Breckenridge Texan

They’re headed north to Alaska, all the way from Colombia

They’re headed north to Alaska, all the way from Colombia
October 31
16:52 2017

Ricardo Soto and Sara Munoz, of Medellin, Colombia, created stickers with this logo to commemorate their road trip to Alaska.

With their customized four-wheel drive Toyota SUV, parked on the east side of the Breckenridge Walmart parking lot on a chilly fall morning, Ricardo Soto, 32, and his companion, Sara Munoz, 24, are two and a half months into their marathon trip from Colombia to Alaska.

Tuesday morning, they were adjusting items in their attention-getting vehicle when they made time to talk to curious locals, including a driver who stopped to ask questions and inquire about how long they planned to be in town.

The couple from Medellin, Colombia, spent six months planning their trip and customizing their vehicle for the long trip. Medellin is in the Andes Mountains region of Colombia, which is the northernmost country of the South American continent. It’s more than 5,000 miles away from Alaska.

On Aug. 10, they left their hometown with their dachshund, Chavo, in tow and headed out on the road-trip of a lifetime. Since there are no roads from Colombia to Panama, they had to first transport their vehicle by ship, which arrived in Panama on Aug. 18.

“Officially, the trip began that day,” Soto said.

From Panama, they made their way up through Central America, then Mexico and crossed into Texas at Eagle Pass 15 days ago.

Although they’ve dubbed their trip “Destino Alaska” –  Destination Alaska – Munoz said the trip is not about reaching the journey’s end but about the adventure of the trip along the way.

“The adventure of the road trip, getting there is the most important part of the trip,” she said.

Soto agreed. “When you travel by car, it’s different because there are a lot of people to meet along the way,” he said. “It’s a completely different experience, because by plane you just arrive at the airport.”

As way to celebrate the trip, Soto, who has an MBA, and Munoz, a marketer, created a “Destino Alaska” logo that is emblazoned on the hood of their vehicle. They said when people offer to help buy them a gallon of gas along the way, they give them a sticker with the logo on it as a gesture of thanks.

Soto, who expects the trip to take about a year, said they made all the modifications to their vehicle themselves, which include places to store their supplies and equipment and a place to sleep. They also have a tent, a cooler and a propane stove they can set up at camping areas along the way.

As they travel, they say, their route can change, based on recommendations from people they meet along the way.

“A lot of locals say, ‘Oh maybe you can go there,’ ‘There’s a nice place near here,’ or an activity that’s good to visit,” Soto said.

They both said the people they have met so far have been very nice. For example, Munoz said, they were in the state park near Brownwood and some people wanted to know where they were from and where they were going. Then, the strangers invited the travelers to their homes to sleep, eat and take showers.

Munoz said Texas is very different from what they expected. She said it was surprising to them because of the many small towns and they both really liked that. “There’s a lot of country life in Texas,” she said. “It’s really good a state.”

Soto agreed. “It’s a very peaceful place to stay and very easy to travel by car,” he said. “We feel very safe staying in a Walmart parking lot or parking in picnic areas where you can stay for 24 hours. You can park your vehicle there ; you can pop your tent, and there’s no problems.”

They said they’ve met nice people in all the countries they’ve visited along the way.

“The people are very different,” Munoz said. “But you see in each country good people, nice people that want to help you. You make a lot of friends.”

Soto said some countries are more interesting than others, but in general every country has interesting things. “All the countries have, like, this magic,” he said.

When they were planning their trip and told their friends and family back home what they were planning to do, everyone was supportive. Soto said they told him things like, “All my life, this is my dream, my dream trip.”

Munoz laughed and said some of their friends also told them they were crazy or not going to arrive in Alaska or in month and they’d be back in Colombia.

The couple stays in touch with friends and family back home every day through the internet. They also have a phone with a U.S. number that has navigation, and they use Google Maps to help find directions.

They said their plans after leaving Breckenridge are to head into New Mexico and then to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. In the future they would like make similar trips to other areas in the world, like South America or Europe.

Soto said the most important tip they have for anybody who dreams of taking such a trip is to make the decision and then set a departure date. “If you don’t have a date, then you say ‘Maybe in another month.’ You will always find an excuse,” he said.

You can follow along with Munoz, Soto and Chavo on their adventure via their Facebook page at @destinoalaska873 or their Instagram page at @destinoalaska.


Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Ricardo Soto and Sara Munoz, along with their dog Chavo, stopped in Breckenridge this week on their year-long road trip from Colombia to Alaska. They left their hometown on Aug. 10 and crossed in to Texas 15 days ago. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)




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