Wandering Footsteps: Wandering the World One Step at a Time » Blog

Our Vehicles: Totoyaya (Past) and Big Blue (Present)

Totoyaya, our trusty 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser and home-on-wheels for the past 18 years, is SOLD.  Now we are the proud owners of a 2001 Freighliner shuttle bus that we recently purchased in Arizona and spent over three months converting into a unique and (we think) beautiful RV.  You can meet our new Big Blue Bus here.

You can read our goodbye love letter to Totoyaya here, or continue learning about her history and stats below.


Quick Stats:
– Name: Totoyaya
– Make: Toyota Land Cruiser BJ75
– Year: 1988
– Kilometers Driven: 600,000km as of January 2016
– Continents Visited: Africa, Asia, Europe, N. and S. America
– Container Shippings (not ferries): 3 (S. Korea – Los Angeles; Panama – Colombia; Uruguay – S. Africa)
– Years on the Road: 18 before being sold to a guy from Boston.

For more detailed information on Totoyaya, click here.

This is what Totoyaya looks like now:


When she left France in 1998, she looked more like this:


This is what they call “Soft Sand”

She was headed back for Africa, where she had spent her first ten years of life. She was excited, and so was the adventurous, young Frenchman who wanted to take her to all the wild corners of Africa.

She trekked expertly across the Sahara and through the muddy forests of Gabon and Congo, as he’d hoped she would.


In 2003, said adventurous Frenchman – no longer quite as young – opted for a little more space and comfort.  And so, Totoyaya’s body was cut in two, and her svelt, compact back half was replaced with a larger behind (as happens to most women when they age, too).


Pleased with her new look, Totoyaya proudly transported the Frenchman around the world for nine glorious years.


Vroom, vroom! Ready to go!

Together, they traversed the much-feared Middle East (Saudi Arabia! Iran! Afghanistan!) and the icy Siberian plains.  The Frenchman carefully embarked Totoyaya on her first boat and she discovered a new frontier – the land of America.  Excited by this new terrain, she journeyed everywhere, from the Alaskan North to the Patagonian South.


getting loaded into the shipping container

In 2012, another boat brought her back to her native land of Africa, and the loop around the world was closed, 14 years – and over 400,000km – after it had begun.

And that is where the story gets interesting. Not content to settle down, and certainly not about to part ways, the Frenchman and his faithful Totoyaya decided to keep on traveling. Little did they know that soon they would be making room for a second lady.

And when she came, she came with luggage. Not as much as most, but much more than the Frenchman and his number one lady had ever seen.

And so, poor Totoyaya was forced to undergo another makeover. She did so grudgingly, for she felt that she was beginning to lose her grip as Number One Lady.


But now, she is bigger than ever, as long and wide as she can possibly be (and still fit into a container). She’s well-insulated to carry the happy couple back to the cold lands of the American continent, and beyond. And she’s kitted-up with enough storage space and modern conveniences – like a fridge and semi-running water – to keep the new Number One Lady happy.

In fact, Totoyaya is happy, too. Because, together, the three of them are currently revisiting all the African lands Totoyaya has always loved. They’re doing it in style, too – and what woman doesn’t love that?

Totoyaya’s Growing Interior:


the original interior


Just after the first makeover.


After the second makeover. Sheesh, there’s a woman in there! That’s new!



How luxurious! I can even stand up inside her!

To read a story about how awesome it is to live in a camper van, click here.


Le Petit Prince


the original Totoyaya in the Tenere of Niger, where she met a Touarag nicknamed "Le Petit Prince"

the original Totoyaya in the Tenere of Niger, where she
met a Touarag nicknamed “Le Petit Prince”

In case you hadn’t noticed, Le Petit Prince (“The Little Prince”) is painted on both front doors of Totoyaya, with quotes from St. Exupery’s famous story. Le Petit Prince has been with Totoyaya since the beginning. But why?

Though there are several home-hitting truths in this short book, the one that hits furthest home for Totoyaya’s passengers is the fact
that adults stop themselves from following their dreams because they think with their minds and end up complicating the world around them. Adults are so fearful of the future, of losing control, that they live life as though paralyzed.

Even though we are no longer children physically, we try to remain children in our minds and in our hearts. We try to live life with the curiosity and excitement of a child looking out into this bright new world. We try to live without fear, following our hearts and our dreams.

So, Le Petit Prince is always with us, looking out on our adventures, and reminding us to remain children at-heart.

“Children must be very indulgent with big people.”
– Antoine de St. Exupery