Generator vs. Alternator

Today we had to find out that the repairs on Herbie’s original generator, made by our “mechanic”, the managing automotive electrician of Cartagena’s port, were useless. The dynamo still has an accidental ground short, caused by the fire which was created by the switched-on ignition. So we wanted to order another dynamo, but as there was no chance to get an old fashioned dynamo or rather generator (current flow) in Colombia, we had to order an alternator (alternating current), which we should receive by tomorrow evening, because this spare part is again coming from Bogota. Although an alternator is not the original style, we would be simply happy if Herbie rides again!


It’s Not Over Yet

We spent another day at the repair shop. Our “mechanic” came up with two used regulators from Barranquilla but both of them were not working. We immediately ordered a brand new one from Bogota, the capital of Colombia. Tomorrow afternoon we’ll hopefully receive the new regulator. Additionally there is still the dynamo which is not working properly. One week is over and Herbie is not reanimated yet. But we hope that we’ll be back on the road very soon and that our ocean carrier will atone for what we’re going through. However we are also very sorry not to be able to post photos with Herbie exploring South America yet.

Never Ending Story

It seems to get a never ending story. We already spent one week going through a lot of nerve-wracking times. But there is hope in sight, because the automotive electrician who has been trying to fix all damages in cooperation with Domi, told us, that he’ll receive a new regulator tomorrow morning. We’ll let you know if everything worked out. If so, we can go on with following the Pan-American Highway across South America.

Rage Against The Water Machine

People like Andreas Schülein from Sugenheim, Germany, write about about our journey of “34 Ponys around the Globe”. Andi found us on the internet and got in touch with us.

By clicking the picture you can visit Andi’s personal website about his passion for old air-cooled VWs. It is called “Rage Against The Water Machine”. At this juncture we want to say thank you to Andi and all the others who are following Herbie’s World Tour!

Monday, Monday

After so many delays of the vessel we were so happy to see Herbie, our No. 53, again! But since that we’re going through a martyrdom. Domi had to take dynamo out of the engine two times. Finally we got it fixed but there is still one thing missing – a new regulator. Because of the weekend we have to wait until late Monday to receive the new one. We had to order it from Barranquilla, another city on the Caribbean coast of the Atlantic further up Northeast. Hopefully everything will work out and we’ll be able to leave Cartagena on Tuesday.

High Voltage!

It’s getting really frustrating! Herbie is not fixed yet because there is still one part missing. Everything was perfect until our Love Bug got on his vessel heading South.

Today Domi installed again all “repaired” parts and it seemed to be working but the regulator we bought was obviously broken because it didn’t regulate the voltage.

Below you can see a picture of the “new” (electric) regulator we bought. The problem is that it has not told the dynamo not to produce more than fourteen volts.

A regulator is meant to be the one who is telling the generator what to do, but in our case the dynamo was putting out up to eighteen Volts. Now we have to get another regulator. It is very hard to find VW spare parts in Colombia – especially in Cartagena.

Why hurt Herbie?

As we told you before, an unknown person hurt Herbie a lot, while he was on his ship going from Veracruz, Mexico, to Cartagena of the Indies in Colombia.

That person not only broke his lid lock, he also tried to open the front hood, turned on the windshield wipers, the ignition and other electric consumers and left them all on.

He left all of those features on and caused a huge damage. The generator and the regulator got grilled. Here you can see photos. Imagine how that must feel!


We spent again the whole day trying to fix all of these damages. Domi even had to take all the necessary parts within the engine bay apart because we found another problem.

Such regulators normally last forever, except somebody is trying to make barbecue with it. Hopefully we can fix everything by tomorrow in order to hit the road again.

Nonetheless it was all in all a pretty nerve-wracking and very cost-intensive day for us. After that we’ll get in touch with our ocean carrier and ask for redress.

Hope is the Last to Die

Today we went together to the port again where we parked Herbie yesterday after we found out that somebody on the ship caused a fatal electric problem.

That person turned on the ignition, the windshield wipers and the interior light and left Herbie simply alone – on his cruise across the open sea to South America.

As a consequence of this the electricity heated parts as the dynamo up which created at least a short within the coil of it. Herbie’s power house got hit!

The customer service at the harbor told us that they will get a specialist who will take care of this problem. After six hours of waiting the port leading electrician finally arrived.

As Herbie’s dynamo wasn’t able to charge the battery anymore the automotive electrician installed one of his big batteries he carried with him. So we could take off.

At his shop Domi had to take a lot of parts within the engine bay apart in order to get out the generator. But it took Domi all together just about ten minutes to do that.

We are in Colombia – people still repair things instead of replacing whole parts. And it seemed to be too hard for them to get a new or suitable used generator.

So we were told that somebody will replace just the coil by spooling new copper wires. Tomorrow we’ll get back to the shop and hopefully Herbie will be fine again.

As soon as we are back on the road again, Herbie will be following with us the Pan-American Highway towards Chile. We are certain, that Herbie will ride again!

Herbie’s Nightmare

We woke up very early today, because Domi had to get to the appointment with a custom executive for getting the vehicle inspected. There he was, Herbie our Love Bug!

Domi spent three hours with Herbie waiting for the inspector but he didn’t show up. So it was time for a personal check. Domi was shocked and sad at the same time!

Okay, dirt and rust might be common, but we think it is not necessary to damage a car in a way somebody did. One of the headlights got hurt and the lid lock was broken.

And the worst thing Domi discovered was, that somebody obviously left the ignition on and caused not just an empty battery but also a tricky electric problem in the back.

Domi was going through a “nightmare” from six o’clock in the morning until sunset. But he finally got Herbie out of the port, although we still have to fix all the destruction.

Herbie himself is sitting now right in front of the port entrance waiting for Domi to come and having some “plastic surgery” after he got hurt by careless human beings.

A Red Tape Odyssey

This was an exhausting day for us! And sadly we have to wait at least one more day to obtain Herbie who is still sitting at the sea port and whom we haven’t seen yet.

In the morning we took a taxi to our shipping agency in order to get the original Bill of Lading (B/L). After that we went to the local customs just a few blocks further.

They sent us to the port authority where Zainab was not allowed to go in. Only the consignee Domi was supposed to enter the building – in proper shoes and long pants.

Zainab was waiting while Domi went through all the port formalities. We both hoped that we can pick up Herbie today but Domi had bad news when he came out of the building.

It is not done yet! They couldn’t arrange an inspection of the car for today. All in all Zainab stood by for more than five hours. This is truly a red tape odyssey for us!

Tomorrow Zainab will reside at the hotel and Domi will try to complete this odyssey. The agenda for tomorrow: Vehicle inspection and the temporary import permit.

As we cannot post images of Herbie in South America yet, we thought of taking photos of another interesting Volkswagen Beetle which we spotted in town today.

This VW Bug might be made in Brazil where such cars are are called “Fusca”. They feature thicker door and windscreen posts compared to German ones which had that just until 1964. That is to say that Herbie has a very similar body to this “Fusca”.

Cartagena, Colombia (No. IV)

We are still in Cartagena, capital of the Bolívar Department and fifth-largest city in Colombia, aka the “Capital of the Caribbean”. Herbie’s ship has arrived today but we were not able to deliver him from the harbor as we couldn’t comply with all formalities. Therefore we have to wait until Monday in order to proceed. It is a bit hard to know that our companion Herbie is already here but we can’t get to him.

Not yet, Herbie!

Herbie’s vessel, the “Global Leader”, should arrive in Cartagena of the West Indies by tomorrow, according to its latest prediction. On January 26 we had to say “good-bye” to our lovely Bug. We miss him a lot! Hopefully we’ll get him back very soon.

Today we saw a Volkswagen Beetle here in Colombia for the first time – against one’s expectations in a pretty good shape, if you think of the harsh climate down here.

Regarding to its hood it seems to be a Bug with 1,600 cc and the owner might be a Christian. However the car is definitely registered in Cartagena (see license plates).

Before we’ll be able to welcome Herbie again, we have to go through a lot of bureaucratic procedures. First and foremost we have to obtain the original Bill of Lading (B/L) in order to receive a temporary import permit from the local custom authorities.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We hope all of you had a happy Valentine’s day.

In Cartagena two guys were giving free hugs and kisses. Their signs were written in English so we guess it was just meant for people who are able to read and understand this language. For us it is just a day like any other – hugs and kisses every day!

Cartagena, Colombia (No. III)

We are still in Cartagena, Colombia, waiting for our Love Bug. On Friday Herbie’s ship should arrive but we don’t think that we’ll get him out of the harbor before the weekend. So we’ll be here probably one more week. After our reunion we’ll be following the great Pan-American Highway through continent number five: South America.

Roll-On / Roll-Off

There are different types of shipping a vehicle. The most common ones are by container, “LoLo” (Lift-On/Lift-Off) and “RoRo” (Roll-On/Roll-Off). This time we’re shipping Herbie via “RoRo” from Veracruz to Cartagena – across the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. There are always pros and cons regarding the various types.

We also tried the container option. Herbie and our trailer “QEK Junior” got 44 foot containers from Chennai (India) to Melbourne (Australia) and from Brisbane to Long Beach (USA). From Sharjah (UAE) to Bandar-Abbas (Iran), from Tallinn (Estonia) to Helsinki (Finland), from Dunkirk (France) to Dover (UK) and from there back to Calais we did it via “RoRo”, with the advantage of being on board with our set-up.

Cartagena, Colombia (No. II)

It is our third day in “Cartagena de Indias”, where Herbie is supposed to arrive by ship next week. Here is a lot to see! Many backpackers and other tourists are strolling through town. An interesting historical fact is, that Cartagena and Veracruz were the only cities authorized to trade African slaves within the colonial territories of Spain.

Where the Hell is Herbie?

As we are already in Cartagena, Colombia, Herbie is on his way going to South America by ship. His vessel, the “Global Leader”, is meanwhile rescheduled the fourth time. According to the latest schedule Herbie arrives in Cartagena on February 17.

We’d love to drive all the way around the world but as we posted before there is no other way than shipping to get a car from North or Central to South America, because of the so-called Darién Gap which creates the missing link of the Pan-American Highway.

Cartagena, Colombia (No. I)

Three flights later we safely arrived in Cartagena, Colombia. We took a taxi to Getsemani. This is a district, which is located between the sea port and the very center.

We spent our first night at a different spot than today. We switched the place because we were not satisfied at all with the first one we had.

Now we’re staying at a hotel named “Los Muros”. We got a fan and running water. These are probably the most important things in order to stand heat and humidity.

We are lucky because our room is located in the back of the building. Especially during the nights there are many, many people on the streets making party all night long.

Don’t get surprised if you get to Cartagena one day. It is definitely pretty expensive compared to other cities in Colombia or Latin America.

We feel secure! People in Europe or North America would often say, Colombia is one of those place where they would not recommend to go but it seems to be fine yet.

Our hotel is just across “Casa Viena”, a hostel which is owned by an Austrian and his Colombian wife. “Viena” stands for “Vienna” – the capital of Austria.

Veracruz, Mexico (Final No. VII)

Yesterday it was our last day in Veracruz and with Daniel. He’ll fly back home to Europe in the afternoon today. We already took off to Mexico City waiting for our connection flight via Panama City to Cartagena, Colombia, where Herbie will arrive one week later.

Veracruz, Mexico (No. VI)

Today we spent time strolling through the streets of Veracruz. It was also our last day with Domi’s best friend Daniel. Tomorrow he’ll fly back to Vienna, Austria, and we’ll head off to Cartagena, Colombia, in order to continue our trip across South America.

The Última Edición

The Volkswagen Bug was introduced to Mexicans in 1954. At that time four VW Beetles were shipped to Veracruz. The first Bug “Hecho en Mexico” was assembled in 1961.

In 1971 more than 200,000 units were produced and the exports to Europe and Costa Rica began. Just nine years later, in 1980, already more than a million were made.

In 1985, the official export to Europe ended and 20 million were sold. These were the reasons to launch a special edition in a grey metallic color called “Jubiläumskäfer”.

In 1994, Volkswagen celebrated its 40th anniversary in Mexico. Three limited editions from the “Vocho“ were launched: “Firebeetle”, “Edition One” and “40th Anniversary”.

1995 was a very important year for the Mexican Beetle, because many improvements were fitted into the car. All together 87 details were changed according to Volkswagen.

The production plant is located in Puebla de Zaragoza, Puebla, ever since – quite close to Mexico City – the probably biggest city on earth regarding its number of inhabitants.

Examples for other special editions of Volkswagen Beetles in Mexico were: “Clásico”, “Jeans”, “Europa”, “City”, “Harlekin”, “Wolfsburg Edition”, “Unificado” and “Summer”.

2002 a new decree by the governor of Mexico City was set, which prohibited new permits for public transportation in the form of taxis to two door cars as “Vochos”.

In the year 2003 the last special edition was created – the so-called “Última Edición” (first picture on top of this article). 3,000 units were made, but the very last one was shipped out from Veracruz to the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg, Germany.

“It was incredible that such a small car leaves such a large emptiness.
Goodbye Beetle!”

Benito Juárez vs. Maximilian I

The year is AD 1864 when Maximilian I from Austria, brother of Austrians Emperor Franz Joseph I, arrived in Veracruz, Mexico, as its new leader. He was proclaimed as the Emperor of Mexico and was therefore the only monarch of the Mexican Empire.

But a Mexican lawyer an politician called Benito Pablo Juárez García got already president of Mexico in 1858. He of course refused to recognize Maximilian’s rule, although the Austrian had the backing of Napoléon III from France and others.

Finally, on June 19, 1867, His Imperial Majesty, Maximilian I from Austria, Emperor of Mexico, who has been captured, was sentenced to death by execution. His last words were, “I forgive everyone, and I ask everyone to forgive me. May my blood which is about to be shed, be for the good of the country. Viva Mexico, viva la independencia!”.

Our Hotel in Veracruz

We’re staying at a very neat place called “Hotel Reforma” since we arrived in Veracruz. It’s located quite close to the old center in a narrow street named “Callejón Reforma”.

We got to Veracruz ten days ago in order to ship Herbie from here to South America.

Just besides our place there is a banana tree, but the bananas are not ripe yet.


Our Hotel is right in a kind of small pedestrian zone which makes it not too noisy.

Everywhere you can find little shrines. Catholicism is of course the main religion.

We’ll stay here four more days before we take off towards Cartagena, Colombia.