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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.

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April 2024



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  • Going south in better shape, but under police pressure

    Posted on January 2nd, 2010 Nicolas No comments
    Sight of two volcanoes on Lago de Nicaragua

    Sight of two volcanoes on Lago de Nicaragua

    On Sunday morning, we entered Managua, were a new type of problems was awaiting us. For the first time since the beginning of the trip, the police and their requests for bribes would become really annoying. In the few days we were in the city, we maybe got stopped 15 times. Carrying foreign plates is a real problem, and you get pulled over immediately as soon as they see you are from out of town. Already in Honduras, we got controlled a lot, but the cops got tired before me when I affected to not understand what they wanted. The only time we had to pay another bribe was in Mexico, when a cop asked us US$5 to buy a chicken. I gave him $2, and he was happy with it. Border crossing were always very transparent and simple, and we never had any questionable request for money, which make me think the situation really improved during the last few years, considering other traveler reports.

    Nick and Nakor

    Nick and Nakor

    In Managua, most of the time, we were able to get them out of our back, but it was really stressful at the end, enough to try to avoid the city if you don’t have anything specific to do there.  Eventually, while leaving the city, I had to pay US$15 when they threatened to keep my driving license for three days.
    But of course, we really needed our part, so there was no other choice than staying in the city. Sunday, on the third time we got stopped, and as the policeman was getting ready to give us a ticket for some imaginary infraction, a local guy stopped to help us out. As soon as he did, the police asked us to leave immediately, as the situation become less manageable when more people begin to argue.
    Nakor, who will become our Managua connection, was curious about our trip and the reasons we were passing through the city. As soon as he knew about our car troubles, he offered to help, first by providing a place we could camp, and then by locating the part and a local guy who could put it on the truck.
    We relaxed until the end of the day, cooked and slept, and at 8 the day after, we started looking for the axle housing. We managed to find a used one, but before to buy, decided to check out the price of a new one. Surprisingly enough, the price was the same, so we decided to go with the new one. After that, we went to drop the part at Nakor’s friend.

    Mario, Nakor's friend, and his staff

    Mario, Nakor's friend, and his staff

    He told us he could put the axle in the day after, which would only take him a day of work if we came at 7 a.m. We did, and at 10 p.m. Tuesday, we were ready to go. After a last night in Managua and some work on the car in the morning, we were on our way south, and went looking for a beach we could spend at least two days to celebrate the new year.

    The beach

    The beach

    On our way down, we stopped at the main Nicaragua Lake, and enjoyed the sight of the volcanoes on Ometepe Island, in the middle of the salty lake. As the salt level was low, we decided to take advantage of it to clean up a bit. Half an hour after, we met people on the beach who offered to show us the way to a spot where we could camp on the beach, close to San Juan del Sur. It was perfect for us, as we wanted to avoid the very touristic town. 30 miles later, we found the perfect location north of the city.

    The dusty trail leading to the beach

    The dusty trail leading to the beach

    For few dollars, we got access to a small campground on the sand, with access to water, a shower and toilets. No Internet access unfortunately, which explain this late blog entry. We decided to stay two days, but eventually were there for three.

    The Swiss team chose a Land Rover to go across the Americas

    The Swiss team chose a Land Rover to go across the Americas

    There were few travelers on the beach, including a Swiss couple driving through central and South America with a land rover. Most people were on the road for a long time. Few months, or few years. Everybody was happy to have found each other, and even me, usually looking forward to more quiet time, was happy to have company for New Year’s Eve. It was a long time we didn’t speak English and we could exchange travel experience and tips.
    The seawater was warm there, and waves were big, attracting many surfers. On January 2, we would leave the beach and go south again, pass the Costa Rica border, and reach Tamarindo.

    Mathilda beach campground

    Mathilda beach campground

    New year on the beach

    New year on the beach

    We left a month-and-an-half ago, and covered 5,000 miles since New York. The last two weeks have been stressful with the car troubles, but we were able to get out of the first tricky situation. I know there will be more difficult time ahead, but hopefully, luck will be on my side. Happy new year to everybody in New York and Paris, happy new year to you all who are following our adventures, and happy, happy new year to all the people who helped us since we started this trip.

    Mathilda beach

    Mathilda beach

16 Responses to “Going south in better shape, but under police pressure”

  1. Nick, Happy New Year. Glad to hear you are on your way again. Wishing you much luck as you continue your adventure.

  2. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Sounds like your New Year was better than you Christmas.

  3. Looks like things are getting into shape… Keep it up. For a more relaxing view on what is to come, have a look at the guys from BBC’s Top Gear. I don’t know if you are familiar with that program, but for christmas they made a special about Bolivia… Where they buy 3 cars on the internet in Bolivia [yep that’s the car I bought, except that the one on internet was blue… ]. Original site [] but you will find YouTube versions [] everywhere… Hope you have a good connection to watch it sometime, its real funny.
    Adventurous greetings,

  4. Good to you were able to get through the tests of the ones (police) take advantage of you both. Keep on praying that the Lord keeps those like these out of yours path

  5. We are all hooked to reading your blog. And happy about those last records. A la prochaine

  6. Happy New Year from this stuck-at-home in Pittsburgh. Your freedom sounds great despite the troubles. Good luck and keep on truckin’!

  7. Happy New year Nick! Good to hear you are trucking on man. Yeah those cops are a nuisance, I have driven in Mexico and my native Ecuador. I enjoy long drives as well. I have driven to Texas and every summer I drive to Florida. I am, vicariously, enjoying your world tour. Looking forward to reading more of your postings. Take care.

  8. Nick – I saw a news article about your trip and checked out your site, I’ve been hooked ever since! Love the level of detail – I’m following your route on Google Earth and wishing I could ride along! Best of luck, hope you don’t run into too many obstacles (though it wouldn’t be as much fun if there were NO obstacles, am I right?)

  9. Happy New Year!!! I have enjoyed following you on your blog! What an experience!

  10. Harvey (Naples, FL)

    Hooked on Nick!

    U da Man!

    Push on!

  11. Harvey (Naples, FL)

    Responders… Please put your city next to your ID so we can see where the folks following Nick hail from!

    Don’t worry… The Boogie Man won’t come to your house and get you! BOO

  12. Happy New Year travel boy, i have the same problem with the south alabama cops,always wanting something. Hey whats up with Swiss driving the Americas. Hell around the world is the way to go. Swiss are pus–ys too. Well good luck maybe the cops will leave you alone. Have fun. Joe from bama. PS did hear about that 40 yr old woman attacking a 11 yr old boy and his dog jump in to protect him(what a story)

  13. Nick,
    Glad to see that the vehicle is back in good workings. I have been following since the beginning and it seems the truck is just getting broke in good now that a few problems have come and gone. Hope the local money hungry Authority Monkeys stay off your back. Happy New Year!

  14. Good Morning Nick

    Really enjoying the updates! Would love to hear more
    about the different foods your eating along the way.
    Looking forward to your next post! Happy New Year

  15. Central America is notorious for the bribes on the street. Highly annoying but just something you have to deal with. I would have never thought to include $1 and $5 bills to my budget to bribe every official looking for a handout.

    On the flipside, someone came to your aid and you were able to get a new axle. Excellent! Things really do balance out at the end…

  16. Happy new year my friend. I hope everything is okay with the car. If you need help, please let me know if I can do anything. OK? Nancy did not give birth yet. We will let you know of course. All the best my friend. On pense à vous.
    Jeff, Nancy et Inès