This post was originally posted by me on a different blog on Nov 7, 2011:
This answer is from Janet & Tom, a couple traveling through Central & South America. You can see their related post at ExpeditionPortal, as well as their website cataloging their travels through Africa and Latin America.
“Our decision to go with gasoline versus diesel was made when purchasing a land Cruiser for our Africa trip. We had planned to go with diesel but were unable to get an appropriate diesel vehicle so we went with gas. We actually found that gas was a better choice for a number of reasons. Yes it is often more expensive however it is much more widely available in remote locations. We met travelers with diesel who occasionally were unable to get diesel as it is used by all truckers, however we never ever had problems getting gas. The mechanics are also more likely to be able to fix a gasoline engine versus a diesel engine. We have heard of travelers in South America having issues with water in the diesel, we met German travelers with diesel and they had problems with high altitude and cold.
We have had no issues with power and our highest altitude was 5000metres in Bolivia. Haven driven over 80,000km in Africa and 50,000km in the Americas we can honestly say that we have had no real issues. The octane in Egypt was horrible and we had to add additives but apart from that we have not had issues getting fuel or dirty fuel. We have been really impressed with the Nissan’s capabilities. There are more issues with dirty diesel than gasoline in some countries such as Bolivia. There are however many who travel with diesel vehicles we can only say that gasoline has not been a problem at all. We have also found that prices are not that different in many places. As for performance at high altitudes, freezing temps or hot temps (57C Sahara) we have had no issues. We would choose gasoline again.
We've been in Panama for two days now, but it seems like weeks. There's obviously still TONS to explore around the city, but I'm already comfortable here and it even feels a bit familiar.
First of all, I love it. For me it has the ideal balance between chaos and structure. It's very safe... people are at least as friendly as they are in the US, if not moreso. They go out of their way to help us and put up with our mediocre Spanish. Our hotel right now isn't in a great area (though not a bad one either), and I feel totally safe walking a few blocks to go to a diner.
Even though it's safe, there don't seem to be a lot of minor enforced rules. Taxi drivers ignore speed limits and stop signs. The drinking and gambling age is 18, but I've heard even that's not enforced. You don't get the feeling that you're being overprotected or treated like a child.
The food has been MUCH better than expected. There are several vegetarian cafeterias that we've found already which are incredibly good and cheap. The one we visited tonight was owned by a very friendly Chinese couple (have you ever heard Chinese people speak Spanish?). There were maybe forty different dishes they had, and a serving of any one was only fifty cents. I asked for orange juice without sugar (most fruit drinks here have sugar) and they fresh squeezed it for me for only $1!