Day 1: Merida to Puebla (Merida to Campeche)
We made good time from Merida to Campeche, despite the rainy weather, and experienced no car issues whatsoever. A lovely relief as every trip up until now has been plagued with disaster after disaster. We checked into our hostel, toured the town, had lunch and enjoyed some down time. In the evening we took a night tram tour before having a late dinner.
Day 2: Merida to Puebla (Campeche)
Today we spent a fun day exploring the city. We visited the local market and toured part of the wall learning more about the pirate rich history of this fascinating city. We had an enjoyable lunch outdoors and wandered to the square in the evening to view the light and sound show.
Day 3: Merida to Puebla (Campeche to Escarcega)
We enjoyed the waterside scenery and after hitting Champoton, headed inland to Escarcega. So great to be able to see the diversity of the Mexican countryside after staying so long in the Yucatan. Can't wait to see more of it.
Day 4: Merida to Puebla (Escarcega to Palenque)
From Campeche to Tabasco to Chiapas - today we drove cross country from Escarcega to Palenque. We enjoyed dinner al fresco in a small cafe style restaurant. Looking forward to bed tonight in lieu of our BIG day tomorrow.
Day 5: Merida to Puebla (Palenque)
Today we explored the Palenque ruins and the eco parque to feed the manatees - what a busy day!
Day 6: Merida to Puebla (Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas)
We experienced some mechanical difficulties today but eventually arrived in San Cristobal in the late evening. Poor Matthew felt a little car sick today on the windy roads.
Day 7: Merida to Puebla (San Cristobal de las Casas)
We decided we would stay in San Cristobal de las Casas to rest the vehicle and give us a chance to explore the city.
Day 8: Merida to Puebla (San Cristobal de las Casas to San Pedro Tapanatepec)
Not a good sign when the van won't start in the morning. However 3 hours and $20 later, we were on the road again. We crossed into Oaxaca and stopped at San Pedro Tapanatepec for the evening.
Day 9: Merida to Puebla (San Pedro Tapanatepec to Santa Domingo Tehuantepec)
We drove through an extremely windy patch of land in Oaxaca state today - perfect weather conditions for the 1500+ wind turbines located there.
Day 10: Merida to Puebla (Santa Domingo Tehuantepec to Oaxaca)
Despite the vehicle troubles and the fact it took 12 hours to travel approximately 240kms, I was reminded today why we do what we do. We were faced again with the kindness of strangers - kindness that comes simply from someone wanting to do something to help someone else. Matt even had a ride in a digger to the next town in search of a mechanic. Thank you Heleodora for escorting us all the way to Oaxaca.
Day 11: Merida to Puebla (Oaxaca)
Matt went in search of a fuel pump for the van and we took a wander downtown to explore Oaxaca.
Day 12: Merida to Puebla (Oaxaca to Tehuacan)
While the van was still showing signs of trouble, we made it to Tehuacan without issue. As we made it to good timing, we had a chance to pick up some necessities at the nearby mall and even grab a movie.
Day 13: Merida to Puebla (Tehuacan to Puebla)
We arrived at our destination city safe and sound - the toll roads meant our journey was relatively smooth. We checked into a hotel and have booked ourselves into an apartment for the next few weeks starting tomorrow. Thanks for following along on our journey.
Leaving Puerto Cayo, we had a rough plan. We would drive to Quito and visit with another world schooling family for a few days while we regrouped and then head to Pereira in Colombia for our next Workaway. So that's what we did.
After a celebratory pizza and drink or two at Bamboo in Puerto Cayo, a beautiful sunset and a crazy caterpillar train ride, we set off bright and early to see what Quito had in store for us.
Day 1: Puerto Cayo, Ecuador to Quito, Ecuador
We enjoyed a leisurely drive to Quito, however encountered some difficulty with our vehicle. She decided that she was not liking any hills today and we took it very slowly, at some points not getting over 20km per hour. At our final destination we struggled with the hill to park our van but after a bit of a rest, she got us there in the end. We had the great pleasure of meeting up with Jessica, Will, Avalar and Largo from Goodie Goodie Gumdrop, fellow travellers and world schoolers.
Day 2: Quito, Ecuador
We left Emilia to get creative with Avalon while Matt, Matthew and I headed into Quito to see what we could find. Purchasing a couple of pairs of shoes were high on the list as Matthew's feet had grown since our last shop as was a haircut for Matt. We explored the old city and enjoyed a snack or two in the process.
Day 3: Quito, Ecuador
Did someone say bagels? We enjoyed an early breakfast of bagels (we had actually not eaten a bagel in over two years) and coffee and hung out with Jessica and Avalar to give Emilia and Avalar more time to work on their video. A beautiful day to sit and relax in the park.
Day 4: Quito, Ecuador to Pasto, Colombia
After some more bagels (how could we resist?), we visited the centre of the Earth and tried to make a smooth getaway from Quito. However it wasn't quite as simple as that. We made the executive decision to continue on with our journey despite the fact hills were a struggle. We made it to the border, waited approximately 5 hours to cross, got held up in traffic for an hour on the way to Pasto and finally collapsed in a heap at our hostel in the late evening. Better late than never, right?
Day 5: Pasto, Colombia to Popayan, Colombia
With a definite high soldier presence, we drove through the beautiful countryside of Colombia. Yes we broke down but we took it slow and steady so we did not do any long term damage to the van. She did us proud arriving in Popayan in the early afternoon. We enjoyed a lovely Mexican meal before retiring for the evening.
Day 6: Popayan, Colombia to Pereira, Colombia
Well what a day! The drive was beautiful, the scenery picturesque and we took it slow to give the van a rest. What we weren't prepared for however was the size of the hills in Pereira. It was easy to get in but not so easy to get out. The kindness of strangers really made itself known as strangers tried to help us out of the city to our end destination. While we didn't quite make it, some locals let us park our van in their driveway until we came up with a plan.
Day 7: Pereira, Colombia
We woke up to the beauty of the Colombia coffee district and took the time to settle into our new surroundings. For the next month we call Anukara home as we help owners Ivan and Angela and their two young boys, Manu and Gio, create their dream of an eco permaculture hostel and yoga retreat. And of course we will look to find a mechanic in the city and see if we can get the van repaired before we drive to La Pacha in mid-February.
Day 1: Peru to Ecuador (Arequipa to Chala)
We set off early and were very excited when we spied the ocean. The kids were happy to camp at Puerto Inka once again. It was nice to fall asleep to the sound of the waves lapping right at our doorstep!
Day 2: Peru to Ecuador (Chala to Ica)
We set off relatively early but were held up for 5 hours by a car race. On the way through, the kids picked up their souvenir bracelets in Nazca; we stopped for olives in Yauca and arrived in Ica on dusk.
Day 3: Peru to Ecuador (Ica to Huarmey)
Stopped early on by a policeman wanting to take a bribe for incomplete paperwork - so what did we do? We made sure our paperwork was up to date in Chincha and bought some wine while we were there. Drove through Lima and stopped by another two policeman late in the evening near Huaco for a totally unrelated issue - $122 in bribes paid altogether at their request. Arrived in Huarmey about 11.30pm.
Day 4: Peru to Ecuador (Huarmey to Trujillo)
A slightly later start today as we felt a bit tired from our late night of travel. While we did get stuck in the sand at one point, a kind stranger pulled us out preventing us from running behind schedule. We got our photo taken with a large turtle, went through many toll booths on the road and finally checked into our hostel in Trujillo in the early evening. Went for a late night wander around the Plaza de Armas after dinner.
Day 5: Peru to Ecuador (Trujillo)
A work day for me but we managed to get to the Plaza de Armas, visit the toy museum, go out for coffee and hit the mall for a spot of window shopping. Tomorrow we are back on the road...
Day 6: Peru to Ecuador (Trujillo to Chiclayo)
A shorter travel day today (approximately 200km) - we arrived at the hotel just after lunch so the kids could enjoy a swim in the pool.
Day 7: Peru to Ecuador (Chiclayo to Mancora)
We did the dusty drive across the desert from Chiclayo to Mancora. No police fines or bribes; try as they might. We have definitely seen a variety of scenery on our cross-country trip. Ecuador is in our view...
Day 8: Peru to Ecuador (Mancora to La Cruz)
Today was not so much a driving day but a day to search for cheap accommodation for the next couple of days while we regrouped; we found it just past Zorritos in a little campground by the beach. The cost: $10 per night with free internet. The day started in Mancora by the beach and a surfing competition and ended up in La Cruz by the beach. A perfect day all in all!
Day 9: Peru to Ecuador (La Cruz to Tumbes)
We drove to Tumbes in search of a grocery store or at least something resembling it. We found a small market which did the trick and picked up some supplies. A quiet day hanging out in the campground enjoying the sound of the waves ever constant in the background.
Day 10: Peru to Ecuador (La Cruz to Ecuador Border)
We drove to the Ecuador border in the morning to familiarise ourselves with the departure process. Our exit date is set for Wednesday so two more days to hang out and relax. We picked up some more supplies in Tumbes to last us the next couple of days and enjoyed some time at the beach this afternoon. Saw some fellow travellers on the road who had made it all the way from Canada to Peru - our journey in reverse.
Day 11: Peru to Ecuador (La Cruz)
A beautiful day at the campground by the beach. Matt has taken the kids to the beach to play while I do some work. These early campground mornings mean that come 10pm my brain wants to shut down and sleep.
Day 12: Peru to Ecuador (La Cruz, Peru to Guayaquil, Ecuador)
Tonight we are reporting from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Yes, you heard me right! We crossed safe and sound and will be heading to Puerto Cayo tomorrow.
Day 13: Peru to Ecuador (Guayaquil, Ecuador to Puerto Cayo, Ecuador)
We have arrived at our end destination in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador where we will be staying until January. Unfortunately we broke down a few kms away from our destination but found a friendly local to tow us there. We had a few non-driving days of course but what an adventure it has been.
Heading out on the road this summer or even some beautiful season changing travelling in the fall, and have little ones you're bringing along? Here are 10 tips for a successful road trip.
I can't emphasize this enough! It does not matter if everyone had three full plates at the hotel buffet breakfast, 20 minutes down the road someone will be asking for snacks. Granola bars, cheese sticks, raisins/nuts/seeds, and fruit or raw veggies make for quick and easy snacks while travelling. Fill up water bottles before you're out on the road too to save from buying overpriced roadside bottled water.
2. Coloring books/crayons/workbooks/puzzle books
I had a backpack for each child in front of them so they could get out what they needed, and they kept the pencil case between them so they could share.
3. Kid friendly music
We hit up the library before we left and borrowed a handful of CDs including some children pop mixes, classic children's songs and lullaby CDs for nap time travelling. If you have them on your phone or tablet, that will also work great.
4. iPads/tablets/portable DVD players/other media
We made a deal the day of leaving to leave the tablets at home and bring portable DVD players for the car and hotel. We brought a few favorites and a few new ones they never knew about and it would guarantee an hour of good behavior. We had kid safe earphones so they could watch their own movie choice, or turn it down low and sit it between them if they wanted to watch the same one.
5. Car games
The only ones our kids know so far are I Spy and the Silent Game (ok, that one was more for mommy and daddy's benefit) but it kept them entertained for periods of time. If your kids are a little older, Animal, Vegetable or Mineral (20 questions), License Plate Game or Telling a Story, Word by Word are great for keeping them occupied.
6. Favorite small toys from home
My girls are big into Polly Pocket dolls, so I filled up a resealable freezer bag with dolls and accessories. It would work with small cars, action figures, small puzzles or games.
7. New small toys/items
When you have left the last rest stop before your final destination of the day, and the kids and begging for supper (even though they have been eating every 30 minutes), now is the time to pull out something new. I packed a couple new coloring books, board books, DVDs, and a few new small sensory stimulating toys. You don't need to spend much, but a small initial investment can make for some calm road tripping.
8. Plan your day on the road
Make sure everyone has a good breakfast, it will help get the day started right. You'll need to plan for lots of bathroom breaks and feeding stops if you have little ones or you breastfeed. Also figure out when the best time would be for a run around activity. Sometimes right after breakfast is the best time to go to an attraction before leaving town, able to get in early before the crowds, get out before lunch time, and if all goes right, kiddos will be ready for a nap after a snack. Or head out on the road right after breakfast and use your lunchtime stop as your additional activity for the day. Find a cool playground, go for a short hike, or check out a quaint little town to get the kids out of the car and moving for a bit.
9. Roadside rest stops
Most roadside stops are commercial gas stations and restaurants, but if you don't need to fill up be on the look out for a rest stop with a green space. We found lots of nice ones in Quebec, with green space to run around and play tag, tables to have a quick picnic, and some have small playground areas.
10. Relax and take a deep breath
Yes, there will be some arguments, you might take a few wrong turns, you might of booked a hotel for the wrong weekend (yes I did that) but in the end you will see and experience lots of cool stuff beautiful scenery. So take it all in and watch your children's wide eyes and excited expressions when you go over a large bridge or down into a scenic valley. They love all the little things along the way like horses in a field or a large roadside attraction.
Amber Davies is an introverted, work at home, homeschooling mama of two amazing, highly spirited girls. Join her on Pitter Patter and Constant Chatter while they learn, explore, travel, and even struggle on their exciting journey.
To go from a 10 bedroom B&B to a van travelling across the Americas didn't seem right - so we set a plan in motion a few months back to try to downscale and prepare in a so-called transition phase. This phase has us today huddled together in a one bedroom apartment playing musical beds and trying to work out where everyone fits the best. And so far it is working well.
The relocation saw us discard a lot of stuff we had and enabled me to sort through and donate a couple of bags to charity. That helped a lot, although the move itself highlighted the fact that we still have too much stuff and will have to pare down considerably before we leave in March.
We came to Cusco 16 months ago with 4 suitcases and one small bag each (and a laptop) - now we have considerably more and an extra laptop to boot. I wonder how we will go trying to get it down to 2 suitcases and one small bag each (the two laptops will of course continue on the journey provided they last the distance).
So at this stage, all I can say is so far so good. Maybe the two kids will have a huge growth spurt over the next couple of months saving me the hassle of working out what stays and what goes.
A book in the making