You can’t make it this far without problems.

Posted: October 15, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

I looked down at my odometer just after crossing the border into Nicaragua and made a mental note to myself that we had now clocked up over 10,000 miles since we left Augusta Georgia back in April. Now if I were back home I could easily rack up 15,000 miles or more commuting around town and a few road trips to see family and friends around the country, but these miles are different. Different in the sense that many of these miles have been hard miles. Off road, rough, jiggly, muddy, ratty, unpaved, huge speed bump rattle your suspension apart kinda miles. Every possible driving scenario is what we have encountered except for snow. If I were testing off-road tires, I’d have a thick stack of reports to submit. Jungles, beaches, mountains and more, these trucks have been taking a beating. Through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and most of the southern US, we’ve been off-road or on bad paved roads. But, mostly I’m not counting the US portion because it was 100% on pavement. When we entered Mexico that’s where the real fun began, and it ain’t stopped yet.

The Land Rovers had been holding up well despite all the punishment we’ve dealt out. Mountain Pine Ridge Belize, several off-road trips through the jungles and a jaunt over to Guatemala were all just the beginning and starting to take their toll. And as we neared the 10,000 mile mark since we left, some things were beginning to pop up even with all the maintenance we have performed ourselves. Before we left Mexico and got into Belize, my blower went out, so we had no A/C. If you want to get a divorce fast just let your A/C go out in hot as hades southern Mexico with your spouse on board. I promised my wife that I would order a new blower motor from the States since there are no Land Rover dealers in Belize that specialize in fixing Land Rover Discovery’s, and I did. However, after a few weeks we got the part from a friend that went to the states from Belize and he bought it back. Done I thought, but a few weeks later it went out again, and now we were heading for Nicaragua. ” I’ll get it fixed in Guatemala” I told her. “There’s a Land Rover dealer in Guatemala City.”  Meanwhile Scott had a check engine light on and a misfire that we could not nail down.

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We made a stop in Guatemala City at an independent Land Rover shop, and that proved to be a good move. The voice on the phone said in perfect english “Bring them on over, and we will get on the repairs right away.” After maneuvering the two Rovers through heavy Guatemala City traffic we arrived at Autoservicios G&R (http://autoserviciosgyr.net/inicio.html). This father and son Land Rover specialist team has been in business for a very long time in Guatemala City. Carlos Garcia & son Andreas were just awesome, getting to work right away on our vehicles, and having us back on the road before lunch. They are true die-hard Land Rover enthusiasts. And top all of the great service we had, Andreas took us out to their Land Rover graveyard, where we were treated to an unbelievable sight of  Land Rovers old and new, all types and conditions, waiting to be restored, serviced or salvaged. I saved my marriage! We got the A/C fixed, and Scott had all new wires and spark plugs installed that stopped the check engine light from coming on.

Now ready to leave Guatemala for El Salvador, we hit the road. After a few days of hard-driving through Guatemala and just before crossing the border into El Salvador, I started to get a kick back when getting on the brakes hard. The ABS and brake light would come on, and a loud squealing noise could be heard. Meanwhile, Scott’s Rover had a check engine light on again that we could not seem to reset and keep off as well.

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Finally we decided once we got into El Salvador we would visit the Land Rover Dealer or an Independent shop to get the trucks diagnosed. With the only dealer being in San Salvador it was touch and go for me as I had to ride the brakes lightly and avoid any emergency stops. Kinda hard to do when you’re driving through a country known for its volcanoes. Look at a map of El Salvador and you’ll see what I mean. Twist and turns, up and down all over the place, not the place you want to drive if you have a brake problem. After working our way towards the capital of San Salvador, finding the dealer recommended by the El Salvador Land Rover Club, we received a warm welcome from Land Rover El Salvador, (https://www.facebook.com/LandRoverElSalvadorPremierAutomotriz). In all we spent almost a week in San Salvador while the trucks were being serviced, and enjoyed the company and camaraderie of the El Salvador Land Rover Club. Oil changes and tire rotations for both trucks, plus I had to have my driver’s side mirror replaced and a right rear passenger side window. Still not sure if this was from an attempted break in, or a freak accident from where the car was parked on the street the night before. Either way we decided from then on no more street parking overnight.

 

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After almost 10 days in El Salvador it was hard to pull up roots and move on further south to Nicaragua. Our first stop, Leon, then Granada and onward south to San Juan del Sur. Once in san Juan del Sur, we explored many beaches taking a lot of off-road tracks through the jungles of southern Nicaragua. We traversed many water crossing, did some beach driving as well as crawling some pretty spectacular mountains discovering great off the beaten path beaches. Then I heard a noise that told me something was wrong. The truck was running fine, stopping , starting, driving, braking, but this time we detected it was the driveshaft. Still wanting to go to Ometepe Island we assessed the issue and drove on. Driving around Ometepe Island, with many of its roads unpaved made the situation worse. In addition to squealing, we were now hearing a grinding noise and a slight bumping noise off throttle. Another decision was made to find a Land Rover dealer in Nicaragua asap. Making it back to Managua, we found the dealer ( http://www.landrovernicaragua.com/). We were gladly welcomed and we all had a good time-sharing our Central American overland journey stories with them. Carlos Fallas and the team at Motores Britanicos de Nicaragua, S.A. Did excellent work.  After an overnight stay in Managua we were back on the road as good as new. So, just in case any of you all are wondering or thinking this trip is easy, it’s not. Some days we’re driving on the edge, but we always try to keep cool heads, make good decisions and stick to the plan. Making repairs on the fly to keep this expedition going is well worth it and adds to our fun, travel and adventure. We can’t complain because we were able to check out some really cool Land Rover shops and meet some great Land Rover enthusiasts.

We would like to thank:

Autoservicios G&R, http://www.autoserviciosgyr.net/inicio.html, Guatemala City

Motores Britanicos de El Salvador, S.A, http://www.facebook.com/LandRoverElSalvadorPremierAutomotriz

Motores Britanicos de Nicaragua, S.A., http://www.landrovernicaragua.com, Managua

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Comments
  1. I almost never leave responses, however i did some searching and wound
    up here You cant make it this far withoujt problems.

    | Central America Overland Expeditions. And I actually ddo have
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    Could it be just me or does it look like some of these
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