Hola! Bit late to the party, but given that I have a some time to kill while we wait for our 4Runner to arrive in Colombia, I figured now would be a good time to introduce ourselves to the Expedition Portal crowd. Firstly, thanks a bunch to this community for providing inspiration and mountains of information during the 2+ years we spent planning this trip. We haven't been active in these parts in the past, but we certainly do appreciate what goes on here. I think it's only fair we give a little back!
As an introduction: we are Life Remotely. There are three of us: myself (Jared), my sister Jessica, and her husband Kobus. Jessica and I are Seattle natives, and Kobus hails from South Africa. Kobus does the driving, Jessica does the navigating, and as the third wheel I am relegated the less-glamorous (but also less-stressful) tasks of chef and chronicler.
We're currently in Panama City, jumping through the hoops of getting the 4Runner to Cartagena, Colombia. We left Seattle last October and plan to reach Ushuaia, Argentina in December and continue our travels through South America until March 2013. In total, about 18 months on the road. For the most part we're tent campers, although we spend about a third of our nights in a hotel or hostel. We also work an average of 15 hours per week for clients back in the U.S. which helps us to offset the cost of the trip and possibly extend our travels.
You can read about our route, initial budget, vehicle mods and the places we've been on our website. We also try our best to publish info about border crossings, expenses, internet, wifi and phone and where we stay in each country we visit, hoping that other overlanders will find this information useful down the road.
Here's a photo of the three of us in front of Blue, our trusty 1997 4Runner in Cabo San Lucas.
Blue is largely stock, although we added a few convenience mods to make a our trip a bit more comfortable, including a folding two-level rear storage platform to hold our gear.
We keep our camping gear down below and bins with our clothes, kitchen and everything else up top for easy access.
The biggest job we undertook was to install a dual battery system to power a fridge and power inverter. We have writeups on our website for anyone who wants to know more, here and here.
Our fridge is an EdgeStar FP430, which I learned about thanks to the gigantic thread on these forums. Granted, it has mixed reviews, but the price was right and it fit perfectly in our 4Runner once we removed the rear driver-side seat. Read more on our website. After 8 months I can say this may have been the best money we spent on this trip. Underneath is an 800W inverter, and behind the fridge is a lockbox I built to store our three laptops safely and securely while we bump down the road. A full writeup on that build can be found here.
We hit the 13,000 mile mark yesterday. Blue's handled plenty of rough roads, and a couple rivers en route to Panama City. Our only repairs until this point have been replacing the two rear axle seals, along with the rear break pads, a casualty of the oil leak. Plus a wheel bearing, casualty of an idiotic mechanic. Both seals went on the same stretch of road to Lanquin, Guatemala, six weeks apart.
Like I said, we spend most of our nights in tents. Here I am kickin' back at Playa Josecito on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. Enjoying a bottle of cheap rum and livin' the dream.
Here's a shot from yesterday of Blue being loaded into a container in Colon, Panama. We fly to Colombia tomorrow morning and with luck we'll be on the road in South America on Tuesday.
If you're interested in our past eight months on the road, check out our website to get caught up and stay tuned for more!