Stop 37: Lima

Many people on the road said that there were not many things to do in Lima. I stayed in Miraflores, a well developed part of Lima, which seemed safe, and modern.

In the end, all I did was walking around, a walking tour in the city center and enjoying some relatively good food for cheaper prices (compared to what you would get/cost in CH).

At the tour, I met a polish lady doing finance in London. She is now doing some months of holiday before moving to Barcelona to her boyfriend. I believe she was laid off and is now taking a break. I don’t know in which situation I would go to travel alone and leaving your other half at home. There was one Dutch guy as well, who did an internship in a hotel in NY and is now moving back to Holland to work in a luxury hotel which name I unfortunately forgot. There were also a Canadian couple I met from the hostel who were joining the tour. The guy studied at McGill (i know this one since one of my ex colleague studied there too) and will be working with product development at Apple.

I talked a bit to girl from the travel agency as well. She mentioned that Israel guys sometimes tend to be quite rude, and they never say thank you. I remember someone told me that they always be travelling in groups and sofar, I only met 3 in Laos, they seemed OK though.

In Miraflores, there are a lot of quite good restaurants for 30 bucks. I went to AmaZ the last night and ate at the bar. The bartender was very nice and gave me recommendations about the food over there. He also seemed to be very dedicated to his job and was doing his work very focused(we had small chats together too and he has been doing that since 3 years and enjoys it quite much). It was fun observing what they do. The would get orders from maybe waiters directly, but all orders come from the printer as well. After some drinks, you can see them sort out what they have done and what was still missing. I must say I wouldn’t be sure after talking to customers, recommending them what to eat, to drink and still keep track of what has been made and what is still missing. Then after a few drinks they would need to clean they shakers and filters, which is rather a boring job to do. But it is a part of the work so they also cleaned that carefully. I appreciated observing that and in every job, we will have small tasks to do which are not “rewarding” but choosing the right attitude when doing these is the essential part.

Some pictures of the food.

Cuy (Guinea pig)

Pisco sour + Churos piskpirones + Caueita pituca +  Empanadas de carde de monte

Favorite bartender so far

me, after a lazy Saturday ….

Stop 36: Iquitos

It was fairly easy to organise the entry into Peru. You can get the exit stamp at the port of Leticia, and then take a boat to Santa Rosa Island to get your entry stamp within 24 hours. The boat driver at the dock seemed to be running his boat with his son. He looked a bit overwhelmed operating the boat and was giving instructions to his son in a rather nervous voice. But everything went fine in the end. I also got my fast boat ticket to Iquitos with Golfinho. There were other boat companies too which are less expensive, but the timing were different (5am and arriving at 5pm I believe). So in order to avoid confusions, I got the Golfinho as intended. Martial was with me and went for the slow boat option. Again, this is not my thing anymore. Going with the boat for 3 days and sleep in hommocks can surely be avoided by paying double the price.

The morning (3am departure time, 2am at the Golfinho dock) was quite easy to manage. However, I was waiting in the hostel first until it is time to depart. It was somehow difficult to stay awake. Around 12ish I was almost falling asleep. I believe I was asleep for a short while and woke up. Luckily, I did not oversleep so I headed out even though it was a bit early. Near the dock, some dogs were frenzily barking at me to protect the watchman in the booth. That was the first time some dogs thought I was invading their space and got me a bit nervous … maybe it was also because of what happened to the young Dutch guy.

There were 2 guys sitting at the dock waiting for business. Then wanted triple the price compared to the daytime. In the end, I gave up bargaining since I was at the short handle because there were nobody else there. I started chatting with them. China seems to be a distant place to them. Only thing they mentioned was ah, chinese people are good with technology. The advance of chinese technology had changed a bit people’s thinking I guess. In the end, I was the only one taking the ferry boat from Leticia port, so we left when time was due.

The boat itself was not too modern. In the shallow moonlight, it seemed a bit rusty and not very well maintained. But there was service on boat, and the seats were comfortable. I was able to occupy 2 seats to stretch out as well.

The border crossing happened somewhere when the sun came out. We stopped at a small village and a few policemen hailed us onshore. There were watching France playing against some other team and were not fully committed in checking our documents. When they opened my bag and wallet, then went curiously went through everything. It was not that they were checking illegal stuff, but rather just want to see what I have with me. “Oh, what is this, oooh nice, oh what is this?” … There was also an Italian hippy guy, when they jokingly (I hope) asked him straight away, hey, where is the weed.

At Iquitos port, tuk tuk drivers fight for businesses. I read somewhere on the internet that a drive should cost no more than 5 soles and some people ask you for 15 when you get off the boat. First guy asked 20, so I walked off. At the front gate outside, the next guy said 10. I said 5, but nobody jumped in, and I only got down to 7. The hostel guy later told that it is actually just 4 soles.

Compare to other places, Iquitos was quiet and I didn’t really meet any people except a guy with gips on his arm going to Leticia, a australian (or english) medicine student doing a job/internship here for 4 months.

Here is the boat guy who brought us to Santa Rosa.

The boat at 3am in the morning.

The streets in Iquitos with to-be-fixed VW Käfers.






The busy Belen market. After doing business, people will tell you to be aware of your bags and wallet.

Me, have been now back home for 5 days now, trying to get things organized again.


Stop 35: Leticia and the Amazonas

After we finished in Guarija, I took a bus to Santa Marta to wait for my flight to Leticia via Bogota. On the road, I needed to pick up my kindle that I forgot in the previous hostel. I had to explain to the bus driver to wait for me for 5 minutes on the side of the road until I had fetched my kindle. That went pretty smooth and I was really glad it worked out that way.

At Santa Marta, I just wanted to read a bit and catch up with blog posts as well. So mainly I did nothing touristic.

I met one American guy from California who mentioned a girl from shanghai that seemed to be pretty cool. But his only argument was that she liked to drink. If that is his only way to see whether someone is cool or not …

There was also Rebecca from NY who studied in Shanghai and was travelling. Most of the times she was very nervous about anything (even very small things) that she is gonna decide. Also she was not able to pay attention for long. In the end I feel like it was not too easy to communicate with her. We had dinner together once but I can’t remember what we all talked about, it was sort of jumping from topic to topic.

I also met some French dudes the last night. One guy was celebrating his birthday. They were easy to get to know and I had a beer with then on the rooftop. The bday boy was traveling for more than a year now and his 2 friends joined him here. One studies in Canada and the other one works in Paris. The bday boy was saying how he would like to get some girls for his bday, well good luck to him.

At the airport of Santa Marta, I also quickly saw the 2 hungover Alejandro and Jan and met a girl I saw on the square in Cartagena. She was easy to remember because of her short hair. We only had a chat and parted our ways.

At Leticia I stayed at a guesthouse / hostel with good reviews about the owner. That’s never a bad choice. Luisa is super nice. She is a 50-ish woman who you can feel is very kind from the inside. Just like Kate in Tainan. Her stories were quite interesting too. Apparently, the only reason she opened a hostel in the Amazonas was that one day her daughter asked her: “mommy, what is going on in the Amazonas in the night?” She replied: “I don’t know, let’s go find out.”

That night, I booked the 3 day Amazonas tour and got to know the Dutch couple who will be joining me as well. Dirven and Malinda, are both nurses. Dirven used to be fairly good football player (2nd league I believe) and is very easy to talk to. Malinda is half indonesian and seems very relaxed and easy going with the jokes that Dirven makes with her. In the jungle, we got to know each other a bit as well but I wouldn’t say that we got close. It was really fun doing things with them because they are relaxed and funny. They skipped the last day actually and went back earlier because Dirven is still feeling some pain from his middle ear infection from diving.

The first day, we met Lucho and Saoul who are from the community. Lucho was our jungle guide and he was roaming around the jungle since he was 13. He only spoke Spanish so mostly I was translating as much as I could to Dirven and Malinda. Lucho is very calm and going with him actually made us feel very safe. At the night Safari, he would always check very carefully for snakes on open spots and is very cautious and focused on the road.

Saoul was back at the house and took care of the lunch and dinner. After the night safari, we sat down and talked about just anything. Lucho showed us some different music on his phone. There were bachata, salsa and other kinds of music. Dirven got excited when we found some dutch dj music on Lucho Huawei phone. Jokes were also made with cachaca, a brazilian alcohol. Apparently, Lucho did not like the life in Leticia even though he likes to dance a lot. In the end, I just can’t describe the details of the conversations but it was fun talking to both of the guys.

Saoul’s family lives in the community as well. We very briefly visited his house before heading to the next spot the second day. Lucho is separated with his wife and they live now somewhere else.

The second stop was Puerto Nariño, where Miguel picked us up. Compare to Lucho and Saoul, he doesn’t smile a lot. He is somewhere around 22 and has a one year old baby already.

At the lake side of Tarapoto, he was building his own hostel. He got the land from his father but has been working on this project since almost a year now. He would save money and buy the materials needed for the house. The wood is expensive and he has to dry the 1500 banana leaves that are required for the roof himself. I have to say, this is quite impressive for his age, taking care of the family, and trying to establish his business.

Overall, Miguel is a very kind guy. When we were kayaking the third day, he would also pick up all the plastic trashes he sees on the way. I also quickly met his wife and her dad. She is working every 2 day and on her free day, she would hang around the port and stay there with people she knows.

When I got back to Leticia, I met a few more people. Short encounters but interesting stories.

There was Martial, who is travelling to Cusco where he will be working with a trekking company.

Arnold, is French as well and studied in Bogota. He went to Venezuela with his dad on a private tour. This tour was led by a French guy who lived there for more than 10 years. Apparently, you need to get picked up in Caracas at the terminal because if you wanted to switch terminals, there are already high chances that you will get robbed. They stayed in their car for the whole trip and never stepped out when there are a lot people around. The tourist sides are empty and you can only stay in the best 5 star hotels (others are all out of business already). In the street, people are waiting for food to arrived to the stores and one there are food, the lines are huge. With the hyper inflation, something would cost doubled the second day. I really can’t imagine how people survive there. Arnold said that rumors are around for something will happen soon there.

There was Alejandro, a bit older, who is born in Mexico, but currently lives in Texas and is teaching Spanish at a community college in Forth Worth. He has been travelling to all the spanish speaking countires to document different festivals. He is a lucky one who got funding from the school. All he needs to do is to publish a book in the end. He also plays underwater hockey and apparently played for the Swiss team as well (even the national teams are allowed to have certain number of foreign players)

There were 2  French guys. Martial, who studied tourism, was travelling onto his working destination Cusco where he will be working in a trekking office.

Arnold is studying in bogota and is just spending some days in the jungle before going back. Interesting story he told was that he went to Venezuela with his dad for 10 days. They found some French guy who was living there for more than 10 years. They got picked up at the terminal (Apparently chances are very high that you got robbed between terminal) and drove around. Some rules are: never leave the car, stay only at the best hotels (Actually only good ones were able to stay in business). There arr apparently short food supplies. Hyperinflation where things cost double the next day. Local people say, soon, something will happen.

David was a 21 year old young Dutch guy who tried the ayaguasca (a halluscinating substance from some tree). retreat thingy in Iquitos. People usually react bad to that and have to puke for a few days after. There were 3 trials and he did not feel a thing in the first two so he went all out on the 3rd. He was not really able to describe anything and even though other people were sharing stories, he can’t say much. I would interested to listen to other stories too. But all he says was it was awesome… And he got bitten by a dog in a jungle area where he was not supposed to be and lost wallet 2 times when drunk. Sometimes brave and stupid are just one step apart.

There was also an australian girl moving to london coz all friends are moving out of brisbane. This is aplarently a thing there.

Parrots. They are crazy at santander park. Google it. Youtube it. I am too lazy too describe coz I am athe airport typing on cellphone :p.

Some pictures again for the last.

The small boat ride when we were entering the jungle

The Santa Sofia community from far:

Lake Tarapoto where we swam and saw some dolphins

Me, in La Paz again after the Uyuni trip, now it is winding down and prepare for the real life.

Finishing up at el dorado airport in bogota before heading home

Stop 34: Riohacha and Guajira tour

We sort of hitch hiked a bus to Riohacha. We were successful in sticking to the price the hostel owner mentioned, that felt quite good. The bus guy was trying to sell for 20k, but we sticked to the 15k.

Riohacha feels not touristic at all. In the streets, nobody wants to sell you anything and everybody just minds their own business. The houses were not too shabby and the streets not too messed up. Mango trees grow everywhere and occasionally, you find some mangos on the streets too. (Homeless guys pick mangos to eat as well)=

At the hostel, which used to be a very nice villa, we met Kate and Max. Kate, who is majoring in psychology, is doing her year abroad with half a year teaching English at Galapagos, and half a year volunteering in Bogota to help local women stepping out of the Gang business. Max is her boyfriend and they are travelling together. We seem to be able to have conversations easily about sort of anything and cooked dinner together as well (Wout had a recipe for some pasta with white wine). The rooftop of the terrace is particularly nice where you can enjoy the wind, play some music and have a nice cold beer. The wind in riohacha is in general very strong and staying inside did not feel too hot at all. This was also the reason why it is a good kite surfing spot.

We got lucky with our Guajira tour. The one we initially wanted to book was not able to provide us with free spots but the hostel was able to organize us another one just the day before. (Kate and Max was on that company tour actually, but in the end they were 6 in one 4×4 and the dutch people got pissed since they were not anticipating other people in their van and had a huge complaint with the company in front of Kate and Max).

Our guide, Vikor, is from Venezuela. He escaped 7 years ago and tries to maintain his life here. On the tour, we got to know more about the fucked up situation in Venezuela. Somethings worth 5 pesos 7 years ago, costs today 5 millions. This is how bad the hyper inflation is. Almost all his friends have left the country. One of them works in Siemens, and he is going to visit them later this year.

Along with us there were 2 more young guys. Alejandro is from Bogotá and is travelling with his German buddy Jan (I can’t recall his name though, that was how close we got). These 2 met each other close to Cologne, where Alejandra studied for a year. He went to a German school in Bogota and the last year is in Germany.  He was staying with a host family but was not happy with it. And then he met Jan and got acquainted. To be honest, Alejandra sounded like a Turkish guy when he spoke German, that was quite funny. Both of them are quite young, who are 20 and 21. But Alejandra seemed to pursue his interests (designing backpacks) and seemed to be interested in politics as well.

The second day at Cabo de la vela, Viktor also picked up 2 chicks from Cali to travel with us. I think they worked in the real estate business and they mostly had conversations with Alejandro in Spanish, Wout was able to understand many things but I was struggling. The other night they were teaching us Salsa and puh, did I suck.

One particular interesting point was listening to Alejandro to explain things to the 2 Cali chicks. Even though I did not understand everything, it felt calm and the explanation was step by step so that they understood his point of view (I am not necessarily saying that I always agree with what he says). It is a pity that I was not able to follow step by step.

The last lunch we had, Viktor, Alejandro and Jan were messing around. I think the main starting point was that Jan wanted to prove that he is a cool guy. Then Alejandro mentioned that people call him the machine back at home. They messaged a good friend of Jan and wanted to confirm that via facetime. After seeing some pictures (which I did not want and ask to see), viktor was nodding his head.

Some pictures again to finish:

Copa de la vela

Punte gallinas

Most northern point

At the coast

With some sand dunes

Me, having 2 or 3 days in La Paz to prepare for Uyuni salt flats, the last sight of my trip …


Stop 33: Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona

We arrived in Santa Marta after a 4-hour bus ride. The city itself seemed quite ugly and fucked up. There were mostly chaos on the main street, nothing going on the side street. The walls have posters, or remaining of the posters, or some ugly letters. The Republica hostel is a courtyard hostel with pool in the middle. It did not feel personal to be honest. When we arrived, everyone was sort of doing something on their and not minding anything else. But maybe we were judging too quickly.

After checking some options for the Lost City trek, we decided that we will move on to the next spot for the next day, namely, Parque Tayrona. The trek itself is very expensive (roughly 900k pesos – 360$ at least) and after finding out that you actually hike to reach the top and just listen to the guide telling you the story of the indigenous, it did not seem worth it to go for the trek.

At night, there was a pool party. We shortly talked to a Chilenean girl who was traveling upwards from Chile all the way to Canada/US. Somehow, with her friends, they decided to stay in this hostel and help out a bit until they get some others things fixed. I was wondering what made her want to stay that long, but she was not able to come up with a convincing answer.

Once we arrived at the bus terminal of Santa Marta, we got onto a bus very quick, almost too quick. We got hailed over by some guys and promptly we got some bus tickets. Another guy hurried us to the main road since the bus just left the terminal. We got on and are squeezed into some seats with locals. At Parque Tayrona, we stayed in a rather hippie-ish hostel. It was 1 km away from the entrance of the park and we had to tell the bus driver where to let us off.

The hostel has got some open bungalows on the hill side. The view was really nice with the jungle in front of you. And it was still quite hot in the night and in the shower, there were beetles accompanying us and also on the mosquito nets, they were hanging out there when you go to bed. Some Swedish guys made jokes about having to hold your butt tight when you go shower.

There were some people “volunteering” at the hostel. They help out to construct a new part of the hostel and get a place to stay and get food for free. At this point I was wondering whether this is volunteering or just exploitation of free work force. But if there are people willing to do that, then well, good for them.

So at the hostel, we met an Australian guy travelling with 2 UK girls. I was not able to tell whether he is with one of them or not, or even with both of them together? At night, we played some cards against humanity together with another Canadian couple. Even though we got along well, I can’t say that we feel connected in any ways. So, very naturally, we parted ways the next day without wanting to stay in contact. Also the UK girls had the same converstaional pattern I mentioned in the Myanmar trip, with the “I” perspective.

There were also some Swedish guys. You really do feel that they were really young looking at them. The conversation never went further than the Dutch team not participating in the World Cup and some other jokes. But in the end, they were considerate in the rooms and are trying to be quiet even though I did not expect them to be the considerate types.

The park itself is quite nice with a rocky climb, a bit jungle feeling with monkeys and a tiny snake. On the way, I got to know Wout a bit better as well. On the topic of regret, we have actually the same view that regret is a stupid thing. It does not help at all and you should rather focus on further solutions to get yourself out of the situation. He mentioned that one thing that he actually regrets is that he did not say anything when a friend of him mentioned some suicidal thoughts. But I told him (thanks to the books I read on the road and people I talked to) that you did not know better. For the next time you know that such signals are worth mentioning. Hence, back to the theory, regret is still not helpful. On the other hand, being 22, wout does not look like 22, and this somehow confirms my story of someone looking like who has got a story to tell.

I took also notes of the dogs and other people who worked there, but at this point in time, I really don’t feel like to write about them anymore.

Hence, some picture to conclude this chapter:

The view onto the sierra nevada

Ant highway in the park

And some beach side views

Me, drafted this in Arequipa, and finishing up in La paz