Mechanical and Existential Crisis In Mexico City.

So we made it to Mexico City after half a year of journeying from Tofino down the West Coast. It seems there is where our luck decided to run out.

I’m not usually one to ask for help, but I’ll warn you now that by the time this post is over, I will be asking for your help.
Upon entering the city we headed straight to the mechanic to check on some issues Big Blu was having. First order of business was getting the gas tank down to solder the parts that leaked and made it impossible for us to fill up more than 3/4 tank. While this wasn’t as big an issue at sea level, the altitude burned a lot of gas, and 3/4 tank didn’t get us very far.

The tank emptied, dried, soldered, and placed back in its proper home by end of day, we headed back to our AirBnB pad for a night’s rest before proceeding with the troubleshooting of the mysterious starting issues we had now run into twice.

The sun is setting, it’s rush hour, the mechanic’s shop is closed, my phone’s wonky international service isn’t working, we’re on one of the DF’s busiest inner-city thoroughfares, “el periferico,” going uphill around a bend. Big Blu decides this is where she’d like to buck, lose power, and eventually stall.

This is NOT good. I’m ashamed to say I lost my shit right then and there. I had no idea how we were going to make it out of this situation. The darkening sky would make it harder for the traffic to see us, for us to see anything at all. My phone wasn’t getting through to any number and anyway the only person I had to call was our AirBnB host. We had no idea what was wrong with the car and I didn’t feel comfortable getting out of it anyway for fear an inattentive driver would hit me going uphill. I panicked.

Gabriel kept his shit together quite nicely however and sent me to have a breath and calm down while waving a rag a few yards down the way to make sure no one hit us. Meanwhile he proceeded to fiddle with this and that hoping something would work. After a bit, a good samaritan stopped and helped him out, and together they thought that they had fixed the issue by tightening the spark plugs.

Big Blu drove another 15 minutes before she started bucking again, with almost no power uphill. It seemed the more gas we gave her the less she moved. My panic set in again while we desperately hoped for an exit, fighting against the imminent nightfall and hoping there were no more hills up ahead.

Finally we find an exit. A quick look at our surroundings led us both to decide within a fraction of a second that it would be better we didn’t take it. Another grueling 15 minutes of hiccupy driving allowed us another exit, this time marginally better, but we had no choice, we had to take it, Big Blu wasn’t going to make it much further. With luck, a gas station lay a couple miles from the exit, and downhill. Good thing because Big Blu had stalled completely. She made it the last few yards on gravity alone.

We found ourselves at a busy gas station in a shady part of town, with a van that mysteriously refused to go and not enough knowledge to troubleshoot. It was now dark.

Thankfully I had managed to get a text message conversation going with our AirBnB host and that made me feel a bit better. At a loss as to what to do next we asked the pump attendant if there was a mechanic he knew of. He advised us to call our insurance company.

GENIUS! Why didn’t I think of that, of course we had insurance! Now if only we had a phone.

The pay phone across the street allowed us to make the call and the insurance company assured us a tow truck was on the way, to sit tight. And sit tight we did, for three hours. At one o’clock in the morning, after an interesting night-time tour of the city via tow truck, a very tired Gabriel, Phi, and I, set up camp outside the mecanich shop, glad to have gotten out of a sticky situation unscathed.

The next day we tell our tale to the shop owner who proceeds to check our fuel pump and decide it’s the root of our problem. By the end of day we had changed it and test driven the car, everything seemed fine. We set up camp again thinking we’d be ready explore the city the next day. The events of the night before now seemed like a distant story we’d tell our kids one day and laugh. No biggy.

The next morning we turn the key and….. Nothing. Big Blu won’t start. :(

Maybe the fuel filter. By end of day we think the problem is resolved. The next morning, the car won’t start.

Maybe something’s obstructing the gas flow in the tank of the lines pre-pump. We resolve the issue, the next day the car won’t start.

Like a bad remake of Groundhog Day, for the next month, every day unfolded the same way. We thought we found the issue, we worked on fixing it, we tested the car, the next day, it wouldn’t start. Sometimes it would start but the pump would be cavitating, or the fuel pressure be crazy hectic, or it would drive fine for 30-40 minutes and then just quit.

Every day was a day closer to our visas and temporary import permit running out. The clock was ticking.

One evening she stalled out and refused to start at “reforma” and “Mississippi” one of the city’s busiest roundabout intersections, in a business district, where, waiting for the mechanic to come save us, we witnessed, amidst the constant merry-go-round of traffic, a guy in a bike get hit by a car and be taken away by ambulance.

Everyday we woke up thinking today was the day and patiently proceeded to look at this as a free crash-course in mechanics, and everyday our efforts fell short of doing anything at all.

To say Phi was starting to get real bored would be an understatement, but we did our best to entertain him, taking turns taking him on long walks and play sessions at the nearest park.

We became very familiar with the Tlalpan borough, in the south of the city, which was completely devoid of anything tourist related. We met a great couple and their lovely coffee shop. They were expecting a baby and we kept joking that he/she would be born before we made it out of Tlalpan. Indeed, they ended up having a beautiful baby boy just days before we left town.

Every Monday a market set up at the intersection where we camped. We saw no less than four markets be set up and broken down.

Eventually, our mechanics, who had resorted to very graciously not charging us a single cent for labour, feeling bad that they couldn’t get down to the root of the problem, gave up. They had tried everything they knew.

Luckily, Gabriel had met a lovely gentleman who owned a car parts business and knew of two guys who were experts with vanagons. He sent them over and we thought we’d be done that day. They got the car going and we drove it up to their shop in a borough 45 minutes north.

It wasn’t the kind of place we thought we could spent the night, so after each session, we made the commute back to Tlalpan. Somewhere along the drive, every time, sooner or later, Big Blu would fail.

We did the commute back and forth for about a week, everyday thinking the next day would be the last.

As it became more and more evident that the issue was intermittent, it became more and more undeniable that the root of the problem was electrical. Besides, at this point we had changed everything. The pump, the fuel filter, cleaned the injectors, changed the spark plugs, tuned the AFM and the timing, changed the fuel pump relay, changed all the lines of the whole fuel injection system, changed the distributor for a new electric one, etc…. There was nothing left in the fuel injection system to change. It had to be electric.

Ugh, what a mess. I’d seen the nest of wires under the dash, I wasn’t ready to start taking it apart and troubleshooting in there.

It’s at about this point that, randomly, one evening, after having been in the van all day trying to pass the endless hours between our play sessions by catching some zzz’s, Phi and Gabriel went for a walk while I tried to get some blog work done.

Twenty minutes later I get a panicked phone call. It’s Gabriel. He’s at the vet. Phi’s not doing good. I need to go there now.

“What? But he was just fine twenty minutes ago.” “He’s not doing good Jade, he might not make it.”

I pack everything up immediately and I run to the vet just a couple blocks away where I find Gabriel and his red eyes staring at me desperately. He’s still catching his breath as he tells me “He was just playing with me and then randomly sat down and cocked his head and started convulsing. I ran him here as fast as I could. They’re checking up on him. I didn’t run fast enough, he was vomiting blood”

“Wait slow down, what’s going on? Is he alive, did he get hit by a car? What do you mean he just started convulsing. It’s not your fault baby, everything’s going to be ok. ”

The vets thought maybe something was obstructing his digestive track. It wasn’t for sure, but what was for sure was that he was in a state of shock and wasn’t going to last long if we didn’t get to the root of the issue fast. Despite the risks of the anesthesia, we opted to open him up and left our hopes in the unfortunate probability that he had swallowed something that the surgery could remove, and that he would wake up from the surgery.

We stared at his little face in the oxygen cone on the operating table just before they put him under. He seemed so happy to see us there. I’ll never forget his big eyes looking up at us in confused bewilderment and the love that transpired in that moment between the three of us.

As it turns out there was nothing in his system, but he was bleeding out internally. Symptoms seemed to fit a physical trauma or a rat poison. Both were completely improbable. He had been under our supervision all day. And the day before, and the one before that, for the three infernal weeks we had spent so far in this god-forsaken town. Maybe it was the vaccine we had given him the day before. They assured us it wasn’t.

We would have to hope he would make it through the night to do lab tests in the morning. Gabriel and I waited outside in the van, sending him as many positive vibes as we could, until we fell asleep from exhaustion. I was sure he would be alright. It just didn’t make any sense for him to drop dead out of the blue.

At two o’clock in the morning, the night shift vet rapped on our van window. Phi had moved on to another place.


I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense! He was just playing. He’s gonna be fine.

But his little body was most definitely in that awful state between life and rigor mortis in the sterile metal kennel. His body still warm from the automatic processes that had not yet understood they would soon be shut off permanently from lack of direction from whatever that thing is that keeps our gears churning.

We asked he be cremated so we could take his ashes back to the beach.

The next day we attacked the electrical system with new found ardor to get the F out of the city. We found a few false contacts and some shady wiring and by the end of day it seemed we’d resolved the issue.

We headed back through our now-very-familiar commute from the Chabacana metro area to Tlalpan down the Viaducto and made it 85% of the way before the RPMs started doing their crazy drop on the tach and the engine started bucking. I, behind the wheel, lost my shit completely.

Up until now we had taken our roadblock mostly in stride. Sure we’d had a few desperately bad days and I’d thrown a few tantrums, but at the end of it all, the whole trip had been worth all the trouble because we’d found this wonderful companion who woke us up every morning with an overly abundant lust for life. Now we were still stuck in the same god-damn borough, stuck in the same god-damn commute, the god-damn traffic seemed to get worst every time we drove it, we were now a god-damn month into this mess and we weren’t one god-damn step closer to solving the problem, and on top of it all, the dog was dead.

I did my best to make it the last few miles through my sadness, frustration, anger, sobs, eye-waterfalls, and Big Blu’s hiccups. When we reached our “home” in front of the Tlalpan mechanic’s I broke down completely.

I wanted to sell the van and go home. I was done, exhausted, tired, finished. However, selling a van that doesn’t go usually doesn’t make you much cash, and even less in a country where it’s illegal to sell your vehicle. I was exhausted, yes, but not ready to swallow our losses. I felt out of options, claustrophobic. A panic attack set in.

Gabriel and I made the decision together to keep trying to get it working. If we could just get it back to the coast, the ocean would wash away our woes.

It took us three more days. The first, to go release some pent up energy at the amusement park, the other two to troubleshoot. We had exhausted our options under the parts of the dash with the instruments which was rather simple to disassemble and were about to try our luck at taking off the whole dash to see what we’d find. At this point we’d given up on the help and were doing everything ourselves. All the screws were out when I looked at the keys in the ignition and said to Gabriel, “wait, let’s hotwire the car and see what happens” “why?” “Because it’s easier to change the ignition switch than take off the dash, so we should rule that out first.”

A quick YouTube video and two paper clips later and I can confidently say that I can now steal Vanagon without a problem. (Yes that makes me nervous about mine)

More importantly, the engine cranked, then started, and all our symptoms disappeared. The fuel pump made no sound. The RPM needle was no longer dancing on the tach as if it were conducting a dubstep orchestra, the engine didn’t buck, or fail.

I wasn’t sure weather to laugh or cry, so I did both. Out of relief, out of frustration, out of finally being finished, out of it having taken so long and cost so much for a $6 part, out of the prospect of leaving the city, out of the prospect of leaving the city with Phi in an urn, I laughed, and I cried.

After a pizza party and final goodbyes at the shop that had welcomed us like family, free of charge, for a month, through our entire emotional turmoil and given us a bathroom, a shower, and friendship & support, after final goodbyes with the new elated and nervous family that ran the coffee shop and also welcomed us like family and blessed us with their friendship, we set off for the coast.

Destination: Puerto Escondido.

We had spent a lot on the month of repairs and so Gabriel had taken on a contract job in the states to go refuel the bank account. First he would drive me to Puerto and make sure I got there safe and settled. There I would wait for him to return and we would drive out of the country together before my visa and the van’s temporary import permit ran out. At least that was the plan.

We took the Acapulco road because it avoided the mountains. The first night on some remote beach, we said our final goodbyes to Phi as we lay his ashes on the sand and sat in silent tears as a candle burned out.

After two days of driving, we arrived in Puerto one unbearably balmy late afternoon, exhausted. Completely fried on all levels. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent.

We didn’t take the precautions we normally do. We’d heard Puerto was a sweet and safe surf spot and so we rolled up to the beach at La Punta and set up camp, then went to sleep. We didn’t put everything away like we normally do. It was stupid hot so we left one of the back windows cracked open to let in some air so we could breathe.

When I woke up with my alarm at 5:30, something wasn’t right. I didn’t remember leaving the blind pushed back or the screen open. Maybe Gabriel had gotten up in the night to let in more air.

“Baby, did you open the screen?” I asked as I realized the window was open on the other side as well, and that screen open.

“No” he said as I scanned the premises for all of our belongings. Everything was right where I’d left it and for a second I assumed he’d done it in his sleep and didn’t realize. It wouldn’t have been the strangest thing he’d done in his sleep. With that thought I reached for the computer where I had stashed it, but didn’t make the contact I expected. Nothing was there.

I looked around again. Nothing else was missing. Besides, for someone to get it, they would have had to come into the van while we were sleeping and know exactly where it had been put. Maybe I had put it somewhere else in my exhaustion. In the dark I searched for it. Coming up short, I turned on the lights and repeated to Gabriel more insistently, “you’re sure you didn’t open the windows?”

“Yes?” he said, and with renewed interest popped his head from the top bunk to see what I was going on about. His eyes met my bewildered gaze. “I can’t find the laptop”

“I left it right here, under the blanket, nothing else is missing. My wallet was closer, the hard drive is still here, someone would have had to have slipped in and taken it while we were sleeping, but left everything else. It doesn’t make sense. But this is where I left it. I can’t find it anywhere.”

The fact that one of our screens was nowhere to be found after doing a check around and inside the van confirmed that, indeed, someone must have come into the van and taken our laptop while we slept. We didn’t wake up, fortunately or not, I don’t know. And why would they take the screen? Wtf?

On the bright side, they’d left everything else.

Our reflex was to go to the police, but they were closed. We came back to town and stole some wifi on the iPad to immediately change all of our passwords and turn on the “find my phone” feature on. It came up dry. Jade’s MacBook Air is not online.

That day we hit up all the pawn shops with our number telling them we’d buy our laptop back if it made its way into their hands, with a finder’s fee, of course. It would prove to be in vain.

At first I was surprisingly calm about it. Almost numb really. I mean, what was a computer after losing my puppy. My puppy!

Oh no!

Gabriel stared at me in pure confusion as I sobbed and balled uncontrollably across from him at the cafe table, unable to catch my breath long enough to explain to him why I was so upset.

Between sobs I managed to clear things up: “pictures” “Phi” “gone” sob

I had lost him all over again. Him and every other picture we’d taken in Mexico.


You gotta know when to give up. This trip had had its ups and downs, but this was the breaking point. My emotional gage was running on fumes and with two days before having to put Gabriel on a plane for his work trip, I had no intention of staying in Puerto alone, or any desire to continue with our trip. Chile could suck it. I wanted my mom.

“We’re selling it.” I said as I pulled up Kayak on the iPad to search for tickets “home,” whatever the heck that meant.

“I wanna go home”

“Are you sure?” Gabriel asked tenderly, wanting nothing more than for me to be happy.

“God I love him. At least I still have him” I thought. He knew how much this meant to me. We had had this conversation many times in the last few weeks. To travel the world was the only thing I’d ever known I wanted to do and giving up short of reaching our goal felt as empty as death. What would I do at “home” I would get there with my tail between my legs and admit that I had failed at attaining the one thing in life that I had known wanted. I would return to the kind of life I had lived before, the kind where existence is routine and habit, where your goals just consists of living out another day after another empty day. Sure, at some point I’d find enjoyment in it again, but my purpose, my reason for being, it would….

That terrifying thought of giving up on your dreams had kept me through all the bullshit so far, but this was the last straw.

He saw this in my eyes. He saw the defeat, and he saw the pain, and he desperately wanted me to find a solution that would make me happy. He didn’t judge me when I said I was done. He just squeezed my hand in a matter that said, “we’re gonna be ok baby.”

All in all, I live a pretty privileged life, and I’ve met many people in my day that would trade their existence in a heartbeat to find themselves in our situation at that moment in time, it still being exponentially more comfortable than the situation they find themselves in daily. For me, at that moment in time, it was time to suck up my pride and admit to myself that I wasn’t as strong as I had thought. I conceded that maybe there is a life beyond giving up on your dreams, and maybe travel wasn’t really worth as much as I had made it out to be worth.

I would find a new purpose, I would find a new reason to be. I had to come to terms with letting this one go.

We hit up all the car dealers and put a sign on the van. “Se Vende, For Sale” with our phone number, and we waited for a call while we googled everything we could about how to sell our temporarily imported vehicle in Mexico.

As it turns out, we can’t.

It’s illegal.

It could be done, everything can be done in Mexico, but we’d be putting the buyers at risk to have the van confiscated, and I’d hate for someone to be in that situation more than I’d hate being in that situation myself. The only thing we could do really would be to sell it for parts.

We could sell the board, the fridge, the solar panel, and other such things separately and make a bit of money there. We’d lose out on a lot of investment still, not to mention the sacrilege that is dismantling a perfectly good 1980 Vanagon Westfalia for parts because you’re too much of a pussy to proceed with your travel plans, but never mind all that, my mind was made up and I’d deal with the shame. Gabriel had already found a buyer for the longboard who’d pay almost what we paid for it, and give me free rentals while I was there to boot. Things were falling into place, I’d made the right decision.

I had thrown out a cry for help over a few Internet forums and one guy got back to me saying he was in the area and would like to look at some of what I had to offer so he could pimp out his ride. He and his girl came to meet me at the cafe where I sat. While Gabriel surfed I recounted our month of misfortunes. The van, the dog, the computer, the exhaustion. Within minutes, the conversation turned from attempting to purchase parts to convincing me that I had to keep going.

They were also headed to Guatemala. We would go together. Their dodge camper Scooby and my Big Blu were bound to meet, and so what if Gabriel couldn’t be there for the next while, they’d chaperone me. Their friendliness, and their beer, pepped up my spirits. By the time Gabriel came back from his sunset session, I had agreed to take the “for sale” sign off the van and continue the adventure down the coast, kind of solo, until Gabriel met up with me again.

So today I’m sitting in a hammock overlooking the ocean at Zipolite, just south of Puerto, where the Argentinian couple and I have been relaxing for the last couple of days. I miss my puppy, and I miss my husband, but the spirit of adventure is starting to poke its little head through the dust cloud of sadness and confusion left behind by the storm that just turned our world upside down.

Was I meant to reach the breaking point to rekindle my love affair with travel? Were Gabriel and I meant to have some time apart? Was the loss of our puppy a necessary pain in helping me finally deal with the death of my father in a positive way? Did I simply have to reach this point to find a certain humbleness and question my self importance? I have so many questions left unanswered that only time will work away at slowly, in its mysterious ways.

Meanwhile, I told you I was going to ask you for help before the story was over, and so here it goes:

We’ve been providing you, our faithful readers, with stories, free of charge, for the last 3 years. Blogging has been a giant investment of our time and money, and by doing it, we need to travel around with equipment we’d rather not have. Freedom’s just another word for noting left to lose, and to travel with the gear necessary for the images, videos, and stories that we share, we have to sacrifice a whole lot of our traveling piece of mind.

Now short a computer, we have no way to continue blogging. We could, of course, get a new one. It would require for us to invest more money, which means time away from travel, into our blog.

Just a few weeks ago, we were really excited for the months to come. Before the fiasco with the computer, I was in the middle of redesigning the site and had weaved together a fabulous team of photographers and storytellers from different parts of the world to transition We Travel and Blog into a collective, in order to add more fuel to the travel inspiration and help spread our message of ethical travel by incorporating local voices and stories. What’s more, just days before, we were selected by a TripAdvisor derivative as one of the top twenty photography blogs of 2015. It seems this year, the fire was really getting going with the blog.

However, we’re currently looking at this as a test of our intentions, and of our readership.

We’d like to know how much our stories are worth to you. If you enjoy our tales, if you’re at all inspired, if you ever read something we wrote, or saw a picture we took and thought “hey, that’s pretty cool!” If you’d like to see more of what we’ve been up to and what we have up our sleeve, please consider that we’ve invested the last three years of our lives into this full time job, traveling, yes, but working while we do, to bring you inspiration and help teach the world to travel more ethically. Please consider that, while we do have a great time collecting stories and putting them together, we’ve never charged for any of it, and have put in a substantial amount of our own money into it. We’ve opened up a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds to purchase a new “work station” which means a laptop and the Adobe Creative Suite for the year. Dependent on how well the campaign does, we’ll consider the investment of our readership, versus the investment that we have to continue to put in to keep the blog going and propel it to the next level. We’ll weigh out the scales and make a decision on whether, at this point in our lives, we’d rather focus on simply enjoying our travels, or if we would be making as big a mistake dropping the blogging ball as I almost made trying to sell Big Blu.

It’s going to cost us about $4,000 CAD to get back up on our feet and continue bringing you stories. Of course, we don’t expect to raise the full amount, but if everyone reading this post right now gave us just a dollar, we’d be able to take a large chunk off of our out-of-pocket expenses. What’s more, it would mean a lot to us to know we’re being heard.

Although we do think it is fair to ask for a bit of compensation for our hard work, we also understand that some people our there feel that donations are just another word for getting nothing for something. Because of this we’ve added some reward levels. You’ll find prints of Gabriel’s photography, as well as some van-life adventures with us as part of the rewards system.

Is anyone out there? Is anyone listening? Should we keep plugging away at this? Or is it time to just soak in the moment and keep these few upcoming years’ worth of adventure to ourselves? What is our blog worth to you? Do you want to hear more from us? If you do, please consider throwing us a bone, and know that we’ll forever be grateful for your generosity, whatever the outcome.

As always, thanks for reading.

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  1. Hey Guys,

    Thanks for writing that out, I had been wondering what could have gone so horribly wrong to make you want to head “home”. I drove Alaska->Argentina, solo, from 2009-2011 and I’m about to head around Africa for 2 years, solo again, so I have a decent understanding of the ups and downs of life on the road.

    My only advice is to find a nice place to sit and think for a week or two. Have a shower, eat some good food, and catch up on sleep. When you’re all caught up, really sit and think about what this grand adventure means to you, and what life at “home” would be like if you really went back.

    These (mis)adventures ARE the journey. They’re what’s making this the adventure of a lifetime – and sometimes it’s more adventure than you want, but that’s the whole point. That’s what makes it life-changing. That’s what makes it so massively different from “normal” life. That’s what makes it so damn rewarding. It’s supposed to be hard. Life at home is not.

    Try to keep in mind you absolutely won’t be the same people when you “finish” this journey. Shit will continue to happen, good and bad, and how you react to it will define your adventure, and the people you become out the other side.

    I strongly believe that misadventures are just excuses to meet friendly people – focus on the friendly people and beautiful things around you, not on the misadventures, and you will have the adventure of a lifetime.

    All the best, good luck!


    1. Dan you’re so right on all accounts, although life at home can still be hard.

      At the end of the day, it’s not the conflict, it’s the conflict resolution. We will have more bad luck streaks. I hope to find the strength to make it through them all because right now, after following your advice of sitting for a bit, going “home” would accomplish nothing.

      All the best, and thanks for stopping by and for your encouraging words.

  2. Dear Jade (and by proxy—Gaby)
    I’m so very glad you’re continuing on and that your separation was a matter of financial rather than emotional necessity. In my two years on the road, the closest I’d come to disaster was the time that I got stuck in the sand on Padre Island with the tide coming in. But I was rescued by great people in a Chevy Blazer. And that was 40 years ago and I was in a camper-converted Dodge van. I really can’t imagine what I would have done if my beloved camper companion, Gabby(no pun intended), had perished under such mysterious circumstances. Oh yeah, there was the time I was hiking with her in the Escalante wilderness and climbed up a dry waterfall to coax her down with me, and fell off the top and broke my ankle!

    I have a small bone to pick with the previous commenter: I don’t think that life on the road is any harder than life at “home”. Life is hard, whatever. Loss is loss, be it the sainted Phi or my beloved final Airedale Dita (short for Mudita) who died much to young last year of cancer. Old age, sickness, death, people who scandalize your name, jealousy, fear, war, global warming, Citizens United, we could go on and on. 000000000022222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222 (that last comment courtesy of Lily sitting on the keyboard).

    So live it, love it, share it, FULLY, which you are doing. Augie and I will be happy to add our modest financial support: tell me the details of your Go Fund Me thing.

    1. Thanks Debbie,

      You’re right, life on the road is not that much different than “at home” at the end of the day. As a commenter below suggested, the need to go home is just a reflex. We want our friends and family to support us and get us through that period. We are privileged enough to have the internet and our support network available wherever we go.

      Thanks for sharing your stories. Hugs to you and Augie!

  3. Dan is right ! Sometime life is hard… you have to learn how to get back on your feet ! Love

  4. I read your post earlier this afternoon, and thought about you throughout the day, mostly while doing some intense farm labor.

    You are such a strong woman and I encourage you to keep looking up. Bravery isn’t the easiest quality to come by, but I believe in you! I want you to keep learning, riding through the blind turns and downhills of life. You are the one to make a difference, to make people smile in this world and share the most powerful feeling of all, love! I am so proud to know you and really encourage you to never fall back because of difficulty or peril. You are strong and can face all things in your search for truth.

    Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers, and I am sending love and light your way sister. I want to order a print soon, to show my love for you and Gabriel and everything it is you do. Your blog is inspiring and I don’t want you to stop exploring!

    Carry always a bird in your chest and lion in your head.

    Love always, Alex

    1. Alex, you are just so wonderful. Meeting you was definitely one of those experiences in life that changes the rest of your life in an instant. I don’t know when we’ll get to see each other again, and I hope it’s soon, but even if it isn’t know that your words of encouragement are worth so much to us.

      Don’t worry, more adventures are ahead!

      Much love brother.

  5. I am so very sorry for how rough the road has been treating you recently, and I am sitting at my desk crying over your lose of Phi. Having traveled long term before, and getting ready to do it again, I absolutely get where you’re coming from when everything goes to shit all around you, but losing your puppy.. oh! heartwrenching. I am, however, glad to hear that you are continuing. I have only recently found your blog, but I don’t think your heart would heal by going home. I know to retreat to the safety of the familiar is most of our first responses.. but if you dream of life out in the world, then that is where you will heal. All the best moving forward and again, so sorry you lost your fur baby :(
    Rhonda recently posted…Searching for Answers at PaquimeMy Profile

    1. Thanks Rhonda for your wonderful message. Indeed the impulse to “go home” is just a self defense reflex. Once you get past it, life does start getting easier and falling into place. Best of luck on your upcoming adventures, and thanks again a million for the uplifting message.

  6. Stop whining. Shit happens whether you hide at home or are on the road. It happens to all of us but not all of us have our hand out. Enough already, at least you were not beaten to an inch of your life and lost teath in Peru… Only the angst-ridden self-deserving hipsters belive they merit some special help. You could be homeless butyou are not as you drive around tour little adventure.

    1. Hi Chris.

      You’re absolutely right, we are extremely privileged, if you read the post again, you’ll notice I mention that a couple of times. Also, I’m not whining, I run a travel blog, to only speak of the positive experiences would be a lie. there’s a shit side to travel, as you say, just like the rest of life, to ignore it would be to paint a false image of what travel is.

      As for the help, we’ve had our shit stolen before, I didn’t ask for help then, we had a gun to our head, I didn’t ask for help then. If you read the post again, you’ll notice I’m not asking for help because I feel I merit anything because we lost something, but because we are questioning the value of our blog and its readership. There used to be a time that if you wanted to read something, a book, a newspaper, a magazine, you had to pay something, even a quarter. Today, blogs are expected to be free to their readers. That’s all fine and dandy, but it’s hard to judge readership commitment that way. Before we went all in spending a whole lot of cash out of pocket getting our non-profit business off the ground, we wanted to see how worth it the whole thing was to our readers to begin with.

      The support we have gotten, both financially and through private messages, since the campaign started has shown us that people indeed are interested in what we’re doing and want us to continue.

      If you feel it isn’t appropriate to spend your money on us, that’s ok too Chris, you’re still more than welcomed to continue reading our blog posts.

      Thanks for stopping by and expressing your opinion.

      I hope it wasn’t you who got beaten near your death in Peru, but if it was, I hope you are recovering well from that terrible experience.

      Have a great day.

    1. Hi again Chris.

      I just finished reading your story, and am so sorry for what you went through, it is indeed terrifying. However, this isn’t a competition, and I don’t mean so suggest that what happened to us is the worst thing in the world. Indeed, we ourselves have been through worst before. Indeed, some people’s everyday lives compare to the one event you went through. This world can be a really f’ed up place. What happened to us isn’t the worst thing that can happen to anyone, it’s what happened to us. We are sharing our experience, why it was difficult for us, and how we are overcoming it. We are sharing how just one month can make you question everything about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

      My hand is still out. I’m still asking for the readers who want to continue to support our blog to help invest in it. I’m not doing it out of pity as a result of our hard times, I’m doing it because I know that some people out here are more than willing to invest in what we are doing, and because any little amount helps us get back to blogging faster, simply because without a computer, I can’t blog.

      I understand that what you went through has surely left you with a lot of mixed emotions, as all traumas always do. Your road to recovery will be long and treacherous, at times better than others. You will eventually overcome it. In doing so you will find your strength. In the meantime, your anger is being misdirected at me.

      The fact that you chose not to ask for donations is your choice, your circumstances not comparable to mine. It isn’t your place to come tell me what I should or should not do in my current situation. If you don’t want to contribute, don’t. Some people do.

      Gabriel and I also had a traumatic experience in the past where our lives seemed very much in danger and at the hands of a sexually ill individual. We have since recovered. If you would like to talk about your experience with me, for support, or for the ways in which we found healing and recovery, please do not hesitate to send me a private message or email.

  7. Found your blog researching how to install a propane tank. Ended up staying up past 2 am living vicariously through your posts. As an amateur photographer and a dreamer of world travel I enjoyed almost everything you wrote. And as a sailor by profession I could relate to the cargo ship showers. I applaud you for going on. The bit about the dog broke my heart. I have a 1 year old jack russell pup and it would kill me to lose him like that. You sound like you gave him a great life and I’m sure he’s grateful for that. I will eventually buy a print probably the van with the campfire but I just bought my first bus. An 85 with a blown motor so I’m a bit short on funds at the moment. But soon.

    Also check out the facebook group vanagon owners. There’s tons of active folks on there with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of all things vanagon for any more technical troubles you may have.

    Keep up the good work and be safe out there.

    1. Eric congrats on you van!
      Good luck with the motor! You’ll be on your way in no time. It means so much to us that we captured your attention for so long! Thank you! Keep your funds for that engine :) [unless you really love the pouring of course, in which case we’d love to be up on your wall!]

      Give that Jack Russell a nice long scratch behind the ears for me. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave us such a wonderful message.

  8. Jade – I can’t remember how I came upon this post – a link from a Facebook group we must both be on. We left our home in Virginia 3 days ago for our year-long journey south. Your post truly resonated with me on many levels: we’re in an ’85 Westy and my fear is getting trapped in a Groundhog Day scenario of repair attempts. But most specifically with facing the choice of giving up on a dream. Today I feel so fortunate to have gotten to this point of realizing my dream to travel. But I know that we’re just “this” close to having everything go haywire. We’re rooting for you and perhaps our paths will cross on the road.

  9. It’s ironic that found your blog posting while I was sitting waiting for my van to come out of the garage. I had spent 7 days camping in their parking lot while we sourced the problem, then sourced the parts before installation. I applaud you in the successful resolution of your problem for a $4.99 used part; while it will cost me more than $2500.

    What’s more, you have been in Latin America for a while now so you should be relative comfortable in speaking Spanish to have a relatively complicated discussion on how to fix your car. If you cannot, well that is another issue. Try being in Russia with a Google Translation app.

    I suppose, in interpreting the tenor of your blog posting, that you feel you are alone in your frustrations – mechanical and otherwise. A quick surf through the net will show that you are among a huge cohort of PanAm travelers (the list of folks taking to the road is expanding every year) who are also suffering misfortunes. Not only AdventuresAmericas and their Peruvian attack (Luckly this is not me), but take, for example, HomeontheHighway who set fire to his car in Peru. Or CapitalSouthbound who rolled their Toyota in Chile. A French family had to replace their rear axle in Mexico and then abandon their camper trailer in Panama because it was just too difficult to cross the Darien with a pickup towing a camper. PanAmericaLandy lost all his electronics and computers out of the back of his Landrover in Puna, Peru while he was sitting in the driver’s seat! WhiteAcorn, in Central Asia, had to fly in a mechanic from the States to keep their camper from falling off their very new and very expensive truck. Bigoadventures pushed his lifeless Toyota across the Iran/Turkey border. Other VW examples can be found also: Ben from KombiLife put a record 10 engines in his kombi. Seventeenbysix took an incredible 11 months to get their Westy out of the garage for transmission issues. TheDangerz finally gave up and quit their PanAm voyage and returned home after suffering one too many problems. Speaking of transmission issues, DriveNatchoDrive had to pay for flights home to source parts to illegally import a transmission for their Westy too. There is not a single VW van I have crossed paths with that has not had some massive motor and transmission mechanical issues. The list goes on.

    I too spent an incredible 7 nights camping in Tegucigalpa with the nightly bullets flying overhead camping in a Twilight Zone of a garage. My Kobo and my sandals (?) went walkabout one night in Nicaragua from inside the van while I was sleeping within inches of them. I lost my camera and sunglasses while the backpack hooked to the chair on which I was sitting disappeared in Cartagena. I am not in competition here. Simply that I and others share your frustrations – that is the life we chose when we put the car into first gear.

    The message is twofold then: 1) If you purchase a wholly inappropriate and exceedingly old van for your overlanding experience to be part of the ‘cool crowd’ then you have signed a maintenance contract with the devil; and 2) Mechanical problems befall everyone and you are not special.

    The corollary here is that if you cannot afford to fix your mechanics, you shouldn’t have left in the first place.

    As for the dog, that is a real shame. I am sorry for that. Not to be a git here, but you must be very careful with dogs while staying at anything resembling a mechanic shop. Antifreeze is a super attractant for dogs and is a grave poison. For a dog, antifreeze is like sugar water.

    You are welcome to make money from your blog. There is, however, a huge difference between making money by selling something – photos, mini-guides, books – and just putting up a huge red banner saying ‘read this and then give me money’. Check out LaurasTravelTales or GoatsontheRoad or LiveLifeRemotely have successfully managed to make money without offending anyone. It might be worth noting (and researching) that in 2012/13 there was a massive toss-up over whether ‘DONATE’ buttons should be included on blogs. Finally, check out DriveNatchoDrive who tried to ‘sell’ people the idea that they needed donated money to travel China using a donate button and a JumpStart campaign on the ‘promise’ of a ‘forthcoming’ e-book. The outcry was overwhelmingly negative, if it still exists meaning Brad hasn’t deleted all the comments, with the gist being: Why should anyone donate their hard work-a-day money to prolong the vacation of another? The 30+ pages of comments are worth reading.
    Brad, DriveNatchoDrive, went on with his life after this brouhaha and made another posting explaining, how he spent 100 000 USD on his 3-year trip and then tried to justify it. Do you see the inherent conflict here? Go ahead, check it out.

    So going back to my original thesis; while you are having problems, we all have problems. Some great some small but whether you are on the road, or living at home problems are simply a part of life. If you ask one of your Mexican friends whether they would rather have your VAN and its PROBLEMS, I speculate that they would accept in a heartbeat.

    The essence is perspective. YOU have the entitlement and the resources to quit your job, start a blog and start a voyage. Not everyone has this capacity and so I think it behooves you to recognize your enhanced state and give thanks. Not cry boohoo and ask for money.

    1. Actually Chris, you ARE being a git. That’s exactly what you’re doing. And I’m going to have to do you a favor and let you know that you’re making an arse of yourself. I’ve received private messages from some of the people you’ve mentioned here apologizing on your behalf and letting me know that they in no way share your sentiments.

      I don’t need to justify my actions to you, people are allowed to ask for help whenever they feel like it. If you don’t feel like helping, that’s your prerogative. As for OFFENDING you by asking for help, that sounds like a YOU problem buddy. You obviously hold some resentment from your troubles and as I’ve mentioned before are wrongfully under the impression that putting me down is going to lift you up. Whatever your beef is with the traumatic experiences you’ve gone through, you haven’t dealt with it bro. It’s ok to ask for help, it doesn’t make you weak, ok? I extended a helping hand, you refused, how about you now move along and stop trying to insinuate my dog died due to my negligence. I know dogs like antifreeze, that’s why he was in the van, bored as f@&$, for 3 weeks, as I’ve already mentioned in my blog.

      I didn’t choose the Westy because it’s cool, I chose it because it was convenient (no conversion needed, full kitchen, full bed) and had a solid motor. In fact, in 7 months, we’ve ONLY ever had an issue with the ignition switch. Maybe you’re projecting?? But again, thanks for trying to blame me for my issues, it’s a real human thing to do, you make this world a brighter place. I’m sure your soul is on god’s side. I’ll stick to my devilish pact with the Westy ;)

      Maybe you didn’t go check out my campaign, we offer reward levels where we are selling the same kinds of things you suggest. Even if we were just asking for donations, it’s well within our rights to do so, even within our realm of privilege, without having trolls give us a hard time for it because they’re butt hurt that they’ve been through worst and didn’t stoop down to our degrading level of self pity. You’re still not wrapping your head around the concept: we are not crying for help, we’re asking people to show us their support in trying to decide wether or not we should keep blogging. If you don’t like our methods, I really don’t give a flying F@&$

      I suggest you go talk to a shrink, or at least some friends, about the stuff you’ve gone through, you need to work it out. That’s not a put down, that’s an honest and friendly suggestion.

      I’ll keep approving your future comments, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m done wasting my time answering them.

  10. Hi Gabe and Jade! Jade we haven’t met but I went to high school with Gabe and have been reading your blog on and off when it pops up on my Facebook feed. Every time I click on it, I get sucked in for at least an hour. I was sad that there hasn’t been an update since July, but not remembering if I ever had the chance to finish reading this post.

    I saw your Facebook post with your new puppy and wondered how Phi was doing so j went on to your site to read some updates. I read over this post…and so sorry about your loss. Again, you don’t know me but my dogs are my children. My first puppy I had for 6 months and he passed away traumatically, unfortunately from being a new dog owner and not knowing the dangers of chip bags and how they can easily suffocate pets. I guess I just wanted to empathize with you hoping to offer some sort of relief. I know that nothing really made me feel better, but I loved reading all the support of my friends, family and strangers. Phi lived a great life, even short as it was, God had plans for him and there was a reason he left so soon. I still don’t know the reason for my pup leaving me but after the event, I did gain some amazing friends.

    I appreciate the honesty in the shitty-ness of traveling because I envy you for living an exciting life, not realizing how dangerous and crappy it can be at times.

    And eff that Chris dude. You handled him much better than I would’ve. What a prick. I hope that you guys get back to doing what you love (if you haven’t already?) soon. Best wishes!!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Tran! I’m sorry about your puppy. It always hurts so much :(

      The grass is always greener on the other side. Fact is everyday life becomes your baseline. There is no such thing as living THE dream, there’s only living your dreams.

      If you want to travel, make space for it in your life, but also know that society demands the world of us these days, we should just focus on the things we hold dear.

      Thanks again for stoping by. :)

  11. Hi Jade, first of all… I just want to say “I feel you”. I remember our first pet Bugsy (a male shih tzu). He also died suddenly due to an internal bleeding. The vet said it was Ehrlichia – a disease caused by dog ticks. My wife was grieving for almost 2 months. She would even wake up almost every midnight just to cry. I didn’t know how to comfort her. It really broke her.

  12. Losing a dog is extremely painful. I’m so sorry for what happened to Phi. I just have a little doubt on what the vet had said (could be rat poison). Did they have a complete blood count?

    About the misfortunes you encountered on your travel.. I must say that you’re still lucky. Although if I were on your shoes, I would lose it! I’ll get back to this post on Friday so I can donate. I want to see more posts from you.
    Momma Dog recently posted…Getting Back!My Profile

  13. I didn’t realize until researching after how large of an area Tlalpan is. Tlalpan is the largest borough of Mexico City and comprises several neighbourhoods and small towns in the south of Mexico City. What a journey you had! Awesome read!

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