What Do We Miss From Home – The 2015 Episode

Just arrived in Boa Vista and reunited with our Land Cruiser. [©photocoen]

When we are reunited with our Land Cruiser after our annual trip to the Netherlands, we need to unpack all kinds of goodies, spices, parts and toys we brought with us. We thought it would be fun to share what kind of stuff we’ve been hauling to the other side of the world [a list that has been growing longer by the year, by the way. And until this year the airlines we flew limited us to one piece of luggage per person, this year we could bring two…].

Here we go.

Foods

Spices, herbs and vitamins [©photocoen]

Of course we’re not bringing Asian spices when traveling in Asia, but when staying in Argentina and Chile for a year or two, well, those spices may just be the thing you need to bring some variation in your meals. With Venezuela being our next destination [where many things no longer are available] Karin-Marijke stocked up a bit more than usual. Sometimes we get stuff from others, such as this year a friend of us gave us Ras el Hanout [kind of curry], dried dragon and dried mustard that my mother no longer uses.

Since we’ve switched to a whole food, plant-based diet [to learn more about this, here’s a good source – tip: watch their movie] we try to find variety in the types of beans and lentils. We LOVE lentils but here, in South America, we found only two types whereas in the Netherlands there are many more so we’ve started bringing some of those as well.

For the Dutch: Tokos have many kinds of dahls, lentils and dried beans as well as a huge variety in spices [that are much cheaper than in supermarkets].

Since we eliminate animal foods as much as possible, a vitamine B12 supplement has become a necessity. In some places we may find it, but since we can’t be sure we stock up in the Netherlands.

Zuurkool, drop and Sambal [©photocoen]

I don’t know who started the crazy habit, but since a few years we seem to pack one or two packages of prepared zuurkool – sauerkraut, which is a winter meal in the Netherlands, It’s a favorite of Karin-Marijke [and yes, you guessed it right: she packs it]. You don’t need a fridge to keep it for quite some months.

A small jar of Sambal Oelek – raw chili paste. In the Indonesian archipelago are as many as 300 varieties of sambal, but it is this bright red one we like the most to use in our homemade hot peanut sauce that we make from scratch with our own, again homemade, peanut butter [read about it here]. The stuff is really hot, so a little jar goes a long way.

We Dutch are crazy about licorice or, as we call it, drop and have the highest-per-capita consumption of licorice in the world (almost 4.5 pounds per person per year). Foreigners often find the salty versions of drop rather strange. We used to haul kilos of the deep black salty stuff with us back to the car.

I don’t know what happened but we seem to have downscaled our activity in that department and I need to speak to Karin-Marijke about that. Three little bags is way to few to get us through the year. Edited to add by Karin-Marijke: that’s because I love zuurkool – we can bring only so much weight – and I do the groceries 🙂

Personal Care

Toothpaste [©photocoen]

Before our trip I had always problems with my teeth so, in 2003, I got a thorough dental check-up before heading into the unknown with a new dentist. Besides a minor cavity my teeth were in good shape but, more importantly, she made an appointment for me with a dental hygienist. The latter asked me to show how I brushed my teeth and concluded I was doing it all wrong. Some thirty years of agony, cavities and fear could have been prevented had I known that. I was as happy as a young boy with a new toy.

The dental hygienist also gave me a little tube of Parodontax. She told me I wouldn’t like it at first, but in combination with the new brushing technique it would rid me of my ever-bleeding gums. She was right. Generally it takes fifteen days to get used to the salty herbal taste of Parodontax, but after that every other toothpaste tastes like shampoo [they used to have an indication mark on the tube which said something like: until this mark you will still need to get used to the particular taste, but after that you will not want to go back]. And my gums stopped bleeding. Heaven!

So we never leave the Netherlands without a few tubes of Parodontax, as you can hardly find it anywhere in South America (if so it’s incredibly expensive). The toothpaste now comes in five different types: Fluoride, Fluoride Whitening, Extra Fresh, Fluoride Gel and Fluoride Free. We opt for the Fluoride Free one.

First-aid Kit and Tools for the Land Cruiser

Sikaflex, Bison Poly Max, Bison Kit, Tesa Power Tape and Sugru. [©photocoen]

As followers of our journey know, we always have a (too long) to-do list for the Land Cruiser [this is the place to find those stories]. The car’s first-aid kit consists of ty-rapsduct tape and glue. I hate it when something rattles [this story will give you an idea just how much] and thus we resort to a wide variety of glues and adhesives for different kinds of fixing.

My number one sealant / glue is Marine Sikaflex, which stays flexible as a rubber kind of bond. The only thing I don’t like about it, is that once opened it won’t keep very long. If you keep it in the fridge it will hold longer. The same goes for the Sugru. But because it comes in separate small packages it is my #1choice for small repairs. A tube of Bison Kit always goes a long way and stores forever. The same goes for Tesa’s Extra Power tape.

Note that you can find Sikaflex in some South American countries, but do check the expiration date – many of them are old. You can also find duct tape in many countries on this continent but in our experience it’s of inferior quality. Same goes for glue.

New this year is the Bison Poly Max Express, let’s see how that will hold in the humid tropics.

The Land Cruiser always needs some tender love and care. And most happy it is with shiny new parts. 4×4 Service Valkenburg has provided us with original Toyota parts, which makes the BJ45 [and me] a happy camper. This year Dennis brought us much-needed Heavy Duty Engine Mounts. Thank you Maurice and Dennis!

New Engine mounts and a Dazzer [©photocoen]

Miscellaneous Stuff

Karin-Marijke has been contemplating the purchase of a Dog Dazzer for a long time. She is a dog lover, but during one run in Suriname a pack of nasty dogs surrounded her and wouldn’t let her go, which terrified her. Since then she’s been anxious to go on runs alone. The Dazzer is a small lightweight sturdy package that she will keep with her while running.

Not visible on this image is a small Zwilling knife protector. I found that our favorite little cutting pal, the Global bird’s beak knife, was getting blunt very quickly because it sits together with all the cutlery in a box. So this Edge Guard should prevent this.

Sackwear send us some nice Land Cruiser t-shirts. [©photocoen]

Tim from Sackwear is a cool guy if for no other reason than because he drives a remarkable, soft-top FJ45 and is a great fan of our adventure. But there’s more to Tim. I don’t know how he does it, but he keeps on designing these fabulous Land Cruiser T-shirts and every now and then Tim is sending us some.

He even created one featuring our Land Cruiser [read about it here]. This year he sent us 4 T-shirts in bright colors and even included some patches. Thank you, Tim.

One-of-My-Wishes-Fulfilled Gadgets

The Optimus Hiker+ stove [©photocoen]

Okay, so Karin-Marijke wanted the zuurkool and she got it. What did I get in return? The Optimus Hiker+ has been on my list for a long time. When I was traveling on my Honda Pan European with my Guzzi friend Eric in the years before this overland journey, I had my little tent and sleeping gear. We mostly eat out, which was the main reason that stopped me from buying this fancy cooker.

Nowadays, our main cooking set-up is a Coleman 2 burner [read about that here]. In 2006 I bought a small Primus Multifuel at a clearance sale which we use on hikes. It is small, light and versatile as it uses a multitude of fuels. It has served its purpose on numerous hikes in South America. So far so good.

But recently we were discussing stoves with other overlanders in Venezuela and the subject about failure came up. What do you do if your main cooking unit fails? The German couple we talked with had a gas stovetop inside their truck. It had stopped working and, as a replacement, they were using the same Coleman 2 burner as we have.

They were complaining about the rust. I had to agree when seeing their Coleman it would fall apart within the coming months if not weeks. It reminded me of a time that our Coleman needed cleaning and I couldn’t use it for a couple of days. We used the Primus instead, which worked fine but wasn’t something I’d want to do for weeks on end.

Coleman Lantern - Single Mantle Floodlight Red 200A195 [©photocoen]

Each year I visit Qvist in Zwolle to buy a spare generator for our stove. We also bought our Coleman Camp Oven there [read about it here]. Peter, the owner, has a knack for outdoor cooking and has turned his hobby of surviving in the outdoors into a business.

In the previous week Karin-Marijke and I had been rummaging through our old stuff in her parent’s attic and stumbled upon a pristine 1968 Coleman Lantern in a box, complete with warranty registration and all.

Peters has a weakness for old Coleman Lanterns and his shop is laced with these type of old lanterns, and when Karin-Marijke’s mom and I were there she mentioned something to him about our recent find in the attic. He showed interest. To my surprise Peter was willing to swap the lantern for a new Optimus Hiker+. I double-checked the price of the Coleman Lantern on the box, which said $10.95 [that was in 1968] and asked Peter if he was sure about the swap. His smile told me everything and we sealed the deal with a firm handshake. Thank you Peter.

Edited to add: a critical note from Karin-Marijke: so now we have a Primus Multifuel for hiking, a two-ring Coleman stove for daily use, ánd an Optimus Hiker. Exactly when are we going to use the latter? It would have been great had we been able to ditch the Coleman but we can’t because you can’t put the oven on an Optimus Hiker [may be the only downside to this apparel]. I’m convinced we’ll enjoy more of the zuurkool than this burner…

Fiskar Functional Form Grater [©photocoen]

Apart from that sweet deal we also bought the nifty Functional Form Grater from Fiskars, which after looking at so many graters seems a perfect kitchen companion to us.

More Car-related Stuff

Material for the new awning [©photocoen]

Last year I made some headway with the idea to facilitate the easiness of installing the awning. In December, In Bogotá, I bought two big 4″ sanitary PVC pipes and fixed them between the roof and the roof-rack. A solution I had often seen on electrical and service trucks, but had never given it much thought until I saw Yann retrieve stuff from their tube from their Citroën HY somewhere in Argentina.

Last January I made a small awning for the rear so we can cook sheltered from rain and sun at the rear of the Land Cruiser. This then gave me enough confidence to order more TenCate All Seasons fabricawning rails and linings. This will be sufficient for a new and improved awning that will replace the one we made in Malaysia eight years ago.

Books & Puzzles

Travelbooks and guides [©photocoen]

Ebooks are practical [space-saving] for novels and other fun reads but they are crap – in Karin-Marijke’s humble opinion – when it comes non-fiction books such as guidebooks or other types of travel books in which you want to scribble notes.

As a result we always include a trip to one or two Kringloop winkels [second-hand shops] in the Netherlands. This year we have an interesting selection of books which do betray some of the options we’re considering for the next phase of our journey.

Puzzles and braintrainers [©photocoen]

As long as I can remember my mom brought puzzle books with her on vacation and I inherited some of her fondness for it. It was reignited with the Sudoku hype in 2006 when I came across them in the daily newspapers in Bangkok. As a result we regularly bought Sudoku Puzzle Books.

In 2013 we were visiting Dutch expats in La Paz, Bolivia, where I spotted some Denksport puzzle books on the table with strange-looking puzzles in them. Japanese Puzzles, it said. It soon became the new addiction for the both of us that send our Sudoku books to a remote corner of the Land Cruiser. These logic puzzles known as Nonograms [read about it here] form large drawing that will appear as you progress through your puzzle.

This year, however, we are returning to our roots, so to speak. For Karin-Marijke that means Doorloper puzzles she has known since childhood. These puzzles look like your regular Crossword puzzle, but then without knowing where the new words start. The puzzle starts with a big empty grid.

For myself I traveled back in time as well, and ordered a couple of Logikwis books. These Logic puzzles [also known as “logic grid puzzles”] challenge you to figure out relationships between people, places and things based on a limited number of clues. I have loved these puzzles since they were a standard on tests in school.

By the way, these puzzle books are a perfect time killer at border crossings or other, time-consuming bureaucratic rigmaroles – or even when standing in line at a supermarket.

Waterbottles

New Made Sustained water bottles. [©photocoen]

In our quest to minimize aluminum and BPA stuff in our mobile kitchen, Sjoerd from Made Sustained send us two of their wicked stainless steel drinking bottles last year. Made of double-walled, high-grade material these sturdy, 500ml flasks have done a great just. They keep our drinks cool ,and the slim size makes them slide easily in a daypack and – more importantly – between the two seats in the Land Cruiser, in our homemade cubby box.

The only thing I didn’t like about them was the thin foil they were wrapped in as it scratched and the insides of the cap that were made of plastic, something we are trying to avoid.

New and improved Made Sustained cap [©photocoen]

This year Sjoerd again reached out to us with a new and improved fully stainless steel cap. The downside is that they don’t fit on the original bottles so he sent us two new ones. These dubbed the Made Sustained Knight Bottle come in 350ml and 500ml. The Snow White version lacks the thin plastic wrap that caused the older bottles to scratch. The downside of something white in our lives is that we can’t keep it white for long. It already is sporting some oil stains. Can’t have it all. Sjoerd made another great gesture and included 2 unbreakable Made Sustained Silver Party Cups. Thanks Sjoerd!

That is this year’s list. I hope to bring you an update every year on what kind of stuff we bring so that it might give you an idea on what is important to us and what kind of things aren’t available out there on the road. We love to hear what you bring with you from home.


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