A Final Word

Since Jan and I felt very comfortable in Santa Marta, we decided to stay there for about four days. Although the city was located next to the ocean, swimming and lying on the beach seemed less appealing since an ugly container harbor was located near by. Consequently Jan and I decided to go more often to the neighbor town Taganga with the beautiful bay Playa Grande.

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Enjoying the sun at Playa Grande.
Because it was already on my bucket list since I arrived in Peru, I was happy to see that it was possible to rent a water scooter (jet ski) at Playa Grande. In a semi-professional negotiation I managed to push the price below 50% of the initial price and paid only 15$ for 20 minutes jet skiing.

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Bucket list item jet ski: Check.
After we enjoyed half on the day at the bay, we prepared ourselves for the return to the main beach. Therefore we had to take a small wooden boat. Once we arrived at our nutshell, the boat seemed pretty full already and no seats were left. Anyhow, the „captain“ was convinced that Jan and I would still fit in. Regardless my protests, he wanted us to enter the boat with the reasoning that he might not return to the bay. My mood was declining from minute to minute. Luckily some people were so kind to move to the front of the boat where they took seat on the boat’s nose. To enter the boat, Jan and I had to wade through the water. When we finally got into the Colombian titanic, my pants where completely soaked already and my mood was marvelous. I was wet, depressed and felt like a refugee on its way to cross the Mediterranean Sea. After an infinite 15 minutes boat ride we finally arrived at the mainland.

A few days later my companion and I decided to travel further north to see a national park with Colombia’s reputedly prettiest beaches. After some hours walking we arrived at our final destination and rent hammocks to spend the night.

image Beautiful beaches in the national park Tyrona.

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After the national park Jan and I went south again and eventually spent my last night in a fancy four star hotel in Barranquilla. Reason for our selected accommodation was less my departure and more that is was Jan’s birthday. After some heavy pre drinking games we had the right alcohol level and also loose hips, which wanted to be shaken in Barranquilla’s night life.

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Pre drinking in a Four Star Hotel.

At midnight (Jan’s birthday) we stood in the middle of nowhere and were out of alcohol. After a swag birthday hug we then took a taxi to disco near by and we finally danced and danced and danced…

The next day was my day of departure (Jan took a flight one day later). After a short „good bye“ to Jan I went to the airport. In the waiting hall I realized that I had mixed feelings about leaving South America. In the last seven months I became more and more familiar with the latin American culture. In specific, I found great pleasure in dancing salsa and I enjoyed speaking Spanish a lot. Furthermore, I think that I now have a weakness for bronze colored skin and Latina curves. When I boarded the airplane to Amsterdam I wasn’t too euphoric to leave all this behind me.

imageTaking a last bath in the ocean near Santa Marta, Colombia.

As soon as I was back on Dutch ground, I experienced a culture shock from my own western culture. I was surprised how neat everything was! Washed cars, flawless streets, clean air, almost no traffic noise and people with expensive cloths! That was completely different from what I have seen the last half of the year. Everything here seemed to be far from the real problems, -far from a world where people earn below one dollar per day. Seeing this contrast, I now know what it means to live in the „first world“.

Among the things which I really appreciate here in Europe is that one can throw the toilet paper in the toilet instead into a bin, that it is possible to drink water from the tab and last but not least the fast cashiers in the supermarkets! Oh yes how it annoyed me to wait 30 minutes to pay my ten shopping articles! Here the same procedure takes two till five minutes. God bless efficiency!

Lastly and coming to an end, I would like to mention that I enjoyed my stay in Peru since I took some really interesting classes, which helped me grow personally. Also, I now have a slight idea about the Latin American culture and understood even more what a lucky and privileged life we have here in Europe! Finally I recommend anyone to visit Peru and also Colombia. Talking about women: So far I think that Latinas are among the prettiest and I am certain that one day I will return to continue my studies 😉

Traveling up the Road

My first stop in Colombia was its capital Bogota. Although the city has about 7.5 million inhabitants, the atmosphere throughout the entire city seemed very relaxed as compared to Lima. Bogota‘ s avenues were decorated with trees and traffic participants seemed to be more patient.

imageCity centre of Bogota.

imageGreen streets throughout the city.

Even though I was at ease with my new environment, I had the perception that the city didn’t offer much tourist attractions which would interest me and thought that the backpacker party district was rather small. Consequently I decided to move on the Colombia’s most innovative city of 2012, -Medellin. Having arrived there, I soon met cool people among which were a Philipeño, a Canadian (Hong Kong) and a Briton. Together we made several trips such as a visit of a botanical garden, paragliding in the mountain, rode on escalators in a former ghetto and also went to a big ass rock in the city Guadape.

imageStreet arts in a former ghetto in Medelín.

imageElectric escalators in the ghetto!

imageVisiting Guadape together with new friends.

Although all trips were great, I must say that I especially enjoyed our 20 minutes paragliding trip since it gave me the opportunity to look at Medellin and the surrounding mountains from a bird’s perspective.

image Paragliding in Medellin.

imageMy Philipeño friend Ayan Villafuerte in the air.

Another highlight certainly was the museum Parque Explora, which exhibited samples of Colombians flora and fauna.

imageFish in the Parque Explora Medellin.

Furthermore, the museum offered interactive activities for visitors and also had exhibitions about knowledge and communication.

The last day I visited a castle, which was build and owned by a Colombian who married a German woman. The castle had a neat collection of international (and also German!) furniture and accessories and was surrounded by a big beautiful garden.

Above all I can say that Medellin is my personal favorite city in South America so far and I recommend anyone to visit this amazing city. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to dive into Medellin’s party life and hence failed to approach Colombia’s possibly most beautiful women in clubs. However, -for my luck, it is also possible to find beautiful faces outside bars… 😉

After I have left Medellin, I headed northern to Cartagena to meet my good friend Jan, who had spontaneously decided to come visit me in Colombia to spend the last two weeks with me together.

imageReunion with my good friend Jan in Cartagena.

Medellin was already warm, but Cartagena turned out to be even warmer. The weather forecast predicts approximately 32 degrees Celsius on average throughout the week accompanied with high humidity. In short: we sweat our asses off!

imageTropical weather forecast for Cartgena!

Luckily the climate gets milder in the evenings and so that we can expose ourselves the jolly night life of Cartagena. Since a new friend told me that he thinks that the first evening in a city usually tends to be the best, I did my best to have a first awesome night. Consequently I bought a good Habano cigar which I later enjoyed with some Cuba Libres.

imageEnjoying my first night out.
After a good long smoking and cocktail session we decided for a club in Cartagena’s old city centre and ended the day with some salsa, bachata and other local dance music.
At 4:30AM I returned to the hostel and fell happily in my bed.

Our next stop was the Beach town Santa Marta. There we found a really nice hostel with a private pool and a great bar where one can get two cocktails for 6€ during the happy hour.

imagePrivate pool in the hostel.

During the day we currently chill out at Caribbean beaches and at night we usually have a few sundowners, play cards or drinking games and meet new people.

image Chill out session at beach Playa Grande.

imageMarvelous ocean view.

The following days we will explore Colombia’s biggest national park, will see the country’s prettiest beaches and will cool down from the hot weather in a mountain village.

Follow the blog hear more about Jan’s and my experience in one of the best countries I have visited so far! Enjoy your summer vacation and let me know what’s up with you.

Peace out, David.✌🏻️

The trip continues

Quite some time has passed by since I wrote the last blog entry and a lot of things have happened meanwhile. After our return from Machu Picchu, Bouwe and Dio decided to move to a different apartment to have more privacy for themselves. However I decided to stay with the six chicas since I dreamt of the perfect life with roommates who would cook for me, do my laundry, and clean the house regularly. Unfortunately the realty looked different and 80% of the time our house looked like a wild henhouse. Since I am a diehard rooster, I somehow managed to live with my six chickens. I tired to ignore the mess and followed my daily routines. Although I had Mondays and Fridays off, I went five out of seven days to school. Mondays I participated in a beginners Spanish class and from Tuesday till Thursday and Saturday I took various business courses. Also, I usually made sports three times per week and often met with my good friend Krizia who showed me around in Lima.

image In the water park with my fiend Krizia.

Some time later I met another nice girl and after a short dating period we decided to become a couple. Together with my new Mexican girlfriend I made several short trips, which included watching sunsets, going rafting, biking and eating a lot of food.

image    My Mexican girlfriend and I spending a day together in a park in Lima.

Unfortunately I wasn’t clear about my feelings and hence our relationship lasted only for four weeks. Nonetheless, we kept seeing each other for a while and finally decided to remain friends, so that we can approach comfortably when we meet each other again.

Besides my every day life I made two more trips with Dion. First, we went to the jungle where we tired to set a new record for receiving the most Miskito bites. I am not sure who finally won, but we both had enough bites to be approved as committed participants (on one foot I had over 22 swollen Miskito bites!). Besides getting our asses bitten, we pet monkeys, saw piranhas and drunk water out of vines.

image Swinging on a vine like Tarzan.

image Hugging a sloth in the monkey park.

My personal jungle highlight certainly was that I ate a maggot alive. Since it reminded me of the flavor of milk powder, I thought that it didn’t even taste that bad. The most disgusting part was when I actually bit on the little creature, since I felt it exploding in my mouth. You can say what you want, but food is food! And when I am hungry I eat everything!

The second trip brought Dion and me to Huaraz, which was a city in the north of Peru. The city is famous for its amazing landscape with its over 6,000m high mountains. Crazy as we are we decided to climb them.

image Mountain view at over 4,000m above sea level.

After several hours of hiking, immense headaches, migraines and hurting legs, we finally arrived at a glacier Laguna, located at 4,400m above sea level. The view was spectacular and almost made up for all the pain.

imageWith Dio at the glacier lake.

Back in the hostel we enjoyed out dinner and went to bed early.

At the moment of writing this blog entry I am sitting in a hostel in Bogota, which is the capital of Colombia. The next few weeks I will travel through the country with the apparently most beautiful women in Latin America. I am exciting what this trip will bring and of course I will let you know how it goes!

Stay tuned and kind regards to you my friends,

David.

3 Days Trekking Tour in the Colca Canyon

Day 1:

 

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Dio at the condor view point.

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Condor view point.

 

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Day 2:

 

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Day 3:

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Our travel route so far:

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Sand Boarding & Buggy Ride in Huaccachina

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The buggy ride was comparable with a roller coaster ride and was mind-blowing!
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Oasis Huaccachina lies in the middle of the desert.

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In the oasis Huaccachina we chilled in a hotel with swimming pool and enjoyed a few beers.

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The highlight of the trip was probably the sunset in the desert (Credits of this photo go to Dio).

Sore Legs

Hola muchachos.
Long time no update. We are traveling through the south of Peru for about two weeks now, have seen the Islas Bastellas (an island with lots of birds and sea lions), traveled with a hot 30 year old sinõrita from Spain, went sand boarding and buggy rising in the desert and made a three day tour through the world’s second deepest canyon,-the Colca Canyon. Since it would take too much time to write down everything and because I still want to report something when I return, I will only outline our three day excursion in depth. However, photos of the sand boarding can be found in the „photos and videos“ section.
3 Days Cola Canyon:

The trip started from our hostel in Arequipa on Wednesday at 3AM. In fact, our mini bus started moving at 3:45AM, since Peruvians use scheduled appointments only as guidelines. From Arequipa it took us three hours to reach our first stop, -the condor view point, which was over 3000m above sea level. With an increase in altitude, it became more difficult to breath and symptoms such as headache and nausea appeared. Since we were previously informed of the low oxygen levels, I had arranged some coca leaves, which were said to have healing effects. Although the coca leaves smelt like sweaty socks and tasted like condor poop, we vanquished ourselves and managed to chew on some leaves for a bit, always believing that they would terminate our suffering. After about two minutes Dio and I spit out the leave paste and decided that we preferred to keep on suffering. Unfortunately we suffered for nothing and the stupid condors didn’t show up. After an hour our tour guide decided to continue our trip and half an hour later, we were dropped at the mountain side to begin our first four hour walk to the first camp.

The first day we mainly walked downhill, which we welcomed a lot, since each of us carried six liters of water plus food and clothes. Although it was downhill only, it was very tough, since it was partly very steep and we had no trekking experience. Especially Dion had a lot of fun, as he had no proper profile on his shoes and rather slipped down the hill. At least Dio was equipped with his GoPro and recorded everything, which tempted Bouwe and me to speculate when he would fall on his face „live“ the first time. After a lot of „near face landings“, we finally arrived at the camp, where we were rewarded with some tasty soup and alpaca meat with rice. Because our trip would continue at 8AM, we went to bed rather early.
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The second day was a little bit more challenging, since we also had to walk uphill for a few hours and still had plenty of water in our bags left. Nevertheless, when we gained a little altitude, we were awarded with a spectacular view and we enjoyed the trip. After four hours hiking, we arrived at an oasis with palm trees, little huts for the night and a swimming pool. That night we had to share a hut with an approximately 50 year-old Spanish guy, who had some very special ideas about black people’s diligence towards work and also explained us why foreigners were contra productive for Europe. He also tended to have a certain sympathy for Germans, which I couldn’t deny. 😛 After all, he explained that he wasn’t racist, but Bobby, Dio and I agreed that he was „special“. After this guy has also annoyed another German girl, we decided to sweeten his dreams in our shared hut with some spicy farts…
The third and last day brought the steepest ascent. Therefore we rented a mule, which would carry our bags. We got up around 4Am and left the camp without breakfast.
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Smart as we are, we carried a plastic bag with fruits and candies to receive a boost for the last hike. When the sun raised, I spotted some girls, which looked German and also spoke it. In conclusion I assumed they were German. Although I am not so keen to meet many of my compatriots, I finally spoke to one of them and figured out that she came from the same city like me and even went to the same high school. After a while our conversation revealed that we had common friends and I realized that I even have seen her in a club in Freiburg before. When we arrived at the mountain top, we also made friends with her other German friend (who also went to my high school) and finally got along with each other very well. Back in Arequipa, we first caught up with some sleep in our hostel and went partying with the German girls later. For 25€ each, we got four cocktails per person in a bar and two bottles in the club.
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In Europe that night would easily have costed us 60 € pp. That night we saved big money, got pretty wasted and had a lot of fun.
Yes, guys. That’s how we are rolling! Stay tuned, updates will follow soon!
Regards,
The musketeers.

Day 7:

Just a few words. During our city tours, Bobby, Dio and I came across many old Volkswagen Beetle models. There are so many in Lima, that we cannot even count them anymore. To still enjoy the presence of all these little old school cars, we invented a new game. It is called “Beetle”. The rules are simple. Whenever one sees a VW Beetle, he has to yell: “beetle” and is allowed to punch one of his travel companions on the arm. Since there are neighborhoods, which are full of beetles, we occasionally have little boxing competitions during our taxi rides. I am not sure whether the taxi drivers enjoy that, but at least we do. *hehe*

Regarding our new uni: We have four cafeterias, an outside area with palms, grass (on which no one is allowed to a set foot on) and a massage studio in which one can get a 15 minute massage for approximately 5€. THIS IS LIMA BITCHES!! 😀

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p.s. We just booked a ticket to Pisco, which is our first destination on our Peru trip. From there we want to travel further South in Peru to Ica, Nazca, Arequipa, Cusco, the Manu area (rain forest), Puno and eventually to la Paz, –the capital of Bolivia. Let’s see how far we get. Our time frame of ca. 14 days is rather tight.

Also: Check out the category “Gringo Stories” reporting some crazy experiences.

Arrival of the Gringos

The day after our arrival, Bobby, Dio and I were wild to explore our new environment. Since we had no clue about local prices and did not inform ourselves about those beforehand, we took the next taxi to the city center. Since we paid 40 Soles (ca. 11€) on the way to the center, we wanted to get back home cheaper. When we asked the next taxi driver whether he would give us a ride for 30 Soles (ca. 8€), we were positively surprised that he agreed. 8€ for a 25 minutes taxi drive seemed to be a very fair price to us, considering that one pays already 3.50€ at the start of a taxi ride in the Netherlands. When we arrived home, we told our housemate Virgil about our amazing deal. Instead of recognizing our negotiation skills, he laughed at us and simply said: “You also could have had it for 10 Soles (ca. 2.50€).”

Another day we were running out of our Soles and I had only Dollars, which are the second official currency in Peru, left. Therefore, paying taxis with Dollars shouldn’t have been a problem. Knowing from our first taxi experience that 12 Soles (ca. 3.45$) were the maximum acceptable price and having improved our negotiation skills meanwhile, we managed to agree to 10 Soles for our ride (less than 3$). When we arrived at our destination, I opened my wallet and pulled out a 5$ bill. The taxi driver looked at it and made clear that he did not have change in Dollars. Since we expected that already, Bouwe communicated that Soles would be fine. Usually, taxi drivers have wallets with enough Soles change. However, our taxi driver was a special one. After satisfactory receiving my 5$ bill, he opened a drawer under his radio to give me my change. Actually I should have received about eight Soles change, but coincidentally he found only five Soles change in his little drawer and claimed that it was all he had…”WHAT A MOTHER FUCKER!”

The best story so far probably happened when we went to ESAN Universidad to get familiar with our new study environment. After Virgil (our housemate) had dropped us off at the international office of ESAN, two ladies, who also gave us a campus tour later on, received us. After a small chit-chat in English, the sub-dean entered the office and approached us in Spanish. Since my Spanish is still very limited (to ordering beer mainly), I looked at her, nodded and smiled gently. When she approached me personally and asked me a question, I thought: “Hmmm, I have heard that sentence before!” Self-confident and with perfect pronunciation I answered: “Muy bien, gracias!” Instead of receiving recognition for my Spanish skills, there was suddenly this awkward silence in the room and the sub-dean looked at me a little bit confused. At this point Bouwe jumped in and kindly informed me that the sub-dean just asked me what my name was. Since everyone knew that “very good, thanks” was not a suitable answer, we all had a good laugh.

So far, so good. I thought what happened in ESAN Universidad would stay in ESAN, but apparently I was wrong. When we entered a taxi to our next destination, Bobby sympathized with the taxi driver and told him the entire story. After also the taxi driver had a good laugh, he pulled his cellphone out, called his girlfriend and also told her the story. Of course I took all situations with humor and could laugh about myself. Still. It is amazing, how a gringo’s mistake can amuse so many limeños. If my story is not in the news tomorrow, I can be happy 😉

Day 1

After just about seven hours of sleep, I automatically woke up at 6:45h. After a little chill session Bobby, Dio and I went to the next shopping centre to get some breakfast and food for the next day.

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Although some prices such as those of cheese, ham and beer are similar to those in Holland, food in restaurants is generally cheap. In the mall we found a little shop, which served proper dishes at 10AM already. Since I was awake for over three hours already, I felt like an African kid who didn’t eat for two weeks. Consequently I did not hesitate to pull out my wallet, grab a plate and load my plate with Peruvian delicacies. The best: For approximately 500g of meat and rice I paid only 3.45€.

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After we had dropped our groceries at home, we started walking to Miraflores, which is the centre of the city with over 8.4 million inhabitants. Although Lima has a very big population, the streets are relatively uncrowded and one can move freely. I have heard before that Lima has a great coast side, but when we arrived at the cliffs, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the view.

Please click on the picture below to start the video.

 

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Since the day was coming to an end, we decided to continue walking along the coast side until we would find a restaurant where it was possible to dine according to our standards. Finally we found a mall, which was located on the cliffs, had several shops and restaurants and offered a spectacular view. After some more photos, we went to a bar where we enjoyed a few Peruvian beers and chicken wings with a Nikkei dip. Nikkei is the latest trend of cooking in Peru, combining Peruvian and Japanese cooking tradition and thus creating a new dimension of eating. Above all, my companions and I had an amazing first day in this new, unknown and exciting environment. We are totally happy about our decision to come to Lima and are looking forward to six amazing months in Peru.