Without a job dictating where we’ll live, we’re able to develop our own criteria. We’d like to live somewhere with a happening downtown core, reasonable cost of living, good weather, bike friendly, open-minded people, decent public schools, and lots of nice trees. Quite the list, right? For our 50th post and the one-year anniversary of this blog, we’re sharing our hunt for a U.S. city to settle down in, with Bruno of course. A place to hang our hat until the next trip starts to take shape.
When you’re living out of a sixteen year old truck, home just happens to be wherever you stop for the night. Now that we’re rolling in Texas, Bruno has discovered a new amazing place to sleep at night: state-sponsored rest stops! Wonderfully clean and safe, they have great restrooms and spacious picnic table areas for cooking your meals. We could plan a whole other road trip trying to hit every rest stop in Texas, but that’s an entirely different trip. Welcome to Texas!
Mexico. Land without chocolate chips or sunglasses. If you think you can find gafas de sol easily in Mexico, think again. Mexicans don’t wear sunglasses! Sharing one pair between the two of us is no way to live. And then the chocolate. In the absence of other desserts, we usually keep chocolate chips on hand for a dose of sweet. The ones we had from Costa Rica lasted until Mexico, where we promptly found out that Mexicans don’t bake with chocolate chips! The avocados, though: plentiful and cheap. Almost makes you forget you’re having sugar withdrawal while squinting into the sun.
We’re back in Mexico, a country full of topes (speedbumps) and delightfully large supermarkets! After being in remote areas of Central America for 8 months, nothing says Welcome Back To Mexico like being launched into space by an unmarked surprise tope, or stepping into a giant Wal-Mart Supermercado and having your brain explode with how much stuff there is. In this post we cruise through the Yucatán Peninsula, swim in a Cenote, see the relatively unknown Salto de Eyipantla waterfall, and climb some amazing Mayan temples.
It takes about 5 hours to drive across the tiny country of Belize. We stayed 3 days for good measure. Passing countless fields of sugar cane, you’ll eventually reach a processing plant or two, where the wafting smell of burnt sugar fills the air. Belize is the last Central American country we’re visiting before heading back to Mexico, kind of like dessert at the end of a long Central American meal!
We had mixed feelings leaving Guatemala. Belize is supposed to be expensive. And fancy. And they speak English there. Are we ready for a completely different experience than we’ve had these past 8 months? One thing’s for sure – they don’t want our damn dirty ape-food entering their country.
Guatemala is the place where dreams come true. This is especially true if you happen to love friendly people, cuddly Coati animals, and Mayan ruins that will knock your socks off!
A short border crossing report for those overlanders venturing away from the Pan-American highway. The crossing between Honduras and Guatemala at El Florido is fairly well-organized, and it has an actual concrete building to boot! Not many other travelers, just transport truck drivers vying for the attention of the Customs agents. Naturally, we got by using our apologetic Canadian nature and our elbows when needed.
We’re heading to Copán in northwest Honduras to see one of the great cities of Mayan civilization! History abounds in this area and as we roll through, the smooth Honduran roads are a treat for Bruno. The entire country is filled with lush, green mountains and the endless rolling hills consistently offer beautiful vistas.
How many ways do we love you, Honduras? And how many bleeping ways are there to translate the word “waterfall” in Spanish?? Cascada, salto de agua (literally a ‘water jump’), caída de agua (‘water drop’), or the jaw-dropping larger variety referred to as cataratas.
A new country! One we hadn’t spent any time in during our trip south, and one not as frequently traveled by overlanders who follow the PanAmerican Highway down from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina. The Las Manos border we used to cross into Honduras was tiny with only a handful of travelers, but hoards of transport trucks clogging the roadway. There were surprisingly low levels of bureaucracy; they were happy to admit us and we were happy to have arrived!
Ahh, border crossings. You can’t avoid them if you want to see a new country! In fact, they are part of the adventure. Sometimes a headache, but sometimes you come out with good stories. In this instance the annoyance was soothed with excellent Nicaraguan food waiting for us on the other side!
It’s time to hit the road and say farewell to Costa Rica, which has been our home for the past 6 months. Before leaving, we couldn’t miss out on the iconic volcano and lake of the same name: a visit to Arenal was the last bucket list item to cap off our time in the country!
The bikes and surfboards have been sold, and there’s less than one week left of our life in Costa Rica. Our northbound Central American trip is taking shape and has a destination: we’re headed to Travis’ home province of Nova Scotia, Canada! We’ll be on the road for about 3 months and covering over 6,000 miles (close to 10,000 kilometers). We’re hitting up some sights we saved especially for the return voyage: the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala, the mountainous National Parks in Honduras, and all the wonders of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It will also be our first time visiting such U.S. hot spots as Austin, New Orleans, and Nashville. We’re excited! Here’s the route for the next few months:
Hi everyone, Amanda and Travis here! We’re a young couple in our early thirties and we saved $1,000,000, quit our jobs, and began our journey of financial independence. We planned our first big adventure: driving from California to Costa Rica. We bought a used 2000 Toyota 4Runner and aptly named him Bruno. We fixed him up so that we could sleep in the back, then we hit the road to camp and travel our way through Central America!
Back in March, everything was coming together nicely: we had reached our financial goal of $1M, quit our jobs and cleared out our two-story rental home in Oakland using Craigslist. We had successfully purchased and fixed up Bruno – our used 2000 Toyota 4Runner, and we started driving down to Costa Rica from California. It’s now six months later and in this post I’ll answer such questions as: Have you run out of money yet? What do you do in Costa Rica? and Did Bruno break down and fail you yet?
The time has come! Bruno is to be freed from the chains of bondage. Well, that may be a little strong-worded. I’m pretty sure he just sat idly in a grass field during the bulk of Costa Rica’s rainy season. Could be worse.
What did it take to jail-break Bruno? A lot of patience, paperwork, and an entire day to waste away… at least, this was our experience. With these handy tips, we hope you can do it a lot faster!
While visiting New York City as tourists, we quickly began to appreciate just how huge the city is. So what is the best way to get around and see this amazing place?
The NYC subway is great and all, but with a $2.75 flat fee ride, it costs us $11 round trip anytime we want to go somewhere in the city. Travis thoroughly researched the Citi Bike program in NYC, as we’ve been seeing docking stations all over town. It turns out that at a cost of $10 p.p./day or $25 p.p./7 days, this absolutely saves us money and we also get a workout in between pizza slices!
Travis really liked the idea of taking the train to get from D.C. to New York City, but the reality is that it’s not cost effective. We scored two tickets on Boltbus that together cost $30, while Amtrak would have cost us $104. With this extra money saved, we’ll be able to eat as much 0.99¢ NYC pizza as we want!!