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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Going back in time!

Going back in time and once again going back to Ecuador! And this time going multilingual!

It’s been already a while since I’ve stayed in Riobamba working with the Tour Operator JULIO VERNE TRAVEL making, next to other tasks, videos of their tours and offerings. For several reasons I wasn’t able to accomplish all, but after all two sets in three languages each. In contrast to my “normal” ones these are anything but about me but rather documentaries. The Galapagos video includes but is not limited to film clips of the one I published back in April and comprises way more information about the history of the archipelago and more. Same applies to the Vicuña Trek Film. This was made on a wonderful two-day hike organized by JULIO VERNE TRAVEL and this is just one out of a number of hilarious excursions they provide and organize.

As mentioned earlier I’m happy to provide this in english, spanish as well as in german.

So have a look at the videos in your preferred language or watch ’em all as for me it was a perfect lesson in making translations since the scripts have been provided in spanish only.

And just to let you know, I’m already working on the next video, the first Colombian one!

Yours, Carsten

click here for the videos


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Goodbye Ecuador

A week before, I finished my job as house sitter in Riobamba. And guess what, the pets are still alive and the flowers as well, so no complains from the family. And for their welcome I prepared a typical Frankfurter Kranz (german pastry), Colada Morada (Ecuadorian Drink especially served around All Saints) and a home-made Stracciatella ice cream.

After spending a few days in my “old hometown” Baños and again being fascinated by the volcano Tungurahua which was extremely active those days, I made my way again to Quito to finally say goodbye to my friends at the school I was at more than a year ago, had my farewell beer with some friends on thursday evening and on friday after almost 14 months in Ecuador finally started my journey to the boarder and further on to Cali in Colombia. I decided to take a direct bus from Quito, a 24 hour ride and already when boarding the four hours delayed bus coming all the way from Lima/Peru I could sense a bit of the Colombian cheerfulness as most of the passengers were Colombians and immediately started talking with me before I got to my seat just right in front of the toilet which was in the contrary to the Ecuadorian busses usable. Later during the journey some were singing and dancing. So all but boring.

It all went well until border control. When leaving Ecuador, the border officer checked my data on the system and it turned out that both of my student visas haven’t been registered properly. Plain talking I overstayed my tourist visa for 11 months and was since December illegally in the country. That can be extremely expensive, but Ecuadorians are nice people, so I had to fill out a form, make some copies of my passport and the visas in a nearby shop and return all that to the officer and I could leave the country without further problems. That took quite a while not only because of the lady in the shop who needed way more time to make 5 copies than one would expect! And in the meantime I was alone there. Where was my bus, where were the other passengers? I decided to make my way to the Colombian border control and thank good after getting the stamp in my passport I found most of my fellow passengers in a nearby restaurant in no man’s land having their first Colombian meal before continuing the ride through the night. Some of them invited me to some Colombian food and a real coffee. One must know, that in Ecuador people usually drink instant coffee even in better restaurants which y anyway never visited. And finally our bus came as well and we were heading off at around 9pm to Cali. 12 hours later I arrived in this dazzling city, the capital of Salsa! Haven’t give it a try so far, but I guess, the lessons I took back home in Germany are not sufficient for the type of Sales people dance here. The first afternoon I was completely overwhelmed by this city. Big, warm, noisy and packed with people, but that was mainly because I hadn’t had much sleep on the tour.

The video is a collection of some unpublished material from my time in Ecuador. This time most of the music I made myself as I had the chance to practice again playing the piano in the house in Riobamba. The singing is not at my best, but anyway, doesn’t matter.

So I will start planning my next step these days as right now I don’t have a plan, nor an idea on where to go first. But and that’s for sure, I will find my next destination and are already looking forward to new adventures, getting to know a new culture and new people. And also I will continue bothering you with new stories and movies from here.

Yours Carsten


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Meeting San Pedro in Jipijapa – A Journey to Yourself

Hello followers

the last post was all about my work at the hostel Punto Verde where I’m still staying and working at, but after finishing the bar and several other projects it was time again to do some touristy stuff but to anticipate this it was not at all touristy. On saturday lunchtime I got on the bus to Jipijapa (watch the Video and you will know how to pronounce this) a three-hour bus ride from here.

At this point let me spend a few sentences about the name of this city. Jipijapa is, next to Cuenca another city more south in the Ecuadorian Andes, the main place for the manufacturing of the Panama Hat and this Panama Hat is in spanish also called Jipijapa. Now you might think, why is it called Panama Hat when it’s produced in Ecuador and that’s because in the earlier time the principal customer was the USA and their central customs point for goods from south america was Panama. So the hats had the customs stamp of Panama and that gave the name to the hats which was afterwards adopted into various languages.

But that was not the reason for me traveling to Jipijapa. When working at a hostel you meet many people/travelers from all over the world. And so I got to know Kelly and Alon a wonderful couple spending some days at our hostel. And they know a lot about ceremonies with Ayahuasca and San Pedro Cactus. With their help we got in touch with Abuelo Marcos who makes the Water Coya of the sacred cactus of the south american Andes -the medicine – and organizes ceremonies as well. Listening to their stories and explanations, Nienke, another guest staying at that time at the hostel and me got curious and we both met on saturday in Jipijapa to take part in such a ceremony. On the invitation we received it didn’t say much just as much as the location, that this ceremony included a Temazcal – ritual steam bath – and the time but it didn’t say when it is supposed to be finished but we thought, that starting at 7 we might surely be back at around midnight. So we organized ourselves a hostel in town which was not too easy, not because it was so busy, but because there’s almost no hostels and after being at one place that was packed and two places where nobody was on duty, we found a cheap place and having that accomplished we made our way to the location the Patio de Papi Moncho. Being there on time we quickly figured out, that it might possibly take a bit longer and until ten people were arriving at the venue. And that mainly because they were all Ecuadorians and coming from all over Ecuador and ourselves being the only “Gringos” and also the only greenhorns. But that was great, we gathered around the campfire with about 30 insiders and all of them lovely and open-hearted. To cut a long story short, we got back to our hostel at around 11, but, the next morning because the ceremony lasted the whole night. And thanks to Abuelo Marcos, Taita Merdado Pin and all participants, it was absolute unique. I must admit, that I cannot or better say don’t want to tell all details about all the experiences I made especially after drinking the medicine but suffice it to say that it was quite something!

On sunday everybody was so kind and nice beginning with Marcos a wonderful storyteller, all the sisters and brothers from the ceremony, the guy from the hostel who was a bit worried because we were not returning the night, the ticket seller at the bus station and the bus driver who waited with the departure until I had bought three Elephant ears in the nearby bakery to have something to eat on the bus and picked me up more or less right in front of that bakery, my boss who dropped me a text message that I should not hurry but take my time to get back to Montañita, Nienke who hopefully was not angry with me because I every now and then looked at my watch and could no better but tell her the time and finally Kylie and Dillon guests at the hostel who decided to cook themselves so I didn’t have to cook and was able to go to bed really early! On monday I was back to normal and dutiful continued my work at the hostel.

Watch the video to get some impressions of this very special ceremony and at this point sorry for the lower quality but most of it has been filmed in the night without light and parts of it in a state of not being fully present.

Aho, yours Carsten


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The Waltoneer (Volunteer)

Hello and welcome back

after spending three months in Riobamba I changed location and got myself to the coast. Ok, the weather is currently not perfect but there’s many days with sun and if not, it’s not as cold as in the Andean highlands, especially at night! Via a volunteering network I found a place in Montañita where I was supposed to do a two-day painting job for bed and food in exchange and now I’m already a month here. Joos, the owner of this place called Punto Verde exchanged her houseboat in Amsterdam with a piece of land three years ago and started building a house and not too long ago started to convert it into a hostel the Punto Verde. And after the first day I decided to stay longer here and help with whatever needs to be done. And that was not because of the real coffee that is served here, or at least that was not the only reason. And there is a lot to do. Not only taking care of the customers and everything which needs to be done in the hostel business, no, there’s way more to do. Currently we’re building a new kitchen-bar-lounge and everything is handmade. After brewing beer and filmmaking it’s now design and carpentry. This was missing so far in my curriculum. And I guess I’m not too bad in that! Ok one of my first projects was a shower cabin made of plastic foil and bamboo and when trying to cut the first trunk of bamboo i cut my left index finger with an ax and the cut got down to the bone and through the fingernail, but it is almost fine again and a few hours after that I continued already working on the project and finishing it the very same day. Now we’re almost professionals and in a few days the place will be ready. And we’re kind of proud of our work and especially of the result.

And because I’m not doing any tourist things right now I decided to dedicate this video on what I’m doing here at this beautiful place. The village of Montañita is a ten minute walk away from here or a few minutes with the bicycle shown in the beginning of the video. By the way, this was one of the smaller projects, the promotion sign on the bicycle. Currently it’s off-season therefore the village is usually not busy, only on weekends and then we can here the music from the outdoor bars even here on the hill but usually it’s the sound of the waves that lulls you to sleep.  So this is the perfect place to relax and from the balcony or the stairs next to the house you sometimes can even watch the whales in the ocean. And once ready with the bar I will do some relaxing as well.

So have a look at the video to get an idea of what I’m doing here and hasta luego.

Yours, Carsten


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INTI RAYMI – When Incas celebrate midsummer!

Dear all

I guess it’s time again for a little bit of culture and latin american history. For that, two weeks ago I made my way to the South Sierra of Ecuador. Ingapirca is a little city near Cuenca and is named after the Archaeological complex of Ingapirca – in english this kichwa name means “wall of the Inca”. It is the best preserved pre-Hispanic architectonic site of the country and it had long been settled by indigenous people called Cañaris before the Incas were living here. There’s ruins from both cultures and the differences in construction style can be observed  when taking a tour from the “old” to the “new” part of the site. Besides the complex and the beautiful landscape this place is surrounded by, there’s not much to do in the city of Ingapirca. Except, and that was the main reason for getting there, it’s midsummer! Then this is the place for one of the biggest INTI RAYMI celebrations of the country. Casually said it’s the Thanksgiving of the Andean culture. It’s to thank Inti (father sun) and Pachamama (mother earth) for the previous year and to ask for their support for the upcoming year. That’s about the history of this place and the event.

Thanks to the bus driver who dropped me of in the middle of nowhere and to the two ladies with their kids who accompanied me to a little community called Sisid Anejo and to Manuel who was expecting me at the place I was supposed to stay at, I reached my home for the upcoming 4 days without problem. The community of Sisid Anejo is a 45 minute walk away from the Archaeological site and was already worth the journey. Just beautiful and quiet, except for some dogs who announced every passing person loudly. Thankfully there were not many of them, meaning passing persons. And as so many times before, I was the attraction as there’s never any tourist at that place. The next morning, it was friday, I got up early to not miss anything that might happen at the festival. But after a delayed start  (about two hours later than printed in the program)  it was not at all busy and there were just few performances of music, dance and ceremonies during the day. On saturday though it was busy and after the ceremony of gratitude there were lots of presentations of traditional music and dances from the countries of Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico all followed by big applause from the audience and the words “muy bien” from the moderator. Dear organization team, I recommend to hire someone else for next year. The presentations itself comprised everything from great, interesting and different to sometimes strange but always entertaining even including a Miss INTI RAYMI!

On sunday morning, not alike the days before, there was a group of people for breakfast all gathering around one big table while I was sitting alone at my table. When looking at my pictures from the day before on my camera I did recognize some of the faces sitting at the big table. So I asked if they had been dancing on the festival yesterday and yes, it was the delegation of Bolivia from Quito 😉 from the Centro Arte Folklórico “INKARY”. So lovely people. They invited me to join them not only for breakfast, but for the rest of the day, as Jorge, the director of the group and the bus driver offered me to take me to Riobamba as they anyway would pass through on their way back to Quito. We again went to the festival, made a tour through the Archeological site and a hike to the face of the Inca before starting our journey back north at around lunchtime. Thanks to all of you for the enjoyable day! And especially for you, this video is in spanish! On sunday evening I got back “home” with lots of impressions, many nice people I got to know, hours of videos, tons of photos and a sunburned face! Sometimes, even after this long time I’m here I underestimate the power of the sun on an altitude of 3.200 meters!

As mentioned before, this video is by way of exception in spanish and that’s why I’ve given some information I’m talking about in the video already in the text above. But don’t miss the video and especially my highlights of this event at the end of the video!

Yours, Carsten


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Riobamba o danza con Volcanos

It`s me again and I made my way back to the Andes and in the Andean highland.

Riobamba is the name of the city I arrived at on the day 4 weeks ago. It has more than 100.000 inhabitants, is on an altitude of 2.750 meter above sea level and is surrounded, and that’s the more interesting part about this place, by a number of volcanoes including the highest one, the Chimborazo. The city itself is not very beautiful and I was a little bit afraid before coming here, because lot`s of people told me when asking me, where I’m heading to and I answered Riobamba, that it is called Friobamba, because of being such a cold place.

True, the first two days here have been rainy and cold, but then I could see this place from its most beautiful and spectacular side! Sunshine, clear blue sky all day and temperatures that were, at least during daytime, quite comfortable. And on these days the view from the terrace of the house of the family I’m staying at is breathtaking.

And because I’m helping a Riobamba based Tour Operator in creating promotional Material, so Photos and especially Videos of their Tours, during the past weeks I was heading every second day out of the town and into the mountains. I made it to the Whimper Refugio on the Chimborazo twice, hiked two days among the Chimborazo and the Carihuairazo to just a few days after that climb the Carihuairazo and made a biking tour through the Parque Nacional Sangay getting from the Sierra into the Amazonia Region. So as you can read, all but boring and because of the trips, the job and the people here, Riobamba is not at all a bad place to stay at!

And guess what, it was not my first, but the first I really recognized. What? Ah, the earthquake on Friday morning! The magnitude was not very high, 3,5, but the center of it was just 18 kilometers away and therefore the vibes woke me up in the early morning while my room and my bed were shaking! It caused no damages but Tungurahua, who was rather active the last weeks and months is quiet again after that! And with my profound geological background I see the connection of these activities 😉 So no ash in the air!

And now have a look at the spectacular scenery, the mountains, the Vicuñas, Alpacas, the Highland Fox and the Caracara (a hawk species) and enjoy. This time I’m really happy with my choice of music, a mixture of back home close to the Alps and sinking and drowning in the Atlantic Ocean while Celine and Leonardo are playing the panpipe.

Stay tuned and many greetings from Riobamba.

Yours, Carsten


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Galápagos – Welcome to another world

Finally I’m online again! Finally here’s the new video! And most important, finally, after 7 month in Ecuador, I made it to the Galápagos Islands the only destination I had on my list on places to go when leaving Germany! And there’s no words to describe this unique place.

After leaving Quito on Saturday 30st early, very early in the morning and arriving at around lunchtime in Puerto Ayora, I started visiting several Tour Agencies to find an affordable cruise to explore the archipelago. Thanks to my Spanish and my pertinacity I got a good deal for a 7-day cruise visiting some of the Islands as you won’t find a cruise visiting all accessible Islands in one trip and anyway the biggest part of the national park is not accessible for anyone, only scientist with special permission can go to these places. So the national park organization tries to protect and preserve the nature and the animals while allowing a certain level of tourism. On Monday I boarded a tiny little boat and started my journey into another world! It is just amazing! Every island has its unique landscape and wildlife and most of the animals you’ll watch are endemic and not to be found in any other place of the world. And because the human beings are not seen as enemies you get very close to all, and I mean all of them, sometimes even too close. Some tourists sadly don’t respect the wildlife and area of the animals appropriately. But thank god, most do! And because I was so fascinated during the first 7 days on board, I immediately started my successful search for a second budget cruise, this time on an even smaller boat and left again after one night in Puerto Ayora for another 8-day cruise.

The list of animals is too big to name all of them here, but surely, I do have my favorites which are the Boobies, mostly the Blue Footed Booby, but also the Red Footed- and Nasca-Booby. Especially the dance of the Boobies to attract the females is uniquely. But also the Frigatebird and the Magnificent Frigatebird is fascinating. Another favorite is the Marine Iguana, the Galapagos Land Iguana and surely the Giant Tortoises. But also the wildlife underwater is fascinating. Watching Sharks almost every day both on board the boat but as well when snorkeling.

My trip took me to the islands of Santa Cruz, Rábida, San Salvador, Daphne Mayor, Bartolomé, Seymour Norte, Mosquera, Baltra, Plaza Sur, Santa Fé, San Cristóbal, Española and Floreana. My favorite definitely is Española the oldest island of the archipelago. Here and only here you can find the Waved Albatross for some months during the year and with a big portion of luck you can even watch their dance! Guess what, I was lucky!!! As well only here the Marine Iguanas are more colorful than on any other island.

Galapagos_Islands_topographic_map-en Kopie

You might imagine, that editing the video this time was so difficult because there too much to show. So find attached the first video of my trip and I decided to not talk too much, but just to show you the beauty and the singleness of this part of the world. Just enjoy watching! I surely will publish some more Videos from the Galápagos to show more of this magnificent place.

In between I returned to the mainland and made my way to Riobamba, my home for the next time.

Yours, Carsten

or on YouTube