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It’s a girl!

February 26, 2012

We are now the proud owners of a purple 1996 Brazilian-made Volkswagen Transporter 2 that we’ve named La Berenjenita, meaning “little eggplant” (her previous name was Doña Volks).

The vehicle transfer at the notary took a total of 30 minutes and was very quick and painless. However, figuring out what we needed to do in order to buy a car took a little legwork.

It’s not difficult to buy a car as a foreigner, but there isn’t much detailed information out there about how to do it. Basically, we just had to get a stamp in our passport from the immigration office, DIGEMIN, that gives us permission to sign contracts as tourists here in Peru. In my next post, I’ll go through the basic process of buying a car in Lima as a tourist.

We still have yet to drive the car outside of Lima, but driving in Lima is hairy enough. No one stops at street intersections if there are no traffic lights. It’s basically a constant game of chicken, where you just have to start inching forward and force the others at the inersection allow you to keep going.

Even before we actually got our van, we met some cool overlanders who were staying at our hostel, Hitchhikers Backpackers, which is the only hostel in Miraflores that has secure, gated parking for cars. All the folks travelling overland that we’ve met have been on the road for a long time; many of them for several years. Hearing their stories of adventure, the unbelievable places they’ve been, their lifestyles, and how they got here has been so incredibly inspiring. It’s honestly like having a whole new world of possibilities open up in front of your eyes.

One of the interesting things about taking this kind of extended trip is that you meet so many other travellers who are taking  a year or more off to travel. Back at home, in the time leading up to this journey, the idea can seem so crazy and at times difficult and  downright impossible. But once you’re on the road, you meet so many others doing the same thing and having arrived there by so many different methods, that you realize anything really is possible. Below are some stories to inspire and amaze you.

Above, from left to right are Dirk and Maria of 2 Nomads, Luis and Lacey of Lost World Expedition, us, Alice and doggie Kaos, Martin (his partner Martina took the picture) of Amerika En Kombi, and Alice’s partner Flo, and their visiting friend.

Dirk and Maria have been travelling in their Toyota Landcruiser with trailer and solar panels, for 7 years. They plan to keep travelling forever. The list of places through which they’ve driven is impressive, to say the least, and includes a recreational drive of the original Paris-Dakar Rally route.

Luis and Lacey started travelling 2 years and 9 months ago, in their Toyota Landcruiser with roof tent. They originally set out for one year on the road, but found that they enjoyed travelling more slowly than they expected. They’ve driven from northern California through Mexico and Central America, shipped their car from Panama to Colombia, and are making their way down to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Alice and Flo, and their dog Kaos, have been driving for 2 years in their RV that they bought in California for a song. The RV is old, though, and requires a lot of upkeep. When we met them, they had to crawl under the RV and fiddle with the starter motor every time they wanted to start it up. How did they ever figure out by themselves which doodad to fiddle with to get it to start? This baffled me. They both make a mean Pisco Sour.

Martin (bright green t-shirt) and Martina (light blue tank top) have been travelling Central and South America for 3 years in their little red kombi, on a route from Argentina to Mexico and back. They are two schoolteachers who left home with $600, and have been making beautiful jewellery, cool t-shirts and tank tops, and postcards that they sell along the way to fund their travels. They are the ultimate personification of “if there’s a will, there’s a way”. Not only are Martin and Martina wonderfully open, friendly and creative, but they’re generous with their time, too: they’ve been stopping at schools in small towns along the way with their van full of children’s books, and organizing activities in classrooms to get kids interested in reading.  They’re a few months away from reaching home again, and are already contemplating where to go next — Africa maybe?

We’ve also been inaugurated into the community of Volkswagen kombi and Westfalia fans. The week before we purchased La Berenjenita, we were walking around Miraflores and spotted a guy inside his Westfalia camper van. We walked over to talk to him, and ended up making a great new friend. Miguel is part of the Lima Westfalia and Kombi Club, and he introduced us to one of his friends and fellow club members who is a mechanic and knows kombis well. His friend checked La Berenjenita out for us before we bought her. Miguel has been instrumental in helping us locate all the little stores and workshops here in Lima with things we’ve needed to get our van ready for the long drive ahead.

Of course, one of the most important things was a bed long enough for Michael’s legs. We designed and built a storage box to place under our custom-ordered foam mattress, with a door that props up to serve as an extension for the bed.

Two nights ago, we had the honor of attending a meeting of the Westfalia and Kombi Club with Miguel. It was our first time at a car club meetup. We drove La Berenjenita over to the parking lot that serves as the clubhouse, and were delighted to find not only beautiful, mint-condition, fully restored Westfalias, but also other VW clubs having their meetups, with gorgeous antique and souped-up Volkswagens. It was a super fun night.

We didn’t start this trip with any notion of buying a car, but somehow La Berenjenita worked her way into our life, and we’re happy and excited to start this new chapter of surf travel. We’ve been surfing every morning, and then we get down to kitting out the van every afternoon. As soon as we finish building it out and we get our tarjeta de propriedad, we’ll be heading south to surf the coast all the way down to middle Chile, and then hopefully meeting up with some friends to surf in Pichilemu.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2012 6:38 pm

    so cool!!!
    nice post!

  2. February 29, 2012 4:58 pm

    We managed to get home again with 25 hours flight. Little jet lagged, but everything went OK.

    Sweden isn’t that cold as I thought (around 10 plus celsius), so I am quite happy 🙂

    Love your post and I am definitely going to follow this blog. Good luck with your continued journey!

    Kind regards
    The swedes Alexander & Sara

    • February 29, 2012 9:22 pm

      Glad to hear you guys got home OK. It was so nice to meet both of you. Have fun back in Sweden! It’ll be nice to hear from you again if you do follow the blog.

      Delphine and Michael

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