #ashevilletoargentina. This represents the full length of the trip from top to bottom.
October 7th-9th 2016 was the Overland Expo East, held on the grounds of the prestigious Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina. Funny to think of all the tents and campers sleeping along the banks of the French Broad river, of the largest private home in the U.S.
We had agreed to show our new vehicle at the expo and give a 1 hour presentation of our travels to Belize. This is a wonderful event drawing thousands of fellow overland enthusiasts. There are some pretty amazing vehicles that come to the show. We were honored to have been one of them. It was great to see so many people and new products on display.
We met up with our fellow travel partners at the expo. It takes a special family to want to travel for this length of time, but they claim they are up for it! Their names (as you will hear more about them), are Adam, Ashley, Cayen (9) and Ellie (5). We really enjoy their company.
Our trip will take us from Asheville North Carolina, and through all of Mexico, Central and South America. Ultimately we plan to reach the furthest point South in Argentina, and put our toes in the sand. We may even have a special trip, that will take us to the next continent (more on that later).
It has been a long time coming, and I am behind on the blog. We have already started traveling, and will get updated soon. I wanted to share pics and details on our new overland vehicle. After traveling thousands of miles and visiting numerous countries in our roof top tent on the Land Rover, we now have premium accommodations!
We chose a 2002 Ford F250 with the 7.3 L diesel. Mostly in part to the fact that they are a proven engine, being dubbed the “Million mile motor”. Plus being that its a pre 2007 Diesel, it does not require the ultra low sulfur Diesel that the new ones do.
We found the perfect truck in El Paso Texas and drove out to get it. It wasn’t the exact color I wanted, but it had all the rest of the requirements, including lots of extra goodies the seller had installed. It came with after market tires and wheels, New Fox shocks all around, a diesel tuner, and lots more. Money saved on items I would add any way.
We decided to have the truck painted. It was done professionally, with all doors, hood, and molding removed. This allowed for a complete color change, as good or better than a factory paint job. Next we had a custom camper built to our specs. This was a culmination of many miles on the road and deciding what we wanted vs. what would fit, and still make it down the Central and South American roads.
A company out of Denver Colorado accepted the challenge and began building the one of a kind camper. The amenities and features are endless!
It was a bit challenging trying to coordinate all of the special requirements we wanted built into our rig, being 1500 miles away from the build. It took about 6 weeks to complete, but what turned out was pretty amazing! Ill share more interior pictures and specs in a later post. Next entry will be our launch from Asheville North Carolina!
We are anxiously awaiting our departure (33 days), for the upcoming expedition trip, from Asheville North Carolina, all the way down to the tip of Argentina. The destination is the furthest point South, in South America!
In preparation for the the trip, we are having a fully self contained, expedition rig, built to our specifications. This is a culmination of everything we think we will need/want on this 1 year+ journey. This is proving to be an arduous process, weighing needs/wants, with space & weight.
I am sharing pictures with you, of the progression of our current and previous vehicles, that we used, or planned to use for our exciting trips from the States to Mexico, Belize, and Central America. Since 2012, we have been traveling extensively (4-6 months at a time), back and forth, logging some 50,000+ miles in and around the Countries mentioned.
Proposed overland vehicle
We thought we found the perfect solution!
We began with a Land Rover Discovery, and Rooftop tent, and have since had several vehicles and accommodations. You will notice, the picture of the ambulance. We bought that in anticipation of converting it to an off road camper (like the white example I posted). We soon discovered, that was not a direction we wished to go.
We bought another Land Rover and further outfitted it with many accessories, including dual deep cycle batteries to run the refrigerator, steel bumper and winch, roof top tent, and custom made storage boxes inside with drawer, that replaced the back seat.
Next we found the ultimate off road, overland, expedition vehicle! A custom Land Rover with hard side camper permanently mounted. We bought and camped with this for a while, but soon discovered, it would be too small to provide a home away for a year long trip.
We have enjoyed each one of these vehicles immensely, and they have served us well. They have carried us to so many off the beaten path destinations, crossing rivers,trudging through mud, climbing volcanoes, camping, and much more! They have afforded us opportunities, the average vehicle would not withstand. And then there are the people. We have met so many amazing people along these journeys. Each country offering a beautiful culture to discover. Many countries offering multiple cultures to enjoy. Belize is near and dear to our hearts as we have spent many, many months equating to years of exploration, on many trips there, settling in Placencia for nearly a year, and meeting countless friends. We cant wait to step back across the border to see everyone, as we make our way South.
I previously posed a question to the group, asking if there was an interest in the new direction that we are headed, to keep posting our journeys on the group. The response was overwhelmingly, that it was indeed, the majority decision, for us to post pictures and stories of our journey. So.. with that being said, We will begin posting immediately as the trip progresses. If anyone has any comments or objections, please feel free to PM me directly to discuss. The reason I am trying to address this new direction, is that I know that the group was formed, and ran as an exclusive traveling Belize format. While Belize certainly will be included, it will no longer be exclusive to my posts. I hope there is an adventure traveler in all of us that will enjoy seeing all types of cultures and countries.
The picture of the aluminum frame and insulation (below) is what is being built as we speak, and I am being assured this will be complete, and installed on our Ford F250 diesel chassis prior to our departure. Fingers crossed!
We depart from the Overland Expo being held October 5th-7th in Asheville North Carolina, at the exclusive Biltmore Estate grounds. If you love overland travel and adventure, you should check the show out. There is camping all weekend on site. Check it out @ www.overlandexpo.com look for the East venue.
Stay tuned for more changes and updates as we make this transition. Planning for one year consecutive on the road is proving to be a challenge, but one that we are up for! You can follow our new blog @ www.lifeallout.com This blog has not been recently updated, but will become the platform to record our entire journey, including pictures and tips! If you have an instagram account, please follow us. Look for @lifeallout You can also “Like” us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/lifeallout/
Would you leave your home and travel in a off road camper for 1 year or more, or are we the only crazy ones!? Please comment. Id love to know your thoughts. See you on the road!
The border crossing went smoothly and the roads were easy going & the weather perfect! Not to hot & not to cold! We were able to make to our first campsite well before dark and set up camp & make a light dinner before we turned in for the night. We were just outside of Altimira, which is north of Tampico at a hotel/restaurant/truck stop combination. Behind the hotel is a huge parking lot that the truckers use to park & sleep. We went to the far back edge next to a grassy area and set up camp. It was very peaceful & only 2 semi’s in the lot when we went to bed. Couldn’t be any better….we thought. Around 2am a convoy of trucks pulling rows of
We are always about finding new adventure and explorations here in Belize. Yesterday was no exception. We decided to go visit the Mennonite village of Roseville, right near Red bank. They are most noted for the Scarlet Macaws that nest high above the village. We saw many flying, but unfortunately were not able to see them close enough to take good pictures, so a stock photo will have to do!
There is a river that crosses the gravel horse and buggy path that leads into Roseville. Once we left the highway, it wasn’t long that we realized the road was made to fit the horse and buggies that traveled there every day. Very narrow and lots of lush vegetation closed in, in spots. We passed people on bikes, and walking. Everyone was friendly, waving back, as we pulled over to be able to pass.
The further we trekked back toward the village, the more beautiful it became. You could see the mountains in the distance, a harvested corn field in one direction, a vibrant cabbage patch in the other. All of the farms had bountiful fruits or vegetables. We stopped at several to buy some of their goods. One farm had carrots the size of a child’s baseball bat, and cabbage heads the size of a basketball. The next farm was loaded down with watermelons, bell peppers, and onions, the size of softballs.
After buying enough fruits and vegetables to feed a small army, including 5- 20 pound watermelons, we headed toward the swimming hole. This was a well hidden spot, the local Mennonites and Mayans came to cool off in. We crossed a rock laden river with our vehicles, in places maybe 3 feet deep. The water was lightly rushing around the tires, enough to create that revered soothing water sound, that some fall asleep to. I on the other hand was enjoying the sheer accomplishment of traversing a rocky river bed, though it was tame by comparison, oh the possibilities!
We parked on the edge of the dirt path along side a large garden plot, being tended by three Mennonites, in their traditional clothing of long denim jeans, straw hats, and long sleeve shirts. We walked along the beaten down path, across massive boulders and finally popped out at the edge of the river.
We set up chairs, ate a picnic lunch and then dove into the refreshingly crisp, but not cold waters. On one side was a home made slide, boards lined with vinyl, the other side cradled the rope swing made of several lengths of different materials. The main length being a thin metal wire attached to a strap, and finally to a large tree leaning over the waters edge.
This is when the fun began! We all took turns sliding down the slide, jumping off the rope swing, and lounging in the moderate water flow of the river. Climbing up the skinny tree that was the jump platform for the swing proved to be a little challenging as you needed good balance with out any hand holds. It was comical to watch as each person shinnied up the tree and tried their hand. Some took longer than others. I wont mention names, but it seems there were two in particular that were battling out to see who could eat up the most footage on the camera!
Swinging out over the water and dropping in was exhilarating, even though it wasn’t a massive height. The watermelons we had just bought came in handy offering rejuvenation for the energy exerted from playing in the water. A good time was had by all. If you come, water shoes are recommended, but not necessary. The large boulders in the river are covered in moss. You just couldn’t ask for a more relaxing afternoon, especially once we put the chairs in the edge of the water and sat down for a visit. Finally fresh banana bread was devoured, and then it was time to get back on the road and cross back over the river. We even were graced by the presence of two Scarlett Macaws, flying from tree to tree, screeching their lungs out to announce that they were there. My kinda day!
I tried my hand at putting together a little overview video of the day.