Update from Guatemala: Neli’s Big Overlanding Adventure

Phoenix Pop Up is proud & excited to follow Victoria, Jason and their dog Neli overlanding from California to Mexico and now Central America. Their adventure began Oct 8th 2013 when they left left Venice Beach. This is the story as told by Neli, and that’s what makes this overlanding expedition so different, the narrative is from a dog’s perspective. On our last post they were reaching Belize.


Border Crossing Day Belize / Guatemala

Neli’s family started the day earlier than usual and started packing right away. That could only mean one thing, they were gonna be crossing the border that day! Leaving Belize was much easier than getting in. All of Neli’s paperwork was in order so they did not give them a hard time.

Neli Guatemala 1Their first  destination in Guatemala was a campsite called Gringo Perdido.  They found someone to show them around the pretty campsite, where they settled in for their first night of sleep in Guatemala. They met an odd camper who seemed like he lived there full time, and a nice older couple from the United States who liked Neli a lot. “Good people and a cozy place to stay! “

They spent the next morning on a beautiful drive through the country. Jason and Victoria stopped to take a bunch of pictures, but soon enough they reached a place called Finca Ixobel. They ended up spending quite a long time at Finca Ixobel. They had a pretty good time. There were all sorts of nice people to meet, delicious food to taste and plenty of grass for Neli to run around. All the rain finally caught up with Jason and he ended up getting the Flu.  After a couple of days Jason started feeling better and the weather improved as well!

nelli guatemala2On the way to Lanquin the road they thought was gonna be a highway, ended up being a super bumpy off-road adventure. The bumpy road went on and on for many miles. But finally they reached the town of Lanquin, and found a nice place called El Retiro where they could stay.

Next stop was Semuc Champey!  At some points the road was so narrow that only their truck could fit, with a steep drop on one side and a hill on the other. Neli was not allowed at the park, so she had to stay at the camper while her family visited Semuc Champey, It was a really beautiful set of pools and waterfalls.


Guatemala City and Antigua Neli Guatemala3

They spent hours and hours doing nothing but driving up and down mountains on really bad roads. And this caused their brakes to give up!

A very nice man who spoke a little english ended up helping them down the hill, since the brakes after cooling down were still in bad shape. The nice man, whose name was Ariel, let them drive to his house and gave them a place to stay!

They said goodbye to their friend Ariel and headed off for Guatemala City, the biggest city in the country. Ariel mentioned to them the night before that there was a river up ahead they would have to cross, and that the bridge had been washed away in a storm two years ago.  When they got to the river it was huge! But turning around was not an option, they had to cross. They found a man who spends all day navigating cars across the river for 20 Quetzales.  Thanks to his help they crossed the river and were quickly on their way. The rest of the drive into Guatemala City was pretty uneventful even though the roads were absolutely crazy.

river guatemalaGuatemala City is big, noisy, colorful and packed with people. Jason wasn’t particularly happy with the fact that there didn’t seem to be anything resembling lanes on the big highways. After picking up some packages from the post office they headed to Antigua. It surrounded by volcanoes and set in a big valley. When they reached the hotel they got to meet up with Victoria’s Parents!!! There were parades, fireworks, and music almost all the time. There were parks, churches, shops and restaurants to explore.


They rented a car and headed to Lake Atitlan, the lake is surrounded by three volcanoes and a bunch of little villages. They drove back to Antigua and spent a couple more days with Nelli’s grandparents. They took some time to clean the camper from top to bottom, since it had been exposed to all that dust and rain from the travel all the way from Belize.
Keep checking back with us if you want to know what Neli and her family are up to, we will be touching base with them and keep all of you posted.

Check out their blog and great pictures of Neli’s Big Adventure: The true story of a small dog over landing Mexico and Central America.


 Rikki's SonWhat is your family up to?

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