Flashback to Patagonia

April 17, 2017

This is why I love being on the road

 

 

 

 

Val Paraiso…

March 27, 2017

…a place I would move to in a heartbeat.

Some days you just need something pretty. Sweet. Real. So here it is. Graffiti from Val Paraiso, Chile. It is not my Art, but I love the feeling it brings.

 

We were here only for two nights, but it was like a hug. From a wild, sexy hippie with smelly armpits. I loved it. Staying in a hostel Latinamericano wasn´t the best choice we could have made. The huge hostel is conveniently located near the bus station. But that is about it. It is a bit dodgy a scruffy and they tried to charge us a different price. And the main stuff is actually not happening in the centre, but in the hills above the city. I wans´ scared, because I am a big girl, but if you have the option, the hills are much better choice. There you can find the artists, the graffiti, the little streets and bars and hostels. It felt so real, so honest so raw.

At this time we were still counting the currency rate in a wrong way, so it all seemed a bit cheaper than it really was, so we had a great time. Everybody is so attractive in there. The suntanned dark guys with a boho look, grls with long, very long shiny dark hair. Nothing happened, but this exciting feeling was in hte air.

I can totally imagine my life sitting there in a coffe shop smoking a rolled ciggy (I am not a smoker, but there it just feels like that) and writing poems…well like Pablo Neruda did.

 

 

If You Forget Me – Poem by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

 

How to get there? Just hop on a two hours bus from Santiago main bus station. They go pretty much every hour. There are many companies that go there. https://www.greentoadbus.com/en/Chile-bus-passes/Chile-bus-schedule-342 Book a hostel in advance. It is always busy there.

 

 

Just in case you wondered

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) Chile.

His real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.

He took the name Pablo Neruda in 1920, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda.

Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago. Between 1927 and 1935, the government put him in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid.

His poetic production during that difficult period included, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, Residencia en la tierra (1933), which marked his literary breakthrough.

In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile, and in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic.

He also joinined the Communist Party of Chile. Because of his protests against President González Videla’s repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he had to live underground in his own country for 2 years. He then managed to leave in 1949 to live in different European countries. He returned home in 1952.

…written with help from Wikipedia, https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1971/neruda-bio.html and https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/if-you-forget-me/

Peru

March 20, 2017

I´ve never been in a propper desert before. I couldn´t even imagine, how desperate a place can feel. And despite all that, there are people living there!

There is nothing but dust, yet you see people walking by the road, you see their little shelters and numerous, numerous posters.

These photos are from a 50 hours bus ride from Lima to Santiago. It is doable.

We took a Bus Sur cama bus to Tacna. (That is actually important, the seats in cama are so big and so comfortable, but semi cama is a normal bus. Still ok, but after 40 hours tall people may have some issues.)

 

To cross the boarder from Peru to Chile we hopped on a shared taxi and drove all the way down. We stayed overnight in Arica, which is a pretty chilled beach town at the border and then continued to Santiago. We booked the bus directly on the bus staion, there are many many bus companies that go all the way to Santiago.

It was the time when we were counting the conversion rate wrong, so we though everything was cheap. Well, turns out that it is a bit more than we thought…but hey, we hada good time.

 

NOTE: you can only pee in the toilet on the bus. 😀 I am happy to announce that nothing dramatical has happened. Also if you are going to trave this route, make sure you have plenty of water. The bus doesn´t stop and we were given more limonade than actual water. Also I´d recommend spending more time in Arica as there are apparently more sights to visit.

Amongst the locals Arica is a famous beach district, but to be honest the beaches were not that appealing. Much nicer were the onec in Inquike – a few hours ride down south from Arica.

Disclaimer: I am author of this text, but most of the trip ideas and ways to get around the reservation system are not mine. Credit goes to my friends, who have more balls than i do 🙂

Foto by BART, thank you :)

Since the new reservation system in Torres del Paine, the main tourist attraction in Chilean Patagonia, it is very hard to do the famous W track and nearly impossible to finish the O track. These are the two ways how to access Torres del Paine. We tried to get to see as much as we can without a reservation, as there were no spaces left for us. And this is how we did it:

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In the end we took a catamaran to PAINE GRANDE and managed to persuade the staff in the  camp to let us  stay there for one night. We had to pay, of course (6 000 CLP). The first day we hiked all the way up to Refugio and cap Grey and back. It is long, but worth it.
At the bottom of the trek there is a ranger who controls reservations. We were not able to pass him without a paper  (everything here seems to be based on little papers) with a booking to the next camp. However, we met people who managed and then they could stay in Camp Grey for the night.

After a windy night in camp (you can buy food for 21 USD beer for about 6 000 CLP and also some small supplies from the local shop.) Credit card is accepted sometimes and everything, including the bar, closes at 10 pm! WE went to the other side to camp Italiano. The whole track is totally worth it. Not even so steep and you get close to another glaciar.

In the evening there was no other option than to take the catamaran and go back.

Ah well, ADIOS, Torres ❤

 

This is a situation in 2017, everything may be different in the near future as the amount of lost, angry, unhappy tourists with outdated – so a year old – guidebooks (including Lonely Planet), who couldn’t get to Torres, as they didn’t know about the reservation system  was incredible. And they did complain. 

Patagonia

February 17, 2017

…I found heaven on Earth (…ehm, another one)

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Tasmania 2

April 9, 2016

love….love….love….love….love….love….love…..love…..

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Randomly we looked up the cheap flights, one was to Launceston…so we googled it and there we go, two days later, I am in Tassie! And it is absolutely awsome!
Fresh air, mountains…everywhere mountains, friendly backpackers and cheap wine.

...happy to be on diamond island...nia

...my crew for the day...

...lost...

diamond island...

...in the middle of nowhere...

…humans of Rwanda…

March 21, 2016

…Moments like this….
this article is in English

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Joyce.
She doesn’t have a mum or dad …apparently they left for a better life in Uganda. Maybe. She is not so sure. One day they just were gone. She now lives with her grandmother and other siblings in a small town at the Rwandan border with Congo.

However beautiful this town by the lake Kivu may be, life for the locals is tough. The tourist industry hasn’t started booming yet – and, despite its potential, God knows if it ever will – so the main source of income is trading in Congo. [caption id="attachment_1068" align="alignright" width="420"].... ….

The unrests make it much more difficult for the government there to control the traders and the tax paying, which makes it attractive for local traders. The locals told me that they would make more money walking ten kilometres across the border to sell milk there than they would make selling it in Rwanda. And so they walk every day. “But it is okay, we have a work,” a sixteen year old student told me.

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Joyce’ s grandmother is getting old and weak, so she can’ t walk every day. She still manage to get by and send the children to school.
In the group of acrobats, Joyce is known as the Yoga girl. She is super flexible and when she performs, she leaves the audience speechless…but she also is a teenage girl with giggles, secret crushes, grumpy moods. Joyce loves attention of older people and seeks their company, she loves to talk, with her pretty good English she shares stories of her life, local gossips and few words in Kinyarwanda that he foreigners (us) must know.

I focused on working with the girls, because however strong they are and however inclusive Future Vision Acrobats are, I felt that a bit more of a female trainer would be a benefit for them. We could focus more on the graceful movements, using more flexibility and less strength… they loved it..and so did I. They are so elegant and learn so quickly.

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One day I have noticed she has quite big breast and no bra. I have quite big boobs too, so I know training with them…well, they jump. It is quite uncomfortable, and it attracts more attention of the teenage boys than one may want. And really in her heat Joyce was still a kid…with a body of a young woman, which is a dangerous combination.

So after few girly whispers, giggles and talks we went to the market and got her a proper bra…and some undies as well, as she apparently had only two pairs. She was so …shy…and happy.
They were not costly at all, but yet for her grandma it was too much to afford. I am so grateful I was able to get them for her…to make this Yoga girl smile…and make her trainings a bit more comfortable 🙂 “One day I want to be a circus performer and travel to Kigali but even abroad to perform,” she told me.

Go girl!

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P.s. read more about the wonderful Future Vision acrobats here: https://sarkapechova1.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/about-an-acrobat-with-golden-heart/

Dear diary…back to Africa

February 29, 2016

JUST a Warning – this is not a journalistic article, but just a page from my diary, really.
this article is in English

Africa…my spell, my magnet, my second home. I get restless as soon as there is a slightest opportunity to go. And there was!
I was invired to Rwanda to train with Future Vision Acrobats! There was no way I was refusing this…

I wasn’t going alone – Pierre and Sylvain came with me.

And through their eyes I could experience it all as it was the first time again. Again I was surprised and impressed by the stuff people carry on their heads (even though a single shoe never fails to impress me anyway), I had to explain to the guys, that the bus goes…ehm, when it’ s FULL, not when is time..

...banana...

Again there was some bargaining on the market and amusing everyone around by trying so hard to say “thank you” in their language (in Kyniarwanda is not that hard, actually, MURAKOZE, the trouble starts when I THINK the thing I am saying is “thank you” but I am actually using a different word from my imaginery vocabulary of the local language that probably consists of something like threeg words).

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photos by Sylvain

And again…the strong feel that everything is ok and I am here, I am, where I belong.

Just ride…
I love bike taxis. In Africa it is an amazing way of transport. Cheap, fast and ….well, kind of exciting. The smell of petrol, dust, the closeness of the body of the young driver usually dressed in a cool leather jacket…or cool jacket of some sort, his dark ripped arms and occasional quick glimpse in the side mirror….and am I imagining the winks?

The tight hugs – my hugs, to be precise – innocent, as obviously I don’t want to fall of the bike, right? I wonder, if they ever feel my heart beating. From both, excitement and fear of the fast ride through the buzzing African city, the joy of the wind in my hair and soft African air caressing my skin. In Rwanda it is all proper, you even get a helmet, the prices are pretty much set and the drivers are registered. But it doesn’t lose it’s magic. I still had tears in my eyes – and not because of the speed or irritation. But because of the feeling that I am finally home.

I jumped off the bike with shaky knees. Luckily my French crew survived as well…I probably shouldn’t admit this, but only when I was on the bike in nearly exatic state I have realized that I forgot to ask them, if they knew how to ride a bike. Ah well, they will have to “swim” and figure it out…and they, luckily, did. In fact, they loved it…and then I introduced them to the best beer in the world – Star – drunk with a street view and the buzz of a busy city.

In Africa many bars are upstairs. Sometimes the stairs are actually pretty rough, so I have no idea, how all the people who drink there make it down the stairs safely…but then, they’ll jump on a bike anyway, so the whole process of safe home returns of drunk people is a mystery.

If you are walking in the street and you crave a bit of something cold (which you always do, as the sun drains you and the constant noise, restless movement wears a spoiled European off pretty quickly) look up to the sky. You probably won’t call the rain, but I can pretty much guarantee, you will be able to locate the nearest bar/restaurant. And the beer is never expensive and most of the times nice and chilled.

Yum, yum, yum

Pierre is allergic to peanuts. And when I say allergic I mean extremely supermegaallergic, like he throws up pretty much when saying the word, can smell a peanut miles away so EATING an actual peanut…well, better not think about it. Now, this was a big worry to us, as in Africa a lot of the cooking is based on peanuts but also peanut oil, which is even more dangerous for us as it takes us a while to detect it.

I guess this allergy even though wide spread in Europe was quite a rarity for the locals. We got so many blank faces, when we tried to explain…and our poor Kinyarwanda language skills didn’t help either. Many times we were actually offered a bowl of peanuts, as the lovely personel thought that that actually IS what we are after. When we mastered our negotiation on the absence of the actual peanuts in the food, the next challenge was to explain that we also don’t want any peanut oil…
Now I am safe to say, that we failed big time only once, which gave Pierre one harsh afternoon spend by hugging the toilet. (luckily for everyone involved the water was working) and luckily that was all….uuuuf.
But apart from that my French (translated food loving, photos of home cooked food sending) fellow travelers enjoyed their first ever dining out experience in Subsaharan Africa.

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…fou fou – not my favourite, but my Frenchies loved it

I have to admit, I totally love it. All the cookeries and eateries have this “homie cutie” feeling and an unmistakable style. Plastic chairs of different coulour, usually with plastic flowers and a decoration on the wall and usually the photo of the president on the wall.

Nothing happens in a rush..the opposite, actually. What a difference to a crazy busy sweaty Sydney caffés, where waitresses would break up in tears every weekend as the stress was too much to cope with.
In Africa no. There is time and a person for everything. There is the mamma at the counter. She is the money person. Then there is the waiter, usually a young, cool styled guy. Sometimes he would give you this too cool for school attitude, but at the same time get totally confused by your order. Or there would be a lovely lady, who may be a bit slower than your average waiter, but nearly therapeutic in her calmness and gentleness. I just love the way the lady talked to us, presented the menu in a smooth, gentle way with the tiny bracelets shining on her forearm and then came back to actually explain that what we ordered is actually not available that day that, in fact, they have only the same dish as everyone else…only their menu (the paper one, I mean) looks a bit fancier that anyone elses.

Every restaurant/eatery would also have a runner (or fixer, but that is a different level). You usually don’t see him, but it is the person who would make it happen. So for example. There is a power outage in the area – happens. Yet these three tourists want cold beer. This person would get it. Even though it may mean jumping on a back of a bike and riding for the chilled beer to the local market, or getting a fresh fish from God-knows-where. It was delicious and definitely worth every minute of the wait.

…a trip to paradise…

October 28, 2015

I found paradise!
and apparently still in Sydney:)

@Pittwater

….coming soon…a terrifying story about crocodiles and leaches…lol

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