Drupal Association members fund grants that make connections all over the world.
This website is purely a passion project of four dedicated travelers. It started when two couples who were driving the Pan American Highway randomly met for some beers in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. When we were traveling (by car) in Latin America, we were all frustrated by the lack of any central source of information about driving in Latin America, be it information about border crossings, corrupt police, road conditions, hotels with secure parking, good campsites, etc. Between the 4 of us we had 2 graphic designers, a software developer, and a budding website developer, so we holed up in San Juan del Sur Nicaragua for 2 weeks in January 2009 to build the initial Drive the Americas site using Mediawiki. We all learned a lot and continued to contribute and work on growing the Drive the Americas community throughout our travels.
When we finished our travels and returned to North America, the community using the website had grown significantly, and we were tired of using wiki markup and being limited to the functionality provided by the Mediawiki platform. It took about a month in 2010 to import the site from Mediawiki to Drupal 6 and upgrade the functionality. We used the Migrate module and built a custom version of that to import Mediawiki to Drupal. October 2012 we upgraded the site from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, and plan on improving the functionality and user experience of the site when time and our day jobs allow.
If you want to read more about the 2 couples behind this project, you can check out their travel blogs. Kristin and Chris drove from San Francisco CA to Ushuaia Argentina from 2008-2010 and blogged at The Darien Plan. Tom and Kelsey drove from Calgary AB to Ushuaia from 2008-2010 and blogged at Joy Drive.
We originally built the site using Mediawiki (January 2009) but quickly outgrew the Mediawiki platform as the website and the Drive the Americas community grew. We were already hooked on Drupal from our website work, so ported the site from Mediawiki to Drupal in October 2010. It didn't take very much effort to tweak the permissions of the Drupal site to emulate many of the functions of the Mediawiki platform, and we gained so many other great functionalities when we switched to Drupal as well.