Tag Archives: Montana

Online school on the road: camperlife in South America

Niles with a Monkey Puzzle tree in camp at Parque National Lanin, Argentina Patagonia

We are a Montana family on the road for a year, traveling South America in our two pickups with pop-up campers. We are staying in a combination of situations of camps, Airbnbs and Workaway stays.

Our son is 14 and attempting to complete highschool courses along the way because he has the goal of returning to his school in Butte, Montana with enough credits to be a Sophomore. He is currently a Freshman enrolled in BYU online courses.

Many miles in this position.
Niles with Argentinan friends his age practicing Spanish and coaching English, such a refreshing sight for me.
Products of Niles and Vivian’s work on the Uruti farm, Colonia Valdense, Uruguay

I would have chosen a free, non-religiously affiliated school like k12 if it was an option. If he hadn’t been interested in returning to Butte High, there would have been more options including more interactive schooling. We chose BYU which is, ironically, religiously affiliated  because it had some support the other option didn’t have. Plus the price was a little less.

On  Workaway stay in Uruguay, koifarm’s source of eggs and meat. We all can manage chickens now. Vivian raised an orphaned chick in their shared room which means Niles really got to know chick stages of development from day one to 30 days.

As we have more time traveling in the countries of South America I believe more strongly that his experiences in camps with Argentinan friends, buying snacks in stores in Spanish, pick up basketball with kids in Colombia, and problem solving travel issues, understanding other cultures politics and economies is his true education this year. Just as the majority of time in a traditional school is social, his time dedicated to curriculum is short compared to time he spends becoming himself in this place.  The anxiety for me of course is wondering if this is “enough” when entering back into the Montana education system.

The day he decided to get his hair cut 5 months since leaving Montana. We went next door to Javier’s place in Guernica where this young man did a favorite Argentinan soccer cut for Niles (Argentina just won the World Cup BTW, so proud!).
“Oldfish” of the Rio de la Plata region which we found on the shore of Rio Uruguay.
Eating out is a rare treat in our past 4 months. We are cooking most meals to stick to budget. Our kids are learning how to travel on $30/day operating budget for food, fuel, and camps for the whole family.
Harvesting Tilo leaves and flowers for Tilo te, a natural sedative for bedtime.
Online school position at the Uruti farm without device in hand. Are you doing school?
Moras we harvested together with the Uruti family
Harvesting fence posts
Birthday pie for Victoria made by Niles
Are you doing school?
The whole family learned what water dependence on a windmill is like over the months of November and December in Uruguay. The groundwater is abundant but you need windy days as well to have water here.
Niles cutting a thick plant the Uruti farm is not using. It can be used as a fiber but only when the plant is much bigger. The farm area here is being envisioned as a vineyard.
Are you doing school?
Exploring the Rambla in Montevideo, Uruguay with sister Vivian.
Are you doing school?
Favorite desert is Flan and Alfajores
Navigating Buenos Aires by train
With a dog

We enrolled Niles in 4 courses through BYU which align with requirements to re-enter Butte High, he is slowly picking through the coursework. The experience as a parent is that we can check his progress from our account but he is very protective against us being with him as he does school. He is in general not an enthusiastic student and missing his friends. When he applies himself, grades go up, when he doesn’t grades go down.

Making Arepas over the Solo fire beneath a Monkey Puzzle tree in camp with views of Lanin volcano and glacier.

In our family, education has been highly valued. We are engineers, attorneys, nurses, plumbers, electricians, gardeners, and adventure seekers. I don’t know of any relatives in our last 3 generations that didn’t finish a traditional highschool. However, I also see that our family situation is in a unique opportunity to give a global education which the Montana school curriculum cannot provide. So, pros and cons.

Today, Niles has a sunburn from sitting near the camp store doing school next to the camp’s internet connection. He is doing a weeks worth of school to catch up after we had days of travel from the Atlantic Coast of Argentina to the Andes of Argentinan Patagonia. Traveling days and internet strong enough to complete school assignments is an issue now that wasn’t an issue in the first 3 months of travel, Google Fi cut us off of our service at month three of international travel.

We continue to pay for Google Fi and may have a way for another phone on our service that is in use by Vivian’s friend to come down here and provide a hotspot for another three months.

Montanan kid in South America learning stuff.

We welcome comments and ideas that may help us make this Freshmen year even better for this guy. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Argentina Atlantic Coast in our campers: Propane, sites and New Years

First night camping in Argentina

Argentinans love camping and the country has sooo many beautiful and varied landscapes that not camping here would be tragic on a long trip. There are established and wild campsites all along the Atlantic Coast of Argentina. We are using local and ioverlander recommendations to find spots.

December through February are the height of the beach season in Argentina which corresponds with school vacations and hotter weather. We are starting our camp travels just in time to celebrate my Birthday and New Years at Nueva Atlantis (a pick from ioverlander), south of Buenos Aires. To those who have been following this journey, we finally were able to pick up our camper trucks!!!! No negativity here, just happy to be on the road!

While waiting for our camper trucks to clear customs in Buenos Aires, we had adventures in Colombia, Uruguay and waiting time in Buenos Aires (other posts cover these stays). An Argentinan friend of ours, Javier, helped a ton with customs in Buenos Aires and let us park our trucks in front of his house in Guernica outside Buenos Aires while we did some final prep for our trip.

Our luck also was that Javier owns a hardware store “Ferriteria de Dalle Piane’s y Hijos” Guernica, in Buenos Aires Provincia. US propane tanks are not legal to fill in Argentina despite reading some travelers experience of success. If you need the set up, contact Javier by WhatsApp or go to the shop through Facebook below:

https://m.facebook.com/100063578922579/

Here, propane tanks require Argentina certification stickers to allow a fill. Our tanks don’t have these so, we bought a 10 kilo standard Argentinan tank, drained it into our two 8 kilo tanks in Javier’s yard and we were set. Javier gave us the tubing we needed so we can repeat the process down the road. We did the drain and fill outside using gravity and a lot of time. See photo below for set up.

Our US tank now ready for use.

We left Guernica (Buenos Aires area) for Nueva Atlantis 12/29 heading for our first official camping trip in South America. We are 4 months into our year long trip.

Nueva Atlantis is a small beach city along the Argentinan Atlantic Coast. There are many homes for sale and rent here as well as camping. We spent 4 nights here going to the beach, into town, visiting with neighbors for my birthday and New Years. People go to the beach to shout in the New Year and then listen to live music in the restaurant at the campground.
Birthday dinner cooked by “Chef” Alejandro. These guys have been coming to the camp for the past 10 years for New Years. This dish was asado, tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, onion, peppers, sal and potatoes. So delicious over a BBQ. So grateful to Chef for this birthday surprise.
Nueva Atlantis beach
Midnight to welcome 2023.
You can rent a campervan in Argentina
But, this was my most favorite camp set up. Love the whole thing: colors, attitude and can do spirit!
On our way to the next camp, Milanesa (huge sandwiches with breaded fried beef) and Papas Fritas!
Entering Mar del Plata where we drove to the end of a pier to watch Sea Lions and see the city by car.
Sea Lions in Mar del Plata, colder day, perfect for these guys.
Mar del Plata, proud of it’s Sea Lions
Jan 1, 2023 South of Mar del Plata in La Rodando camp: 4200 pesos ($~13) for 3 adults, 2 vehicles (under 15 free, dogs free). Beaches for swimming, surf, boogie boards and kayaking. No electricity or hot water but there are clean bathrooms and outside showers. Recycling and compost disposal available. Unique in Argentina at this time.
Jan 1-4?, 2023
Marcela, the owner of our campsite here shared this drone footage of their place.

To friends and family considering joining us on the road, please just do it. Our itinerary and lifestyle here are very flexible. The exchange rate in Argentina is even better than the “official” rate you will see online. Google “dollar blue” to determine your actual conversation rate. Great time to explore this area. Plus, everyone is super tranquilo having just won the World Cup.

One more recommendation, there are way too many great places to see. Please don’t stress about seeing the most popular places, just pick a place and allow enough time to explore, make happy “mistakes” and meet some great people along the way. The most popular places tend to involve needing more money, spending time in lines and experiencing more stress than necessary. So far, honestly, the most back water places have been the best and unique.