Message in a Thermos: Argentine couple's 'treasure' discovered near Arctic Circle sign

You may have heard of buried treasure, but Maria Laura Schiavoni and Daniel Ricardi had their own take on the concept during a road trip from their home in Argentina that included Inuvik, N.W.T., their northernmost destination.

Road-tripping couple left time capsule along the Dempster Highway near Eagle Plains, Yukon

Maria Lauara Schaivoni and Daniel Ricardi completed a years-long trip across North America, stopping in at Inuvik, N.W.T. The pair hid small time capsules along the way, but the one they hid on the Dempster Highway was the first to be found. (Submitted by Maria Laura Schiavoni and Daniel Ricardi)

You may have heard of buried treasure, but Maria Laura Schiavoni and Daniel Ricardi had their own take on the concept during a road trip from their home in Argentina that included Inuvik, N.W.T., their northernmost destination.

The married couple spent about three years driving, and would sometimes leave small time capsules along the way.

The last time capsule they left was near the Arctic Circle sign along the Dempster Highway near Eagle Plains, Yukon, in September 2017. On the last day of 2019, the Argentine couple were contacted by someone who found it.

The Thermos was found by a northern Ontario couple, who said it was the highlight of their trip. (Submitted by Maria Laura Schiavoni and Daniel Ricardi)

"This is the first time that someone found it," Schiavoni said. "It was a really nice surprise ... It was a really nice gift for another year."

A couple from northern Ontario, Suzanne and Keith Stolz, actually found their gift in August but waited before writing to the couple.

According to a post on a Facebook page dedicated to the Argentine couple's travels, the Ontario couple wrote an email saying they were surprised to find the bag with the Thermos full of gifts inside, and that it was a highlight of their trip.

Schiavoni said they had been waiting for years to see if anyone had found one of their many "treasures" they had left behind.

The duo first left Argentina hoping to visit Alaska in 2014. They would leave gifts every couple of years, often in less well-travelled areas, but made an exception for the Arctic Circle.

"The Arctic Circle is an iconic place. You have to be there. If you are travelling, it's a really nice place to visit," said Schiavoni.

Inside of the Thermos were photos, coins, memorabilia, a letter that explained their journey, and some information about what is was happening in the world that year.

The Thermos included stickers and mementos from Schiavoni and Ricardi's trip. (Facebook)

'A special present'

Schiavoni said every time they leave a time capsule, the items are carefully selected and have some sort of meaning to them.

She said the Thermos that they put the gifts in "was a special present that our friend from Argentina gave to us, and we had an accident with the Thermos … but we decided to keep it to make this present."

So they put all the items in the Thermos, and then in a bag, which they then tossed near the monument site and waited to see if someone would find it.

The vehicle used by Schiavoni and Ricardi in their cross-country journey. (Submitted by Maria Laura Schiavoni and Daniel Ricardi)

Ricardi, Schiavoni's husband, said not only was this the final time they had left something, but the Canadian portion of the Arctic was "the highest point in the trip," and they didn't even know the Dempster Highway existed when they first started their years-long road trip.

He said they even spent the night at the Arctic Circle sign on their way back "because we didn't want to leave the Dempster Highway. We saw grizzly bears, wildlife … the northern lights."

That encouraged us to keep travelling.- Maria Laura Schiavoni

Ricardi said they spent over 1,400 days travelling, covered about 80,000 kilometres, and visited 16 different countries in their truck, which often doubled as their bed.

They document their travels on a website, Facebook and Instagram under the user name HiluXamerica.

Every time a treasure is left, the couple would write down the GPS co-ordinates. They plan to to travel back to the location in about 10 or 15 years with friends to look for any unfound deposits.

Now, they are preparing to collect the truck that they left behind in the U.S. two years ago and start a new adventure driving to Mexico.

Schiavoni said receiving the email and photo that contained the treasures they had left two years ago motivates them to not just continue travelling, but to continue to leave time capsules behind.

"That encouraged us to keep travelling, doing things like that and making friends and meeting people," said Schiavoni.


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Ricardi said they spent over 14,000 days travelling. In fact, it's 1,400 days.
    Jan 08, 2020 12:10 PM CT


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