Joining the #vanlife movement with our new home ‘Tortuga’

Revealing the surprise.

We have had a pretty crazy start to 2019, which also explains why we have been away from the blog for quite some time.

As those who follow us on our Instagram profile will know, we have been very secretive about a big surprise we were working on manifesting. After a long wait – and a lot of guesswork from our followers – it is finally revealed that we have bought a 1976 VW Kombi Bonanza. We named her ‘Tortuga’.

Keep on reading to learn more about this decision, how it came about and what is going to happen next.

Opening up to new plans by letting go of old ones.

Our original plan was to fly to Sri Lanka by mid January to explore the country. Afterwards we were supposed to go to India and finally go back to Denmark and Finland in the summer. Heck, we even had a Sri Lanka count down on the blog! So what happened? Well, ‘Tortuga’ happened.

Even before we met each other we each had dreams of one day living in a van. The freedom associated with it has great appeal to us both, as it allows us to go, almost, where ever we want and always have our home and belongings with us. We even tested out van life in Sardinia together only a few months after meeting each other, which you can read about in one of our very first blog posts here.

While we were stationary in Puerto Morelos for 2 months, due to Jenny’s studies, we started searching a bit online for vans. Just for fun to see what was around. We did not have any serious plans of pursuing this dream now, as we already had travel plans and living van life was still 2-3 years out in the future for us. It was to be saved for later so to speak and we were just going to have a look. Or so we thought …

Spontaneously buying a van in Mexico.

To be honest, neither of us have ever dreamt of one day owning a car in Mexico. Least of all a 1976 VW Kombi Bonanza! However, as our “just-for-fun” searching for Kombi’s started we learned that Volkswagen used to have manufacturing in Mexico, which is why the country is packed with vintage VWs everywhere you look.

One thing is dreaming, another is manifesting.

All the Kombi’s we came across online either needed a fair bit of work done or had a price tag which was way beyond our reach. Seeing as neither of us are very handy with mechanics, we would not buy a complete restoration project. And we are also living on a budget, so we would not splash an exorbitant amount of money for something completely restored to perfection. The initial search results supported our plans of leaving Mexico for Sri Lanka and saving van life for later.

But that’s when ‘Tortuga’ appeared in a search and we immediately fell in love. The universe clearly had plans for us as it was the perfect compromise between condition and price. We quickly set up a meeting with the owner to get a better look at it and have a chat with him to learn more about it.

Even at this first meeting we did not think we would actually end up buying the van. We just wanted to have a look, try to drive it and then be a bit smarter when we actually would buy a van in a few more years.

It turned out that the seller, Jonathan, was a super nice guy who we immediately became friends with. Him and his girlfriend had had many adventures in the van, but were now looking to settle down in a new house and sell the van.

Following several test drives, thorough inspections of the entire engine, checking the body work, electrics etc. we all of a sudden had come to an agreement to buy the van and were a bit surprised to be the proud owners of a 1976 VW Kombi Bonanza … It all happened so quickly that we are still pinching ourselves to really understand what happened.

The practicalities.

It is not straight forward buying a car in Mexico and we had to do quite a bit of online research to ensure that we were actually allowed and able to do it.

We are not going to go into the whole process in this post, but if you need input on buying a car in Mexico as a foreigner then we can recommend checking out these blogs

  • https://hippie-inheels.com/buying-a-used-car-in-mexico-as-a-foreigner/
  • https://www.livingmexicosurvivorguide.com/buying-a-car-in-mexico/
  • https://mexlaw.ca/foreigners-registering-vehicle-mexico/
  • https://thefamilywithoutborders.com/problems-of-buying-car-in-mexico-as-foreigner-2011-11-03/

To make the money transfer, we can highly recommend using Transferwise who ensures that you get the best possible exchange rate between the currency you have in your bank account and the receiver’s bank account currency. We paid with Danish money to a Mexican account in Pesos and it all went smooth with the transaction happening in 1 day at the current exchange rate without hidden fees.
You can sign up to Transferwise for free and learn more by clicking here.

You are also welcome to ask us any questions in the comment section and we will do our best to answer them.

How ‘Tortuga’ got its name.

We both have a thing for turtles and love the spanish word ‘Tortuga’. We both like how it sounds and feels when pronouncing it. There is something ancient and wise about it to us.

So seeing as the van is quite slow going, bought in Mexico and always has its home with it, it seemed like a logic choice to call it ‘Tortuga’.

So what’s next?

The new plan is to explore Mexico. For how long we do not know. We want to take the time we need to ensure that we see all we want to see. Afterwards we plan to cross the boarder to the US (if they will let us in) and continue exploring. The plan is to eventually end up in New York where we will ship ‘Tortuga’ to Europe.

Right now we are fixing a few upgrades for ‘Tortuga’, before hitting the road and starting exploring Mexico. She is having a custom kitchen built, so we can cook on the road, as well as a secondary battery installed to help us charge our electronics. We will not be installing a solar system in Mexico, as we cannot find a solution we like here. This will have to wait till we reach the US.

We hope that you will all follow along on this very exciting journey ahead. It will primarily be document on our Instagram and Youtube channel, so please go and follow / subscribe in order to stay updated.

We will of course also be blogging, but the daily adventures will happen on the other platforms. 🙂

Xx, Jen & Kris

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