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Oaxaca (Part 3 of 3): Lucky Gets Some Upgrades

(Click on the links to read Oaxaca Part 1 and Part 2.)

Calvin is an engineering wizard. He has the creativity and know-how to repair, build, and re-build absolutely anything – particularly when it comes to vehicles. We discovered Calvin’s talent while we watched him help other campers at Overlander Oasis to fix and revamp their rigs. So we asked him to provide Lucky with a few upgrades…

Project 1: Build a metal rear-rack cover to replace our homemade plywood one, which was disintegrating from excessive sun and warping from ever-changing humidity conditions. Calvin welded together a sturdy aluminum cover in half a day.

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Our old wooden rear rack cover was tastefully re-purposed to protect Calvin' class=
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Our old wooden rear rack cover was tastefully re-purposed as a box to protect Calvin’s exterior water filtration system.

Project 2: Install the Propex propane heater that we shipped from Canada to Overlander Oasis. Several travellers convinced us that a propane heater is a lifesaver in the Andes of South America, where it can reach sub-zero temperatures at elevation. The heater was shipped to us with the help of Gregor’s dad and niece (thanks again, George and Kira!). Calvin installed it with incredible precision and helped Gregor to design connectors to both onboard and offboard propane tanks. Gregor did a fantastic job on all the propane and electrical work. Now we have heat on demand!

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Calvin and Gregor holding their “air scrotums”.

Project 3: Create a table leg adapter that fits in our jack mount to turn our indoor tabletop into an outdoor countertop. This one was tricky because the most minor wiggle on the table leg translated to major rocking of the table top. Calvin went through several failed designs on the jack mount adapter until it was perfect. We now have an awesome outdoor kitchen.

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In between van projects, Leanne was busy working on gastronomic adventures for the campground residents. First, she organized a Oaxacan cooking class in her kitchen. We learned how to make chicken with Barbacoa sauce under the guidance of Leanne’s friend, Teresa, and her daughter, Dulce.

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Teresa (centre) and Dulce (right) showing Karen how to de-seed dried peppers.

Leanne also ordered a Mexican take-out party meal for all the campers. For $4 CAD per person, we stuffed our faces with delicious gringas (large tacos made with ‘al pastor’ shawarma-style meat, melted cheese, and roasted pineapple), complete with guacamole, pico de gallo, two kinds of salsas, and a spicy but yummy jalapeño and onion topping.

On our last few days in the campground, Leanne baked muffins and cakes and fed us local snacks and drinks for happy hour. As we nibbled on home-baked goodness, we all shared stories of our travel adventures in Mexico.

Gregor and I are grateful to Calvin and Leanne for making our time in Oaxaca so special. Their dedication to helping travellers enjoy their experience on the road is inspiring. Five weeks had passed since we drove into Overlander Oasis for the first time – we were genuinely sad to say goodbye to our new friends.

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During our time in Oaxaca, four VW vans (including ours) returned to Overlander Oasis knowing that it was a safe place to repair and upgrade our beloved rigs. We all joked that the campground is like a vortex that keeps sucking in Volkswagens. In reality, it’s like Hotel California – “You can check out any time you like, but you will never leave.”

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2 thoughts on “Oaxaca (Part 3 of 3): Lucky Gets Some Upgrades

  1. Monty

    Great job on the kitchen table addition! What’s that yellowy-orange thing? Is it being steadied by one of Janice’s patented waffles?