When people find out that we spend the winter in Mexico there is definitely some head scratching that goes on. They want to know how and why we do it. The matter of how we get there never comes up (not even once) because people just assume that we fly. When they find out that we drive, they do a double take.
Since 2005, we’ve made the trip 18 times (or nine times there and back). In case you’re doing the math, the journey is 5,000km, touches three countries, and takes us four days if we drive 18 hours a day*. By now, we hardly need a map and only get lost in a few places. In fact, they’re the same places that we get lost every.single.time even though we have “Jill” (our GPS system) and notes upon notes upon notes with a side of map printouts.
Over the years, we’ve had Bessie and Bucephalus (yes, we name our vans) and while they’ve both let us down in Canada and Mexico**, it’s always been at the perfect spot. If there is one. One thing that has been the same about both these vehicles is that they were Chevy Astros.
I’d love to say that we did tons of research on the Mexican roads and load capacity and RPMs and all that other stuff but truth be told, we bought the first vehicle*** that was road worthy and in our budget.
We fell in love.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Chevy Astro (similar to the GMC Safari), you’ll know that it’s built on a truck chassis and can withstand Mexican roads by swerving to miss a donkey at a seconds notice. It can tow a trailer, haul roof cargo and fit three dogs, a cat, two kids, two adults and everything but the kitchen sink (except that one year that I DID bring a kitchen sink) and just keep on going. It has it’s quirks but after 11 years, we always have a back-up window motor and fuel pump. Better the devil you know.
The only problem with this love affair is that Chevy and GMC discontinued the model in 2005. That means that the youngest vehicle on the road is eleven years. ELEVEN YEARS. Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of vehicles to choose from and we have a few requirements like; Rear wheel drive, Cruise control and “only” having around 230,000km.
And so, here we are today. Three weeks to the day before we leave for Mexico and we need a new vehicle and we don’t have a new vehicle. The only reason why I’m not freaking out (okay, maybe just a bit) is because I remember freaking out in 2005 when we had three months to find a vehicle and then we cut it close again in 2010. So, I put faith in the fact that Ed will once again pull a rabbit out of a hat.
As luck would have it, Nanna was visiting us this week and was heading back to Toronto. Since there aren’t any vans that meet our requirements within three hours of Ottawa, Ed decided to go back with her. A one way ticket with the hopes that his return trip would be in our new van.
He had five potentials vans on his list but after a few phone calls he was down to three (one guy tried to convince us that we didn’t actually need a van that started, besides, the price was really good!). And then we were down to two. And then, after some negotiations and checking codes on “Check Engine Lights”, Ed had found “THE ONE”.
I present to you our latest love…
What Would You Call Her?
— Journeys of The Zoo (@zoojourneys) November 18, 2015
Don’t ask me what we’re going to buy after this vehicle. We’ve been talking about it since 2005 and still haven’t come up with a comparable vehicle. Suggestions are welcome!
*We only drive 12 hours (6am to 6pm) when in Mexico.
**We no longer drive in Mexico on a Sunday just.in.case.
***Bessie was actually the SECOND vehicle we bought. We bought an “as-is” lemon but because it didn’t have “working AC” and that was in the advertisement, we got to take it back for an almost full refund. We learned our lesson.