Argentina to Alaska in A 1928 Graham-Paige

Take an adventurous young couple. Add a 1928 Graham-Paige Model 610 Touring Car. Put them in it pointed north out of Buenos Aires.

The Zapps--Herman, an electrician, and Candelaria, a secretary--drove from Argentina to Alaska. The car's top speed is about 35 mph.

"Any bugs killed on our windshield have to be suicidal," says Herman.

The trip took almost three years, covered 43,717 miles. The car gets 12-13 miles per gallon.

It has no radio, no tape player, no GPS, no compass. "We have only the map of the next place we're going to be," Herman says. "If we get lost, so what?"

Their families were not so cheerful. They warned the young couple that the old car would break down. Worse, nobody stocks parts for a 1928 Graham-Paige. Driving to Alaska? Forget it. The couple would be back home before they made a 100 miles.

They planned on being gone four months. A year later they were still on the road. Two years passed, then three.

In Herman, Candelaria had married a man who had read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, and the magical realism of that novel had caught Herman's imagination. He met the 1928 Graham-Paige and they fell in love, although he was already wed to Candelaria. He dubbed her Macondo Cambalache.
"Macondo" is the magical Colombian town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude." "Cambalache" is the name of an Argentinian tango song.
Built on a wooden frame, the car sold for $875 back in 1928, an era when almost all roads were rocky and unpaved. Herman thought it would be well-suited for the journey. The car had its original motor, upholstery and accessories.
Having paid $4,000 for the car, Herman has been offered $50,000 for it, and Henry Ford Museum officials said they would like to have it for display. Herman turns down all offers. He says it belongs to his son, born in North Carolina. Therein lies a tale.
In Greensboro, Candelaria needed to have her baby delivered but was refused admission by hospitals because they had no insurance and not enough cash for the procedure. In Argentina, this would not have happened. The Zapps called a newspaper. The story got out. Doctors offered services for free.
In the Amazon they dined with Indians on smoked monkey served on banana leaves. The Indians caught piranha and hooked crocodiles. The Indians taught them to eat live ants. "You open them and eat everything: the eggs, the ants. It tastes like lemon," says Herman.
The Zapps learned some survival techniques of their own. Cooking was enhanced by a metal box wired to the exhaust manifold. They lift the side flap of the hood, feel the intense heat roll off the engine, and put hot dogs in the box. They close the side flap, start the car, and drive 20 miles farther north. Then they stop the car, open the hood, and remove the hot dogs. A hard-boiled egg takes 30 miles.
Although relatively young, Herman and Candelaria are keenly aware of how quickly the years pass. "If you're not doing what you like, you are wasting your life!" he says. "It's only one life, and it's so, so, so easy to lose it."

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