We realize that this post is out of order, but we are putting it up now to fill everyone in on our current situation. Don’t worry, we’re all safe and sound, and Chimera will be ok eventually…but for now the van has had a major engine failure and we are stuck in the little mountain town of El Cocuy, Colombia.
As we departed Lanquin we discovered that all of the rough roads throughout Baja, mainland Mexico, and Guatemala took a toll on Chimera’s suspension. We made a temporary repair with a frisbee and headed to lovely San Pedro La Laguna for some Spanish school and to await new parts ordered from the U.S.
When we arrived in La Paz, Baja California Sur, after many long and dusty roads, it was time to give Chimera some love. After all, he/she/it (shim) is our world right now. First we ventured out to get the oil changed. We had purchased a bunch of oil filters before leaving the states in anticipation that it may be hard to find the correct Subaru filters along the way. We pulled up to a shop that looked like it specialized in oil changes and were immediately directed to drive over the pit. Tim did the best he could to communicate in Spanish with the grease monkey and, with some help from the woman working the cash register, we found out that they did not have the proper weight oil (in fact they may not have had any oil at all at the moment). They were meant to get a shipment later in the day, but we were told that we could just go across the street to the supermarket and buy the oil we needed. So Tim headed off to do this while the grease monkey went to work on draining the oil.
When we were considering how to turn our tin-top Vanagon Syncro into the ultimate road tripping machine, we spent a lot of time looking at different options that would give us more living space. In particular we required the ability to stand up in our kitchen. Because Chimera is one of the rarest of the Vanagon Syncros, a sunroof Syncro, it already contained the huge hole in the roof necessary to fulfill this requirement.
We, however, wanted more. We wanted protection from the elements and swarms of mosquitos that we will be sure to encounter on our journey south. For this, there are really only two options. The first is to put a hard top on the roof. As the name suggests, a hard top is a hard, usually fiberglass, shell that is glued to the roof to provide additional interior height along the length of the van. This option was dreamed about, but was dismissed due to the seemingly exorbitant cost from the only Vanagon hard top provider in North America. In hindsight, the prices are quite reasonable.