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.

Thirsty?

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.