Archive for the ‘Expedition/Travel’ Category

And we’re off, again !

Posted: June 10, 2017 by bernardbarbour in Expedition/Travel

For immediate release


When you say the word road trip in the presence of Tammy and Bernard Barbour of Clarksville, this couple’s ears perk up and their eyes gloss over with excitement. You see this road warrior couple are departing for a road trip of epic proportions in just a few days. Driving from Clarksville Tennessee to Ushuaia Argentina. “We’re leaving on my wife’s birthday, June 20th” Bernard says enthusiastically. They estimate this trip to the bottom of the world will take them anywhere from 18 months to two years. They plan to mark a bunch of things off their travel bucket list. The Panama Canal, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu and more they say. “I’ve always been fascinated with Bolivia” Tammy says, “ I can’t wait to explore Patagonia” Bernard chimes in.


The trip will take them through 13 countries. It will include shipping their vehicle around the Darien Gap from Panama to Columbia. México, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panamá, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. While not new to overlanding travel, in 2014 the couple spent eight months driving all throughout Mexico and much of Central America. “ This time we want to explore more” the couple said with a chuckle. “Sometimes when we tell people what we are doing they think we are crazy, but if you research you’d find there’s a fairly substantial amount of people out there overlanding” Tammy said. “We keep up with a wide variety of people who are out there as we speak driving all around Mexico, Central and South America.” Is it dangerous many ask? Of course it is, no more dangerous than wandering in the wrong neighborhood in any big city USA” says Bernard. The people we’ve met on previous journeys have become like family. Inviting us to their homes, showing us great hospitality and learning a lot about their customs, culture and lifestyle.


As a retired Military couple they will easily admit they have the travel bug bad. Being stationed in Europe and Asia during much of his military career, Bernard says he really never got a opportunity to explore South America, so this trip will be a chance to see what he’s been missing. Tammy’s working on her third passport as well. We set a goal to see as much of the world as we could. In 2015 they traveled to Hawaii, England, and Canada all in the same month. Bernard says it all started with him when he got his first passport. “I’m on my 4th passport now and one I almost managed to completely fill with stamps” he says.


While the trip will include many fun touristy things to do, they will also be volunteering. Animal conservation projects in Belize, Costa Rica and Panama are already on the to do list as well as Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala. “If we happen upon a worthy project on our travels we’ll be flexible enough to adjust our schedule to participate.” they say.


The couple have their 2008 Toyota Tundra with a truck camper all decked out for the trip. They admit their truck and camper does attract some attention.”Many people ask us what’s that black thing sticking out the side of our truck?” he said. In addition to having a snorkel fitted,  there’s a winch, front grill bar, auxiliary  lights, the suspension is heavy duty and lifted, and they are carrying some critical spare parts. the truck camper has a bathroom, A/C, kitchen, which Tammy loves.


“Since the kids are grown and have started their own families, we decided to rent our house and hit  the road full time” they say.


On the 20th of June their adventure begins leaving from Clarksville heading south. “Passport, camera, spanish lesson CD’s, check!” Tammy laughs! We are ready to go!


You can follow their journey at Tales of the Pan American Highway and Central America Overland Expeditions.


A virgin passport………

Posted: May 19, 2017 by bernardbarbour in Expedition/Travel

by Bernard Barbour

I have four passports now. All starting back from 1987. Prior to that, being in the military I could travel most places on my military ID and or drivers license. However, when I found out I needed to get a passport, thus began a novel idea of wanting to travel as many places as i could go and get as many stamps as I could, thus filling up every page. Looking back now it looks like I did a pretty good job, especially with two of my passports as they are almost full. As I look through them sometimes, vivid memories flash in my head of my adventures. Wow, I think to myself, I have really been quite the wanderer. Cyprus, Morocco, Chile, Bahamas, lol. Yes, from our cruise ship I walked to immigration and got the stamp.  Maybe deep down inside I’m a passport travel stamp collector. How did this come about? Gibraltar, Ecuador, Canada, El Salvador and many more stamps adorn the pages. What memories.

Interesting enough in the last few years it’s been harder to get a stamp depending on where you go. In Europe for instance now, sometimes it’s almost impossible if you don’t fly into an airport to get a stamp. One time taking the train and driving around Europe you now have to go local immigration office to get a stamp. There’s no guard or border crossing agency at the border now. Funny when you arrive there to request a stamp in your passport, they want to know why you want a stamp? Sounds crazy, but true.


Well as our big trip looms I had to get another newer passport with 43 fresh pages in which to collect stamps……woot woot! Look out world I’m on a mission to fill this virgin passport! Hoping to fill it up soon. Will there be a 5th passport?

It’s on like popcorn!

Posted: April 6, 2017 by bernardbarbour in Expedition/Travel

Doctors appointments, vehicle repairs and modifications, family visits, it’s all on the table. As we count down to getting back on the road and heading south, way south this time, the thought of less than 100 days is making us frantic but in a good way.

This ain’t your Dad’s road trip, but a full blown 4×4 expedition crossing two continents and taking up to almost two years to complete. What a daunting task, huh?

Many people ask us if it’s dangerous? Well heck yeah, it’s dangerous crossing the street if you don’t look both ways. But dear readers as you know this ain’t our first rodeo. So stay tuned, send us some positive vibes as we prepare for our July departure.



Tammy & Bernard

Tennessee to Argentina 2018 and beyond!

Tales of the Pan American highway

Mexico, don’t go there!

Posted: October 12, 2016 by bernardbarbour in Expedition/Travel

So what are our friends up to in mexico?

by the Travel Amateurs

I don’t care what other travelers say, Mexico is dangerous.  We followed the travel warnings issued by the U.S. State Department but still found ourselves in multiple situations where we felt unsafe.  I researched as much as I could to prepare for leaving the safety of the U.S.  We carried bear spray, a small hatchet and other blunt objects.  I planned code words so we could communicate discretely.  We studied Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu, and Sumo Wrestling for Dummies.

Be sure to follow the link above, we know you’ll enjoy this adventure.

Our Perspective

We knew before we moved to Ecuador that we were Gringos. And we have been called Gringos frequently – by store clerks, friends and even strangers on the street. I’ve gotten so used to it, I describe myself to Ecuadorians as “el Gringo” because its the easiest way to describe who I am. In a community of Ecuadorians, the term Gringo identifies me as the 6ft tall pale-faced guy.

What is a Gringo?

The term Gringo comes in a few variations

  • Gringo – for the man
  • Gringa – for the woman
  • Gringita / Gringito – for the child or the “dear little gringo”. This is a term of endearment.
  • los Gringos – the group of gringos

Online forums and blog comments are full of Americans and Canadians who are insulted at the thought of being marginalized, by being reduced to a word.

Here in Ecuador, a Gringo is anyone foreign – from any country. However, the taller and blonder you are increases the odds of being called a gringo. But the telltale give-away is when you open your mouth. Once you speak, either exclusively in English or with the distinctive English accent, you become a “Gringo”.

Something to remember: in Latin American culture, it is common, accepted and even a kindness to give people nicknames based on their physical appearance. For example:

  • Flaco (thin or skinny)
  • Gordo (fatty)
  • Gordito (little fatty)
  • Suco (fair skinned)
  • Negrita (little black)

Two years ago, while visiting Margarita Island, I was driving with a Venezuelan friend. He referred to a friend of his as “negrita” – I was shocked. I thought that it was out of bounds – that it was an international insult. But no . . . in Spanish its common term of endearment. A professional friend, a Cuencano, calls his wife “flaca”. When translated literally means “skinny woman”. In English, it doesn’t sound so nice, but in Spanish it is a sweet expression from a husband.

In Ecuador, people are often identified by where there are from:

  • Cuencano (a person from Cuenca)
  • Guayaquileño (a person from Guayaquil)
  • Quiteño (a person from Quito)

For us, being called Gringos is equivalent to being called Canadian. It simply identifies our origins. It isn’t uncommon to be walking downtown and hear two older Cuencanas say: “Mira – la gringita”, referring to our daughter. They say it with all the love and interest that her own grandmother would. To us, it is a very kind.


What Are the Alternatives to “Gringo”?

While most people from the United States consider themselves “Americans”, this doesn’t have the same meaning here. America isn’t a country: it includes everything from Alaska to Argentina. After all, Ecuador is part of Latin America, located in South America. Technically speaking, everyone from Canada south to Patagonia is an “American”.

If you are from Canada or the United States, you may be called norteamericano (North American). At a glance, it is impossible to tell Canadians, Britians, Australians and New Zealanders apart. So just as the the diverse nationalities of Latin America have been grouped (right or wrong) under the term “Latino”, it seems that “Gringo” have come to define foreigners as a group in Latin America. Have you noticed a Gringo Superiority Complex?

What do you say? Are you offended by the term? If you are Ecuadorian, what do you say about it?

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We’re getting close. Excitement fills the air as we continue testing, preparing and solidifying our plans. Attending Overland Expo West 2016 was great and we had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of good folks, check out vehicles, attend training and get new ideas. If you missed it, not to worry, Overland Expo East is coming up soon and we’ll keep you posted. Attending Overland West gave us a great opportunity to shake down our vehicles and equipment prior to our departure for Argentina this fall. Additionally we had the opportunity to visit family, friends and a few of our wonderful state and national parks. So, meanwhile enjoy this pics of our wonderful tour across the US of A and few of the expo. Thanks for following.

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Davis Falls Belize, the final cut!

Posted: April 8, 2016 by bernardbarbour in Expedition/Travel

Thanks to our partners Ashley & Adam Swierczek, and Angela & Scott Woodhams for documenting their adventure to Davis Falls Belize. Enjoy!


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A hearty welcome at the King’s Children Home Orphanage
by Scott Woodhams

This week, we spent the afternoon at the children’s home in Belize. We were able to get 90 % of the list they had provided, that they were in need of. Thanks to all who contributed to the purchase! Ms. Leoni, the children, and her brother were very grateful for the food and other items.

It was such a blessing to be able to meet and talk with the children. I, of course, became the amusement park ride for the smaller children, providing piggy back rides around the facility. News traveled fast, and soon other friends came for their ride too!

We got the grand tour of the farm that they have recently began building. Complete with 5 cows, 1 bull, and 3 newborn calves. This provides the needed milk for the children, along with beef in the future. One of the older boys, George, who recently lost his mother, came to live at the home. He has found a new passion taking care of all of the animals, some 125 laying hens, several sheep, 9 cows, and a couple dozen chickens for eating. He has named each one of the cows, and they come to the sound of his voice. Very valuable experience, and I’m sure consolation in his own situation. Ms. Leoni said George would sleep out in the pasture and chicken coops with the animals, if they would let him. He truly loves what he does.
He told stories as we walked, I with another tag along on my back, of the garden they started, only to have the cows get in and wreak havoc, with the freshly grown greens! They plan to re plant soon.

Currently with 74 children in the home, vegetables are a necessity.
Moses, was a young boy of about 3 that stayed by my side, messing up my sweaty hair with his hands, making it stick up everywhere. It was 94 degrees and humid, so the extra body heat and sun caused excessive sweating! He reluctantly gave up his spot on my shoulders for his friend Emerson, a 5 year old.

On the back side of the property, there were 1 or 2 youth mission teams pouring concrete (by hand), for the foundation of the new on site church building. Although you could tell the youth were struggling with the heat, rolled up sleeves, and ghostly white skin from lack of previous sunshine, they were working hard and smiling.

It is fulfilling to see so many people willing to help these children in need. My wife and I’s heart is to provide food and housing for every child in need, throughout the world! Even though this seems almost unobtainable, God doesn’t place a desire this big in your heart without his provision. So we will continue to go as we are called!

Do you have a dream so big that it would seem ridiculous to those around you? So big that it doesn’t seem realistic? Don’t be afraid to follow your heart and dream big! God has placed a calling on everyone of our lives. We are all a different piece of the puzzle. Each piece is as important as the others, to accomplish His plan.

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Thanks to our esteemed  co-founders  and correspondents Angela and Scott Woodhams who are now “On the Road in Belize” we have these wonderful pictures to share of daily life there. Enjoy!

And if you have any questions about traveling to and around Belize please check out: On the Road in Belize

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What do we do in Belize when family comes to town?

We make Chocolate !

by Scott Woodhams

Yesterday we took a road trip on the road in Belize, down the Southern highway toward Punta Gorda. We took my brother and his wife Rebekah Lynn Woodhams, to Ixcacao Mayan Chocolate farm, one of our favorites! As usual, Juan Cho greeted us with a big welcome, and his infectious laugh. We took a quick tour viewing a cacao tree that displayed tiny flowers waiting to be pollinated, to a full blown cacao pod. We were intrigued to find out the fact that the nuisance “No see-um” bugs play a large roll in the growing of cacao, as they are what pollinate the flowers. So keep that in mind the next time you are swatting at them madly!

Inside we were treated to a demonstration, and trying our hand at peeling the cacao beans, grinding the beans on a generational stone, and ultimately eating 100% cacao. We had it in both liquid (hot chocolate), and candied forms.

We found out about all of the healthy benefits of eating this chocolate (yes!). In its pure form, it is has tremendous medicinal and health attributes, including reversing cancer cells. Do not confuse this with the highly processed nutrient depleted cocoa powder we are used to getting. This is 100% natural, truly farm to table. This was followed up by a traditional Mayan meal including chicken sauted in chocolate (amazing), white rice, greens, and fried plantain. Chocolate zen!

The amazing part is that this whole operation is 5 generations old, operated by the family and some hired help. Juan just added 20 more acres of cacao trees to try to keep up with the demand.

In 2014, Jimmy Carter, former president of the U.S., visited and immediately began a whole foods diet with pure cacao from IXcacoa. Well you know that he recently announced that he was cancer free!

This stuff is amazing and it tastes great too. Due to being a family operated facility, the production is limited, just the way they want it. Juan prides himself on providing superior quality control so the taste remains consistent. They offer so many flavors it’s hard for me to choose. I like dark chocolate, coconut, orange, ginger, and nibs.

We bought our share to eat later and headed to a nearby ruins. Luckily, I found out Anita Reimer Loewen, carries several flavors of the Ixcacao bars at her store, Healthy Addictions, in Maya Beach. So I will be able to get my fix in the future. She is one of only two people that distribute the chocolate in Belize, besides the actual farm! The other is on Caye Caulker. Love my chocolate, and it’s healthy! This really is paradise!

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