Monday, January 9, 2012

The first leg of my travels is over....

... as I started my second part of my travels in Cambodia - I thought it is time to try to put the highlights of the last 5 months "down on paper". I guess it goes without saying that I am greatful to be able to have this opportunity and consider myself fortuned for the experiences I made, the people I meet and that I stayed healthy throughout so far *KnockOnWood*. How can you wrap up an amazing 5 months on a stunning "continent" like South-America is, well I will try to put some experiences down:
- got to know 60 amazing kids, who despite having horrible experiences in the past, no family around and no own toys are full of life and happiness.... this has put a lot in perspective for me!
- being able to help families locally in Santo Domingo was a great experience - again a big thanks to everybody who supported this
- made loads of friends in Ecuador and meet some great people which I plan to visit soon again - cause they are certainly special!
- had a scorpion walk up my leg: On the 3rd day of our "lost city" hike - I was brushing my teeth in the early morning and felt something walk up my leg - not looking at it and out of reflex I stroke it off my leg and than looked down - to find a scorpion struggeling to get back onto his legs.... I tell you that is gonna give you definite goose skin :-)
- ate some amazing new fruits like Guyabana, Guavaya, 10 different kinds of Mangos just to mention the highlights.... Out of all of them fresh Mangos are definitly my favourite ones - even though I am not sure if I will ever eat a "on the boat riped" Mango in Europe anymore. Guyabana is def. the best smoothie-fruit you can get on this planet and if you ever should have the chance to get one, then GET ONE ;-)
- lost 12 kg of weight just by my changed lifestyle and staying away from vending machines - replacing "unwantedly" chocolate with fruits. Well and I guess the ecuadorian kids had parts on that too chasing me over football fields, basketball courts or just have me running around with them on my back :-)
- danced limbo infront of about 500 students. My ecuadorian students spontainiously selected me to represent them in a Stanto Domingo limbo teacher competition which was set-up in the half-time of some proper dance competition. At least I made 1st for the men - overall didnt make it the best 5 though
- went Piranhia fishing in the Orinoco Delta. We had two days booked in the Orinoco Delta which is from the vegitation very similar to the Amazonas but to be honest 1 day would have been enough as the jungle is not particularly encounterable (you are eaten by mosquitos alive even though you are completely covered) - so Piranhia fishing with a good glas of Rum was a relaxing task to do to kill time. Besides that this was my first time fishing in my life - Piranhia fishing actually requires skills as those suckers are so fast that they don't get hooked on the hook so you have to basically throw them into the boat while they take a bite. I only caught one but it tasted delicious knowing I caught it myself :-)
- learned a new language: because I never really had proper Spanish lessons I never learned proper Spanish but by now I can hold a conversation in Spanish and make myself understood of what I want/need.... well but than to be honest I don't want to hear myself talk on the same level in English or German - it must sound horrible :-)
- danced loads of Salsa and love it by now. I can only recommend to go to a Salsa Club in South-America Salsa is culture in every country I visited and not avoidable. Everybody is dancing it and it is such a great dance and a great way to get to know local people as everybody is passionate about it.
- riding on the back of a pick-uptrack never really appeared to me to be special - until I got to Ecuador and everybody does it there - me wondering how it would be I tried it out and have to say - very very chilled even though considering ecuadorian driving practices freaking dangoures
- saw the Angel Falls - the highest waterfalls in the world and the trip was worth it. Nature creates such magnicifant, graceful and at the same time peaceful sights - it is a pity that we could only spend a good hour around there. Definitly one of the highlights in my life.
- hiked through jungles, hills full of coffee-plants, took spontainious dips in remote rivers - Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela have such a lush nature - I haven't seen before.
- experienced ecuadorian hospitality by its fullest. I was giving several students english lessons for free (which is normally very expensive) and in return I experienced ecuadorian hospitality... being invited to BBQ pick-nicks, little "parties" thrown for me, shown around the countryside, introduced to families etc.
- got to know some awesome new dishes - for example ecuadorian Fritada (specially fried meat), Plantains prepared in about 20 different forms but also ate some weird stuff like: cow-liver, cow-hoof, fried pig-skin and chicken-feet
- seriously injured my left hand in a ceiling fan. Coming home in the middle of the night and not wanting to wake-up the people in the dorm I left the light switched of. Taking off my T-Shirt over my head I had totally forgotten that the ceiling-fan in that dorm was actually hanging very low and I put my left hand in a full-speed fan... you can be sure the whole dorm woke up :-)
- flew in a old Jesna over Venezuela not being sure if we ever going to arrive as the fuel-indicator showed clearly "empty" :-)
- rolled down a about 6 meter high sand-dune. Dont ask me why but I always wanted to do that - it was so to say on my bucket-list amongst other things.... tick :-)
- been to the equator line and then again haven't been. With Nat and Ben we thought we have visited the equator line close by Quito, ecuador just to find out when we came back to our hostel that it was the wrong one the frensh put up about 200 years ago.... *shakinghead* the frensh - who else :-P
- been up on 4900 meters and having to take a 2 minutes breaks after every 1 minute hiking.

These last 5 months have been exciting, insightful, refreshing, teaching: an amazing time, so I want to take this opportunity to especially thank my parents and my sister and brother and his family who have been super supportive througout the time and the backbone for this travels !!

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