A young Argentinian couple en route to Alaska have made several new friends in Williams Lake after stopping to have their Toyota Four Runner fixed at Heartland Toyota last week.
Marcos Vilarino and Noelia Kielbasa, who left Argentina in November 2013 on what they described as a dream trip, said their vehicle wasn’t built in North America and it’s diesel so it has stumped them and various mechanics a few times.
“We got to pass a nice weekend with Canadian hospitality,” Vilarino smiled after the Four Runner was fixed and a part ordered for pick up when they arrive in Anchorage.
Part of that hospitality was at the hands of Jay Chappell and her husband Gord Stevenson.
“I met them here at work at Toyota and then saw them at Safeway later that day,” Chappell said. “I called Gord to come down and meet them because I did not want them sleeping in their vehicle while they were here in Williams Lake.
“Noelia took over my kitchen, making Argentinian pizza with lots of cheese and onions and empanadas,” Chappell said.
Nodding Kielbassa said they shared maté, drinking the tea traditionally through a metal straw.
As he listened to them tell stories about some of the people they have met or things that have happened, Stevenson said the couple are an example of how to face life.
“They have lots of faith and more courage than most and don’t let anything get them down,” he smiled.
For the most part the couple live in their car, and said the trip has become about the day to day experience of meeting new people.
“You meet lots of homeless people at gas stations in the U.S.,” Vilarino said. “They give you tips about the cheapest place to take a shower and things like that.”
Both of them studied tourism in university and have worked in the field, but after dreaming about doing a big trip, they decided to go for it.
So far their trip has taken them from Argentina to Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, a side trip to Cuba, back to Mexico, and into the U.S. at Texas, across the U.S. and into Canada, Noelia said.
Soon after they crossed the border into Canada they were pulled over by the police.
When they asked the police if they had done something wrong, the police officer said no.
He only wanted to ask if they had really driven all the way from Argentina.
“It’s normal for us to miss our family, but we feel like we have family here in Williams Lake,” Vilarino said.
Chappell was sad to see them leave.
“I know they have touched a lot of people on their journey and will continue to,” she said.
Dave Scheer, a technician at Toyota, took them on a tour of Farwell Canyon and arranged with a friend for them to go mountain biking with bikes borrowed from Barking Spider.
To follow along with their adventures you can check out their Facebook page, “America con el Alma” or visit www.americaconelalma.com.