Recently The Costa Rica Post had a chance to speak with a border-hopping bad ass by the name of Ian Dow. Ian, who recently arrived to Costa Rica aboard a tricked-out ambulance he customized with the help of his father, also just so happens to have one of the most impressive beards we have seen in a very long time.
His ambulance isn’t too shabby either.
Ian, who claims his wanderlust was partly inspired by a broken heart and stolen song royalties, hasn’t had a steady job in 10 years and currently roams the earth with his dog “Dino” and a beardless freak named “Dylan” who sleeps on the roof of the meat wagon turned Winnebago.
The four month journey, which we assume involved a lot of potholes and tacos, started in California and followed the Pacific Coastline all the way down to Costa Rica.
The Ian Dow Interview
by Tico Doug
Hi Ian, looks like you have been having quite the adventure in your re-furbished ambulance. We really appreciate you agreeing to answer some of our questions today. We’ve been following your adventure on Reddit so we already know a lot of things about you and your set up so today we want to learn about your CR experiences so far.
You previously mentioned you plan on taking 3-6 months to drive your ambulance to Costa Rica. How long did the journey to our northern border actually take you?
The journey south took me 4 months but I did a lot of playing and exploring along the way.
Any problems coming across the border?
Not really, the Nicaraguan boarder was the biggest hassle of them all. The only sting on the Costa Rican side was having to get insurance for my car and motorcycle but it’s understandable.
How long did the actual border crossing take?
Getting in to the costa side only took a few minutes but the official actually forgot to stamp my passport. When I tried to drive into the country they turned me around so I had to run back inside through the rain and get the same guy to stamp me through. The insurance process took a little longer but still all in all only about and hour and a half process.
I notice you have a fantastic beard, did border agents assume you were transporting cocaine because of it?
Haha I’ve always been looked at funny when crossing borders. More so because of my horrible passport picture than my facial hair. I look like a 45 year old child molester in the passport, luckily it’s about to go out of date so I’ll get a new one soon.
Any other beard related issues during your travels?
I used to have an impressive mustache and when I visited Rajasthan in India, where the my take their mustaches seriously, I was treated like a celebrity or a long lost brother.
Off the subject of beards for a second, how much were the taxes to get the vehicle into the country?
Free! The temporary import itself didn’t cost a thing but the insurance set me back $40 for the ambulance and $30 for the moto.
Were you required to pay any taxes on your beard?
Special price, free for me
How would you compare the “Welcome to Costa Rica” sign to welcome signs in other Central American countries? Did one particular sign feel more welcoming than the others?
To be honest, I didn’t even see it.
WTF? We worked really hard on that sign Ian.
What was your first authentic Costa Rican meal upon entering the country?
Due to my budget I’m not sure I can afford the food here so I loaded up with groceries before I left Nicaragua. What’s a good cheap street food I should keep my eyes out for?
Chifrijo mae! Have you tried Gallo Pinto yet?
I DID! But it was in Nicaragua, still delicious.
That’s not real Gallo Pinto but anyways…is this your first visit to Costa Rica?
I was actually here about 9 years ago after traveling north by land and sea from Buenos Aries.
That sounds cool. Which parts of our country have you seen so far?
On this trip only the North Pacific coast but I can hardly wait to see more!
If you get a chance you should check out Leon XIII, what other parts of our way more awesome than Nicaragua country do you plan on visiting?
I’d love to visit the national parks but once again I’m a little low on fuel monies to pay the steep intrance fees. Other than that I plan to surf and fish everywhere I can then explore other interior and Caribbean coast on my way back north.
Anything in particular that stood out about Costa Rica in comparison to the other Central American countries you traveled through?
The first thing I saw that made me realize Costa Rica was legit were the illuminated traffic signals at some road work. A little more put together than the rocks and sticks in the road in other countries.
Is Dylan still traveling with you or did you end up killing him somewhere in Mexico?
I tried, he survived.
Ambulance was getting a little heavy……honestly Dylan and I are both in the same situation with current ex-fiancées so we’re getting together well… oh and we’re both broke.
Your dog is beautiful. What kind of dog is he?
Perro de la Calle, he’s a mix of border collie, bull mastiff, German shepherd, Rhodesian ridgeback and pitbull.
That’s quite the combination, is he a good boy?
Most of the time, when he’s not trying to bite little timid kids faces off in Guatemalan markets…
My cat hates Guatemalans too. Does your dog know any tricks?
He can jump like nine feet in the air, quite impressive really. He learns everything I teach him in seconds… I should teach him more.
Some say that it’s the journey, not the destination that is the point of life. Obviously they have never been stuck in Latin American traffic. What would you say to those people?
I’ve never really had a destination so I wouldn’t really know where to begin. All I can say is if your not having fun every day your doing something wrong. When things go to hell like for instance when google decided to route me through a market on Friday afternoon in San Salvador that took an hour to drive through while everyone walks around you ambulance perturbed by you being there. Do your shopping at the same time.
If you had to do it again would you? If so, would you still invite Alex along even though he never stopped talking?
Every day. Who the fu&$ Is Alex?
Alex, Dylan, whatever.
Any plans to build other campers and drive them down?
I’ve got the plan of all plans. I’d like to build out a bus and turn it into a rolling hostel! No joke, it would be epic.
Sounds like a great way to get murdered. Which reminds me, why is JP Sears such a jerk?
No clue but he better shape up or I’ll make a meme about him.
Don’t worry, we’ll handle JP Sears , you just take care of that sweet beard of yours.
If any of our readers would like to help Ian take care of that sweet beard of his, his gofundme page can be found HERE