(three skinny brothers)

El Primero

Written by Tim

For some reason, I always thought writing a travel blog was a bit self-indulgent. But I guess the same could be said about dropping everything for a year to drive from California to Patagonia with your two brothers. And, hey, what’s life without a bit of self-indulgence? So as we venture south, we plan to update this blog with a few words about the weird and wonderful places, people, experiences, and insights that make up our journey.


Three smelly Australian brothers travelling around, sleeping in the back of a 1989 Dodge van sure is fun, but it definitely isn’t pretty. So, don’t expect our writing to be either. But if it inspires just one person to get off the couch and go exploring, whether across the other side of the world or in their own backyard, writing this bloody thing has paid off. And if not, it should help to keep Mum off our backs, anyway.

Well, here I am, sitting inside our van to escape the relentless, dusty winds of Baja, battling with pen and paper (we’ve been camped on a remote point for several days, so all our electronic devices are dead) while Justin hassles me to join him and Simon in a game of Kingdomino. He argues that writing a blog is a waste of time. What he doesn’t know yet, is the next post will be written by him.

Anyway, we obviously didn’t step off the plane and get straight into a deceptively complex board game, in the back of a fully fitted-out van in northern Mexico. A lot has already happened since we waved goodbye to Mum and Dad in the international terminal of Melbourne airport. We’ve been hustled by a Russian telecommunications vendor whose greatest passion in life seems to be the buffets of Las Vegas. We’ve gazed upon breath-taking natural formations and landscapes, sometimes surrounded by a million digital cameras, smartphones and tablets, other times as we cook our own pretty mediocre meals on a portable two-burner stove in complete isolation. We’ve skated down long, open roads in Death Valley, woken up in ice-encrusted tents on top of El Capitan, and hiked in our wetsuits through freezing water in the depths of a towering canyon.

But we’ve also had time to pause and reflect. While racing through the absurdly picturesque national parks of California, Utah, and Arizona, we began to worry we weren’t doing them justice. However, these concerns were allayed when we were chilling in the van one evening and Justin postulated it is perhaps better to leave a place while still yearning for more, than staying so long you become numb to its grandeur.

Our time in the US wouldn’t have been the same without the generosity and enthusiasm of both old and new friends. There’s no better feeling than wrapping your arms around someone you haven’t seen in years, knowing that despite the time apart, you’ll both be crying with laughter before long. It’s also amazing how willing people are to drop everything they had planned just make the most of the time they have with you. Hey, maybe we’ve just got exceptionally legendary friends. No one more so than Tommy, who gave us free reign in his automotive shop (Neville’s automotive – check them out, they do the coolest restorations and fit-outs of old classic vans and pickup trucks) for the best part of a week so we could transform our van into a home for the next 7 months.

As we head south, away from the US, our personal contacts rapidly dry up. Following suit is our familiarity with the culture, language, and landscapes of the countries we will pass through. We’re now just three skinny brothers from Australia driving a beautiful old Dodge van through Latin America. Here, the real adventure begins.