Argentina to Alaska: Couple’s plan for world travel

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LONDON

Carolina Fenoy and Santiago Bertaina first met in Argentina’s central mountainous region of Cordoba.

The Argentines were working at a large company producing chocolate in 2018.

The 32-year-old “Santi” from Santa Fe has a degree in industrial engineering while the 29-year-old “Caro” from Mendoza has a business administration degree.

They met at the factory, initially striking up a friendship before eventually became a couple.

They would get up early for work and return home in the evening.

Time away from work was short-lived.

“We worked all year to end up with 15 days of holiday which didn’t seem enough,” says Caro.

After several years of repeating the same steps, they felt life was escaping without time for new experiences.

The couple wanted more from life.

“One Sunday, we decided to leave everything and go on a journey,” Santi tells Anadolu Agency.

How it started

In the past, Caro visited Europe while Santi traveled to Thailand and explored Latin America.

One Sunday evening they decided to set the wheels in motion.

They drew up a plan to resign from work, leaving behind the security of a monthly paycheck.

The couple decided to travel from the most southerly point of Latin America — Ushuaia, Argentina — to the US state of Alaska, visiting countries in the Americas along the way.

They began to organize the trip, creating a plan of action.

It entailed dealing with the stresses of selling an apartment, Caro’s car, and clothes they could not carry — all to raise funds for the journey.

The couple invested money into converting Santi’s 4X4 vehicle into a camper as their main mode of transport and having it contain a living room, kitchen area, bathroom shower, and air conditioning for the hot summer months.

But there was more to consider.

Traveling abroad involved visas, especially entry into the US and Canada.

Despite being Argentinians, Caro holds Italian ancestry making the process easier while Santi does not have foreign ancestry, so he had to wait to apply for a tourist visa.

Bracing for epic journey

Before resigning from work, they went on a 15-day test run.

They began on the eastern coast of Patagonia — famous for glaciers and national parks — with landmarks, including the Torres del Paine.

The sparsely populated Patagonia area is spread over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) across Argentina and Chile — and home to unique biodiversity and native forests.

After completing the pilot trip, they returned to their jobs until early 2020 when they set out on the epic journey.

After saying goodbye to loved ones in early January, they began.
They headed south on Route 40, taking in different vistas of San Luis, Cordoba, La Rioja, and San Juan.

After years of dealing with the pressures of work, Santi describes contact with nature as the most beautiful aspect of the trip, being able to park the camper van alongside lakes and take in different scenery.

They eventually made it to Bariloche, located 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) southwesterly from their original home in Cordoba.

Bariloche is nestled amongst the Andean Mountains and Nahuel Huapi, a glacial lake, drawing comparisons to the Swiss Alps due to the architecture of the buildings.

But shortly into their journey, the global pandemic struck Argentina and the couple’s ambitions would soon be tested.

COVID lockdown

Caro says they had planned to earn some money on the road and potentially gaining seasonal work at a ski resort.

“We arrived in Bariloche a few days before the lockdown began and we were there for nine months,” says Santi.

On March 20, 2020, the country imposed a strict nationwide lockdown, eventually lifting it on Nov. 6, 2020.

The couple managed to stay and see out the lockdown in the winter months as intense snow fell in a cabin at Bungalows Capurro.

Eventually, as the country began to open up, Santi and Caro were able to recommence their journey, traveling around more of Bariloche, before heading to different provinces and continuing further south.

“Spring in the lakes of Patagonia was really incredible,” recalls Santi after a long time in lockdown.

Social media a ‘revenue’

The couple has posted their adventures on Instagram and YouTube under Hakuna Matata por el mundo.”

They chose the Swahili phrase “no troubles” referring to the journey and lifestyle they wish to lead.

Initially, Caro said Santi took some convincing to come on board with the idea of YouTube and recording their lives.

Their journey sparked media interest across Argentina.

They amassed 35,000 followers each on the Instagram and YouTube platforms while documenting their journey.

Now YouTube has become the couple’s lifeblood for income, generating 66% of their revenue on the road.

During the last six months, the couple has earned an average of $600 per month from YouTube.

With COVID-19 cases currently on the rise in Argentina, they said they will adapt to fluid situations but insist they are not about to give up on their dream of reaching Alaska.

They said their new lifestyle affords them more freedom to grow and learn on the road, deciding when they work remotely and insist they are happy with their decision.

“Our plan is to go around the world. We plan to travel for a long time,” said Santi.

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