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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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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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


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Chimborazo, hidden valley and dancing in the street!

Hi followers,

Last saturday I took a bus to Riobamba about 2 hours bus ride from here. Riobamba is the starting point for tours to the highest mountain of Ecuador, the Chimborazo. There’s lot’s of myths around this mountain and  at least I want to mention some of them.

Here’s my favorite:

The volcano El Altar (altitude 5.320 meters) was in former times higher than the Chimborazo (altitude 6.310 meters), both volcanos are males! Chimborazo is married to the volcano Tungurahua and she had an affair with El Altar and when Chimborazo got hold of that he was beating El  Altar with a hammer to his todays form and altitude and whenever there’s a thunderstorm with flashes in the region of Chimborazo and Tungurahua, than it’s because there throwing angry looks at each other! And on Saturday the Tungurahua was even more angry and there was again some eruptions, but since sunday the volcano is quite again.

With regards to the last eruption of the volcano, there’s no proven information and goes from 1.500 to 10.000 years ago.

In August 1976 flight SAETA 232 was missed on the way from Quito to Cuenca and at that time it wasn’t clear what happened. And it was in October 2002 that remainders of the aircraft have been found by some mountaineers.

And finally because of the earth curvature and Chimborazo being close to the Equator it’s reported to be the highest elevation of the planet measured from the center of the globe.

But back to present! On sunday morning Cheryl, William and me started our tour to the Chimborazo, going by car with our bikes on top to the “Reserva de Producción de Fauna Chimborazo” and in that park to the highest by car accessible point, that Carrel Refugio on an altitude of 4.850 meters. From there we took a 2 km hike to the Whymper Refugio on 5.000 meters. After having a lunch I started my decent on the mountain bike to the park entrance on 4.000 meter and back on the main road, we drove mostly downhill 46 kilometers on the former PanAmericana to our final destination the city of Ambato on 2.600 meter which up to now I just new for its regional Hospital! On the tour we’ve seen many, many Vicuñas (type of lama), a hawk, beautiful landscapes, a little creek turning on our way down to a river, no other bikers, but lot’s of locals on foot and horse and every now and then, the clouds allowed a peek to the summit of the volcano. Thanks William for being a wonderful Tour Guide and being so patient with us, making Kodak stops every now and finally not making it on time! And thanks to Cheryl choosing this tour and not the train ride, which would have been way less amazing and for all the fun we had on that tour!

After returning to Baños all my bags are packed (it’s just one), I’m ready to go and because of the nice weather I decided to do my comments another time in one of the hot pools. This time I was at the Termas la Virgen in the center of Baños which is a perfect place to go during the week! – It’s time to say goodbye to Baños after so many months and especially after the last weekend I’m ready for new adventures and experiences!

Yours, Carsten


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Welcome back to life!

Hello everybody

The name of this post is program!

After having had a hard time since the beginning of February I kind of decided that I need to get back to life and that was on Monday last week. Many of you know, that I had an accident on February 2nd in front of the house I’m staying at and was spending some days in the Hospital of Ambato and after that stayed in Baños resting and getting well again. The time spend in Hospital was quite an experience. I wrote a bit about the health system in Ecuador and that I decided to not make use of this in my last post. But as mentioned already several times, it always comes different. So I found myself in bed number 24 of a room with 25 beds and as so many times before also here being the only GRINGO! After one day I took the first look into a mirror and it was then that I understood why doctors, nurses and especially the other patients and visitors were looking pitiful at me! Everybody was so nice, helpful and caring that I never felt uncomfortable at any time. And up from day three there was even a 24 hour police attendance in my part of the room. After having a chat with the officer I found out, it was because of the new patient lying 3 beds next to me who was a prisoner and there was danger of flight. He wouldn’t tell me though, what he’s been charged for and sometimes it’s better to not know all details. After four days I left the hospital and returned to Baños. Meanwhile I’m doing way better again and I started being a bit more active and enjoying again the tranquility and beauty of Baños and the surrounding.

Not having to work I started doing some of the touristy things I couldn’t find the time doing before. After being almost 6 months in the country I finally did my first trip with a Chiva a typical way of doing sightseeing and we really had a great time on this tour.

Here some further information to the video. The place I’m being at is the Plaza 5 de junio in Baños where the market for fruits, vegetables, chicken, beef, spices and lots of other stuff takes place. But not on saturdays and for that I was the attraction for the kids playing there at that time and we, especially the kids, had lots of fun!

The ruta de las cascadas is a wonderful way along the river Pastaza and you can find one waterfall after the other and I was told that there is about 60 of them on the way to Puyo, passing different climate zones going down from an altitude of 1.800 meter to 980 meter. I did the tour back in November last year with Claire, Jake and Paul on bicycles and last monday with Cheryl on the Chiva. It’s a beautiful piece of nature. Get some impressions of it in the video.

Finally here’s to thank all who supported me during the last weeks in the hospital, in Baños and in cyberspace!

Again, uploading takes soooooo long, that in between I have been visiting a specialist in a Clinic in Quito yesterday because I’m still feeling dizzy when mowing my head to fast and hearing on my left ear is not very well and after having a number of different checks and having seen the fracture in my head from inside my ear the doctor assured me, that I will completely recover it’s just that I need some patience. About 2 month! Anyway, that was great news for me!!!

Your’s Carsten


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When beer meets dogs!

Welcome back to Baños

This is the countdown! On February 8th I have my last working day in the brewery and I will leave Baños after almost four month. I will leave after learning lots about brewing, after having produced more than 10.000 liter of beer, after burning my arms and legs, after some little earthquakes I didn’t even recognize, after being here while the volcano Tungurahua spreading out ashes over the town, after sharing the apartment with several travelers from all over the world and after meeting many people and making new friends.

http://www.energeticxchange.com/readblogs/44
http://www.energeticxchange.com/readblogs/46

And before leaving I have to tell you a little bit more about my work in the brewery. And it’s more than just helping out, it’s a full time job! But I enjoyed and still enjoy it and as well makes me a bit proud when people sitting in the bar drinking a beer and I can tell them: “I made it!” So if someone is around here, go to the Stray Dog in the center of Baños and give it a try! And the girl in the Bar sitting behind me did like the beer as well, just not the black one 😉

After returning from the week in Guayaquil on January 1st I spend most of my time working and the plan was to stay here together with Paola, but her Appendix had other plans so I got to learn something about the Ecuadorian health system, the hospitals and especially the differences between being in hospital here and in Europe. And it is way different. You can’t just go by yourself cause you need someone with you doing all the errands. While the service in the public hospitals is for free, the necessary medicine and and tools have to be purchased by the patient. That was me spending a whole night in the hospital of Ambato, buying all that in the nearby pharmacy and bringing it to the operating room. And this was all but like in ER – Emergency Room or Grey’s Anatomy and there were no George Clooney’s or Ellen Pompeo’s running around. But Paola is doing fine again and is waiting for me to return to Guayaquil and at least that was worth all that. And it brought me a couple of times to Ambato, the next bigger city close to Baños where I met the two nice boys Daniel and Roberto, singing at the beginning of the video.

Now see yourselves that I’m not just hanging around doing nothing!

Yours Carsten


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A spanish lesson

It’s almost christmas and I managed to have my newest video ready just right on time to send my christmas and new years wishes around the globe!

What a week in Baños! I wasn’t expecting anything when returning from a weekend in Guayaquíl last sunday night and even didn’t notice, that the dust on the terrace were ashes from the nearby volcano Tungurahua. I even didn’t notice the permanent rumble! But the next morning I recognized, that something was different. The streets were empty but everything was covered with fine volcanic ashes. And it was then, that I perceived the quite unusual sound and the tremor caused by the eruptions. Especially monday and tuesday the activity was unmistakeable and it caught all my attention and I couldn’t find time to finish my next video. It’s not over now, so there’s no heavy eruptions but still lots of ashes and steam coming out of the crater. Thanks for some rain and the wind that currently blows in a different direction, the air is clean again and one can go outside without inhaling ashes with every breath or wearing a dusk mask.

Besides that the last 2 1/2 weeks were packed with brewing beer, meeting friends, birthday parties and moving within the house from one apartment to the next and to the next. Good thing though, because the ashes of the volcano are getting everywhere and because my stuff was in my backpack they’re ash-free!

Now I’m getting ready for christmas. I will leave on monday morning for Guayaquíl to spend christmas and new years eve with Paola and her family and therewith far away from the danger zone of any volcano.

So here’s to wish you all a very merry christmas and a happy new year and enjoy watching the video.

Feliz navidad, Carsten