Ruins and Rust: Texas to Patagonia, AND BEYOND, in an older 4runner

hrt4me

Adventurer
this is a great trip report, and my wife and I hope to follow in your tracks in a few years

what kind of vehicles (Toyotas) are you seeing which aren't sold in the U.S.?

have you encountered any extended periods of rain so far?
 

Ruined Adventures

Expo Poser
what kind of vehicles (Toyotas) are you seeing which aren't sold in the U.S.?

have you encountered any extended periods of rain so far?
Great questions. I'll look around in our pictures, but especially here in Guatemala there's been some cool and unique vehicles. Guatemala is heaven for Toyota enthusiasts by the way. Immediately after crossing the border we realized that there's a 20:1 ratio of Toyotas to other makes. We've seen lots of doublecab Hiluxes (what do you call a pack of hiluxes? Hiluxi? Hileex'?), doublecab Mitsubishi pickups that are similar to the Hilux, newer Nissan Patrols, lots of Suzuki Samurai pickups, diesel Defenders...I've been seeing tons of an interesting SUV called a "Galloper". We're heading back into Antigua today and I'll take some pictures for you and hopefully find a good connection to upload them.

In regards to rain, the first half of the wet season here in Guatemala has been pretty tame. For our first month here, we had several days without rain but when it did rain it would be for a few hours in the late afternoon, settling down eventually. We only had a 2-3 days in the past month that seemed to rain hard for most of the day. They typically have a week-long break during the middle of the wet season that's called the cannicula (don't quote my spelling on that), but I think this year it was several weeks long. We've also been told that it seems the wet season can seem brutal some years, then the next year it's tame like it is now. While we were in El Salvador we only had one night of rain, and it was a large storm that blew through overnight. We had to hunker down because we were on the coast and it got violent for a minute there. The wet season supposedly picks up in September, so we'll see what happens :sombrero:
 

hrt4me

Adventurer
thanks for the quick replies; whenever I travel, I always enjoy seeing and comparing vehicles which the major car manufacturers don't sell in the U.S.
BTW, Hyundai sold the Galloper between 1991 and 2003

I haven't gone through your entire build thread, so I'm curious what you do to cover the windows to block out any light when you sleep in the rear cargo area?
We just got some dark mesh screen material (akin to a screen door) and plan to cut the material in a shape slightly larger than the rear passenger windows (sold the Gen1 '85 T4R and now have a Gen3 '97 T4R on the way) and glue magnets around the edges; that way, we can stick these screens to the outside of the vehicle at night and sleep with the windows cracked (or down) and prevent bugs from getting inside the truck...

also, have you had any issues with the fuel quality on your travels south of the (U.S.) border so far?
 

Ruined Adventures

Expo Poser
Good to know! I didn't recongnize a Hyundai symbol on the Galloper (or Galloper II that I see more of), thanks.

We had curtains originally to block out the sunlight, but I didn't like the original design so I tore them down, planning to redo it. I planned to sow velcro strips to curtains, and attach velcro tape to the interior edges of the hardtop, making it removable...We honestly rarely need the extra privacy. Our windows are limo-tinted, so you can't see inside unless we have the LED's on at night. If we're worried about it we use our spare sheets and our towels, clothes-pinned to the bungee-cargo net we have secured inside the hardtop's roof. Keep it simple.

I have cut out no-see-um mesh panels that I can cover the windows with using magnets, but we never use them because usually all we need is to open our roof vent-fan and turn it up. The vent-fan has mosquito mesh, so that keeps them out just fine. Sometimes if I need more flow, I'll open one window and cover it with the mesh.

Some of the Pemex stations in Mexico have pretty crappy fuel. I actually just had to replace the fuel filter because it was clogged up. I've never replaced the fuel filter and simply hoped I was good to go since the tests that Toyota has done on their "lifetime" fuel filters shows pretty extreme use, but I suppose after all these years anything's possible.
 

Ruined Adventures

Expo Poser
Here's a few of my favorites...

I love these little vans, I'm not sure what the model name is for them but they're super narrow with a very short wheelbase:



For some reason I really want to rock one of these to Ushuaia...Shannon would look adorable driving it :sombrero:





The rare doublecab Powerstroke Ranger :coffeedrink:










And I'm sure some of you recognize these guys: NoLimitX




You can see more in our new imgur album, specific to the vehicles we encounter along the way.
 
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mjohns2

Observer
This is an awesome report of your adventures and thank you guys so much for your steady stream of updates. I think I've read your report 3 times so far, it's very informative.

First and most importantly congratulations on the marriage. I do have a quick question though, do you have any lessons learned in regards to needed or not needed equipment.

For example, I remember reading you guys ditch the frig, did you guys miss it after a while?
Do you guys feel the dual battery was a must, considering no frig?
Did you guys feel the winch was a necessity?
And anything else I might have missed that you guys felt should have been added.

Thank you again and be safe.

-MJ
 

Ruined Adventures

Expo Poser
Occasionally we miss the fridge. Yesterday we finally had a delicious sandwich and I commented on how nice it would be to carry mayonnaise and deli meat...and then Shannon reminded me how long it had been since we had seen legit deli-meat that wasn't ridiculously processed. Imagine everything looking like Oscar Meyer's mystery meat...it's usually difficult to tell the difference between turkey, ham, chicken, etc. I'd still say that a fridge is unnecessary, it's more of a luxury.

Even though we ditched the fridge, considering how much we use the ceilings vent-fan and the other 12v fan, along with charging all of our cameras...I'd say the dual batt was a must for us, however plenty of people get by without all the fans and your mileage may vary. We're just taking a little more time in Central America which means more hot and humid. The dual batt probably could have been done for less, but I was trying to keep both batteries under the hood which meant going with Odyssey batteries.

We actually don't have a winch and we don't plan on getting one anytime soon. Obviously a winch is a big investment, and sure we were halfway into the modifications necessary for one, but after asking ourselves several times 'Do I really need a winch?' we ultimately decided no. I know a lot of people will think I'm foolish, but we decided we would rather throw a little caution to the wind, just to keep things interesting. Part of the adventure is the trials and tribulations that we have to endure, so I decided if I have to work my butt of for 48 hours just to get out of a mud hole then so be it. For this reason we carry enough food for at least 72 hours and water for a week, if push comes to shove then we'll have to leave the rig and hike to find help.

My sister and brother-in-law live in Madagascar (very 3rd world) and have had some great trips to the other side of the island in their little Suzuki Santana, usually with no tools or recovery gear. They've had a lot of breakdowns and they've been really stuck, but they always manage to figure it out and it turns out to be a great adventure. I think sometimes on the forums we get a little obsessed about it, but since Shannon and I don't have to be at work on Monday, we have no kids onboard to worry about, and we're both medically trained and fairly sharp individuals, we take the occasional calculated risk. Not to mention I have wicked kung-fu skills. After reading RadioBaobab's DRC thread, part of me said "I want to suffer like that". I know how that sounds...idiotic, right? Well that's how we roll sometimes.

For recovery gear we do have some waffleboards that we picked up for free, a real shovel, a kinetic strap and regular tow straps, 1/2" static rope, and a Hi-Lift to winch ourselves out the hard way. I have practiced and trained with the Hi-Lift so I feel up to the task if necessary. When I finally have to get unstuck the old-fashioned way, I guarantee you I'll spend a few hours analyzing why I got stuck and hopefully I will become a better driver because of it.
 
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Ruined Adventures

Expo Poser
We wrote a short article, discussing the finer points between driving, backpacking, cycling, or traveling the world by motorcycle. This one's for all of our readers who are contemplating how to go about their journey...however we would love some feedback in the comments section if you have relevant experience, feel free to contribute to the discussion!

 

Ruined Adventures

Expo Poser
Sorry Wiley, we've been a little distracted lately by vehicle issues and Guatemala's Independance Day :sombrero:. Since you've called us out...

Our Wedding Day​



Even though we had been engaged for a year, we didn't actually decide where our wedding was going to be until about three months before the actual event. After seeing photographs of Lake Atitlan and getting confirmation from several other about how amazing the lake was, the decision was made to have our wedding there.


We decided to keep the wedding to family and invited only a few of our closest friends. We wanted to keep things as simple as possible. We were originally planning to have our wedding alone, with no guests at all, so this was a stretch. Considering the short notice, we figured ten, maybe fifteen people would commit to the occasion. You can imagine our surprise when thirty-one loved ones RSVP'd.




Our good friend Katie recommended staying in San Marcos La Laguna at Hotel Aaculaax. At Aaculaax we made friends with the owner Lily, who recommended talking to her friend Ana who happens to be a wedding planner and owns a hotel in Santa Cruz La Laguna.




Our honeymoon suite at Hotel Aaculaax...only a slight adjustment from sleeping in the 4Runner.




The honeymoon suite's balcony at Hotel Aaculaax.​


Wedding planner? No thanks, sounds expensive and you know wedding planners…they always go over the top. That's what I thought anyway. Brenton and I met with Ana and her assistant Karen at Hotel Isla Verde, a short fifteen minute lancha ride from San Marcos.

After talking with Ana and Karen for less than an hour, I was proven wrong. Ana and Karen were both down-to-earth and didn't try to make our wedding anything we didn't want it to be. Not to mention, their whole business is based on being eco-friendly, which is something we appreciated. We waited about a day for word on what the total cost would be and again we were pleasantly surprised. For what they were quoting us, we didn’t feel like we could do it on our own for any less. It wasn't long after that we decided to do our wedding at Hotel Isla Verde.




Our family all arrived within a couple of days of each other and we spent the first few days exploring the beautiful city of Antigua. On the third of August, we all piled into a bus and made the three and a half hour drive to San Marcos La Laguna on Lake Atitlan.









The first night we enjoyed a wonderful meal and drinks at Fe Restaurant. We called it our "non-rehearsal dinner" since we didn't plan on actually rehearsing anything. Half of our family stayed with Brenton and I at Hotel Aaculaax, the other half stayed about fifteen minutes down the main road at Pasaj-Cap. Both places were wonderful, beautiful, and our hosts were amazing.




The first course from our amazing dinner at Fe Restaurant.




...and of course we had to wash down that incredible dinner.





The breathtaking view from Pasaj Cap, where we had a bbq together. This is also a great place to camp if you find ever find yourself in San Marcos La Laguna.​



The next day, the fourth of August, we headed over to Santa Cruz in lanchas. I headed over a couple of hours earlier to get ready. Brenton and the rest of our guests came over in two different boats. As people arrived they enjoyed the incredible view and drinks from Hotel Isla Verde. We decided the ceremony would start at four o'clock, though I didn't actually come down until four-thirty. That's not too bad right? Brides are supposed to make a fashionably late entrance.





The lancha ride to the wedding venue.





The beautiful bride (finally ready) with her support team.​



We married on the dock, surrounded by our family, with "the most beautiful lake in the world" as our backdrop. Amazingly, we didn't get rained on either. Remember, we chose to get married in Guatemala, in the rainy season, in the late afternoon. That's prime time for a downpour.




Exchanging vows.




Our officiant has a problem with pacing, especially when public speaking.​


Did I mention my now brother-in-law was our officiant? We couldn't think of a better person to do it. As Brenton mentioned in the previous post, his sister Marissa, her husband Jay, and our nephew Cooper came down a couple of weeks before everyone else so we could spend some time traveling a bit with them. It was at this point when we asked Jay to officiate. We didn't give him much time, so we're grateful he agreed.




Note the Mayan girls enjoying the show through the windows.




Brenton and I decided to write our own vows and we also wanted Jay's part to be unique and personal. We looked up traditional vows and found some aspects that we liked, gave them to Jay, and told him to go wild. You could tell that Jay had poured his heart and soul into the role, and we couldn't have been happier with our choice to have him as our officiant.




You may kiss the bride!

After the ceremony we enjoyed incredible food, dessert, and a fun night of dancing and spending time with the people we love. Our day was amazing and everything we could have wanted.

















Things got a little emotional during the father-bride dance.






Since we were still on the lake, I surprised Brenton with a night at Hotel Isla Verde exactly one month after our wedding, on the fourth of September. Since tourist season is slowing down right now, we almost had the whole place to ourselves. We enjoyed a romantic dinner and slept in a comfy room with an amazing view of the lake.




A nice little surprise, the girls at Isla Verde pulled out all the stops for us...again!​


We are so grateful to all of our family and friends who made it to our wedding and for all the wonderful people who helped to make it possible. We couldn't have asked for more.
 
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