Jurci Travel is established in 1998, and have been travelling as a duo ever since. Recently a new crew member was added to the Jurci Travel team; La Panda! With the first half of the road trip Lima-Antarctica-and-back done, we reckoned it is about time to interview the newbie of the team.
“Congratulations on reaching Ushuaia: World’s most Southern city of the World! Before we go into your trip, we are puzzled about your name. You are called ‘La Panda’. Why is that?
Jurci Travel always give their cars a name. The Wrangler Jeep of Cissy in Qatar for example was called JaBiBi- freely translated 'My Sweetie the Jeep'.
We discussed my name together, and some names where declined. We are on a holiday, so ‘The Office’, was not appropriate. Despite the fact I have all facilities for high tech office on board – USB, hotspot/WiFi, chilled beverages, boss-like seats.
I am Unique, so we all quickly agreed that JaBiBi the Second would not work. Besides, I am proud to be a solidly built Japanese car! When Cissy walked towards me one day, she realized, I look like a cutie mega Panda. So there it was, La Panda it is!
“You reached the landmark Ushuaia perfectly as planned. This is your first trip with Jurci Travel. How are the first impressions?”
Well, Jurci Travel crew are certainly treating me as a family member right from the start. On our first 9.9717 kilometers together, we had such a lot of fun. And they take very good care of me. With Mud Treatments, intensive foot massages, interval personal training program - sprinting and endurance tests, rewarded with a good bath afterwards.
"You are used to the traffic in Lima. Do you miss your city?"
Driving in Lima is good fun, that is true. Knowing I will be back there in May sometime, I just focus on the joy of discovering new roads.
You see, after my birth in Japan, I went directly to Peru. I was a baby back then, so I don’t have memories of that trip. So for me, this feels like the first trip that I am abroad! Finally I am now an Exploring Car. It's exciting to get to know other countries like Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Driving is driving, I know, however, the fun is in the details. Type of road, the quality of drinks available and road rules… Lot's of new impressions every day!
“Long days on the road must be tiring. What is your special secret to be recharged the next morning for another road trip? More people have asked me that question. Funny enough, driving long distances does not make me tired at all.
That said, it is all about the right team vibe. When you have your mini breaks needed, the drive is not tiring. When one needs to take a photo, or have a sanitary or gastronomic stop, we do so.
An other special ‘secret’ is that we make sure I can sleep well. With that regard, it is not a back-packing trip, I overnight in secured parking’s only, or in remote areas like Patagonia, I have a million sparkling stars wishing me a good night sleep.
“Talking about gastronomy. Peru is world famous for it’s signature foods and drinks, among which the original Peruvian Pisco Sour.
You are used to the Peruvian ’98. What’s your view on the drinks you got the road?”
Firstly, let me point out that the right drinks are essential for me. I mean, drinking a Pepsi something totally different than a Coca-Cola.
Jurci Travel understands that very well, so they only fuel me up with an ‘85’ when in the wide area nothing better is available. If they need to go out of the way, literally, to get me a higher number of petrol, they would.
When travelling, one has to be flexible, so yes, sometimes I just deal with the ’85’ petrol not to getdehydrocarbonated and keep moving.
I am always happy to see a Shell Fuel Station, they have even Super Power drinks for me!
What were your personal highlights so far?
Wow, that is an easy and difficult question at the same time. So many to pick from...
okay, my personal top Three:
1. Road in Tilcara to Casa Colorada. This was a gravel road, steep, curvy. And the steeper it got, the more the road quality deteriorated.. Jurgen and me absolutely loved it! Cissy was looking like she saw ghosts and was making mental notes ‘I should draft up our wills’. The local encounters with oncoming traffic were an experience in itself. Especially the discussion with the farmer, on it's way with several cows and horses. His plan was that we should drive backwards 80 meters. He said at that point the road was wider to let the animals pass. In the end, Jurgen and me maneuvered forward, so the cows and horses could pass. I do have rear cameras, but even for me that was a bit too daring.
Can I make a quick side note? Yes? Talking about park assist cameras:
In parking garages at the 15th floor in La Paz, the rear camera came in super handy!
2. Spa ‘Salar de Uyuni’
We were at Salara de Uyuni in the rain season, meaning 120 square km are all with a layer of water of 10 cm or more deep. We decided that I don’t play ‘Cruise Boat’, so I stayed on shore- having fun at the muddy tracks with special ingredient salt.
Heading towards Argentina, we decided I needed a Spa Treatment, and I had an intense full body cleaning. The high pressure water was a bit tickly on my tires I have to say, but all in all it was heavenly. And the Jurci kids got well entertained by the Spa’s owner young son Daniel, so I could totally relax and indulge!
3. Bet with Jurgen (allegedly won by La Panda)
The dashboard speed meter indicates I should be able to drive a max speed 240. Jurgen says these meters are just for the show and was wondering what would be my top speed. So – Pure hypothetically – we made a bet were I said I can go above the 200 km/h. Allegedly I won this bet easily, by 5km/h over even. Allegedly of course, and we have a non-disclosure agreement about the location where we tested the speed...
“Travelling is not only ‘Roses and Moonlight’ all the time. Were there any hick-ups during the trip?"
Nothing really seriously, as far as I am concerned. One little speeding ticket in 9.917 km on the road is not too bad, I would say.
Cissy is still bit annoyed about how on earth on a day with perfect tarmac, she managed to get a flat tire in only 20 meters on the non-paved side road. And one that was non-pluggable; that’s Riyadh Rovers jargon for – beyond repairable. Since via Abu Dhabi, Marnix, I have a second spare tire on board, there was no need for worrying. It just turned out to be a little bit complex to find the tire replacement. But that’s a long story for another time.
“Don’t you forget something? Like the two flat tires caused by Jurgen? We have eyes on the road, so we are well informed you know” O yes, you are right. We had two other flat tires. I just did not mention them, as those were repaired both within an hour. Having a forklift truck standing by is very practical, the best car lift jack of the trip so far.
“We have heard that on the road, you have quite a lot of people admiring you. Can you cope well with all that attention?”
Oh. You’ve heard about that? I guess it is true, looks like a Nissan Patrol is a unique car on the Andean and Patagonian roads.
Fact for sure is that my tires are unique in Argentina – my size 20 is not sold there on the market. Luckily we have two spare tires on board, and we found a new one in Chile.
In Chile I had good fun with the mechanics of the Nissan workshop. A Nissan Patrol is not on the regular service list in Chile, thankfully they accepted me for the regular 5.000 km service I needed. Only, I am still a bit upset with Cissy. In her attempt to convince the workshop to take me in, I overheard her on the phone.
‘No, it is a Nissan Patrol Y62. That is a four wheel drive, which you can compare with the Nissan Pathfinder, that is your regular list of models you service’. I love my little brother Nissan Pathfinder, but just don’t put us on the same level. On the bright side, I got the full attention of all the mechanics so I had a Super Service.
The strangest experience was in Puerto Varas, Chile. I was chilling in the parking of hotel Los Vulcanos Dreams, when I was spotted. I have an extra professional career on the side now, as being Photo Model! I asked mr. Pedro, the hotels concierge/handy man/ cleaner, to take the photos from my left side, as I look best like that.
“Clearly you love to explore other countries. So why are you not joining to Antarctica?” I understand your question. Fair point made, it seems strange I am not joining. As I am equipped well to drive in snow, i even have heated seats for the driver and co-driver. I love tough climate circumstances. Like handling driving through the Patagonian Austral winds. Those did not get a grip on me at all. And i surely love to take on a challenge.
However, on the ferry from Punta Arenas to Porvenir, I remembered that I am not the cruising type of car. Combine that with the fact I left the ferry with a hissing air tire – I take a pass on 14 days on a boat.
Jurci was very understanding, however, it turned out to be quite a hassle and stressful to find a secure parking spot for me. Luckily Martin of the Tourist Office knew Alejandro, long story short; I look forward to 14 days of Secured Chilling in Ushuaia!
“It's almost relax time for you. Time for the Last Question. I will put you in the hot seat:
In your opinion: who is the better driver? Cissy or Jurgen?”
… long silence… Eurrr… Hmmm… Well, that is an interesting question. I have to take into consideration various factors, and their relative weight in relation to the other factors. Based on quantity I have to say Jurgen drove the most clicks. But Cissy chipped in a fair bit as well, and took care of complex city driving in La Paz.
“Okay, that was an answer based on quantity. But that does not say anything about who is the best driver in your opinion”
Well, hem, euh You know, I am a diplomat car now. So diplomatically I will ask you to understand this question can’t be answered yet. As I have circa 10.000 km to drive back to Lima, with both of them…. So best I can do now, is to promise to come back to you on this ‘matter of mutual interest’ in the near future?
“Fair Enough. We wish you a pleasant relaxed stay in down-town Ushuaia”
Thank you. I will make sure to get my rest, as I am told there are some interesting roads ahead to enjoy from 30th march onward.