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September 2016

Days in the desert

A wise man once said “What makes the desert beautiful, is that somewhere it hides a well“. This man was the French author and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. We probably have nothing in common, except that I can agree on his quote about the desert.

A 6 hour bus drive from Lima brought me to the Huacachina desert. The well in this story, is the Huacachina Oasis. Originally this is a natural oasis, which the Peruvians now have made a place for recreation and adventure. The little oasis is home for about 100 people, but every year also hosts thousands of visitors – which I now understand why.

As I came down to the oasis I checked in at the hostel Banana Adventure. What a place! This really is an oasis in the oasis. As I walked through the gate I instantly felt a really good vibe. A cosy pool area with a round little bar and some exotic music pumping. The people were super friendly, especially the bartender “Tito” from Lima. This place had it all: good service, facilities, food and vibe. Perhaps the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at.

I spent three days here and they were full of both adventure and relaxing in a perfect combination. Lazy hours by the pool drinking beer and talking to new people combined with action activities such as sand buggy through the desert and sand boarding down the endless sand dunes. Not to forget the sunsets. Every evening we hiked up the highest sand dune in the nearby area to watch the sun set over the endless dunes of sand. Truly memorable moments, especially for me as I’m weak for sunsets.

This was not only a place for having fun and a good time. After been traveling about two weeks now, in and out of hostels. On and off both airplanes, buses and boats, early mornings and late nights – this place marked a sense of well-being in me. I must admit that it’s a process getting used to sharing room with people every night, having mostly cold showers, not as much or good food as you are used to and in general live by a much lower standard when it comes to comfort. Somehow I forgot all this down here. I just felt super comfy even though I was sandy and sweaty during the days and cold during the nights and got absolutely no sleep since a guy from New Jersey snored like a bear all night long. Perhaps it’s a combination of this place and the fact that you learn to adapt and maybe two weeks was what I needed.

Anyhow, I had a blast down here and really recommend a 3-day visit to this place. Now summer is officially over for a while for me. I’m on my way to Cusco – the ancient Inca capital in the Andes mountain range. Located on 3400 meters above sea level the temperature and the air will be different, but the mountains is my second home so I’m really looking forward to some high altitude adventures.

By the way, do you have any questions regarding my travels? There are no dumb questions – just dumb people so bring it on! I’m planning a post with “frequently asked questions” and now is the time to ask.

Huacachina

Lima – Where they say the sky is always grey

Life is comparible to travel; it’s affected by the choices we make along the way. I chose between going to a surf and party place in the north of Peru, called Mancora, and the capital of Peru, Lima. After a week of beaches on Galapagos the choice wasn’t that hard. I went to Lima – without high expectations though.

Before going here both rumors and people I’ve met told me pretty much the same things: «It’s just boring, big and nothing to do there. One day is more than enough!» After spending a day here I can confirm, that for once, rumors were actually true. It’s massive – about 10 million people living here. Which means it’s busy and so is the traffic. So what about boring and nothing to do? Well, I should be careful calling a city boring after just one day, but I honestly struggled to find something exciting and in many other other cities the struggle often is to choose between all the fun you want to do! In addition; I didn’t get a good vibe and the gut feelings usually don’t lie.

There are of course some architecture and tourists spots here, but I didn’t feel for just walking around taking photos with the Chinese and Japanese. I don’t find that stimulating. Instead I met up with a local «instagram fan» of mine. Thought it could be fun meeting one of those participating in my adventure on the web. And it was nice. She showed me the bohemian and picturesque area called Barranco. That was actually pretty beautiful and the one thing I would recommend to see in Lima if you have one day.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have high expectations so I wasn’t very disappointed. It was just a quick stop to see the capital, which I always enjoy doing. Another lucky thing is that I’m free like the bird. The initial plan was to spend two days in Lima, but I decided to stay just one.

Next stop: the Peruvian desert and the Huacachina Oasis. On this one I have really high expectations. Catching a bus tomorrow morning for about 5-6 hours, not so stoked about that but something tells me it’s worth it. Time will tell.

Barranco

Galapagos – does paradise exist?

Long white sandy beaches, blue skies and crystal clear blue water. Sounds pretty much like paradise, doesn’t it? Our dear friend Google claims that too. Just check it yourself – takes you 10 seconds! Has to be right then. Another place it also describes perfectly is the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean a two hour flight east of Ecuador. So is this perhaps paradise?

Galapagos belongs to Ecuador and consists of 18 islands of which I think 3-4 are inhabited. The rest are either very small or in the National Park of Galapagos which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The reason for that is the marine life here. There are LOTS of different animals, both on and off land. Here you can find the biggest turtles in the world and a huge variety of birds. Of course also lots of fish like different sharks and even orcas. It really is an epic place when comes to nature and wildlife. The fact that Charles Darwin spent some time of his year here to study the wildlife is probably proof enough. And just as paradise, according to Google, the beaches and waters here were beyond everything else, and trust me, I do have pretty much to compare with when it comes to paradise beaches.

Alone one week in this so called paradise. How was it? At first it was a blessing to put my feet in the incredible sand and dive in to the ocean and let the sun warm my skin. Also a relief to get away from the buzz in the capital Quito. But to be honest, and I’m an honest man, you get tired of picture perfect beaches. At least I do.  Luckily for me I met some fantastic people to share the days with. People from Poland, Hong Kong, Canada, Germany and The United States all gave color to my stay on the islands. Especially the guys from the US, I will meet up with them later this winter in Colombia. Travel is not only about the destination, but even more about the people along the way. The good (and sometimes bad) thing about traveling alone is that you have to make new friends pretty much every day. Sometimes perhaps you feel that you are not soulmates, but easily can kill some time together – but sometimes you hit the jackpot too!

So back to the start; does paradise exist? I still choose to believe in paradise, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a place – it’s a state of mind. It’s a feeling, situation or a moment where everything is just the way it should be. Since it’s not a place, you can’t search for it.  So how to find it? I believe the best way to find things here in life is to stop looking – and things will eventually come to you. Go with the flow, and make sure you enjoy the ride. Both small and big moments. Probably you’ll have more small than big. So make sure you also enjoy the small ones and you will live a happier life. Find happiness in less. When was the last time you reminded yourself of how lucky you are to be healthy and free from decease? (Which I really hope you are).

Don’t misunderstand me; I had a blast in the Galapagos, but at the same time I’m glad leaving. Should I leave some travel tips it must be to have at least two weeks. Also make sure you have the Advanced Diving Certificate. Galapagos is more than just a beach destination. If you really want to see the unique thing about Galapagos, make sure you spend a lot of time under water. Perhaps take a 4-7 day boat cruise. I went on a one-day-cruise for some snorkeling and beautiful islands, which suited my budget well this time.

Diversity is the key for a restless soul like me. I had a return ticket to Guayaquil in Ecuador, but no plan from there. The plan was to go somewhere in Peru and I chose between a surf and party place called Mancora, an alpine destination by name Huaraz or the capital Lima. I chose Lima, without any high expectations.

By the way, sorry for late blogpost but the wifi on Galapagos was weaker than my tolerance of seasickness.

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Galapagos Tortuga Bay

Unique for Galapagos