Best of Ecuador

Without any comments, already in Colombia and fascinated by the rich explinations of Wilfredo and Julian about the recient history of the country and of the first round of presidential elections which took place this sunday, here, some of our impressions of the days in Ecuador.

visit at the Sionah community , Jesuit church in Quito, central square, scenes in Baños I & II, in the andes, San Franzisco convent Quito, view from El Mosaico, Puerto Bolivar , meetings in Cuyambeno


Jungle camp

It is common knowledge that in times of crisis people attend to do drawbacks towards their inwardness. Therefore, while the Euro sinks and people across Europe have suddenly to rediscover what the original idea of a common Europe has been, while Argentina spoils its 200 years of independence party with internal power debates and answers on the sense of life still lack lasting conviction, what would be a better place to spend the days than the remote rainforest of the Amazon Basin? We went to Cuyabeno, nature reserve in th eastern part of Ecuador, where the rainforest still looks like it should. And indeed, there will be probably no better placer to experience german Romantik.

It all starts with the rivers. There were never other posibilities to overcome the distances of the enormous jungle. We were going with our canu by rain, by sunshine, by day and by night. Stepping into it means stepping into the green all around you, a mosaik of trees and bushes, lianas and orchids. The river floats gravely and slowly below you, sometimes changing colour from brown to black, sometimes allowing a short glimps in its depths. The jungle is all around you and you know its full of life. You hear it and when you are concentrated you might see it. You lift a leave and you´ll find a red bellied frog, you lift your view and see a colourful Tucan on the peak of the tree. Lenni was our guide and guard towards the life. He spottet eyes in the wide green when I was glad to distinguish one tree from the other. Without him, jungle had kept its living secrets for us. Surely, its no zoo and the animals do not get paid for gringo tours. Instead of enjoying our presence the kept their mimikry and our joy was even bigger when they suddenly showed up. A bunge of yelling and swinging monkeys passing by, an anaconda warming up on the braches next to our canu, a slot walking slowly in the heights of mammoth trees. And then the night: Thousands of cicadas, frogs, owls and monkeys shouting and giving the base to a moonlighted performance of spiders and bats.

And while we were watching at the organization of life in the foret - poisend ants living in symbiosis with alimenting trees, trees which lock their rinds up in the rainy season, standing for 5 months in 3 meters of water, pink dolphins survinng geographical changes and ending up as freshwater animals - thoughts go further to the organization of modern human life. We should do exploration tours to the big cities, taking pictures of working society, initiations rituals, freetime behavior. Spotting its amazing facets with binoculars, recording its expressions of communicacion on tape, trying to come closer and maybe become part of it. We are continuing our expedition in Quito. And therefore, although it might be the most fascinating animal life on earth, who needs to go to the Galapagos??


Life is hard...

... especially when turning a year older. Where do I come from, where do I go, what is the sense in all of that? Should the beach not be brighter, should there not be a salsa combo preparing the party for me, is it not better to become 32 in the city, or in the montains, in Germany or in Argentina? Would it not be better if it rains and actually the sun could be also a bit stronger! And behind that: 32 sounds like family, social insurance (at least for Germans) and a clearly shaped professional future. World continues to be injust, maybe every year even more and staying on the beach will not bring any solution to none of these questions. Even if we gave the locals the chance to steal our flip-flops.

Birthdays - at least for me - seem to be the wrong date to search for answers. But living the moment is a good practise for me, especially on 17 of may. Going to dive for the first time in my life was offering seastars in blue and red, swimming in tropical fish swarms and loosing for some minutes the ordinary dimension of time and space. Jasper gave the best present by staying with me on the sea, me watching the fishes from below, him feeding them with his puke caused by the waves from above. Afterwards, reading 100 years of solitud in Spanish was another real gift, dinner was one of the best we had so far thanks to the American waitress and their cocktail recomendations and maybe the new flip-flops are even nicer then the old ones.

Last not least all your birthday greets which reached me on all channels made me feel being part although being far away. Therefore, I like to thank you for all the messages and mails, it was great! Be sure, I´ll think of you also on 2th parallel. And if you have ideas about the big questions - from sense of life to flip flop fashion - I am grateful for indications!

Ruta del sol

When entering the ruta del sol of Ecuador's Pacific coast, first nothing indicates that mass tourism already has a strong grip on the region. Driving through it on a Sunday morning in low season felt more like going to church in one of the world's remote corners. One fisher village sits next to each other and was showing its peaceful life in bright sunshine just interrupted by some of the weekend villas of rich Guyaquilians. Unmistakenly the tropics started, pineapples, coconuts and bananas were dominating the street stands and salsa music the buses loudspeakers, sea glimps through the family huts. Even the blown up replique of some precolombian venus on the central square of Puerto Lopez, adverting a rich arqueological heritage, despite displaying gigantic breasts could not attract enough tourists to ruin the village's character.

Two corners further, picture changes and surfer's paradies shows up. Montañita is not a village where surfers go to, it seemed to be a village build up by them. Cohorts of highglighted one meter eighty gringos with shorts 5 centimeters under their pelvic bones walk between international surf brand shops in bamboo arquitecture choosing for fruit muesli as breakfast, lokals infected by surf fever speaking a better English then the Irish visitors, Canadian dropouts selling empanadas on the beach and making even the always present Argentinian artisans looking somehow ridiculous. Jasper and me stood here for two days, still not surfing after observing some beginners with their desperate tries to get on the board for, but enjoying the scenery.


Best of Peru!

As you already know, we maybe were not the most inspired in Peru and definitly lacked to take some better pics. Anyway, since its almost a tradition here some impressions!

Llama enjoying Machu Picchu gras, Jasper enjoying Inka Kola (owned by guess who: Coca Cola!) after the tip of Valle, me enjoying jump of joy. View from our room in Máncora, impression from greater Lima, market scenes in Lima.


South America on pause

No news from South America? Jasper and me were busy with doing nothing. From Lima we went directly to the surfing paradies Mancora at the very north of Peru's coastline. Of course not to surf, maybe to watch the surfers though. Lima was of course impressive, but maybe we needed a small rest after the half of our trip. So the city of kings maybe did not get enough attention, although we drunk a Pisco Sour in the place where it was invented (sorry Marcia), saw the museum of inquisition, had an unforgetable coffee stop in the Sheraton, were bored by Miraflores. Therefore, we went to the beach and enyoyed the best waves I saw in my live, first bath in the Pacific Ocean and a view that offers sunset and sunrise over the sea from the same spot. If there's a better internet connection we might give you an impression. But since we did not take the camera to the beach there is anyway not much to show. Just imagine beach, palmtrees and the usual surfer's attributes. Tonight we are heading to Ecuador!!

left: cathedral of Pisco, right: cathedral of Lima


Machu Picchu

Ever since Hollywood's motorcycle diaries probably everybody in mass media world knows about the mystical centre of South America, the remembrance of the once dominating Inka culture which had been buried under tropical forest until 1911. Just the fact that the Spanyards did not know about the place and that it was already left when the conquerors entered the sacred valley kept it from getting plundered like the other important Inka places. Maybe it was even the reason for the inhabitants to leave the village, taking their sanctuaries with them and prevent like this their destruction. We could still see some of the destruccion caused by the rainfalls in January, getting an even better impression of the elusiveness of the place. Few local settlements are being overruned by world's mass tourism nowadays.

Two days ago it took at Jasper and me to discover the lost city, climbing up the hill at four in the morning with other gasping tourists resulting in an astonishing quiet place which allowed us to take an unpeopled postcard foto. Astonished by its size which you can't explore on the overview, we learned about equinox windows, 13 degrees constructions, montain's gods and holy women. The energy of the place, sourrounded by sharp montain peaks and almost imposible to reach, definitly was impressive although we did not bring our violet meditation dresses.
And something else we finally have been meeting in the sacred valley: Latinamerican Tourists. In Bolivia, all tourism was limited to the Industrialized world's citizens, even seeing their own natural treasures seemed to be economically imposible for the Bolivians. Now, middle and upper class from Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Brasil go shopping around Cuzco's expensive Plaza de Armas and discover the routes of the continent. Its our last hours in the altitude before we go this afternoon to Lima by another 20 hours bus. Videos about how we were climbing up stairs in the altitude will be kept secretly.


And that's how Peru gave as his welcome....

.... with an amazing view over Cusco from our hostel's window:

Seems that poverty was extincted from the touristy city, nevertheless in terms of protection and care it is the most beautiful colonial town I saw so far in Latinamerica.

Best of Bolivia!

After Copacapana and Isla del Sol we left amazing Bolivia. Here, some of our catched impressions from the people - without words and a slight clichee eye of the western visitor.


Labour Day La Paz

Unlike in the rich North, here, First of May mobilized thousands of people to the traditional may manifestation. It looked like as if the workers of almost all companies around La Paz and hundreds of trade unions took part in the march. Labor conditions stay dificult for the large percentage of the population in a country where the GNI counts around 2500 US$ per capita. Therefore, participating groups reached from child workers to household employees and exclaimed hopes as well as disappointments about the government of Evo Morales.

Evo Morales victory in the elections of 2005 was perceived by the great mayority of the Bolivians as a big sucess. After 500 years of colonialisation, he is the first president with indigenous background in a country which population claims to be indigenous to two thirds. His background as casual worker, coca farmer, trade unionist and civic leader in the so called "war of gas" in 2003 promised a different approach on politics. And indeed, in the first years of his presidency he fullfilled expectations by the nationalization of gas, strong demand orientated impulses and the process of the implementation of the new constituion which refers to Bolivia as a plurinational state, a reference to the varios indigenous people living in a country designed by colonialism.

The critics about an autocratic style, dissapointments of more left politicians and the outrage of traditional elites of Bolivia, especially visible in the unrests in the rich and whiter eastern provinces of the country, could not prevent the huge affirmation of his presidency in the referendum in 2008 by 67% of the votes and the aprobation of the new constitution by 61% in 2009. Still, its a long way to go until the nation finds its reconciliation.

After a long stay in La Paz, today, Jasper and I are finally leaving towards Titicaca and are then almost about to leave Bolivia. Next blog from the heart of the former Inka empire!