Have you ever wondered what it was like to be famous? Just take a lifted 1-ton Super Duty across a Central American country and you'll get a good taste of it. This past December we ended up in Costa Rica to meet up with the Ford Super Duty we had built ("Building for Extreme Excursions," Apr. '07) for eight days of exploration through some of the most beautiful (and Gringo-friendly) parts of Central America that anyone would be lucky enough to see. Not only that, but we got to experience some of the most outrageous wheeling of our lives. But we'll tell you right now that this is no trip worth risking without a large amount of off-road experience, a good grasp of the Spanish language, a lot of planning, and contacts within the country's borders. Fortunately for us, we know a little about wheeling, and our old college roommate, Cody Qualls and his wife Sunshine, had immersed themselves in the culture about two years ago, picking up the language and making good acquaintances.
It all started after we got a call from our friend, Cody. When he'd moved a couple years ago, he'd left behind his '99 Super Duty F-350, and was now looking to ship it down to Costa Rica instead of selling it. But many of the roads down there are treacherous, and Cody wanted to know how we would build a truck meant for full-time life in terrain like this.
It took all of two seconds for us to ask where we could find the keys, the truck, and when it had to be on the boat. He wasn't going to build it. We were. We hadn't had a crack at building a true international excursion truck before, and we saw an immediate opportunity to do a little foreign wheeling if we could somehow hide under the backseat while the truck was being shipped.
We spent the next six weeks working with Pro Comp, Fab Fours, Dynatrac, Eaton/Detroit, T-Max, Pull Pall, and Daystar to put together something we would feel good about dipping into foreign mud. Everything that was not replaced was inspected or rebuilt. The main goal was to get down there with the truck, but we also wanted the truck and us to make it back alive.
Think of this trip as an Ultimate Adventure, without 20 other trucks and 40 other guys to help you out. Oh yeah, and without the utilities, services, and cell reception we have here in the U.S. We knew we were in for an adventure.
After sitting for a few minutes behind a semi-slow moving truck, we decided it was time to take the initiative and go for a pass. Unbeknownst to us, a road crew had recently filled in a 3-foot-deep ditch and had failed to pack any of it down. Add a little rain to it, and you get this type of situation. It looked like solid road at 40 mph, and we're just glad the truck stayed on its wheels. Eventually we grabbed a tree with the winch and pulled the truck out. The truck we tried to pass saw what happened and stopped, as did traffic in back of us. Now we were the estupido turista gringos that got stuck trying to hurry around, but everyone was still very friendly and wanted to show their trucks' machismo by having us hook up our winch hook to their Toyota or whatever.