“February seemed endless to us. It will also have been full of reflections, decisions and developments.
We left each other at our weekend in New Orleans. This city is beautiful. On the agenda were the French Quarter, Garden Quarter, the shores of the Mississippi, the discovery of the haunted side of the city and the spirit of carnival which, as every year, begins at this time and the "Laura" sugar cane plantation. Many people on our way recommended a stop in this Louisiana city and we were a little afraid of being disappointed. This was not the case. In addition, we were able to meet our Montreal friends who came for the weekend. It was definitely a mandatory stop. After this little bubble which did us a lot of good and which was able to distract us from our last adventures, we go back to Lafayette.
The weekend is over and after a stop at the Tabasco factory, we go back to "serious things". In Lafayette, the garage took 4 days to give us a quote, asking us, day after day, to come back. As we told you in the previous article, the possibilities of repair are limited. A quick reminder: our diesel engine was sold very little in the USA, a little more in Canada but nothing compared to Europe. The solution proposed by Lafayette's garage is a new engine found in Oregon. It would be delivered within a week and the installation would be done in the same timeframe, if there are no surprises. We have also, over time, understood why they call the T3, the Magic Bus. We knew we would have surprises. The price of this finding was however 6500$ (5750€). The amount being high, we asked ourselves the question of a second-hand engine. The garage couldn't give us a solution about that.
So we checked another garage in New Orleans for a used engine. They were able to offer us one with manpower for 3500$ (3100€) in the same time frame. The problem was that the seller, found on Ebay, gave no guarantee regarding the functioning of the engine. We could also install it and still be at the same point, i.e. with a broken motor.
Then, we considered sending an engine from Europe to Lafayette. The ACL was able to really support us in these efforts and we thank them again for their research, availability and advice. After checking in Luxembourg and Germany, this option did not seem to be an advantage both in terms of price and delivery time.
We also considered sending an engine from Whitehorse in Canada but the delays were long, not to mention the price.
The last option was to send the van back to Luxembourg and repair it on site.
In addition, we were coming to the end of our visa and therefore entering the visa extension waiting period with the risk of a negative response and the obligation to leave the USA.
After taking advice and opinions from the ACL, our new mechanic friends in the USA and Canada, those who stayed in Luxembourg and our families, we were faced with a difficult choice to make. We had to take into account: cost, time, guarantees and visa. 99% of these suggested solutions included sending the van back to Luxembourg, and that was the decision we made.
At that time, about 10 days had passed since our engine failure.
Our decision has been made, but that does not mean that we do not encounter any obstacles. First of all, we have to send the van in a container, since the engine no longer runs. Then we chose a transport company that does not meet its deadlines. Finally, we were missing form 7501 (import of the vehicle into the USA). The one we had from Canada could not be transferred to the USA. After contacting the Baton Rouge customs authorities, who told us that we do not need it, the port of Houston claimed the opposite. Finally, Baton Rouge was willing, but we had to move to their office with the van to check the chassis number. Once the estimates have been made with the breakdown service companies, we set up an appointment with customs, which then suggests that an agent come to Lafayette to carry out the checks. We are relieved and accept. Once the key is in hand, things accelerate. We prepare the van for shipment and agree with Lafayette's garage that they will be present for pickup to Houston. It is scheduled for the following Wednesday, the 27th. As the end of the month approached, we wanted to get back on the road a little bit and above all, we still wanted to visit Florida before our return to Luxembourg.
So we take the road to Miami, 1500 km on the program. The arrival in Florida will have made us feel bad. The beaches and the heat will remind us how much we would have liked to visit this state with our van. We take this opportunity to see a friend we met in a garage in Montana. We visit the Key West, Miami and Everglades. On Wednesday the 27th, we have confirmation that the van is on its way to Houston and that everything went well. We were by the pool in Miami enjoying our last day in the USA and happy that no more bad surprises were coming. The van should arrive in early April. We don't have an official date yet.
And as we write our February report, we are in Luxembourg, after having surprised our friends and families! We decided to make our return happier and for this reason, we did not inform anyone of our arrival. We were therefore able to enjoy the joy and surprise on the faces of our loved ones. It has allowed us to experience this return much better and it feels good, too, to be at home with our loved ones.
From this situation, we decided to take the positive out of it: the way we handled the end of our dream with calm and realism, the help and encouragement we received from our friends and family. And then let's be happy, the van didn't burn and we are in great shape although we are disappointed by the early termination of this incredible experience. But we do not regret our choice. One thing is certain, in any case, we are not going to stop there and bounce back, we will talk to you soon!
In short, 8 months and 52,438km.”