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ABOUT THIS BLOG

In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

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MONTHLY ARCHIVES

THE ROUTE

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  • Night on the damned mountain

    Posted on December 16th, 2009 Nicolas No comments
    The dirt road, going up the mountain

    The dirt road, going up the mountain

    So last Thursday, when we left the ruins, we took the direction of San Pedro Sula. Our next stop was supposed to be Masca, on the Caribbean coast, where I know some people from Global Block, a foundation with ties in Brooklyn, NY.

    Cofradia, where the main road intersect with the dirt road going up

    Cofradia, where the main road intersect with the dirt road going up

    The map of I bought just before leaving New York shows that there was a connection between Cofradia and the coast, going through the mountains. Around 2 p.m., we left the main road to try the mountain road. The first step on the road was Tomala, a village half way between the main road and the coast. As we entered the mountain, it became clear that the dirt road was not going to be as easy as previously thought. Huge changes in altitude, narrow path, animals on the road and river crossing were at every curve.
    Nadia go check hw deep the river is before driving through

    Nadia go check hw deep the river is before driving through

    In addition, as we were advancing and questioning people, we got a lot of conflicting answers about the road condition and time estimates to reach Tomala and the coast.
    Getting closer to Tomala

    Getting closer to Tomala

    After two hours, we already knew we would have to stop at Tomala for the night, as the light was dimming. And when we finally arrived there, it appeared that the road stopped there as well. Locals quickly confirmed this. There was no road, our map was wrong. The following day, we would have to backtrack to San Pedro, and use the main road to go along the coast. That was bad news, but after all, we were hay to see this tiny village. When we arrived, there was some kind of town meeting, and participants decided to give us the keys of the church where we could have access to water.
    Tomala, 5 a.m.

    Tomala, 5 a.m.

    The day after, we were up by 4:30 in the morning, determined to make it to the coast. Then, after few hours going down, as I was driving, something went wrong with the steering, causing us to crash on the side of the road. The good side, fortunately.
    Broken steering gear

    Broken steering gear

    We quickly assessed the damage, and realized that the steering gear was broken, the radiator and differential were leaking and the welding on the exhaust pipe cracked.

    As I was keeping our belongings, Nadia got a ride to San Pedro, and came back with a mechanic who took the steering gear out of the truck. Then they went back to the city to try to get the part in junkyards. Two hours later, they came back with the US$450 part. It was expensive, but we had no choice. No tow truck will come get us there, in the mountain, and we could not let the truck here, with all the equipment inside. We had to make it to San Pedro before dark.
    After changing the part we went down the mountain in the most nerve wracking way.
    Going down the mountain

    Going down the mountain

    The mechanic and Nadia in the truck, myself and the son of the mechanic sitting on the tail of the truck, running for water in every river, filling the leaking radiator every minute, the worst noises coming from the distorted steering elements now touching the transmission. In addition, as we got to San Pedro, the traffic got terrible, and thinking about the engine overheating made me drive crazy.

    The mechanic and his family gave us shelter while the car got surgery

    The mechanic and his family gave us shelter while the car got surgery

    But we finally made it to the house of our mechanic, in the poor suburbs of the city. By then, it was dark already, and we accepted the offer to stay at their place for the night. Once again, and like in every country, we benefited from the help and welcoming attitude from the local population.
    The following day, I woke up at 5, and work continued on many parts of the truck. Trying to get the radiator fixed, unbending parts and myriads of other little things were done by 2 p.m.
    In the heat of San Pedro

    In the heat of San Pedro

    At this point, the truck could run, but not in the best conditions. It was now Saturday afternoon, and we decided to make it to Masca, on the coast. Few hours later we were there, but by then, we realized we would have to go see a more legit mechanic, and probably a Toyota dealership would be the best.
    Waiting for Nadia to come back with the parts

    Waiting for Nadia to come back with the parts

  • Mountain 1 – Trans World 0

    Posted on December 13th, 2009 Nicolas No comments
    river_crossing

    Crossing river in the mountain

    Friends,
    I wish I would write today to speak about the marvelous Copan Ruinas we visited few days ago when we entered Honduras, and I will go back to the few past days in later posts, but unfortunately, the reason for the long time spent without posting is because we were stuck in the mountains after a series of unfortunate events let us in a difficult situation.

    After crossing the Honduras border and visiting Copan, we took the direction of the Caribbean coast to take some rest and enjoy the beach.

    Our map was showing that it was possible to cross through the mountains, via a small village called Tomala. It was confirmed to us that it was indeed possible, but difficult. Well, to make a long story short, the road didn’t exist after Tomala. When we arrived there, it was night, and had no choice but sleep there.

    Honduras mountain

    Honduras mountain

    We left the village before 6 in the morning, and after hours of drive through really difficult roads, our steering gear broke, forcing us into the pit on the side of the road, damaging several other elements of the car. Eventually, it turned out that the faulty part was not an original part.

    From there, everything was really difficult, and we are still trying to get the car back on road and working correctly. As soon as it will be done, I will update you on everything, including all the great things we saw here, in Honduras.

    Stuck in the mountain

    Stuck in the mountain

    We are OK, and need you guys to cross your fingers for us. It is very difficult to get straight answers on the things that seem to be damaged, but the transmission took a blow, as well as the suspension and steering elements. Our first worry right now is the financial aspect of the incident.

    But don’t worry, nothing can stop the expedition, and I will go on all round. Word.