Herbie’s Ship Set Sail

From what we know today, Herbie will go aboard a vessel called “Green Lake”.

The “Green Lake”, originally from the US, already set sail, left Paranaguá in Brazil and just arrived in Santos, the port of São Paulo. So, there is only one harbor left (Manzanillo in Panama) before the ship should reach Cartagena, Colombia, on May 11.

According to schedules it will take four days to cross the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico before Herbie arrives in Veracruz, where we’ll pick him up. From there we’re going to drive from the East to the West Coast of America, across Mexico and the USA.


Currency Confusion

It is totally weird and we never experienced such differing currency exchange rates. Yesterday we withdrew Venezuelan money at a local ATM and were shocked how expensive everything seems to be, until we found out more on the internet.

At the cash machine you get the official exchange rate of 4.30 “Strong Bolívar” for one US-Dollar. If you get your money exchanged at a money changer you get about 8.90 Bolívar, in fact the double amount of money. So never do the same mistake we did!

Healthy Ice Cream & Sunnyside Ups

As fruitarians we enjoyed being on Herbie’s World Tour trying new kinds of fruits and vegetables all around the globe. South America is again a whole new experience for us.

We found lucuma, aka eggfruit (top left), and pacay, widely called ice-cream bean (top right and below), very delicious. Lucuma is also popular for flavoring ice cream.

The ice-cream bean is a legume native to Central and South America. They have been depicted in ancient ceramics of the Incas and other Andean peoples.

Stuck at the Border

We literally stuck in the border town San Antonio in Venezuela, because the custom office is closed on weekends. We reached the border on a Saturday morning.

After we got our immigration stamps we wanted to apply for the vehicle permit.

But the Venezuelan custom office was closed – like every Saturday and Sunday.

“Simón Bolívar” (that’s the official name of the border) is giving us a really hard time.

So we’ll have to wait until Monday morning before we are able to obtain the temporary vehicle permit, which allows us to enter the country in our Number 53.

Colombia, we’ll be back!

A lot of slow trucks, countless construction sites and extremely steep roads Herbie had to manage the last days, while we were heading northeast towards Venezuela.

It was very exhausting driving an average speed of 12 mph (or 20 km/h) for hours.

We passed Barbosa, Bucaramanga, Pamplona and Cúcuta – right next to Venezuela.

Meanwhile we crossed the border, but we stuck in Venzuela’s border town San Antonio.

After we eventually traveled through Venezuela, we’ll be heading towards Cartagena in order to put the Love Bug on a boat going back to Mexico and North America.

90,000 Miles (145,000 Kilometers)

Since we started our world tour in September 2009, Herbie has driven more than 90,000 miles (or 145,000 kilometers) across five continents. While the road conditions varied from excellent to terrible, Herbie still got the same engine.

Go Herbie Go!

Herbie brought us back to Colombia. We left the Pan-American Highway heading east towards Venezuela after we passed cities like Pasto, Popayán and Cali.

We were driving right through the heart of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá. Our plan is to visit Venezuela before we’ll put Herbie on a vessel going back to North America.

Colombia is pretty expensive regarding its toll roads. Just today we passed about ten toll booths and spent at least a couple bucks for each one of them.

Even though the landscapes are beautiful, it is sometimes really hard to watch the big gap between the rich and the poor – especially within big cities just as Bogotá.

Tomorrow we’ll get very close to the border. On the day after we’re hoping to reach Venezuela – our last country we’ll visit before heading back to Cartagena.

The Evacuation Route

After spending the night in Latacunga, we followed our “Evacuation Route” out of Ecuador, passing Quito, Cayambe, Otavalo and Ibarra, crossing the border in Tulcán.

We left the country with carrying more than 25 gallons (or 100 liters) of gasoline and we’re still running on it, as gas prices in Colombia are more than three times higher.

Meanwhile we are back in Colombia leaving the “Pan-Am” heading east towards Venezuela, our last country to visit, before going back to North America.


Domi loves drinking fresh coconut juice. Herbie prefers gas without ethanol instead.

One coconut ($ 1.00)  is more expensive than one quart of gasoline ($ 0.38).

Ecuador has the cheapest gas prices we’ve experienced in America so far.

A complete full tank for our Love Bug costs just 15 US-Dollars (or 12 Euro).

Ecuador is the only country in South America having the US-Dollar and Cent.

All other South American countries we visited are selling way more expensive gas.

The Banana Republic

We just entered Ecuador on our way back north. Although this country is not a “Banana Republic” within the political discussion, it has definitely the biggest banana production in the world. Below you can see “Herbie goes bananas” while the sun was setting.

The Love Bug reached the border between Peru and Ecuador late afternoon. After we crossed it, we went shopping some food in Machala and drove on to El Guabo.

We already knew the border patrol men quite well, because we crossed this particular border already by following the “Pan-American Highway” on our way south.

In Peru we went across the Desert of Sechura and passed the Pacific a last time. The landscape changed dramatically – from a very dry to a pretty humid area.

Tomorrow we’ll drive along the western section of the “Pan-Am” towards cities like Riobamba, Ambato, Latacunga and eventually Quito, before entering Colombia.

We left the Pacific coast for good. The Caribbean is waiting for us in Colombia, where Herbie will have to go across by ship, the same way he came to South America.

Long Way Back Home

Herbie continued riding the longest road on earth, the Pan-American Highway, heading further north on Peru’s Highway No. 1. We passed cities like Chimbote, Trujillo and Chiclayo. Lambayeque is the name of the town where we stopped for the night.

The “Pan-Am” along Peru’s coast is full of sand dunes and amazing ocean views.

Whenever you hit a smaller town it is like a kind of oasis with woods and agriculture.

In no other South American country we had so many “police check points”.

Tomorrow we’ll go further north getting very close to the border of Ecuador.

Hands Upon The Wheel

Our final destination after South America will be the Mojave Desert in the Southwest of the United States. We are not there yet, even though the landscape of Peru’s coast looks quite similar to the area around Herbie’s camp in Ridgecrest, Kern County, CA.

Today we were following the “Pan-Am” from Ica to Huarmey. On our way up north we were going through the heart of Lima again, the capital of Peru right on the coast.

We stopped for lunch under a date palm tree, having our favorite, of course “home made”, salad. Unfortunately it isn’t the time for harvesting dates, so we had no dessert.

Tomorrow we’ll drive further up on the road right besides the Pacific ocean, passing Chimbote and Trujillo towards Ecuador, which we enjoyed very much last time.

The Peruvian Dune Buggy

After catching up with new post on Herbie’s World Tour, checking the motor oil level and tire pressure, we hit the Pan-American Highway again. We left Camaná, heading north and passed Nazca and its desert and stopped for the night in Ica.

Peru’s coastal desert dunes and the Pacific ocean welcomed us once again.

In the afternoon we reached the Nazca Desert with its ancient Lines.

Tomorrow we’ll continue traveling north along the so-called “Panamericana”.

We’re planning to put Herbie on a vessel going back to North America in May.

After Peru we’ll still journey to Ecuador, Colombia and maybe Venezuela.

Herbie took a break in the Nazca Desert right at a very magical sundown.

Herbie’s Vanilla Sky

Go west, Herbie! We traveled all the way across the Andes with altitudes over 14,850 feet (or 4,500 meters)  to the west coast of Peru again, passing Puno at Lake Titicaca, Juliaca and Arequipa, ending up driving in Camaná at the Pacific ocean.

In Puno we met Juan Carlos, a Volkswagen Bug driver, who helped Domi fixing a little gas issue back in the carburetor. While going downhill towards the sea we had one of our most beautiful sunsets with a vanilla sky.

Crossing Bolivia Again

After riding Herbie on unpaved roads across the Bolivian jungle while it was dark during the night and police men asked us for money, we finally reached Santa Cruz de la Sierra and moved on to Cochabamba and La Paz towards Peru and Lake Titicaca.

Back to the “Routes”

We were actually planning to go all the way back to Colombia by heading across Brazil on Highway No. 319 reaching Venezuela. However we had to change our plan.

The Brazilian Highway No. 319 is well-known for one of the worst “roads” in the country. And as we have the rain season right now, this highway is totally impassable.

There is no other way getting back north across the continent, so we had to find a way going back to the Andes on the West. We decided to take a loop towards Bolivia.

We arrived at the border of Bolivia at noon. The border was closed, because the executives just work before that time. So we had to wait until the next day.

After waiting in line for more than two hours to get the exit stamp of Brazil, we were forced to show the border officials our certificate of an amarillic typhus vaccination.

The vaccination of yellow fever is obligatory for everyone who’s entering Bolivia coming from Brazil. But in the end we blessedly entered Bolivia unvaccinated.

Jackfruits in Brazil

As we just eat fruits and vegetables, we were so happy to find jackfruits in Brazil. They are very rare. We had them in India and Southeast Asia as well as on the Pacific coast of Mexico, but we didn’t know that we’d found them in South America too.

The jackfruit tree is well suited in tropical lowlands like Brazil, and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as 80 pounds (36 kilogram) in weight.

Before you are able to eat the jackfruit, you have to open it and this is a very gluey procedure. Zainab was so kind and did it. Normally we’re using plastic gloves.

The jackfruit is definitely one of our most favorite fruits on earth. Unfortunately you have to travel a long way to get them. But imported jackfruit chips are also mouth-watering.

Brazilian Cemetery

We entered Brazil coming from Paraguay. On our way through Brazil we passed a junk yard for air-cooled Volkswagens. But it was more like a burial site for “Fuscas” – that’s how they call Beetles in this country. Rest in peace!

The Idyllic Paraguay

The soil is red and the people are very nice – we traveled through Paraguay on Highway No. 3 towards Brazil, after meeting Jorge, his wife Natalia and their friend Osvaldo, in Asunción. Paraguay was an unexpected beautiful surprise!

The Heart of South America

Jorge Ortiz, an air-cooled Volkswagen fellow from Asunción, and his wife, Natalia Florentin, as well as his friend, Osvaldo Espínola, president of Classic VW Club Paraguay, welcomed us in Paraguay – the “Heart of South America”.

Jorge showed up with his totally new renovated red VW Beetle made in Wolfsburg. All in all it was probably the best border crossing we’ve ever had, because someone was waiting for us on the other side and introduced us warmly to his country. After some motor talk and an interview by a magazine, we hit the roads of Paraguay.

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

Herbie made a long way riding from General Güemes on Highways No. 34, 81 and 11 to Clorinda, at the border to Paraguay. Tomorrow we’ll enter this country in the heart of South America. Although we won’t spend much time there, we’ll have a very warm welcome. Jorge Ortiz from Asunción, an air-cooled VW enthusiast and member of the Classic VW Club Paraguay, will pick us up right after the border.

We had a pleasant time in Argentina, even though it was hard to find gas selling gas stations in the West as well as ATMs without endless lines in certain provinces.

Especially the region between Salta and Cafayate was really worth a visit. It reminded us of going through parts of Utah, Arizona or Nevada we love so much.

Taking the route across “Paso de San Francisco” was quite a challenge, but we are happy to have experienced the probably roughest path of the Dakar Rally.

Tomorrow we’ll enter Paraguay, heading northeast towards Brazil. It will take us thousands of miles before reaching Venezuela and eventually Colombia.

So “don’t cry for us Argentina”, we enjoyed the stay, but we’re moving on. The Amazonas is waiting for us. From now on we’re heading north in direction of Colombia.

Red Rock Argentina

As we were heading north on Highway No. 68 from Cafayate to Salta, we passed a truly amazing area full of red rocks. This region is also well-known for its unique wine production, benefiting from the low-humidity mild weather. We stopped for the night in General Güemes, a city east of Salta. Today we’re going to travel further up northeast towards Paraguay.

The Incan Cacti

Last day we explored another ancient city on Highway No. 40 in Tucumán, the smallest province of Argentina. “Ciudad Sagrada de los Quilmes” is the given name of this more than 500 years old Incan metropolis. Around and within the ruins you can find huge cactuses, which reminded us of Southern Arizona or Northern Mexico with its countless “saguaros” (cacti).

Cruising Across Catamarca

We spent the night in Fiambalá, after crossing the Argentinian border via “El Paso de San Francisco”. On the next day we cruised across Catamarca, one of Argentina’s provinces. Remote and vast landscapes accompanied us on our way southeast.

The Incas in Argentina

On our way east we visited one of ancient ruins by the Inca Empire. Londres de Quimivil is the actual village nearby, which is the oldest town in the Argentinian province of Catamarca and the second oldest city within the entire country. The old Incan city was named “El Shincal”. It was an administrative center from 1471 to 1536 AD.