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Patagonia to Alaska travellers join Cloverdale Rodeo Parade
An Argentine couple driving a 1980s limo from Patagonia to Alaska has stopped off in Cloverdale this week, where they're joining the Cloverdale Rodeo Parade on Saturday.
Their road-battled, muddy 1989 Cadillac stretch limo will also be among the attractions at the classic car show at the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair May 16 to 19.
Lucas Cárdenas, 35, and Florencia Bratovich, 27, started their trip two years ago, riding – and living – in their custom-outfitted car, complete with a bed, retro-fitted sink and stove, amassing a collection of tiny souvenirs collected along the way, from dashboard hula girls to eraser-sized models of Aztec pyramids.
They left on the ultimate road trip on Feb. 23, 2012 and will arrive at their final destination – Alaska – when they get there.
"We are travelling without watches and without cell phones," Cárdenas told The Reporter Thursday.
They've visited 17 countries, sightseeing along the way.
They are cataloguing their exploits on a website – America sin limites (America without limits) – and on Facebook, where friends old and new are following their adventures.
The pair doesn’t have a set itinerary, preferring to go where the road takes them – visiting with new friends along the way.
A Cloverdale resident who heard about their adventures on Argentine radio contacted Cárdenas and Bratovich, inviting them to stay with his family.
"Five months later, we're here," Cárdenas said.
Another B.C. family who met them during their three-month stay in Costa Rica has invited them to Squamish.
"They've been following us on Facebook all this time. They invited us to stay,” Cárdenas said, remarking on what a small world it is when it comes to travel.
They enjoy getting off the beaten path, preferring the small towns over big cities.
"We never know" where they will be going next, said Bratovich: They take out the map and choose from there.
The pair has driven their 23-foot-long, customized limousine nearly the entire way by land, a journey to Alaska of an estimated 48,000 kms or 30,000 miles.
The only exception was the crossing from Columbia to Panama, a distance of about 100 km of jungle and lawlessness where the limo had to be shipped by boat to Panama. Cárdenas and Bratovich flew, connecting with their limo to continue their journey by land.
Despite the myriad of countries in southern and central America on their itinerary, “We've never had any problem with violence or anything," Cárdenas said. Ironically, after all this time and distance, they got robbed in Seattle. A scammer talked them out of $25 for a parking pass.
They've also become experts in auto repair during their two-plus years on the road.
The lengthy limo’s engine had to be replaced in Los Angeles – a great place to find rare auto parts, it turned out. They found a used engine on Craiglist.
"We replaced it and it's running fine," Cárdenas said.
The car doesn't have a name, at least not yet.
And the unusual sight of a cadillac limo draws admirers and the curious. The pair is used to waking up each morning with a crowd of spectators outside.
"Every morning we wake up to faces,” Cárdenas said.
They make travel money along the way by selling copies of their self-published book, and framed photos of attractions and spectacular scenery they’ve taken along the way.