Stressed – and NO ONE tell me it is desserts spelled backwards!

**Note that while I was typing this blog post, Mark texted me that he had hit a car! (advice from me: never text anyone that – just call).  He backed into a car while leaving the vet.  Very minor accident. The owners were yet to be located.  I called our insurance company and they had never had anyone file a claim from Chile before…

***Update: our international insurance did not know how to deal with an international claim so we paid the guy $200 USD, took photos of the dent and they will reimburse us.  Maybe.  Hopefully.  Just glad it’s over.  And now the man is a friend on Facebook.

The time has come for Team DeCorso to return home.  We started making the arrangements and we were forced to make early decisions that we could not know how they would work out.  For example, in February we found a one-way ticket on American Airlines from Lima to Fairbanks for $478 that routes through Dallas so we bought 6 (Michelle, Jack, Jennah, Max, Annabelle & Sylvia) not knowing how the shipping / dogs would work out.  So now, because of the excellent airfare and the security of knowing we had a way home, we must leave out of Lima.

Departing South America can be divided into sections like this:

  • Freighting the van
  • Selling the camper
  • Finding a place in Lima
  • Making arrangements for the Amazon
  • The dogs
  • Tickets for Mark & Ryan
  • Bolivia?
  • Dallas
  • Camper 2.0
  • Other stuff

We are taking advice and suggestions from anyone here so please feel free to help us brainstorm!!

Freighting the van – this is both harder and much easier than you would think.  The hardest part is getting information.  The rest (customs, stuffing, forms, etc) is not so hard.  We started with Peru and got quotes to Houston but the travel time was almost 30 days plus 7 days to offload – too long.  Next we tried Peru to LAX and got a shorter trip (20 days) and 1 day to offload but the cost was quite high, about $4850.  Then, inexplicably, we could no longer contact NYK in Peru.  The phones just rang, emails went unanswered.  In Santiago, we called NYK Chile to ask about Peru and they offered us a better deal ($3000 to freight to LAX) and, best of all, no 2200 mile drive through the desert which saved us at least $1500 in gas and such.  So we settled on shipping the van out of Valparaiso.  The freighter leaves the port on May 1 and arrives in LAX on May 21.  We need to have the van there at 3pm on Monday, April 29.  The stuff it in a container, load it on the NYKLodestar with a crane, it sails to LAX stopping in all kinds of places along the way, places the blue van has already been to (Antofagasta, Arica, Callao, Guayaquil…)

We bought tickets to Lima for all 8 of us & 2 dogs and we leave early Tuesday morning.

Selling the camper was never really an idea until we got here and people were so amazed at the camper that we had people make us offers several times a week since we arrived in Colombia.  We have a book of emails and phone numbers from very serious buyers all over the place.  People would flag us down, drive in front of us and stop, follow us for miles, leave notes on our window…  People were also amazed at the blue van which is the size of three Peruvian combis.  It was not uncommon for men to gather around the blue van looking at its locking hubs and being amazed that it was diesel – and how MANY people could really fit in it!  I was once on a combi that was smaller than my Aerostar minivan with 22 people and a baby.  The combi would have literally fit inside our van.  However, some serendipity led us to camp in a nice truckstop outside Santiago and a man named Patrico drove this way to work every morning and he stopped every morning and every evening to ask us to sell him the camper.  So we are.  We sell it to him and we stay in it until our plane leaves.  This is a little stressful as we have never done anything like this  before and we are taking a leap of faith that it all works out.  Once the van is gone, we can’t move the camper so we are selling it on Friday (tomorrow).  Tomorrow the camper goes to it’s forever home and we will all be a little sad to see it go.

Finding a place in Lima should be easy but it is not.  All of the places are very fancy and for some horrible reason WHITE.  White couches, white carpets, white area rugs, white curtains.  Team DeCorso can deal with a lot of things but white is our nemesis.  Also we had this idea we would rent a typical home, not a luxury vacation rental.  On top of this, the luxury apartments all have luxurious (read fragile) decor like blown glass vases and such.  This is still unsettled.

***update – while the insurance claim was being investigated, I found a perfect place south of Lima on the beach and they will let the dogs stay there.  Most importantly, it has a WASHING MACHINE.  Not a dryer but it is the desert.  It’s not white and it’s not a penthouse in a super earthquake zone with no building codes!  Yippeee!

Making arrangements for the Amazon is something we haven’t yet even started.  

The dogs are also a problem.  White carpeted, white furnitured luxury penthouses don’t want dogs.  We can board them but they will hate it.  They need dog stuff, dog papers to fly and Lucy needs a kennel.  We can’t board them for 21 days so we need to figure this part out.  

***Update – dogs are staying with us at our beach house!!  Yipppeeee!!!

Tickets for Mark & Ryan we still need to purchase from Lima to LAX.  The question now is – who takes the dogs?  Either they do and have to figure out what to do with them while they negotiate the van out of its container or I do and figure out what to do with them in Dallas.  Or I fly home with everyone.  

Bolivia? Just to make things exciting, Ryan and I (and maybe Jack) would like to zip over to Bolivia.  We already have tickets one way.  The way back would be a bus from La Paz to the border, cross to Peru, bus to Puno, overnight in Puno, combi to Juliaca and a plane from Juliaca to Lima.  We can’t finalize Bolivia until we make sure everyone else and the dogs have a place to go in Lima.  Our plane to Bolivia leaves 12 hours after we arrive in Lima so we have some time to help everyone get situated.

***Update: now that we have the Peruvian beach house, Bolivia is a go!  More altiplano! More altitude sickness!  More cholita wrestling!  More PUNO!  More of Oscar’s vegan restaurant!  More hats!


Dallas is where Team DeCorso #1 wants to get off the plane and wait for Team DeCorso #2 to drive 1500 miles and pick us up.  Or we can take a plane.  Or a train. Or, as Ryan constantly suggests because he is on Team 2, a bus.  We could meet half way – Tuscon? Phoenix? Albuquerque? We can only do this if Team 2 has the dogs.

Camper 2.0 is necessary as we just need one to do Alaskan things.  So on the way to fetch Team 2, Team 1 must be searching for an adequate camper -anyone know of any??  Between LAX and Dallas or surrounding Texas?

Other small details include the van needs some transmission work because, turns out, hauling 10000 pounds over the Andes a few times is hard on the transmission.  And brake work because stopping 15,000 pounds on an Andean mountain road is hard on your brakes.  Which needs to happen before the joyous reunion of Team 1 & Team 2.


4 Responses

  1. Team DeCorso,
    I’m beside myself just reading (from Barcelona at 2am in the morning) your “almost last from the South” Post.
    Brief intro: Our liner service SC LINE asissted you to take the van+camper from FtLauderdale to Cartagena back in December.
    I still remember the call we made to Mark about the propane tanks and the need to remove them from the camper due to safety regulations on our RoRo ships.
    I still remember when he explained it all…. Family Trip from Alaska to Argentina.
    I still vividly remember explaining the documentary requirements, step by step, and our Pt Captain having to remove and discard the said tanks.
    I pinch my self again reliving when I asked Mark his address and he said.. “Well is in Fairbanks, but we might not be back there probably until May 2013″… Jeez.

    I remember our suggestion about timing in Cartagena to retrieve their camper and van (their homeaway from home for the next 7months)

    Anyway, I’ve followed the majority of your posts; your unfashionable bland experiences in Canada, your issues in Kansas, what a tough place, such lack of “home-warmth”; your son’s test in Phoenix, his college acceptance, “my hat is off for such an accomplishment; your in-laws in Tampa, a time of normalcy; the dogs in Miami; the last night in Miami at Doral’s Walmart; the unbearable heat and steam in Cartagena; the blind hand taking you to the right places to quickly clear your car from customs in Colombia & getting your “transito libre”, your baptism in Cartagena with the “windshield police” (heck I”m from Colombia and that’s a first); the subsequent sense of not belonging, of being so far apart from “home”, the “human home” until the spirit of hospitality embraced you in the most inhospitable and humble of places (outside Cartagena); the death of one of your dogs; “lost in translation” trying to convey sking sealant tape or tape for cuts”; the Ecuadorian shock absorbers; the combis, the cellphones, the ATMs, the parqueaderos, the safety of it all!, my goodness; the laundry, the food; the garbage, the corrupt police, the beautiful architecture, the burning smell, the beautifull and refreshing Andes; the desert, the cuys, Puno, the wifi; Chile & driving back.
    But overall this unrelenting capacity to go forward.

    Many blessings and hope all goes well with this stressful part of the journey back home.

  2. I so hope get home safety back USA.

    • Then you get in USA’s soils, you go Dairy Queen get some desserts make you best feel. Lol Love and Miss Pls care travel!

  3. Grandma Kay

    I ditto Danny,s previous entry : ) !!!!

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