Editor’s note: Ean and Natasha are fans of Joe Cross and Reboot with Joe. They decided to drive through South America during their move out west in a tricked-out SUV and in an effort to keep their travels healthy and full of energy, they brought their juicer. Read about their incredible journey in Natasha’s own words. All photos were taken by Ean Mulligan.
15,000 miles, 14 countries, 4 months and 1 juice a day. It was more than I could have imagined when I wished for an adventurous year in 2015.
My boyfriend Ean and I were getting ready to make the big move to the West Coast and it was the perfect opportunity to go on an adventure of a lifetime. South America had always been a dream destination. We thought about backpacking but living without home cooked food and our daily juices was unfathomable so we decided to build a little kitchenette in the back of our car and drive from New York to Argentina. The Juicing Nomads were born.
As we made our way south we encountered areas specializing in different produce. In Central Mexico, the highway became our shopping aisle. We would pick up a basket of fresas (strawberries) from vendors on the side of the road, 10 miles later a man would wave piñas (pineapple) at us and another 10 miles down a sign would point to zanahorias (carrots). The three ingredients mixed with ginger made our favorite juice!
To avoid unhealthy snacks on long days of driving, we often stopped to make a juice on the side of the road, whether it was a highway or a dirt road up a mountain crater. Heads turned as cars passed us.
We sneaked the juicer in whenever we stayed in hotels, hoping we would not get any noise complaints from the neighbors, or the cleaning staff for that matter as cleaning the juicer in a small bathroom sink was not the easiest of tasks.
We camped a lot while in Costa Rica and shared our juices with those who gathered around our car as soon as they saw us whipping out celery and cucumbers. We also stayed at hosts’ homes. In Ecuador near Laguna Quilotoa, a woman ran a lodge and made us a warm hearty dinner every night. I used her kitchen every morning to make my juice while she pretended to clean, her thick dress fluttering around as she curiously glanced at the green magic potion I was making. I offered her a glass in return for her hospitality. I was eager to see her reaction as these people live in elevated areas and are used to heavier foods. She was quite receptive and finished her glass. A total 180° from the Peruvian host we stayed with a few weeks later, who took one gulp and refused to drink the rest. She did not enjoy our sautéed kale either.
In Colombia, we made variations of the juices. We happened to be in Villa de Leyva for the Gastronomy Festival and stopped by the local market after a delicious tasting. I had never seen such vibrant colors. A bright orange berry-like fruit caught my eye and the vendors identified it as the Inca berry, which is bitter on its own but makes a great addition to juice. We mixed a good handful with carrots and the result was outstanding!
However, not all experiments were successful. We went to a cacao farm in Ecuador to see how chocolate is made and were served cacao juice at the beginning of the tour. It was an opaque white and very sweet in taste. Who would have thought of juicing cacao! The guide gave us a whole bean to juice but as soon as I put it through the juicer we heard a horrible noise. Not a drop came out. I opened the top and it looked like a pink flamingo had exploded. We later found out they used a special separator to pull the pulp off the cacao beans. By the time we got to the hotel to clean the juicer, the pink had turned to brown. I had inadvertently made some kind of chocolate.
Traveling can be tough on the body but juicing assured us that we were getting our vegetables and fruits daily, especially in countries where the local delicacies are more meat and carb heavy. It gave us the energy to do activities regardless of the travel fatigue. It was the one routine we brought from home to keep us sane during this incredible journey.
For detailed chapters of our adventure, visit www.thejuicingnomads.com