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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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


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


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