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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.

Visited countries


April 2024



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  • Trans World not at its best, but on the move

    Posted on December 27th, 2009 Nicolas No comments
    Agua Azul Sierra

    Agua Azul Sierra

    The infamous axle housing

    The infamous axle housing

    Here is an overdue account of the last few days. As you know, I was looking everywhere for this damn part, a front axle housing I bended in a mountain accident.

    After many days looking around, it became clear the part was not available in any junkyard and I grew worry I would have to finish my life in Honduras. Finally, we decided to try what many told us was not possible. Find a machine shop where they could heat the housing and make an attempt to bend it back to its original shape.

    Raoul buys coco breads

    Raoul buys coco breads

    Raoul, Antonio’s friend hooked us up with a local guy who did it for US$50. The result was not perfect, and once the axle was put back in place, it appeared that the car was still lower on the passenger side. Also, the transmission was doing noises nobody wants to hear except in horror movies.

    With indications from Gabe (U.S. IH8MUD), we disconnected the front propeller shaft, which stopped the noises. But it means that we are now rolling in 2WD instead of 4WD. Which matched his reinsuring description of losing two of the four engines on a plane.

    Many bridges have been damaged during the earthquake

    Many bridges have been damaged during the earthquake

    Regardless, we had no other choices, and with Christmas celebrations, it was not looking good for us to get any help, or parts. Our goal was to be able to drive and reach Nicaragua, where the piece – according to Honduras sources – should be easier to locate. Plan B, if we can’t find the part, is to drive down to Costa Rica, and either find the part, or have it sent down from the U.S. Thanks to many friends I have been emailing back and forth, if we choose this option, we could have the part in 10 days maximum. Some people also offered their help for the mechanical part in Costa Rica.

    So on the 25th at 8 a.m., we were back on the road. We can’t thank enough Antonio and Thelma, who had us for ten days, and feeding us local food every day.

    At 3:30 p.m., after crossing the mountains surrounding Tegucigalpa, the country capital, we arrived at the Nicaragua border. Roads and bridges in Honduras suffered a lot from the recent earthquake, and I was looking forward to the more recent Nicaragua infrastructure.

    Customs officers are not joking when looking for drug

    Customs officers are not joking when looking for drug

    The Las Manos border was definitely the easiest one we had to cross. We were done in 40 minutes. Pretty cheap as well, we only had to pay US$3 to exit Honduras, US$7 to enter Nicaragua, no cost for bringing the vehicle, a mandatory $12 insurance (like always, liability only), and a Marlboro light for the guy to open the gate.

    An hour later, being back to sea level, we asked a small hospital funded by USAID if they minded us camping in the courtyard. They didn’t.

    Night falling on Nicaragua

    Night falling on Nicaragua

    I felt relieved we were able to let Honduras behind. Not being able to make any progress in the last week has been frustrating, and I needed something to happen.

    The following day, we continued south, but slower. It was Saturday after Christmas, and we knew it was meaningless to arrive in the capital before Monday.

    Coffee plants

    Coffee plants

    Drying beans

    Drying beans

    We did some grocery shopping, visited a coffee plantation close to Matagalpa (Selva Negra, which I don’t especially recommend, since they apparently benefited a lot of guidebooks recommendations, and felt more like a touristic destination than a real coffee plantation.

    Typical Nicaragua landscape

    Typical Nicaragua landscape

    Around 5 p.m., as we got closer to the Managua Lagoon and past Las Maderas, we asked a farmer to camp on his property. We were now at less than an hour from Managua, and I was growing more optimistic.

    The farm we slept at, an hour from Managua

    The farm we slept at, an hour from Managua

28 Responses to “Trans World not at its best, but on the move”

  1. I was glad to see new twitter from you. I don’t really know you both, but it seams I do. I find myself concerned when I don’t see your updates. I have been following you since before you left on your adventure. Hope you have better luck with the rest of your trip and God’s speed.

  2. Many of us were wondering what was happening– so glad to see you guys back on the move. PERSEVERE….that’s what my great grandfather used to say. These mechanical problems are screwing up your schedule but it’s adding to your adventure. Heck, by the end of your journey, this vehicle will be held up by duct tape. Don’t underestimate the power of the people you meet throughout the world—they’ll keep you going. However, you may have to adjust your time frame due to these setbacks you’ve encountered so far and for those to come. On the positive side of things, you are getting to experience the people and the places they live for an extended period. How many miles have you driven so far? What about your budget? Is there an average you’ve been spending daily?

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  5. I am so glad you are on the move! I was wondering about the long delay. Best of luck!!!

  6. Happy to see that all is working out for you both. I’m sure you will find the part you seek. Hang in their my friends.

  7. Glad t read your post again Nick. Was getting a bit concerned here. On the bright side, it seems your predicaments brings out the best in the people you meet. Looking forward to reading more as you go along.

  8. The infamous axle rod looks like a big femur bone. Good luck for New Year’s Eve in Costa Rica!

  9. Glad to see your footprints again.

  10. Good to see this post. Was getting worried too. Keep at it guys and Happy New Years! As you’ll be in Costa Rica soon remember pura vida.

  11. Nick,
    I’ve been watching your progress. God bless you…. Its starting to look like the slide show. If you need anything let me know. If not have a very happy new year. Send picts of New Year’s Eve where ever you may be.


    Billy C

  12. uncle nick let me know what we can do to possibly help out with the situation

  13. Hey, glad to hear you guys are okay and on the move again. You might check Venezuela for parts. They made the 80 series Landcruiser up till… I think… just a couple of years ago in country under contracts of some sort with Toyota. Maybe the parts would be cheaper in that neck of the woods. Either way, hang in there and be careful. I follow your journey eagerly daily. It livens otherwise monotonous existence. :).

  14. Happy New Year to the 2 of you

  15. Nick, thanks for the adventure that you are sharing with us. Your updates give me a 2 minute “vacation” every few days and are inspiring me to plan some adventures with my family (not as extreme as your adventure, but the same concept). Those of us who are trapped in an office appreciate you opening our eyes to the rest of the world without the normal bias or drama we get from a newspaper writer. Good luck with the rest of your adventure and happy new year to you!

    One request – please give us updates more often. I understand your connectivity is probably spotty, but the updates can be short 1 or 2 sentences to let us know what your location is. I am also interested in some of the different foods you are eating along the way. Thanks, G-man.

  16. Land Rover- sponsor this dude!! Get him Rollin in a LR3!

  17. If Land Rover ships the LR3 now it could hit the port of Vitoria, Brasil- Esporito Santos. Alter route to west coast north of Rio and by the time rover arrives Nick rolls into town , drops the old Toyota- BAM- great publicity for Land Rover… K I’m done

  18. Nick: I know hangups and delays are frustrating, but hang in there! Your journey is fascinating – I’ll being it to the attention of our Social Studies department when the break is over. I think our students will get a chance to see how people live outside the ‘burbs’. Your pictures and insights into real life culture are terrific. Keep up the good work.

  19. Raul Antonio Gamez

    Me alegra que hayan salido adelante del problema mecanico,aun asi lo siento que la pieza no se reparara de forma satisfactoria porque todo eso son gastos economicos no previstos y tienen un largo viaje.Espero que todo sea de exitos y que puedan lograr el objetivo.Animo! saludos y abrazos.

  20. Raul Antonio Gamez

    Me alegra que hayan salido adelante del problema mecanico,aun asi lo siento que la pieza no se reparara de forma satisfactoria porque todo eso son gastos economicos no previstos y tienen un largo viaje.Espero que tengan muchos exitos y que puedan lograr el objetivo.Animo! saludos y abrazos.

  21. Raul Antonio Gamez

    FELIZ AÑO NUEVO, Abrazos.

  22. @Adam, apart from the Toyota vs Landrover discussion which I am not going to start here, you don’t even want to think about shipping something to Brasil. Importation taxes are so high Nick would blow his whole budget just on that. Even if the car itself would be sponsored. Apart from that you must calculate between 2 and 3 weeks of paperwork on customs….

    Others have said that you must be scammed on the price of parts, but you can’t compare the price of parts in the US or Canada with the rest of the world. You just pay more that’s as simple as it gets. You might get lucky on scrapyards or a used parts shop, but new, you always get the pay top.

    I think Nick, you just got a bit unlucky with the car you bought. We bought a 20 year old BJ45, and did a 2 month preparation of very small items. Now after 6 and a half years we still only have minor issues to solve.

    Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia are you countries for parts and maintenance, Brazil, Argentina, Chili are more difficult. I don’t know about the countries in Central, but you will find out.

    From La Paz, Bolivia I wish all of you and especially Nick an awesome 2010. Keep the rubberside down

  23. Dear Nick & Nadia:

    Happy New Year. May 2010 bring you both great travels, many blessings, good luck, good cheer and much prosperity. We look forward to following you all the way through. In the process, please know that you will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

  24. Good thinking Adam. I am with you on this idea, and I am willing to bet that more than a few followers would not mind throwing in a few bucks to expedite the idea. Better now than later and what difference does it really matter for the expedition if the LR is 13 yrs or brand new. Lastly, while the expedition is in part about driving the LRover, it is more about what Nick will share with us about driving around the world.

  25. Wherever you are now… FELIZ AÑO NUEVO!! Salud!!

  26. But the LR3 is designed by Ford. And its independent suspension, spotty parts coverage, and nowhere near as strong. There’s a reason he went with a Landcruiser, or considered an older Defender. LR3’s are an American car through and through. It would be done within a couple weeks.

  27. You would not find any LR3 parts in South America. If so, they would be imported and Nick would not at all be pleased with the price of any part…. Landcruiser is the way to go… Many grey imported parts and aftermarket items here in South America…

  28. Grandma joy knows what’s up!
    I’m aware of the high importation taxes. I buzz down to brazil once a year and friends ask me to bring laptops, etc, for them. we bring in a container a week from the Big Brasilia- Im dreaming for the dude. LR should pick up the importation fees too! Different port/country whatever. Who knows……crazier things have happened Coen, but thanks 4 the pragmatic path of greyness-
    Highs and lows of road trips! Ever miss the atribulious 8 hour work day? It’s always worth the roller coaster!!! Lucky!