The World is big enough

“Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it” (Mahatma Ghandi)


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Oh, wie schön ist Panama – A Trip to Panama

Hey followers

long time no see and a lot has happened since. Coming back from my hike along the coast of Ecuador I traveled, which usually is not my way of traveling, rather fast. Made my way from central Ecuador to Cartagena on the caribbean cost of Colombia in a bit more than one week. Needless to say that I made my stops in Cali and Armenia where I stayed a long time last year. A sailboat from there was quickly organized and with four other fellow travelers, the captain and two crew member I started a 5 day sailing turn on the evening of November 6 making my way to Panama. First stop after one and a half days on the ocean was the San Blas Archipelago. Geographically Panama, but the Kuna or Cuna people who’re living here in this paradise are independent form the country of Panama and have their own rules and habits including their own language which makes it difficult to start any communication with them. On the 10th I entered the third country on my journey. Panama! And instead of making several stops I went straight to the Isla Boca Brava on the Pacific Coast for a new volunteering job in a Hotel. Next to San Blas another Paradise in this country. Instead of staying there for a couple of weeks, I again ended up staying 3 months painting, serving breakfast and dinner and not to forget, made some christmas cookies and took care of the christmas music in the restaurant during the holiday season and an earthquake inclusive. So nice working a while in Paradise. I called it my Alcatraz of Panama, because I could see the mainland but couldn’t get there! No, it was all but a prison, but there are no grocery stores and no bakeries on the island and getting to the mainland was not impossible but somehow I made it not more than 5 times to the mainland during my stay. Thanks to my boss who once a week got me a supply of Oreo Cookies! On my last night on the Island left another time for the big party in Boca Chica, the fisher village on the mainland. That was also my farewell and Monday last week it was time again to say goodbye to my Boca Brava Family and I left the Island to go to one of the most known tourist spots in Panama. Boquete in the Mountains this time again volunteering in a Hostel. I have to get used to the climate as it is a bit colder than on the coast, but after more than a week I kind of arrived here and might stay again a while at this place.
Now watch the video and see, how beautiful Panama is and stay tuned, there’s more to see from this beautiful country.
Yours, Carsten
 


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from Canoa to La Tola

Hi there

I made it, I made it from Canoa to La Tola and I made it even further than initially planned. But in order! Leaving Riobamba on a Monday morning the adventure started right on the first bus ride to Quito as my seat and all other seats on the bus where occupied and I was seated next to the bus driver in the front and while he was telling me about his life, his two marriages and his kids and during the 3 1/2 hour ride I met his actual wife and his youngest son. The rest of the day was less exiting as I had to pass the time until the departure to Canoa close to midnight. Good thing though, that this should be my last cold and rainy day for the next weeks. It was 5 am when the ticket inspector announced the arrival in Canoa and together with one of these typical Aussie Surfer Dudes I was searching for the first accommodation on this tour. After some hours of sleep I started exploring Canoa, but there’s not much to explore so I ended up in a bar run by an american couple from Colorado having my coffee and chatting with them and some other people running businesses there. I had the impression that there’s more expats than Ecuadorians living in that place and, and that luckily accompanied me during the whole trip, almost no visitors as it was low season, which is weird in that sense that the weather this time of year is generally more sunny and warmer than in high season. Good for me though! Anyway, to cut a long story short after spending one day here I started my walk up north. I already new from my day here that north of Canoa the rocks where reaching into the ocean and therefore would have to walk the first part on the street. No sooner said than done I found myself walking up and down on the Ruta de Spondylus one kilometer after the other and was expecting to see the Pacific after every next turn. This shouldn’t happen for the rest of the day and after walking more than 30 kilometers I decided to catch one of the every 30 to 45 minutes passing busses to my todays destination,the city of Jama. In contrast, the next day I was able to walk the same distance all the time on the beach. Quickly I figured out, that most of the locals have no or just little idea of if and where and to where you can walk along the shore and more than one time I was in front of impassable rock formations or rivers that is to say that I slightly changed my plan using a bus for certain parts as well. Another thing is that between Canoa and La Tola there’s just 3 or 4 cities that have at least one ATM. Having said this I zigzagged along the coast riding the bus to certain destinations and exploring the areas from there by walking. It have been roughly estimated more than 300 kilometers of walking and countless beaches, villages and places and so many different encounters, people and adventures. Can’t tell all of them but just to mention some:

because they didn’t have change in one hostal I was offered Kokain in exchange / when coming back from a party in one of the villages the owners of the hostal left for partying and the hostal was closed so I spend several hours trying to sleep in front of the hostal with some stray dogs, cats and crabs accompanying me until the owners returned several hours later / trying to find the main square in Esmeraldas I was sent in various directions and even the police couldn’t really help but finally I found it / circling the island of Muisne I endet up in mud up to my knees with some pigs around me / one evening a security guard on the beach offered me weed / another evening in a beach bar a guy offered me his sister and his cousin –  I just took the beer he offered me though / just few minutes after I found the only accommodation in Tonchigüe I was welcomed by the mayoress and warned to not go alone to the beach/ and when walking on the beach between Same and Tonchigüe a gang of 4 young men armed with a big knife tried to threaten me and rob my stuff, but I was smarter and faster😉 / and… and… and…

In the meantime I’m back in the Andes planning my next move. See some impressions of the trip in the video and sorry for the bad quality of the voice recordings maybe I should get one of these windbreaks microphones!

Yours

Carsten


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al caer la noche – the complete interview

Hello followers,

in addition to the last post, here’s the complete interview from the radio show “al caer la noche” broadcasted live on the evening of the 27th of August. And because it is in spanish and maybe there’re some of you who are interested in the stuff I’m talking about I put subtitles in both, english and german.

And guess what, I’m still in Riobamba, preparing german cakes with tons of buttercream and german food such as potato salad with homemade mayonnaise for friends and family here in the city. But finally getting ready to start my next adventure. The one I was talking about in the interview. So I will get my backpack ready, my camera on hand and will leave again for the pacific coast. I’m anyway in need of slightly warmer temperatures as here on an altitude of about 2.800 meters, you might imagine, it sometimes is rather cold especially at night and when making the laundry I sometimes don’t know what to put on. That’s the downside of limited stock of clothing! So looking forward to again just put on shorts a t-shirt and run around barefoot or in flip-flops!

Now have a look at the interview and sorry for some gramatical mistakes I made, but I just started learning spanish two years ago😉

Yours, Carsten

and the sound recording


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desde el amanecer al caer la noche – from dawn to nightfall

Hey friends and followers

I’m back in Ecuador! After leaving the country for  Colombia last October, by end of May it was again time to leave because of my expiring visa. And because I was still in the more southern part of the country, the ecuadorian border was so much closer, so I decided to head back and on a more comfortable way of traveling an international direct bus connection Cali – Quito. On my way back to Cali I visited all my former domains, so the hostel in Armenia and the hostel in Cali. Nice to see my friends again before leaving for new adventures. The first part of the journey went well, next to the fact, that these international busses are going extremely slow and the really bad entertainment program. First a Jackie Chan movie, after that a Jackie Chan movie and number three and four as well and all of them badly dubbed into spanish which is especially for these types of movies anyway just a sequence of cries, shouts, sounds of pain and hurts. Story line? Non existing! You would just need half of the time if you travel on domestic busses. Anyway, we made it at about 1 am to the Colombian border it was cold, it was raining but the exit was quick and easy. Then just a short walk crossing no man’s land and to the migration of Ecuador. I kind of expected that it might not work out smoothly but was still full of hope, that I can enter without any problems. As you might guess, that was not the case and it was not just difficult but impossible! They wouldn’t let me in and after a short talk with the shift leader I found myself at my International Jackie Chan Direct bus, to get my backpack and to go back through no man’s land to Colombian immigration. It must have been 2:30 when I finally was back on Colombian territory with the canceled leave stamp in my passport sitting in a shabby old car on my way to the center of the border city of Ipiales. And because it was Sunday early morning and because I had to get to the consulship to get a new visa, it was clear that I would have to stay at least for two nights in this not very exiting place and if that wasn’t enough, monday was a local holiday so I had to wait until tuesday to try to get a new visa. After one of the most boring days I had so far on this journey I had the visa in my passport on tuesday evening and as a reward went to one of these Pollo-Broaster places where they prepare these breaded deep fried chickens and ordered two plates. Yes after such a long time I still can eat chicken and somehow still like it, at least sometimes. The next day I left early morning to get to Quito soon and to arrange the overnight bus ticket for the very same night to get straight to the coast. And that all went super fast and without any problems. I spend about three months again in Montañita, the same place I had been exactly one year ago. And I had again a great time there and the weather was extremely good, at least the first two months and unlike the year before, I went whale watching in Puerto Lopez, visited Olón, San Pedro and other villages and even had my favorite Cocktail Bar in the famous Cocktail Alley in Montañita. This is a street with one cocktail stand next to the other, must be in total about 30 and cocktails are good and cheap and is the main attraction of this village and, I found a bakery with the so far best Elephant Ears (orejitas/Schweineohren) I found on the whole journey! Loved them and must admit I had at least one per day!

After three months it was time to leave and after having the hostel full of Germans and most of them from Munich, I made my way back into the andean highlands. I’m back in Riobamba and what was planned as a pitstop for a few days is now already a 2 weeks stay and my departure is not yet scheduled. But I will leave and I will explore places I haven’t been to on my first visit to Ecuador.

So it’s great to be back in this wonderful country but as well it was hard to leave Colombia because of the beautiful landscapes, the nicely maintained villages and cities and especially the amazing people of Colombia the country where in just 6 months I made so many friends and have families in Armenia and Cali! I will definitely come back!

So after two years of traveling I’m back in country number one and just have been in one other country. Guess to make it around the world I have to speed up a bit. But way more important, I still enjoy every day and moment of it!

I’m ready for new adventures and for sure will continue sharing some of them with you.

Yours, Carsten

The complete interview will be online shortly


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Colombian (vision) Song Cover

Hi all

It was Natalie who gave me the inspiration for this video. Being in Salento, THE tourist spot in this region, I of course made some of the touristy things around here. One is the visit of a coffee farm. Well, I did that during my time in Armenia and the farms in the more southern area of the Quindio are not only, but mainly because of the warmer climate, way bigger, but there are few around here as well. One Saturday morning I was taking a walk to Palestina, a neighborhood of Salento and that’s where the farm of the famous Don Elias is located. Going there, not with the intent to make a guided tour, but to maybe meet and get to know Don Elias. He wasn’t there, but Olga Lucia, his daughter was and she immediately asked us to sit down on the porch and to have a coffee. And then she started talking about her career as a singer and gave some samples of her talent. Once having started she performed one song after the other and finally dedicated the song and performance of “mal hombre” to me. To forestall possible questions, I didn’t give her any reason for that😉 And that was trigger for dedicating this edition to Colombian singers. And I did not need to search for other videos as I met several performers during my travels in Colombia and caught some on video as well. And because of the slow internet here, I wasn’t able to watch the Eurovision Song Contest, so I made my own Song Contest, without voting and without winners and losers though!

Accompanied by the unplugged versions of famous songs see a small collection of impressions of several tours and hikes I made here, such as going on a 3-day hike into the Paramo, the Andean Highlands and a mountain bike tour, which was definitely not my thing. I mean, the scenery was incredible and also the way up early in the morning with the milkman a wonderful alternative to the classical tourist way of making excursions, but cycling down was hard though. It was steep, extremely muddy and slick and parts of the way were more like a natural staircases. On the way down I silently cursed myself for joining this trip, but we made it safely back to Salento and all in all it was a great tour. My favorite was the tour to La Carbonera located 25 kilometers from Salento. A valley a bit similar to the Cocora Valley, one of the main attractions of Salento. Countless wax palms, the national tree of Colombia, in a lovely scenery. And because it is not well known, not mentioned in any of the travel books and because there is no public transportation to get there, there is no one, no tourists and especially no tourists on horses, which on weekends is the most annoying thing in the Cocora Valley. And to top all of that, the weather was just amazing!

Next to that life here in Salento is way more calm and tranquil than in the cities and I did enjoy the calmness after having spend my time since december working in hostels and being in the midst of tourists from Colombia and from all over the world.

But time to move on and my backpack is already packed for hitting the road again. Let’s see where it takes me next😉

Now enjoy the music and the performances, all the best and bye for now!

Yours, Carsten


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Café de Colombia or Zucker im Kaffee

Hello followers,

It has been more than two months that I left Cali and went a little bit more north and no, I’m not in the country of Armenia, but in the city of Armenia. It’s not too well known but definitely worth a visit being located in the heart of one of the Colombian coffee regions. There is one place well known by travelers from Colombia and from all over the world and that’s Salento, but there’s way more to see and you find yourself in the middle of coffee and plantain plantations and in most of the places being the only tourist and therefore the attraction for locals when siting at the Plaza Bolivar having a coffee or strolling around in one of the villages. And doing so locals start talking to you and it not only happened one time that I was invited to visit their villages and their farms. During my stay I got to know lots of places and going there a second time you’ll be greeted by the people like a long-time friend. In that way I got to know Jenny, Juan Sebastian, Azul and Juan David serving the best food in their restaurant Rio Azul in Buenavista and showing me their village. Doña Maria Luz inviting me to her farm and preparing chaqueta, a coffee made with agua panela (sugar cane water). Don Leo who showed me his farm and the whole process of coffee production. Darwin and Don Fernando making a tour with me in Genova and inviting me to a presentation of the local coffee production and many more. Guess what, I know more places in this region than most of the locals and there’s still numerous places I haven’t been. Next to the landscape, the picturesque villages and the excellent coffee, the climate is like the people, sunny and warm. Wether it’s the bus driver singing loudly Queen songs while driving the TINTO (the public transport in Armenia), the owner of the Bar Social in Pijao explaining the history of his 75 year old italian coffee machine while preparing my café con leche, the guy at the corner selling cellphone-covers greeting whenever I pass by without ever having bought anything from him and Diana, Oscar, Laura, Pilar, Estella, Oscar, Paula and and and….

You might recognize that I fell in love with this place and still, I’m a backpacker and the day will come when I take my backpack and move to the next destination on my journey.

So greetings for now from Armenia and try a Colombian coffee while watching the video

Yours, Carsten


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Cali, the capital of dance – or – dancing with a STAR

Happy new year to all of you! Wish you all the best for 2014!

And another anniversary! Yesterday it was two years, that I made my decision of changing my life and guess what, still enjoying it so much!!!

After leaving Ecuador end of October last year I had my first stop in Cali. It says that Cali doesn’t need you and you either hate or love this place, that the women are beautiful like flowers and that there is Salsa everywhere and most friends told me: “You will love this city!” Being honest, after a few days I thought, this is not my place! So after four days left for Popayan, a city three hours south of Cali. My next stop should’ve been Armenia and on my way I made a stopover again in Cali, cause it’s halfway to Armenia. Upon arrival I started loving this place, met wonderful people, started making friends and was offered a job at the place I was staying at and so it was clear, this is my destination for the next weeks/months. To get prepared for Cali and their people, I took some Salsa classes and thanks to Didier, my Salsa teacher, after some lessons I felt conscious enough to ask women for a dance. I was prepared for the Feria de Cali, the big famous festival starting on 25th of December. Loads of people told me, this is the time to be here and there’s party all over the city. Well, first I was a bit disappointed cause it was not what I expected, but after knowing about where to go it turned out to be just great. The hostel I’m currently working at was full and there was a lot to do during the day, therefore the days started early at around 6:30 am and by 5 or 6 pm we, a Mexican couple working here as well and me, went out for partying. Our customers always were welcome to accompany us and some did. Returning back home at night and same procedure the next day. This lasted up to December 30th and I closed this super exciting and special year with a party we organized at our hostel for family and guests.

Back to my Salsa lessons. It worked out and locals were saying I’m not too bad and so far I had the chance to dance with a number of Girls. La Gordita, la Boracha, la Chocolata, la Artesanía, la Señora, la Vecina – yes, at the beginning I gave them names – and more. Finally the city is back to normal and I had the chance to recover and being ready for more Cali, more Salsa, more Friends and ….

Thanks to Blanca, Edgar, Katherine, our clients and to everyone making this time so special and unforgettable

Now have a look a the video to get a bit of an impression of Cali – the capital of dance

Yours, Carsten