If you read part one of my 1-year recap of this Pan-American road trip adventure that I’m on, you will of course remember that we left off leaving Mexico just after New Years and heading in to Guatemala.
I spent a few weeks in San Pedro, Lake Atitlan Guatemala. I found an awesome hotel called Lolita Hotel. Lolita let me park and camp out in my Kombi in her yard. Met some awesome people while I was there and sold a lot of hippie pants.
I also did a hike up a Volcano.
After Lake Atitlan, I checked out Antigua for a few days and then headed on to El Salvador. El Salvador had some of the best surfing spots.
I bought my first machete and became a pro at splitting coconuts. Luckily I still have all 10 fingers! I also did my first Developing Nations Shoot of the trip.
After a couple awesome weeks of surfing in El Tunco and some other beaches in El Salvador, I headed further south to Honduras. Luckily I have a friend in Canada, Carlos, who was born in Honduras, so he connected me with his family there. I spent nearly three weeks with his family, getting a truly authentic Honduran experience. As I have said a million times, meeting, bonding and forming relationships with locals(click the link for my blog on “How to Meet Locals”), has always been the highlight of my travel experiences.
As I had almost completely sold out of the Alibaba style hippie pants I was selling, it was time to make a new batch. My Honduran family helped me to find Delcia, who gave me a hand making more harem style hippie pants to sell on my journey.
Upon leaving Honduras, I experienced my first time being accosted for a bribe, via the Honduran Border Control, who came up with some wild story as to why I needed to pay the $200 bribe they were looking for. Luckily I got it down to $20 and was able to cross the border. Read my post on how to escape paying bribes while on the road.
After Honduras came Nicaragua. And with Nicaragua came tons of great surf! Yayyyyyyyy!!! Unfortunately for you guys, I didn’t take too many photos or videos in Nicaragua. Nicaragua was also probably the country where I was accosted the most by Police trying to extort money from me via roadside stops. Luckily using my Steadfast Guide To Avoiding Police Bribes I didn’t pay a single one.
At this point I had started to pick up the pace with the goal of reaching Barranquilla, Colombia for the second biggest Carnaval celebration in the world! I still had Costa Rica and Panama to go before making the painstaking effort to ship my Kombi to Colombia from Panama.
In Costa Rica, I met two guys that were looking for a ride to the “Best Fest” music festival on the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica. In exchange for a ride to the festival the two were DJ’ing at, they gave me a free weekend pass! Score!
After the festival I gave the guys a ride all the way down to Panama City with me.
In Panama City I immediately began the process of filling out paperwork and finding a shipping company to ship my precious Hippie Van from Panama to Colombia on a container ship. As hundreds had found before me, it was a lot of mind numbing bureaucracy, paper work and very costly.
With all the shipping process taken care of, I got to meet up with my cousin and her friends, who flew in to Panama to run from one coast to the other. I joined for the final 15km.
I also had a chance to shoot some photos for the Developing Nations Project.
I flew to Cartagena to meet my Volkswagen bus in Colombia. Unfortunately one of the port workers (I think in Panama – Seaboard Shipping Company) rummaged through my stuff and took a few things they liked.
Lucky a small theft didn’t phase me, and I met up with my friend Vylan to Celebrate Carnaval in Barranquilla, Colombia.
After Carnaval I hung out in Santa Marta / the Magdalena province with some old friends (from past trips to Colombia) as well as some new ones. I also got a chance to volunteer teaching at-risk youth english for a day and of course took the opportunity to do my first Developing Nations Shoot in Colombia.
As you can see from the photos above, a local friend showed me an abandoned Colombian narco traffickers beach front mansion. I also got my first hair cut since 2011!
I had my first real security incident of the trip. While urban camping in downtown Santa Marta, I was awoken in the middle of the night due to the hippie van shaking. I could see through the curtains there was a young fellow trying to yank my emergency gas tanks off the roof rack. Unfortunately, they were locked to the roof rack. I didn’t care too much if the gas tanks were stolen, but I didn’t want the roof rack or hippie van to get broken in the process. 4AM Quick Thinking: I grabbed my machete lifted the curtain and tapped on the glass. This scared the shit out of the attempted burglar and he took off running. (Sorry, no pics or video)
From Santa Marta I eventually pried myself away from the irresistible atmosphere of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. I made my way south to Sincelejo, Colombia to visit the mother of my friend Karen(who was away working in the USA).
From there I went to Medellin, Colombia and crashed on my friend Aaron’s couch for nearly two months(I’is a bum isn’t I!?).
Half way through my stay in Medellin, I got a call from a client in Toronto who had a photography project for me. Luckily, it lined right up with both Mother’s Day and my Birthday. So with that I hopped on a jet plane and headed back to visit family and friends and shoot some photos. As most flights connect in Miami and it costs nothing more to do a stop over, I did a stop over in Miami to visit a couple friends.
After returning back to Medellin, I ended up getting robed at knife point for my phone on the street. I was surprisingly relaxed about it and got over the loss pretty quickly. After traveling further south a few weeks later, I arrived in Cali, Colombia.
I stayed at the Iguana Hostel my first couple weeks in Cali, Colombia. The universe conspired to bring me a new used surfboard. The manager at Iguana gifted me a surfboard with the condition that I do the same before leaving South America. Thanks dude! A few weeks later I was also gifted a new cell phone from a friend and fan of the Hippie Van Man adventure.
I ended up making a great group of friends in Cali, which is probably one of the reasons I stayed two and a half months! I also had a couple Ayahuasca ceremonies, celebrated Colombia’s great turn out in the World Cup, re-clear coated the hippie van, went camping and even danced a little salsa in the salsa capital of the World.
I did a few side trips out of Cali including a week long trip back up to Medellin to see the annual Feria de Las Flores festival.
After returning to Cali, I made my way South towards Ecuador, only to find out I had overstayed the maximum number of days permitted for tourists per year. I had to pay $100 bribe and use a little charm but with some luck I found myself in Ecuador.
That pretty much wraps up one year on the road. Of course I missed a ton of details, stories and adventures, but you can get a pretty good idea of how things went. Of course there were ups and downs, but what kind of adventure would it be without them?
I plan to do a follow up post, moving forward. This post will include more of my thoughts about the year that has passed and what is on the horizon for the Hippie Van Man in the months to come. Stay tuned.