Central America Overland
Overland Central America
After picking up Dougal in Jacksonville, Florida at the end of September 2013, we belted it across the States to start our journey in the North-West of Mexico in the border town of Tecate (also the name of the countries national beer). From there we went through Mexico to the East coast, down into Belize, across to Guatemala, then into Honduras, continuing to Nicaragua and Costa Rica, then finally arriving in Panama, before hopping through the San Blas islands to South America.
In 4 months, we have driven 12,500 miles from our starting point and counted over 50 problems and mishaps with Dougal (which explains our exhaustion with the South America Expedition) and equally that in arguments between us. We have experienced many highlights (as seen in each country summary), and unfortunately unpredicted troubles were we even contemplated in sacking it all in and coming home. We have kept on trucking and worked as a team when things got tough. We have no regrets. It’s been amazing. We have definitely:
EXPLORED, EXPERIENCED and ENJOYED.
Here is Central America summary of our favourite highlights and lowlights of the whole trip:
The beaches have been unbelievable and better than the Indian Ocean and Caribbean islands we have been too. Plus you often get them all to yourself with no big hotel behind you.
The wildlife, particularly in Costa Rica. Can’t get enough of those turtles and monkeys.
The generousity and help of strangers.
The Mayan ruins. We have so many we like, but Mexico seems to win hands down for diversity. Read each country separately for our favourites and reviews. NB You’ll find the ruins in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
The food – Mexico champions over them all.
The diving – it’s been really different everywhere we have been too.
The festivals, especially Day of the Dead in Oxana, Mexico.
The climate – we went at a perfect time of the year and missed all the rainstorms and unbearable heat.
The markets and souvenirs.
The many many many beautiful hot springs.
The national parks.
The surfing – world class.
The coffee – be sure to taste Geisha coffee (the most expensive in the world) in Boquete, Panama.
How cheap Central America on the whole was, considering what we did.
WE DIDN’T LOVE:
Gwyn being detained in a Mexican prison.
Getting attacked by 3 youths with knives in Nicaragua.
Being stuck for a week in Guatemala City because the gearbox went again…and ultimately having to miss El Salvador all together.
How much strain the whole trip put on our relationship and the arguments we had because of the stress.
Having to pay gringo prices.
The cities – most were dirty and polluted, chaotic and noisy, corrupt and dangerous, definitely not pretty or had any culture. Central America is all about time spent outside of the cities.
The checkpoints – some countries were a lot worse than others.
Being ripped-off by mechanics, who were often the problem, not the solution.
The constant problems with Dougal and especially the unpredicted costs associated with him.
The corrupt officials – again some countries were worse than others, with Mexico rating high on being subjected to potential bribes. We never actually paid one through the whole of Central America though, unlike the rest of the travellers we met.
The poverty and unhygienic conditions that some people live in. This was very evident in Guatemala City.
The stray animals and treatment of working horses. We have never seen so many starving dogs on the streets in a section of the world before.
The speed bumps (aka topes), especially in Mexico.
The unpredictable condition of the roads.
The mosquitos – these are more prevalent along Mexico’s’ coasts and in Belize. Maybe we built up immunity from them after that?!
The vulgar and crude men if I was ever without Gwyn.
The humidity, especially in Panama.
You can read all about our adventures through this diverse and beautiful part of the world through our blog, see our pictures and watch our videos in each of the individual countries. With each country, there’s also an overview and our highlights and lowlights on the first page. For a general overview of Central America in relation to the food and drink, people, language, dangers and annoyances, and our finale budget on the whole section of this trip, then please navigate above or at the bottom of this page. We would like to thank everyone for their support on here; family and friends back home who been nothing short of amazing with advice; all the mechanics that have helped us along the way (the ones that didn't rip us off or messed the car up even more); the friends from all over the world we have met (lots of good times), the locals who have showed more kindness then I have ever experienced from strangers, and to Gwyn (my partner in crime) who has driven 12,500 miles (and not complained), has had some serious bad luck (and got through it) and had to deal with me (although he'd probably still be in that prison now if I didn't talk a lot of s**t and was so annoyingly persistent). So if you haven't already, jump on the bandwagon, be inspired and add The Overlanders page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter , as we tackle South America.