some times you just want to scream and I know some of you know what I mean....
This morning the diff lock lamp was on ( don't know if its in lock or not = bad ). The switch they broke was again broken. Not a good soldering job. I am unable to fix it and my second hand spare isn't great. The linkage isn't set up correctly.....why did I ever think it would be....it took me hours to set it up in the UK. There's a plastic clip missing from the linkage that was there. I know it was as I put it there last time the box was out. So that's been lost. I cannot fall off and can only come out if the linkage is disconnected.
The mechanic said "I'll just tighten everything up" when he'd last set the linkage. Nothing is tight and everything is loose. In fact I undid the diff-lock switch with my fingers. The same fingers I used to tighten it up ! The Hi-Low link is finger tight. The Diff-Lock locking bolt isn't done up at all. The lock-nut on the transfer diff-lock lever is loose. Its been re-used !
I can guess why they re-used the M8 lock nut. The USA is all Imperial. I have loads in my box....
Who knows what else is wrong.
I'm going to amend the rule of overlanding. Superseding rule number 1 which is NEVER DRIVE AT NIGHT and straight in at #0.5 is NEVER LET ANOTHER PERSON TOUCH YOUR CAR ! Three times has this happened and two times there have been major issues afterwards, like this. We still have a partial problem from the first time. Second was a disaster and this is getting there....
Problems in Walmart....grinding sound on idle and when moving coming from the rear of the bell housing. My thoughts are input bearing on gearbox. A big job to take it out involving stripping the entire box.
So its either Gearbox or Clutch which are almost knackered. We can move but should we ? Looking for help from the helpful Land Rover community and some mechanics.
If its the clutch we have the parts. If its the gearbox its gonna get expensive....
Try to keep this updated but its the last thing on my mind.
Was it the gearbox oil I put in not one week ago !
It had to be the best day since African times. It really is absolutely awesome. It really is nearly as good as Wadi Rum. The arches are real and yes I stood on them both. The trick is look at the arch after you've walked over it and not before. I must admit once I looked at the drop I was shitting myself and that's after I'd been over them !
The bike is a guy riding around from the Isle of Man. Why do you need and adventure bike were his words....
I wish we could spend longer here to see more but we gotta dash. We might come back next year.
You really must come here if you've never been to Wadi Rum but don't come on a weekend. I get the feeling it would be madness on that rim trail. Much better in the week and off season.
Parts are here and i have the timing case and belt off. Only took 20mins as I have no viscous fan to remove so its a really quick job. Going out for a beer tonight with a guy we met in Africa in Jungle Junction. He now lives here so we are meeting up for a few beers.
Tomorrow morning I'll put the car in order and back together. That should take no more than two hours as long as all goes well. Fatal last words.....
Its not been a good day. First we went to wash some clothes and the machine spent 1 hour washing due to its crappy water fill rate. We commented on the lack of suds in the machine whilst watching it, like you do. Turns out the soap powder has not been dispensed so the washing wasn't clean and you know how dirty we are ! (see previous posts). The low water pressure wasn't enough to reach the soap draw. So we had to re-start the whole lot and leave to go get the oil exchanged.....We returned to a bag of wet washing and its now hanging out to dry n the campsite.
So,,,, we arrive at Autozone which isn't the same one where we got the oil. They don't have any oil for Diesels. I ask for a refund and because of all the free shit we got, all hell breaks loose as everything is discounted. They only want to give me the discounted price back which isn't what I paid. They had really done something funky with the receipt in the last place. Anyhow after a load of discussions in English and Spanish which neither side understood we made some calls and got more than we paid back in return....I told them it was too much and they insisted. So we got an Oil Filter and Some Grease for 50p in the end. They couldn't fathom we got all the free stuff for "free" and only paid full price for the oil and glue. When the cancelled all the free stuff and oil off the receipt it looked like we'd paid M$99.99 more than we had so we made that in profit and spent it on Grease and a Filter.
My throat is sore from talking.....
I also feel like shit again. Its the same thing as the last two times. I need to go to bed. We are almost out of antibiotics so I will hold off taking any. We need to get some more if I'm to take them for 5 days again. I wonder what it is ?
There were some blog comments I forgot to approve....SORRY its now done.
I'm not quite there yet and we've had things to do. Like sleep to the sound of Tennis Balls bouncing at 8am....We ignore this and carry on. Just like the English. Carry on regardless.
The car parts are on their way. They should be here Monday or Tuesday at which point I will fix the car. New seals and a new timing belt (currently covered in oil) and replace the engine oil......except.
Do you know (i did not) that engine oil is not always compatible with Diesel engines. The oil i got, for the first time ever is Petrol only.....I'm flabbergasted. So tomorrow I need to take it back and swap it. Except i don't think anyone sells oil for diesel cars. I hope they speak English. Also when we got he oil they gave us a tonne of free shit. Luckily i've not used any of it so they can have it back. More luckily the Auto shop is a chain store and they have a really good return policy printed on the receipt so it should be OK.
Julie had her first Tequila. She's not impressed. I like it and always have. I do like Vodka, and Gin and Southern Comfort. I like Southern Comfort....I really do....with Ice....on its own. Except I can drink at least an entire bottle in one go. It becomes expensive.
Henning has updated his blog. Finally.....go to the links page to get to his blog.
There is an Overlander here (in this camp) who's been here for FOUR YEARS !!!!! Holly SHIT batman.....i do not call this overlanding, more of retiring.
I've taken advantage (after asking) of downloading LOTS of stuff. We have new maps for Mexico, USA, Canada and lots of TV we have missed. Movies, Music and all sort of stuff we know is illegal but eventually we will pay for this crap. Just not quite now. When I get to UK and sky start taking £40 per month off me for the one channel we watch then i will be paying for it.....you know its £15 for 104 channels here a month.
Do you like the new way of showing the photos ????
If only Ryan Reynolds were here...
Anyhow we are waiting for some seals in Mexico. Should be next Tuesday when the arrive. Not exactly quick....
So we will post some photos and stuff tomorrow or the next day. Expect at least one Blog post as I go crazy with boredom. No we haven't got the Overlander disease but we know someone who's terminal.....they have been in this camp for, wait for it.........FOUR YEARS !!!!!
I wonder what the next blog post will be titled....I actually know already.
Matilda is bleeding oil from the timing case....All the seals I have and I don't have the one I need !
So If anyone can think of a way to get me a few Land Rover seals in Mexico then I'm all ears....
Too many people there to do a full moon so Julie does a partial...
Photo of one of the million or more speed humps in Mexico....really there are many. So many that If you never need to drive here then don't ! It make the entire place rather unpleasant to drive in. Here they are called TOPES.
Some Photos of the disproportionately price camp sites. I mean you can get a hotel for 200 so why are camp sites 200 ??
Photos of the Sun and Moon Pyramids....Although you can walk up the big one. Allegedly the 3rd largest in the world....its better at Tikal. From the look of the orange netting they have up half way up the big one they have BIG queues at certain times of day. Go Late ! It only takes 3 hours or so to walk round the entire thing.
The English people we met in the campsite in Oaxaca are back there again after leaving. (they must have the Overlander Disease). Actually, they have a fuel pump problem. Luckily they are well prepared and have previously moved the pump outside the tank. They have a TD5 and its normally a royal pain to get to the pump requiring dropping the tank out. You either cut a hole in the floor at the back of the Landy or move it outside. "chance favors the prepared...."
Hope it all goes well guys....and get yourself to a Marine Chandlers to get some stuff to get rid of the Bacteria in your Diesel or you may have more trouble later. I wager its the bacteria screwing with the pump. If it gets to the injectors you're in real trouble !!! Costly...trouble.
Looks like the fix wasn't quite as "like new" as I'd hoped. They are at least working properly but still not as they should. Looks like we need some more parts....
We've been to a few campsites and some Pyramids. The Internet here isn't fast enough to do the proper post and put up pictures so you'll just have to wait.
My windscreen wipers have worried me for quite a while and in fact since the shake down to Morocco. I've been putting off fixing them and its a pain in the bum taking the entire dash off. However after a bit of Google work I found an article written on a Land Rover Forum. Written by Ralph or western as he's know there. Its a make do and mend fix which has worked perfectly. Thanks to him. He does actually read this blog sometime as he frequents the forum I use quite a bit.
So the fix was to remove the drive cable and turn the gears over 180 degrees so the cable is running on an unused part of the gear. They now seem to work. Lets see in the next torrential downpour.
Currently staying in an Overlander camp in Oaxaca with another Land Rover Defender and a family from Leamington. Mum, Dad and a single daughter. The other daughter is at home. Sleeping in two roof tents and on their way south. He has a leaking swivel seal so he's got some parts off me which I can easily replace in the UK. They shipped into USA from the UK.
At the moment we are sat here having a beer and wondering why I don;t follow my own advice and get moving. If there was nobody here we would have only stayed one night.....its a disease I tell you !
It got to that stage again....we paid an excessive amount of money for a campsite so we could wash the bedding. Luckily they had a plastic washing tray thing so we could do a proper job. IT would have been cheaper to get it washed in the next Hotel !
Its really strange when hotels cost M$200 or M$350 and a campsite is M$300. This is the way of things all over the world so far. The camsites have no idea on value of their service. We can get a Hotel Room, Cable TV, linen and air-conditioning for M$200 and the next campsite want M$300 for nothing other than a bit of land. This Hotel pictured is M$350 practically on the beach. We'd didn't shop around.
It actually makes me mad....they think they are well priced and doing you a favor ! I know where we are staying from now on. Hotels.
A strange few days and a film I really like....
We've been to the cinema a few times and watched also watched a few things we missed which we had downloaded. We went to see the Illusionists and whilst being OK it was full of plot holes and things that didn't stack up. Worth a watch, yes.
Been to see Wolverine also. OK so this is also full of things where you just say "hold on a minute,,, should they be X, Y, Z" and there's never an explanation. So although Its OK its not great.
Isn't it great when you can go to see a movie for £3....
Back to the trip.
We've been skipping our way up through the Yucatan and stopping at various RV parks and even some "Love Motels". The love motel were very interested in us when we started to unload the big items off the roof so we could fit it into our private garage. Those of you unfamiliar with love motels should Google the basic set up. You get a room and private garage where you go directly from the garage to the room. Nobody ever sees you. Even check it in done from the car. We managed to cook in the garage as it was pissing with rain. Its the perfect overlanding hotel. If only they would make the garages 2.5meters and not 2.3meters tall. You can also have your food delivered though a hatch worthy of a James Bond Movie. It was a good hotel !
We've been to Chichen Itza but I do not know why. Tikal is much better. We were in and out in under 2 hours. Its pretty busy so get there before lunch.
At some point we picked up a Cat. Yes, a real cat. It was in the engine bay making a right racket last night. I though it was under the car, not inside it ! Anyhow we might have brought it all the way from the camp the night before in the pouring rain for 5 hours in the engine bay ???? Once poked enough to make it want to get out of the tight spot it was in, it immediately shot up a tree. I've never heard meowing like it. I wonder if we'd separated it from Mum....and then transported it a few hundred miles....LMAO. It will likely be OK where we left it if that's indeed what happened. Shame we didn't have the cat to catch the mouse we
Tonight we stay in another Motel for M$340. Not quite a nice as the first one with the king-size bed and mirrors....however that one was M$500.
First things first.....
The other day on our first fill of Diesel in Mexico we filled 100 litres which was M$1212 which is OK considering. As always we wrote down the figures counted the money and when the guy came back to get the cash he quickly turned away from me. This rang bells with me immediately. He then turned back and showed me that the 500, 500, 200, 10, 5 we had given him was in fact a 500, 50, 200, 10, 5 and we had mistakenly gave him a 50 instead of a 500. I questioned Julie who had counted the money and she wasn't sure at all in fact she was pretty convinced she had given me the wrong money. So I swapped the 50 for a 500. I asked Julie a few times "are you sure he didn't palm it?" and she seemed pretty happy we were in the wrong. I was not. We drove off and after a while I stopped. Quite a while......40km. I was convinced he'd palmed it. We then went through the entire Mexico balance sheet and we were indeed M$450 short. We did this a few times and always we were M$450 short give or take a few Peso's we used as tips. That was it. I drove all the way back. M$500 is £25.
On arriving back at the gas station. The manager was called and was OK but he was convinced it wasn't his station. I wasn't convinced until he took me over the the pump I used. I'd stepped in some glue on the floor as they were repairing the pump. It wasn't there. I was at the wrong station!!!! and all wound up!!!! I'd got everyone out and cameras re-played and bills produced. I apologised and he was fine. He told me it was the next one not 100meters away (I think he knew what they do).
So,,,, I had to do it all again. This time I followed my own advice. I knew what the attendant looked like so I went straight to him and said I think he'd made a mistake and gave him opportunity to correct it without complaint.....he immediately pulled out a pile of bills and tried to give me a M$200 to which I replied "no its a 500" he handed it over without question.....I gave him back the 50 (I'm not a thief as I could have easily kept the 50). This makes me think its common practice for this guy. So If you are in Tulum watch your money and count it out to them and give them no chance to do what they did to us. I had hoped when I played the scenarios in my mind the event would unfold as they did but didn't think for one minute it would go as planned.
First time in 21 months we've been really ripped off....he didn't however count of Julies accounting system or a Yorkshireman. We knew we were right.
Over the last few days we've been able to sample the RV parks and campsites of Mexico. Something we've not done for quite a long time. I mean proper campsites are a thing of the past for us. They mostly ended in Africa. These places are mostly empty as Its off season for RV's from the USA. We've met a few Overlanders on their way South which is also a thing od the past really. Not met many Overlanders on this continent at all. A few but not loads like Africa.
Into Mexico and a few days relaxing. Who would have thought they have campsites....finally after all this time we can camp knowing we will be safe all night. We have nobody tapping on the side of the car or leaving notes under our wipers ! Although have a note left for us is a nice way to get us parking outside your house.
Last night I was ill again with the same thing I had in Lima. One night of high fever and chills and some toilet fun. Not sure what it is but it turns out another travellers daughter had the same thing so it must be a virus. Feeling a bit better but still not 100%. Today we have a short drive so it should be all good.
I should also mention we passed 21 months on the road. Into the 22nd month and into America just as pass into the 23rd (we hope).
Matilda is running OK with the new Injectors and Turbo. The old ones are in the box as they were working OK when removed. The fuel use has stayed the same. I was at least expecting some change one way or the other. I've got some parts ordered for Mum to bring out but these are mainly service items as always. I've also ordered some new drive flanges to tighten us the rear axle. At least tighten as much as is possible on a car as old as Matilda.
Still waiting to hear if the Southern California Land Rover club meeting is going ahead. They have asked us along which requires some reorganising of the schedule in Southern USA. If they don't let us know shortly we will be unable to make it.
We met some other travellers in the Camp Site and they have donated their Mexico Lonely Planet. Thanks !!!! We now know where we are going.....
So for those of you too 'stupid' to get the hint....The place is of course Yavin 4 reble base from Star Wars. Not as my father maentioned a place in Turkey. A place is Guatemala called Tikal. A Mayan temple complex. Worth a visit. Really it is. Its better than the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Mainly for one good reason. There are no Egyptians touts there.....hassle is zero. The charge is less being Q150 to get in about $20usd each. Camping was Q50 each and the map was Q20. All in about $55usd for a visit and two days exploring. We arrived late at around 15:30 so the ticket is valid for the next day. You get to see the place empty as there is nobody around from 4pm onwards. Then the next morning you can either see the sunrise or wander in with the tribes. We stayed two nights in the little campsite and could have got in again on the third day had we tried. I'd estimate 5 hours is enough to see all.
I must say I was amazed at the amount of work it took to uncover some of the Temples. They Jungle has completely covered them. They are working hard to uncover others. You can see what they were like in the Photo with the scaffolding. The restoration is astonishing.
We met some other overlanders in Anigua Guatemala in a VW Combi. Their Combi leaks more than Matilda and Matilda has been doing that very well recently. Its rainy season......Antigua is Tourist Central and you can camp in the Tourist Police Car Park. Its free. Has Showers and Toilets and is very near town.
A note to others. We've not been stopped by the Police at all except Honduras which was no hassle. We've been lucky! All just ignore us or wave us through with happy smiles. Only Honduras was annoying as we were stopped quite a few times in a short duration but for nothing other than a chat. Lets see how Mexico goes.
We have the EPA permission for Matilda to entre to USA.....Yeah !
Photos, Overlanding meetings, Brunos Camp Rio Dulce and Tikal.
One of the Tourist attractions of El Salvador and a town (Joya de Ceran) covered in volcanic ash. Not bad for $3usd each and $1usd for the car. Only a quick visit is required. Maybe an hour or slightly more so Its good for a stop over and a break from driving the short distances in El Salvador...!
Also nearby there's the Lake lake Coatepeque formed from, can you guess.....a volcanic caldera. Some OK restaurants at the top of the hill with good reviews.
The easiest title for a blog based on a film title....
We managed to get into El Salvador with a Right Hand Drive car but only just. You can get a letter of permission if you know the correct people. Turns out some of our traveling buddies do know the right people so now do we. We Emailed him and about a month later we had a letter to say we could come in. Trouble is the letter we got on the 4th July expired on the 10th and we had read it as the permission started on the 10th. It didn't. It started on the 10th June and ended on the 10th July. The very day we had been waiting to get into El Salvador was the day when it ended. So thankful the helper the guy had sent to the border called and we got him to talk to Aduana's (customs) and we were let in on the condition we got another corrected letter the same day !!! This he did and we got it hand delivered to the hotel in San Miguel. We are very lucky the Land Rover Club El Salvador know all the right people ! Many Thanks to them and especially Jose Mario who knows all the right people, for sure ! I'm not including us in that list.....
Spent a few days on the beach in El Salvador at a little place called Firewood in El Tunco near La Libertad. GPS Point is N13 29' 38'' W89 22' 53''. They make you pay $1usd to take your car down the road to the hotel....I thought that little trick ended in Africa ! They charged us $9usd for parking or $25 for an air-con room but common showers.
Anyhow we are now sat in the Land Rover dealers in El Salvador waiting to be picked up by Jose Mario and get taken out to dinner....he is REALLY looking after us ! Tomorrow we go to the BBQ,,,,,, so as this blog entry will be delayed due to the security issues it will contain both past, present and future stuff.
As It turns out Jose Mario has arranged a lot. We are having a BBQ and the Land Rover dealers on Sunday in our honor ! The UK Ambassador is coming to meet us. More likely she was coming anyhow but it is "our" BBQ so we can only presume she was coming as default. A little known fact was after 9 - 11 our embassy was closed here and only re-opened a short time ago. I didn't know we closed a lot of embassy's due to the "terror risk"? Anyhow, its now open and also the US Embassy here is MASSIVE (one of the biggest in the world). This place is really trying to put itself on the map and increase tourism a bit like Honduras. Jose Mario told us that in the next few months you can get stuff here from Europe without paying tax or import duty. So if you need spares and are coming this way this is the place to get the sent. In a few months time that is when the new law comes into effect. As always the place I would recommend getting them from is Britcar on my links page.
If you need the details for the letter we will send it to you. I'm going to ask Jose Mario if he minds if we put it on the Blog but I think a Private Message (PM) is best. Use the contact us until we know if he wants a million Emails.
Turns out he's fine with being contacted about the permission letter and It can take a month to get so ask early ! The Land Rover club here has a Facebook page so you can use that to contact them. Their Facebook page is
Club Land Rover El Salvador.
The BBQ was a success and many members turned up in their Land Rovers and a good time was had by all. We chatted with the Ambassador and members for hours and actually managed to eat very little which is good. Normally I eat way to much ! I didn't drink too much either.....
The Land Rover garage said we could have free labor for maintenance so I decided to make use of the spare Turbo I'd been carrying and get it fitted. The same for the four new fuel injectors. She's running pretty well now. The power is a lot smoother. When we were working on the car I decided to do a clutch inspection and this took rather longer than I hoped. We were in the garage for two days removing the bits needed to get to the clutch. In the process we managed to snap a captive bolt on the exhaust which needed drilling out. Also during the fitting of the turbo I noticed the top bolt hole for the inlet manifold had been stripped in the block. This needed a Helicoil to repair it. Something the dealers didn't have. Luckily the local tool place had the correct kit and the drill to go with it. Much more expensive then the UK though but still only $50usd.
Some Photos from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Another failed attempt to see Superman....it wasn't on at the time they said online. We couldn't wait until 8:50pm as we went for the 5:50pm showing !
We've just enjoyed a few days staying with Matthew and Jennifer where we were treated to hospitality both at home and out and about. They know a guy who owns a few restaurants so we were treated to all you can eat a two different places. It still amazes me that people who you have never met invite you to stay with their family....three boys and a dog (a husky with blue eyes). We didn't rob them or tie them to a chair and torture them as Matthew was warned we might....We don't think he's a lunatic for inviting us as some of his friends did. They just put a note under our wiper when we were sleeping so we got in contact via Email. So we did see some Superpeople if not Superman himself. Thanks to them. It reminds me of all the great people we've stayed with on our trip.
We also really enjoyed a quick tour with CABRARIDES. So if you are thinking of missing out Honduras then think again. Its not as bad as everyone says. The check points are annoying but no more so than other countries. There are no more checkpoints than elsewhere in South or Central America. Take a trip up to Tegucigalpa, learn how to say it and take a bike ride ! We even got some Blackberry wine !
A few days before when were on the beach we met another great bunch. Someone from Sheffield and the owners of a great little Hostel. For $9 per night we camped in the car park where we had the use of all the Hostel facilities. A good place to spend a few days and popular with locals and backpackers alike. Parking/Camping in the car park is no problem at all and they even have a power point.
So we made it into Nicaragua after worrying for ages about their silly import rule. You see they have a Law that says you cannot import a RHD car. This applies to all imports even temporary ones. LEY 453 Article 112. You can Google and find the PDF of the law if you like.
We arrived at the Costa Rica border with things piled on the dash hiding the steering wheel. Exit went smoothly but look a long time.
Get a few Nicaraguan Cordobas at the Costa Rica Immigration fence. They change anything (mostly). Aduanas is in the truck loading area you see on the way down the road on the way in to the border. Its about 300meters back from immigration. Look for all the lorries parked up in a LOADING area. The Aduanas export for the car took ages, the little office is at the far end of the lorry building respective to the immigration building. Once that's all done you can proceed to Nicaragua. IF you are worried about the RHD thing tell the Aduanas you are returning to Costa Rica and get a stamped up copy of the TIP you have just exited with. You MUST have one if you return !!! Its worth it although you may need a copy for them to use. The guy did the photocopy for me although normally they send you to the copy hut just outside. A tip is to take a helper with you to dash off to do copies but if one of you is watching the car this is a problem. You can park out side Aduanas if you move the car. Immegration is first, Aduanas second. NO CHARGES ON EXIT.
On the way into Nicaragua stop at the table on the right. Give him passports and get a form to complete. Complete the form for later. Then drive forwards to the fumigation area. Hop out and pay 74 Cordoba for a car. Car is sprayed. This is where changing the money in Costa Rica comes in handy. You only need a hundred or so as all the other stuff is in dollars. Get a pile of $1usd bills.
Once you get to the main building a helper will jump on you. We used one called Charlie. He was good and we paid him $10usd.
Drive to Rivas and don't stay there. Go to San Jorge and either stay at Hotel Dalinky ($35usd) or there's an "RV park" half way down the road to San Jorge which we didn't check out but maybe they let you camp in the carpark. It indicates they will. Dalinky Hotel has safe parking. Taxi to town is $1. Town hotels have no parking we could find. One does but its $72.
The Island is 420cor for the car, 82cor tax, 70cor each for ticket. Its OK for a couple of nights (same prices to return although they was another 50cor tax paid at that end for some local government thing). We camped in the car park at the Hostel Central in the town where the boat docks. STAY CLEAR OF THE MONKEYS !!!!! It was $3.5usd each person and we were told we could use the Hammocks and one night even the dorm if we wanted to. We used there as a base. The lake is very warm and shallow. YOU NEED TO BOOK THE BOAT THE DAY BEFORE TO ENSURE A PLACE. Although you can drive up if they have room.
Get notifications of new Blog Entries by filling in the box below. No risk.