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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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  • Questions and answers

    Posted on April 3rd, 2010 Nicolas No comments

    Hi all,
    Since there is not much travel going on these days, and because I feel bad I didn’t interact enough with people posting comments on this blog, I thought I would try to round up recent questions I received and answer them the best I could:

    Did the issues with the Cruiser work themselves out after the salt incident?

    At the Salar de Uyuni

    No, I still have problem with indication of low oil pressure. I tried to clean all the electrical connectors under the truck with no success. In the north of Argentina, I stopped in a Toyota leadership, but they could not find a solution. The A/T TEMP indicator also comes up once in a while. I think the truck is OK mechanically, and it is just sensors problems, so I am not too worry.

    I’m curious to know…why did you decide to drive & ship your car? Wouldn’t it have been easier & cheaper to stay in cheap hotels/hostels & rent cars? The expense of your car has got to be extreme now, yes?
    This question comes up a lot. In my mind, driving is better because you can choose the route you want. You also see more of how people are living than if you were just flying to tourist hotspots. You travel at your own rhythm, and can choose where you want to stay few days, or keep driving if you don’t like a place.
    Yes, this is way more expensive to drive yourself around the world. But it makes the trip more of a challenge. I like the fact that this travel is not a vacation, but more like a daily job. When I get to places, I feel I really deserved it, after all the problems solving skills and efforts that were involved.
    The truth is I could not have done it by flying, because it will not have kept me busy enough. I am kind of a work addict, and I will have miss getting things done if I was not traveling this way.

    Have you had anyone offer to travel with you through Africa?
    Yes, people contacted me to come along. I may have visitors. In general, there were more people interested in easier parts, like Asia. There are currently not too much people interested in the Pakistan or Yemen leg of my journey!

    • Should we try to contact Toyota to have them help you?
    We can try. The land Cruiser could use a bit of TLC.
    Send them a letter at
    Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
    19001 South Western Ave.
    Torrance, CA 90501
    Email: toyota_cares@toyota.com
    Twitter: @Toyota

    • Nick, just another thought (on the Egypt issue) in case you didn’t know yet… Did you look into getting a Carnet de Passage?
    CarnetDePassageYes, I have a Carnet de passage, which doesn’t allow me to cross Egypt. I did let a guaranty to AAA of about $20,000, and should have given the double if I wanted to cross Egypt. So now, my only option is to ship from the east coast of Africa to Saudi Arabia or Yemen. I will probably get more information about available options as I travel in Africa and meet people on the road.

    Hey Nick, while you have time, could you post why the West Africa route does not appear to be a good option to you. I would be curious to read what information you found about this route.

    A new routeThere are several reasons. The weather pattern, the visa situation, the deteriorating situation in Nigeria, and the cost factor.
    It took me too long to go across the Americas, and now, by the time I get to Cameroon, for example, it will be the rainy season, during which you can find yourself stuck in the mud all the time. It is especially hard if you do it alone, with no other vehicles to help you out. I remember reading the blog of a couple for who it took 10 days to do 10 kilometers.
    The visa for Angola is as always very hard to obtain, and I read this week about one more expedition who had to change their routes after spending a long time and a lot of money trying to secure the visa. On the west side of Africa, you have to cross many more countries than on the east side, and each time you spend time and money getting these damn visas.
    Also, skipping Europe and the high cost of gasoline up there will save me money.
    How is your budget doing with the car?
    It is not too bad I guess, especially if nothing bad happens in the future (unlikely) I don’t have the figures with me, as the accounting books are in the truck sailing to Africa, but I am still under the $4,000 maintenance figure I budgeted at the beginning of the trip.

    By the way why didn’t you include Australia in you trip?
    I would have like to include Australia. Unfortunately the high cost of shipping to and from Australia makes it difficult. If I find a treasure somewhere, I’ll do it.

    Have a question: you speak English & French (presumably) do you speak any other languages…Spanish?…??
    At the custom office, trying to communicateThe only languages I speak are English and French. Unfortunately, I didn’t speak Spanish, which made the communication harder for the first leg of the trip. You definitely experience way more as you can spend more time discussiong with the locals. English is widely spoken on the east side of Africa, which will make it easier for me.

    Can you give us details about the equipment you took with you and what you did on the truck before you left?
    I plan to add a link at the top of this page with more details on the prep work. This is long overdue and will help out people who want to do a similar trip.

    What will you do at the end of the trip?
    Try to find a job in New York City, and secure a work visa. Hopefully the economy will be in better shape. And more I travel, more I know that I want to live in NY when I am back, if I can.

    How often are you changing your oil? Are you sticking to a 3,000 mile routine or if you are changing it more often due to the harsh conditions you are encountering.

    I promised my old friendI will get him some fresh oil

    Since I left NY, I use synthetic oil and just change it every 6 to 8,000 miles. I may have to switch to regular oil when I will not be able to find better.

    How are you doing compared to the budget you had at the beginning of the trip?
    So far, I think I spent less on lodging/camping that I thought, even if costlt Buenos Aires will change that. I probably spent a bit less on food and more on gasoline. On the top part of the website, there’s a link to the expenses I had. Whenever I will have time, I will put more details into it.

    • Aren’t you tired yet of traveling?
    Surprisingly not. I was thinking I would get very tired of sleeping in different places every night, but so far, I like this life, and can continue like that for a while.

    • Which countries did you like more?
    The countries I preferred, I guess are Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Guatemala. But of course I had good time in every country.

    • What do you miss the most?

    The crew from Lefferts place wishes good luck to the expeditionI miss my friends in NY and working down there. Even the NY winter, can you believe that? I miss work and the people I used to see daily. I miss people from Lefferts Place in Brooklyn and Jay and Rosie who owns the house I lived. I miss friends in France, which I did not see much then, but even less now. I miss my bird. I also miss people at BK who helped me out setting up my truck and fix the multiple crappy cars I own in the past. But most of these things will be there when I come back, and New York will always be New York, right?

    Does every country have all-you-can-eat specials? Imagine a Latin American Caribbean smorgasbord with a never ending desert tray at the end. Good stuff.

    I didn’t see much of all-you-can-eat buffets, but I guess you can order a Parilla (barbecue) menu in Argentina, and there are few chances you will finish it.

    Be Sociable, Share!

40 Responses to “Questions and answers”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nicolas Rapp. Nicolas Rapp said: New blog post: Questions and answers http://transworldexpedition.com/?p=1308 […]

  2. I assumed your Land Cruiser is equipped with standard-transmission? On this challenging trip, nothing beats standard with rigid suspension on all the two axles.

    Are you carrying a weapon for safety?
    How would you defend yourself when the situation arises?

  3. His Cruiser is an automatic which shouldn’t be a disadvantage since the Land Cruiser has great 4WD in both lo and hi gears. In terms of weapons, for his personal safety it probably would be best that he not answer that one.

    Nick, good to know the truck is holding up for the most part and you have some downtime. Hopefully Toyota responds to our e-mails asking for assistance and if you get it I will be a jealous bastard cause my Cruiser could use some TLC as well 🙂

  4. Wow. What a trip. I admire your grit & success to you & whoever travels with you on your adventure of a lifetime.

    Go for it. Don’t give up.

    Janette

  5. Nick, in regards to the oil pressure indication, it could be a faulty oil filter. A good way to test is to feel it (with engine off of course) after driving for a while. If it feels cool, then the filter is bad. Use only a genuine Toyota oil filter like I’ve suggested, anything else could be more trouble than it’s worth especially since it’s harder to find quality parts in the developing countries.

    Oil burnage could be indications of bad PCV valve and/or dirty air filter. If you know where they are and how to get to them, check them. The PCV valve is normally tested by shaking it to see if it rattles. If it doesn’t, it’s bad. Again, I recommend only the genuine Toyota part, but it’s OK to use an aftermarket piece if you’re forced to.

    Hopefully, the AT Temp light is really just an electrical issue and not your cooling system issue. Most cars have the automatic transmission fluid circulated through the radiator to help cool the fluid. If the radiator is clogged or having issues cooling (you may not notice this problem until you are in high ambient temperatures), it will cause the ATF to overheat which will severely reduce the life of your transmission. Check the fluid level (with engine running) and if it has a burnt smell. If it does, replace the fluid ASAP. I recommend doing it as soon as your truck is in South Africa anyway just to be on the safe side due to the severe conditions you have subjected it through so far. Of course, fix any cooling problems if they’re found.

    Good luck and safe journeys!

  6. Randy Reality Check

    This blog has been very interesting but I must say that I believe it will end in Africa. The oppressive heat, dangerous encounters with locals, condition of the LandCruiser, and the fact that Nicolas is traveling alone for this leg of the journey will be too much for him. I predict he never makes it to Egypt and he doesn’t need anymore Toyota advice as this journey is nearly over. If you have a prediction as to how far Nicolas will make it on his quest please add your thoughts. BTW, I sincerely hope he accomplishes finishing the route but I just don’t think he will. Africa 1, Nicolas 0.

  7. Nick…Your most recent AP article ran this morning in the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) Travel Section. Don’t be surprised if you start getting more Ohio followers. I imagine it ran in many Travel Sections throughout the US this week. Enjoy this break from the drive, because it sure looks like you are in for a high-energy trip North through Africa.

  8. Thanks for clearing up some questions Nick.

    After your travel experience is over you said you’re even more determined to go back to New York to live. Why is that?

  9. Hi Nick Ray from Seattle, your article also ran here at the Travel section of the Seattle Times maybe more of Seattlites will follow your blog. Anyway keep posting these blog because I always keep up with your interesting comments from the people around the world.
    Take care

  10. Great blog Nick thats the way to answer everything at once. I hope you are relaxing well. As for Randy, that was just mean.

    See ya Nick

  11. Good luck Nick…..Randy how about a positive outlook for this trip.

  12. Hi Nick, good job for keeping us posted on your adventure 🙂

    Randy, I live in Africa Kenya to be precise and cruisers rule here! I have seen some as old as 20 years and still going strong. As usual with motoring you will realise that cars require fixing especially on such a long trip. I strongly believe he will accomplish his adventure however difficult it may seem. Remember such a trip is done on step by step approach.

    Good Luck!

  13. Nick, have you read Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari”? It’s about his 2002 (?) north to south trip through East Africa. His mode of transportation was different than yours, but I think it’d be very insightful for you. Best wishes!

  14. Fantastico Nick, good idea to reply to the followers of your post. Looking forward to your African adventure, I suggest you download “The Gods must be crazy” so you can watch the movie in the plane. Hilarious movie!
    As far as the Prophet Randy, I predict that once the African leg is accomplished, he will foresee a new line in the sand. Can I get an Amen Randy!!!

  15. Hey Nick

    I’m sending you a link to a couple who have land traveled extensively through Africa:http://www.adventurouspirits.com/ Tom and Janet have done the West Africa route and
    the central Africa route, when I met them in Calgary, Canada.

    I will link them to your site, so they know about your journey as well.

    All The Best, Nick !

    Moca Joe

  16. I got that feeling in my gut reading your blog that you only get when something inside of you wakes up and starts to live. I am about to embark on my own little trek, nothing as grand as yours, but one that I hope will bring me a new way of looking at things.

    I look forward to reading future posts as if I were a kid waiting for the next Superman comic to arrive on shelves.

    Safe travels!!

  17. Hi Nick,
    I don’t know why but whenever someone does something out of the ordinary or actually gets out and does what you are doing some people for many reasons want you to fail……

    All i can say is bloody good on you … I enjoy reading your blogs and think what a great adventure your’e on wish you all the best.

    I am sure you will have problems but isn’t that part of the journey…

    If it was that easy we’d all be doing it..

    Great that you answered some questions and at least you know that there a lot of people all over the world supporting you.

    Stay Safe

  18. So I remember in your earlier posts you said alot of guys were asking Nadia in Marraige- So How many Lol But For real?

  19. Marti-Nashville

    Fabulous!!! Answering our questions really helps out. You are making it much more personal to us. The interaction means you are actually listening to us and know we care about you. think this reflection while you are sitting somewhat idle will do your soul good. Sometimes we just need that quite time within ourselves.

    Forge on my friend!

    Ms. Marti

  20. Hi Nick,

    I have friends and family in Pakistan. I have spoken to them and they will be more then happy to host you for the days you are there. They can provide logitical support, guidance and a safe place to park your truck.

    Let me know and I would hook you up with them.

    Pakistan is a fairly beautiful place, if you want to spend the time to look. It is nto as dangerous as the media would have you believe.

    Good luckwith your travels.

    Imran

  21. “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

    — Saint Augustine

    Thank you Nick for sharing your journey and the world with us, I look forward to reading as you continue. Press on and live your dream.

    Roger

  22. Podgorsek Family

    Hi Nicolas,

    It’s good that you can take this short break before heading out alone.
    It’s nice to hear you answering people’s questions.

    It must be kinda magical to have people from all around the world sending you well wishes. May all that great energy help propel you in troubled moments. We all do check to see if you’ve written the next page of this wonderful journey you are on.
    Keep going and know we are all crossing our fingers for your safety & good fortune!!
    Keep the tires turning! 🙂 Dan, Lisa & Bryce

  23. Dear Nick,

    I’ve been following you from the beginning. Come here every day to see if there’s a new post and really enjoy reading all (or most all!) the comments when there isn’t. It’s a real treat for this old lady to experience the world through your blog. Sending you good thoughts and best wishes for the safe completion of your adventure. Thanks for the Q & A. Hope you have time to do it again in future. Travel safe on phase two!

  24. Harvey in Naples,FL

    (THIS IS MY SECOND LETTER TO TOYOTA… HAVE YOU SENT YOURS YET?)

    Mr. Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota
    Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
    19001 South Western Ave.
    Torrance, CA 90501

    Email: toyota_cares@toyota.com

    Dear Mr. Akio Toyoda,

    I sent your company a letter a week or so ago and have not had a response to date.

    I’d like to bring your attention to a brave and courageous young man, Nicolas Rapp of New York City, USA, who is driving one of your 1996 Toyota Land Cruisers around the world. He’s doing this of his own free volition and primarily with his own money and with the assistance of a hand full of contributors starting as little as $5! He specifically chose your vehicle because of its dependability and reliability. He’s just completed the first leg, 4+ months, of the trip and is headed to Africa to continue his adventure. Without further explanation please refer to his web site for the complete story. (http://transworldexpedition.com).

    The purpose of this letter is that I know he needs YOU and I believe YOU NEED HIM. During the trip he has encountered numerous mechanical problems… most of which he has repaired. With all the difficulties that the Toyota brand name has endured lately… the success of one daring soul who chose your brand, over all others, to carry him around the globe is the best publicity you could ever have. He doesn’t’t want to fail and you don’t want him to either!

    A few weeks ago millions and millions of people worldwide saw you and the company’s chief operating officer for North America, Yoshimi Inaba, sitting at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. taking all the heat for the alleged problems your company has endured of late. You stated in the past three years, Toyota has recalled 23 million cars. All I’m asking you to do is to pick up the phone and call someone in Africa at one of the company’s dealerships and help this young made out. What he’s doing requires guts and courage… The same guts and courage it took for you to appear before that congressional hearing and defend your grandfathers good name and reputation. Nicolas Rapp is also one of your family members. He’s a member of the “Toyota Family”! He’s one human being testing himself against nature and machinery and needs all the help he can get. Please join his team. Pick up that phone and be counted. Please feel free to contact me if I can assist you in this noble endeavor. Please do anything you can to help in his quest. Thousands of us who are following him along his way on the Internet, newspapers and television… will be praying for his success and yours also!

    Warm regards,
    Harvey

  25. Marti-Nashville

    Hey Nick have you changed your route again? You mentioned Yemen in your answer about people not wanting to join you on that leg of your journey. Just wondering? Senior moment? LOL

    Ms. Marti

  26. Nick,

    Don’t worry too much about Egypt, coming from Sudan you should be all right even if you don’t have the proper carnet. I just crossed a few months ago. I was also hoping to get a visa for Saudi Arabia but were unable to get one in Khartoum. Try to find a solid contact first if you want to go that route.

    Check my entry blog on Sudan/Egypt for more details:

    http://2aroundtheworld.com/?p=378

  27. Have you thought about skipping Africa or possibly shipping your vehicle north of say Nigeria?

  28. Todd, shipping is rather expensive, and I will try to stick to the most overland route possible.

    Ms. Marti, one of the option I am considering is shipping from Djibouti to Yemen, then drive to Oman, and ship to Iran.

    Imran, yes, i will probably need your help, thanks.

    Karey, who lnows? she may be married by now.

    Stephen, Dan who was with us for three weeks shot some video. Hopefully I will be able to post it on the website when he is done with post-prod.

    Thanks to all!

  29. Paul in Sarasota

    I also recently read Dark Star Safari which I would highly recommend to everyone who enjoys extreme travel…at least reading about it. Nick, I believe that Africa will be your greatest challenge, but you have the drive and persistence to achieve your goal.

  30. nick,are you going to do a book? also are you going to add any video footage to blogs.i am hooked on following your adventures.

  31. Nick – Wishing you all the best from Ohio! What a great adventure!

    Cheers,
    Steve

  32. Randy Reality Check

    Hold on a minute! All I did was make a prediction. I am not “wanting” the expedition to fail. If it fails it will be an unfortunate event. All I am saying is that there are a number of serious obstacles facing Nick and his plan. Hopefully he reads my comment above making the prediction he won’t make it out of Africa and it will stoke his competitive spirit that allows him to transcend the obstacles in his control. Some obstacles are out of his control however. I have no doubt Cruisers are “awesome” as I looked into purchasing one myself. Having said that this particular vehicle has had a number of problems already and had proved to be less than reliable. Also, in my above post I urged people to make “predictions” as to how far he will make it. Instead of turning the post around on me and saying that I’m “mean;” why not make your own prediction. The cautious cynic that resides within me DOES believe that if ALL of you predict he will finish the expedition than you are collectively being pollyannaish. For example, it appears that Nick, himself, did not feel that he would be able to complete the expedition as originally planned for he changed his route from West Africa to East Africa. As a further note, I am currently in West Africa and have some sort of idea as to the challenges that await Nick.

    So, my prediction: Nick will not make it out of Africa.
    Another prediction: Some of you writing about how he will “definitely” complete the journey couldn’t yourselves make it from Louisville to Lexington on your own.

  33. Salut ma poule j’espère que tous va bien je suis ton aventure avec frissons et je kiff grave.
    Si tu à besoin de quelques choses tien moi informé, si tu à un numéro donne le moi sur mon mail je t’appelle ça me fera grave plaisir ou un numéro en Argentine le temps que tu reste sur place.
    J’pense à toi mon pote et j’espère avoir de tes nouvelles très rapidement.

    Grosse biz mon pote et à bientôt.

    Stéphane.

  34. The pollyanna in me believes (predicts) that Nick will successfully complete his goal.

  35. Nick, Be sure to spend at least a couple of days in Kruger as you drive South to North through ZA. It won’t slow you down much and it will bring a geat deal of delight to your trip.

  36. Randy Reality Check

    Mo In Florida, well done and thank you for your prediction (belief). I hope you are correct!

  37. I think it would be awesome to travel with you through Pakistan and Yemen. I just got out of the Marines Corps this summer, i was infantry. Did two tours in Iraq also. I could help you out with that part of the journey and provide security. But unfortunately my job will not allow me and probably my wife either haha! Have a safe trip and i am looking forward to reading more about your travels. Good luck and stay safe.

  38. Harvey in Naples,FL

    TO: Randy Reality Check

    If you have doubts about the safety and stability of his vehicle… yet want him to succeed… where is a copy of your letter to Mr. Toyoda (Noted is previous posts)? Have you sent yours yet? You must admit if Toyota gives him a 100% check over with all necessary repairs and upgrades, his chances for success increase. RRC… waiting for your copy of the letter!

    Cheers,
    Harvey

  39. Randy Reality Check

    Harvey,
    Write a letter to Mr. Toyoda? I think your thought is an interesting one but I am fairly sure that a letter would be a complete waste of time. Nick set out on this adventure on his own and he needs to complete it on his own. I do not think he is any more entitled to support from Toyota than you are, or I am for that matter.

  40. Thanks all for your support.
    I have to say, whenever people say to me “no”, “you can’t do that” or “it’s impossible”, it always gives me more motivation in trying to accomplish my goal.
    Can’t wait to be back on the road…

    Nick