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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
1,631 days a wanderin'

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Eighteen Month Status Report

Nov 2, 2016
by Mandi

As we complete our eighteenth month of traveling, we initiate reflection... a prescribed evaluation of where we have been, where we are going, and how our traverses have influenced us. I continue to be astonished by the journey we are on, both by the physical wonders of the world and by the capability of humans to affect change within ourselves and on our environment. It truly is amazing.

Somehow, shit be looking bigger

Somehow, shit be looking bigger

Some Basic Stats

Total Miles Driven: 27,988

Gallons of Diesel: 1,870

Average MPG: 14.96

Best MPG: 18.22

Worst MPG: 11.85

Average Cost Per Gallon of Diesel: $3.22

# Nights Spent in the Van: 389 (71%)

# Nights Spent Elsewhere: 161 (8 afloat, 11 house sitting, 54 mooching off of friends and family, 88 in a hotel/apartment/rental home)

What We've Learned

Breaks Are Necessary

When we talked to Josh & Jenna about Spanish school, Josh said that one of the most important things we should know when attending class is to tell our teacher we need a 'pausa'. How right he was. The fast pace of trying to continuously cram new info into our brains is exhausting, and I'm not just talking about language school. We spend many hours researching, planning, and driving, in addition to coordinating required mundane tasks made onerous by attempting to translate back and forth between English and Spanish.

Prior to embarking on our journey, we were told by former PanAmers that we would likely need to take some breaks. I thank my lucky stars I married a type A planner and contingency foreseer as I sit at Pasaj Cap overlooking the lake. Never one to scoff at the knowledge of experienced travelers, John took that advice to the table and increased our savings goals to cover the cost of periodic breaks from traveling. Pulling out of the van, reacquainting ourselves with the ease of living in a traditional dwelling, freshens our perspective on traveling and the virtues to be gained while on the road.

Backward is also Forward

I can't tell you how many times we've boggled the minds of other overlanders by telling them we were going to turn around and drive forward, i.e., back in the direction we had previously come from. For many, this is unfathomable, but we long ago relaxed our idea of 'forward' to include motion in any direction, sometimes even what others would call 'back'. In doing so, we have fostered a new level of freedom in our traveling, the freedom to temporarily skip past certain locations in order to maximize our time with friends, to adjust for fluctuating weather conditions, or to accommodate delays or needs unforeseen. 

In response to those who say you can’t go back; what happens when you get to the cliff, and you take one step forward, or you do a 180° turn and take one step forward? Which way are you going? Which is progress? –Doug Tompkins

Savor Each Moment, Don't Overlook the Roses (or Tacos)

Implicit when embarking on a Pan-American journey is the goal of one day reaching the southern tip of Argentina. We have been complicit in allowing the misconception of the importance of that implicit goal. While we regularly explain our trip as driving the Pan-American Highway and avidly plan to reach Tierra del Fuego, this passage is a means to an end, a stopover in a fragment of our life journey. The truth is that we don't concentrate on attaining an endpoint, but rather focus on the moments that make up each day. We hope that this segment of our lives will cultivate our understanding and acceptance of life, people, and ultimately, ourselves. In the last eighteen months, we have learned to recognize and grab hold of a good thing when we see it, to acknowledge and accept the fleeting nature of opportunities, and do our best not to let them pass us by.


Say what? (4)
Nov 3, 2016 at 11:01 AM
So well said, Mandi. Of course, you well know we are on a similar path as yours... not so much to "drive to Patagonia" but to change up our life to one of our own creation, rather than the 9-5 path where so much was controlled by outside forces. BTW, love that quote by Doug Tompkins... the documentary 180 Degrees had far reaching effects on our psyche and we're sad he passed before we could meet him down south.
Nov 5, 2016 at 09:57 AM
Thanks Rhonda! We too have been saddened by Doug's passing, we can all learn so much from his path, it would have been great to meet him. Hopefully, we'll get to experience the wisdom of Yvonne instead.
Nov 14, 2016 at 11:28 AM
Thanks for this. I look forward to when I can put some of this insight to good use. Being locked down to a 9-5 I've never had more than 2 weeks to travel... so it's always "get from point A to point B as quickly as possible'. Sarah and I look forward to hitting the same trail you're on :)
Nov 14, 2016 at 02:59 PM
No problem Ryan. We too never took more time off than a couple weeks before setting off on our journey. Our perspective has definitely changed ; )
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