He quit his job, went on the road in a ’73 Citroën and wants to get to Alaska

This story began to be told a long time ago. There was a time in the life of laura ferryalmost 15 years ago, when a dream matured. It was not a sudden revelation, but the product of a long maceration. Then He left his regular job, shook off the routine and went to travel the roads of America in a Citroën Mehari model 1973. He has traveled thousands of kilometers and an ambitious plan: travel to alaska.

The game does not yet have a fixed date, but Laura accumulates information, examines maps and analyzes how to avoid the dangerous Darien Gap, which divides Colombia from Panama, an area considered almost impassable. She has already obtained a visa to enter the United States and all that remains is for them to give her the green light in Canada.

After more than a decade traveling alone to various destinations in South America, Ferri got a partner. Olga will be her co-pilot on the trip to Alaska. However, she clarifies, “I never traveled alone. That is something physical, but everything that accompanies you is incredible, from the thoughts to the good disposition of the people”.

The meeting was casual. In 2019 Laura went to Iruya, in the province of Salta, to start writing her second book. She had already posted ‘Adventures in Mehari’ and wanted to continue narrating his experiences on the road.

“There I met Olga in a hostel. She came from a very different life, she had a supermarket in the town of Gobernador Crespo, Santa Fe. She had been widowed for two years, ”she says. The following month they made a trip together to Bolivia and there an unbreakable friendship was sealed. “Sometimes life puts things in your way that are like gifts.”

But this is not the story of two adventurers on the road, but that of Revo, the Citroën Méhari model 1973. “When I bought it I didn’t even think about doing what I’m doing. I liked it because it was red and black, and I am from ’59 (N. de R. the year of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution). It was the symbol of adventure. First I called him the red and black, but then I started calling him the Revolutionary. Today people know him as the Revo”, explains Laura.

Ferri on its way through Latin America

It all started in Necochea, his city, 15 years ago. “I was looking for a little car because at that time I was doing another career in Mar del Plata and my children were studying in La Plata. There were 125 kilometers that he had to travel and he wanted a little car to come and go. The budget gave me for a Renault 12 or a Dodge, but a lot had to be done to them. And I thought: if I liked all my life the mehari. So I started looking for him and after a long time I found him, or he found me, two blocks from my house”, in the center of Necoche.

Time later something clicked in his soul. In 2012 she resigned from his job at the Directorate of Schools and went on an adventure. “I know I’ve done much more than 120,000 kilometers. It’s 14 years and I went to Perubut my trips are almost never linear, I go into the towns, if I have to go back, I come back –says Laura-. Since I became the owner of my time, I have already lost the notion of getting lost. The first time I got lost, in Córdoba, I cried. And then I said: But how am I going to get lost if the earth is my home! Where there is a path I will get somewhere. I don’t use GPS or anything like that, I keep asking”.

Revo’s odometer is not enough. On the last trip, already with Olga as co-pilot, they traveled 23,000 kilometers, crossed 15 provinces and crossed National Route 40 from north to southincluding the six sections of gravel. The question is mandatory: How did the little car behave? “It breaks, because it is an old car.”

And he adds: “If Olga were there, I would say that the best thing that comes out is to call the 0800 tow truck. Nor do insurance give you much crane for that model. But I learned that any inconvenience is resolved calmly, sitting down, looking around. You will always find the solution or the tip of the solution.”

Then he tells the anecdote that he lived in Peru, when he was climbing the Abra Málga, on his way back from Machu Pichu, at 4,700 meters high. “There I broke the ignition flywheel, which is a part that has points. And in Peru they don’t know what a platinum is because for many years they have cars with electronic ignition that were brought from Japan. and yet that was also resolved”.

Laura and Revo are a partnership that is only possible if you look at existence through another lens. “I think it is an attitude that one takes in the face of difficulties. First, don’t get discouraged. Later when the problem is solved one says: ‘In the end, this also happened’. That gives you a temper that is very useful for life, ”she assures.

The questions fall off the notebook. Ferri says that at the beginning she was a foresighted woman on the road. Her “At first she had all kinds of spare parts, but she would break what she didn’t have. Like tools, she carried everything. And then none of it worked. So I stopped leading because everything is resolved and everything is achieved. The most unusual things have happened to me. I have obtained parts in places where there is no Citroën”, she says, amused.

Route 40 in Argentina
Route 40 in Argentina

Then he narrates the experience of when returning from Chile, at the height of the Colorado River, ropped the oil cooler. “I’m not going to tell you that I was in a hurry because the car behind says Slow, but I was driving miles to be with my mother at parties. I broke an oil cooler. And yet I got a radiator from a car that had been left lying around.”

How much do you put it on? “On a paved road, without hills, without wind and without rain, that is to say, on the smooth side, the car being quite well, it can go to 80. But I don’t go to more than 60 or 65if I have to pass a harvester, which is the only thing that happens”, emphasizes Ferri.

She acknowledges that it is not a docile vehicle. But after 15 years on the road, she is used to it. “It’s a tough car that has bell brakes. It’s 600 cubic centimeters. The nicest thing about it is grabbing the potholes and the stones because it has a suspension that is great. There is no 4×4 that can match it. I have gotten into the river that connects Iruya with San Isidro in Salta, among the stones, it is impressive”.

Over time, the bourgeois custom of spending the night indoors was also stripped away. Revo doubles as a bedroom. “I have slept in the car for many years. At first I went to a hostel or a hotel, but then I realized that if I threw a mattress behind I could sleep peacefully, so I turned it into a small motorhome, with a jug with a burner, with pots, crockery, cleaning things, clothes,” he explains.

And he adds: “With Olga we have slept in Casabindo, Jujuy, in the middle of the Puna, with a temperature of 9 degrees below zero. In the morning the water, the olive oil and the wet wipes were frozen, and we in the back with our thermal bags and blankets had no problems. That’s because the car is fiberglass and canvas.then there is a small microclimate inside”.

Your arrival in Peru
Your arrival in Peru

The Citroen Mehari model ’73 has a tank with a capacity of 30 liters. “But I never fill it up because since the tank doesn’t have a breather, it’s not like modern tanks that have a small vent, that’s where it drowns. Sometimes I put 22 or 23 liters in it –Laura clarifies-. I have an approved 25 liter drum and I want to see if I can enlarge the tank and put 20 more liters in it”.

The experience and this logic that, finally, everything is resolved, have allowed him not to fear fuel shortages. “Very rarely did it happen to me that I ran out of gas. It is always found. In small towns, especially in the north, people sell you gasoline. In Peru and Bolivia they sell on the road. Of course, I too have overcome this mistrust and insecurity. If one is suspicious, things will not go well. It seems that there is a matter of attracting a little…”

The Revo no longer pays patent, but has the requirement to carry out the Vehicle Technical Verification every year. These days he is getting ready for when the time comes for him to head towards Alaska, 14,000 kilometers from Necochea. It is not a small thing.

The objective is clear. The question is how they came to travel to Alaska in Mehari. Ferri tells the story, a chain of almost casual events. They had finished traveling Route 40 and, being only 680 kilometers from Ushuaia, they decided to visit it.

“We crossed and when we were arriving we saw the Haruwen inn, which is at kilometer 3,005 of route 3. We entered because we liked it. They were going to give us a certificate for having reached the end of the world. And the man told us that he would put a seal on us. He put half an American stamp on us and said, ‘You have to go get the other half from Alaska.’ We looked at each other and started playing with that idea. We had already been chatting that we wanted to continue, ”says Laura and it seems simple.

Less and less is missing for the Mehari’s engine to start. Ferri says that after returning from Peru she resumed her teaching job and is now retired. That, in economic terms, allows you to move more freely. In addition, she sells some of her books along the way and rents her house in Necochea, which gives her “a small income.” Same, she clarifies, “traveling like this you spend much less than at home”.

He assures that he never had sponsors, although many people who find out about his adventures send him things. As is the case with a company that gave him shock absorbers or his city’s insurer, “which he gave me for several months.” Next year, in 2023, the Revo will celebrate 50 years of service. “We hope to be on the road,” says Ferri. The wish will come true.

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