South America



I cannot believe, that my 4 1/2 months of travelling in South America are over now. I had a great time with many many great adventures, seeing beautiful landscapes, meeting amazing people and getting to know interesting cultures and countries. Plenty of unforgettable adventures and experiences!!!

I'm sad to leave this continent, but on the other hand I'm so excited to go and explore a new continent now. Australia, here I come :-)!



11.-15. June 2009, Santiago de Chile (Chile)

Santiago de Chile... scary, but this is my last stop in South America. On Monday I've got my flight to Sydney, Australia!

The city of Santiago is nicer than everyone said. I actually really like it. Okay, there's alot of smog, but I've seen cities with worse smog (eg. La Paz). Whereever you are in Santiago, on every street you can somewhere get a glimpse of the Andes mountains, there are many beautiful plazas with palm trees and plenty of benches to sit and relax and besides the smog I found the city very clean.

As I'm staying with Daniel and Bruce, the two German guys I met in Punón, who are working here in Santiago, I get a little impression of real life in Santiago, meeting some of their chilenean friends and going to a big chilenean birthday party tonight.


08.-10. June 2009, Valparaiso (Chile)

I passed through Santiago de Chile to reach Valparaiso, an old harbour city a bit more than an hour north of Santiago. Valparaiso is a very colourful city full of colourful houses and nice graffitis. The city is built on dozens of hills, which you can reach via steep streets or the antique elevators giving distinction to the townscape. I also enjoyed the daytrip to the nearby city Vina del Mar. It's a modern beachtown and I enjoyed strolling along the beach and the promenade.


04.-07. June 2009, Pucón (Chile)

Arriving at the busterminal in Pucón, I met Daniel and Bruce, two German guys spending a year in Santiago de Chile, doing their civil service (Zivildienst). It was really weird to speak German again. They were really nice and I´m already invited to stay with them when I´m coming to Santiago.

Friday we did some hiking in the Huerquehue National Park through the forest and along lakes with good views of the Villarica volcano. And on Saturday it was time for some action again. We climbed to the summit of the volcano Villarica. Starting at an altitude of 1.400m, we climbed for about 5 hours first on vulcanic stones and the last few hours with crampons and ice axe on snow and ice and over a glacier. It was a lot of fun. At 2.847m we reached the summit and were finally rewarded with the impressive look into the gigantic crater... Sulphur smoke coming out of the crater and slippery half melted ice kept us from getting too close to the rim...What a shame, I would have loved to try see the bottom of the crater and maybe some lava bubbeling... Turning away from the crater, the view was just as stunning with turquoise lakes, green valleys and snow-capped Andean volcanoes. It was a great day!


02.-03. June 2009, Valdivia (Chile)

You cannot believe how happy I was when I arrived in the hostel in Valdivia and met other travellers. I was really worried I would have to spend my birthday alone after realizing how little tourists are around at this time in this area.

After watching the sunset on a beach with Maguito (Chile) and Estella (Spain), we celebrated my birthday in our hostel with lots of wine and funny people. We were 3 tourists and 6 exchange students who live in this hostel for half a year or longer. We had fun telling funny stories and anecdotes of our lifes. At 24h they sang Happy Birthday to me in several languages :-).

On my birthday then, I went to the fish market with Maguito, where you can find about 20 big fat sealions waiting for fish left-overs. Really cool. Then we made a boat trip to the Corral island to visit an old fortress. And then... where would be the best place to spend my birthday...? Yay, we went to a German brewery!!! This area is very German-influenced and so there is really a German brewery called Kunstmann. We had so much fun, listening to Bavarian music, drinking Weissbier and eating Eissbein (Schweinshaxe) with Sauerkraut and Spatzle. And as a dessert I had Apfelstrudel with Vanilla icecream. Yummie! I felt like home :-)!

Reading all your nice birthday wishes I nearly got a bit homesick... Thanks so much for all your birthday messages and emails!!


31. May-02. June 2009, Chiloé Island (Chile)

Together with Aurelia (Lithuania) I crossed the border to Chile. Goodbye Argentina!

On this island we felt like being the only tourists around. Season is over.

In Ancud, which was so boring, grey and rainy that we left it again after a night and a few hours in daylight, we were the only tourists in the hostel. Later in Castro we found 4 other tourists and were lucky that the sun came out. Castro is famous for its colourful houses on stilts. From here we visited the pretty Chiloé National Park and made a picknick on the beach of the Pacific Ocean. On our last evening, Aurelia and me held a little pre-birthday party with cake and cocktails, because she had to leave the next day and after the lonelyness on the island wasn´t sure if I would find anyone in my next city to celebrate my birthday with the next day.


26.-30. May 2009, Bariloche (Argentina)

After 18 hours busride I arrived in Mendoza. If you wonder about how I can survive all these long busrides... I can tell you that Argentinean busses are not to be compared with european busses. The comfortable seats you can lean back very far, you get food and drinks served like in an airplane (sometimes you even get wine or champagne and a hot meal), they play movies (if you´re lucky and they don´t play the standard action movies, you can get really good and recent ones) and believe it or not- on this bus ride they even played bingo with us. I found it hilarious... (wasn´t lucky enough to win the bottle of wine though).

Okay, now back to Bariloche. I loved this cute little touristy city on the shore of a blue lake with snow-capped mountains in the background. I was in an amazing hostel with view of the lake even from my bed and from the bathroom. I enjoyed the alpine-like landscape on hikes up to the top of some mountains, on a tough bike ride with Dale (Canada) and Charly (Australia) and on a road trip along 7 lakes with Camille and Damien (France), Mark (Germany) and Aurelia (Lithuania).

Another reason to love Bariloche is it´s famous chocolate... The city is full of chocolate manufactories and ice cream places. Yummie!!! :-)


24.-26. May 2009, Mendoza (Argentina)
Mendoza, the city of wine. I had a brilliant wine tasting night, trying 8 different wines and a not so successfull vineyard tour the next day. Why not successfull? Well, the plan was: taking the bus to Lujan, renting a bike and visiting several vineyards. When arriving in Lujan I had to find out that there is no bike rental in this town and it´s not possible to walk to different vineyards because they are all very spread out. I had a recommendation for one special vineyard so I decided to take a bus and just visit this one vineyard then... but then I had to find out that because it was public holiday, no busses were going into the direction of this vineyard. But as nice as the Argentineans are, the family just offered me to wait a few minutes and they would take me by car close to the vineyard. Yay, so finally I arrived at this vineyard... but the rejoice was too early. I arrived a few minutes too late because due to the public holiday they closed earlier and no more visit was possible. Damn it. The security guy tried his best to convince the guide and help me, but no chance. Feeling sorry for me he taked on his radio for half an hour to try and find some staff member who could bring me back to town so I can get the next bus back to Mendoza...otherwise I would have had to walk for a few hours back to town... An adventurous day with lots of hospitable and helpful people ended with me sitting at a square with live music and food stalls, being invited for a glass of wine by a 50 year old waiter who didn´t care about other clients anymore because he was too interested in hearing where I was from and what I was doing...


21.-23. May 2009, Rosario (Argentina)
I would never have imagined that I would need summer clothes in Argentina... Believe it or not, it´s the end of autumn in Argentina and it was about 27C in Rosario. So how could I spend my name day (22.05.) better than on the beach? It was a lovely day and an even better night. We went to the best club I´ve ever been to in my life. It was very big, modern and stylish, had an outdoor area with dancefloor and swimming pool... it was just great. I ended up dancing Marengue (a more or less easy and typical dance in South America) with 10 different guys.


16.-21. May 2009, Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Buenos Aires, the city of Tango. Everywhere you can find tango shows, tango clubs, tango lessons or people dancing tango on the streets. Another highlight the city can offer is the historical neighbourhood "La Boca" with its extremely colourful houses and of course the soccer stadium of Boca Juniors (they "raised" the famous Diego Maradona). I watched a soccer match Boca vs. Arsenal (no, not the English team), where I stood with the Arsenal team as it was impossible to get Boca tickets and ended up in the middle of the fanclub standing under banners and flags, next to the drums shouting and singing with the fans. It was a lot of fun. Another great event was "La Bomba", drum show we went to with 15 people from different nationalities, dancing like crazy as if we were on drugs from inhaling all the mariuana smoke around us. Besides the obligatory sightseeing in the city including the Presidential Palace and the impressive cemetary, I made a day trip to the river delta of El Tigre.


24. May 2009, Mendoza (Argentina)

Don´t worry, I didn´t get kidnapped on the bordercrossing from Brazil or anything... I just couldn´t find the time to update my blog^^.

I´ll update it soon. Buenos Aires was great fun, in Rosario I had one of my best party nights ever and in Mendoza (this is where I am right now) I enjoyed a great wine tasting today, tasting 8 or 9 different wines.

Tomorrow night I´m hidding south again. About 18 hours bus ride and I´ll be in Bariloche, my last stop in Argentina before going to Chile.


15. May 2009, Iguazu (Brazil)

Yeah, another border crossing :-). I was in Brazil for a few hours to see the Iguazu Waterfalls from the Brazilian side.

And I don´t know how to explain it... It was sooooooo impressive. I´ve seen the Falls from the Argentinean side, but seeing what I saw this day on the Brazilian side just took my breath. When I saw, heared and felt these massive Falls, the adrenalin just pumped through my body and my hands started shaking. I´m not joking. This was so overwhelming that I couldn´t control it... my heart was pumping like crazy. I cannot discribe why. I never had this feeling before. You have to see it yourself to know what I´m talking about. Maybe the pictures I hope to be able to upload soon are going to give you a slight idea if you try to imagine adding the gigantic sound of the water. It was incredible. One of the most impressive wonders of nature I´ve ever seen in my life. Oh, and luckily this day the weather was perfect. Sunshine all day long, perfect blue sky and the most amazing rainbows I´ve ever seen.

Then unfortunately it was time to leave again. By night bus I made my way to Buenos Aires with Alex (France) and Agnes (Mauritius).


14. May 2009, Iguazu (Argentina)

The Iguazu Falls (people say they are 4 times wider than the Niagara Falls) were brilliant....even though it was raining the whole time when we were visiting the Falls. It´s impressive how much water is falling down these waterfalls. And the scenery is just beautiful. Walks through the jungle, views from the top and from the bottom, boat ride to Isla San Martin to have views from there,...Especially the devils throat was stunning, which is the biggest of the waterfalls there.

In the evening we (Agnes from Mauritius, Alex from France, Alex from England and me) walked to the 3 countries corner of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to see the sunset.


12. May 2009, Salta (Argentina)

I had a great time in Salta. Argentina nearly feels like Europe. I enjoyed just walking around and enjoying the feeling of being back to civilization. Especially the plazas are really nice in the city with nice fountains, big palm trees and many orange trees.

Unfortunately I couldn´t try Argentinean steak yet... (still recovering from my food poisoning in Bolivia). But I can´t wait to try it soon.

From Salta I made a day trip to Cafayate with some amazing scenery on the way with colourful rocks as I´ve never seen it before. Colours were ranging from all kinds of red, orange and brown to yellow, green and even purple. Really beautiful. The tour also included a visit of a vinyard with some wine tasting in Cafayate. And I also tried wine ice cream which was really good.

Then I made my way south on a 23hours bus ride to Iguazu.


09. May 2009, Salta (Argentina)

Another border crossing and I'm in Argentina. Prices are better here than in Chile - I'm going to stay! ;-).

Salta is a nice city and I feel like being arrived somewhere in Europe. There is a big shopping street, one street full of bars, restaurants and discos, people are very dressed-up,....


07. May 2009, San Pedro de Atacama (Chile)

Some of you might be surprised that I'm in Chile now and not in Argentina. No, I didn't change my plans...this is just a quick stop in Chile on my way to Argentina. So yeah, desert again. But a really beautiful one. The trip to the Valle de la Luna and the sunset in the desert was pretty.

But I can tell you, it was a shock to arrive in Chile... All of a sudden there was a road with asphalt (and not a dirt road) where you could ride on nearly without feeling that you're driving, because it's so smooth. And there were lines painted on the road and there were even barriers along the road.... Wow, after spending a 3 weeks in Bolivia, I'm back to civilisation!!! An even bigger shock was to see the prices... All of the sudden, everything is 2-3 times more expensive. So I was not too sad to leave Chile again (at least temporarily) and go see what Argentina is like.


04.-06. May 2009, Uyuni (Bolivia)

The 3 day Salt Flats Tour from Uyuni was one of the best things of my trip so far. Have a look at the pictures in the gallery and you know why. The gigantic white Salt Flats were so beautiful.... But well, let's start at the beginning of my trip: Together with Hannah and Rob (England), Sophia and Ditte (Denmark), Antonella (an older lady from Italy), our guide Wilson (or something similair) and our cook Elisa (no, not my little sister ;-) ) I started my adventure in Uyuni. First we went to a train cementary, an awesome photo spot to take pictures of many many discarded rosty trains. And then we arrived at the gigantic Salt Flats and were dazzled by brightness and beauty of these endless salt hexagons. Especially when climbing the Isla de Pescado with millions of cacti and the white salt flats in the background, the scenery was just breathtaking.

Not only on the salt flats you felt like being in a different world... next stop was the Galaxy Cavern. It is called like this because it looks like being on a different planet. The cavern is full of fossilised algaes hanging from the ceilling.

On the next day we drove through a desert, saw a smoking vulcano, beautiful rock formations and several amazing lagoons shining in all colours, being home of hundreds and hundreds of flamingos.

Our last day very very early to see the Geysers and sit in some hot springs while watching the sunrise. After seing a few more lagoons it was time to say goodbye to the Danish girls and our guide and cook. Hannah, Rob, Antonella and me were dropped off at the Bolivian border and took a bus to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.


01. May 2009, Sucre (Bolivia)

Even though it was only a short visit of the city, I had a lot of fun. On my first evening, there was a fashion show going on on the main square. And today on the 1st of May there were bands playing, people dancing on the streets and everyone drinking beer. The women were dressed in glamorous skirts and scarfs and traditional hats and men wore nice suits and hats. Then I went to see footprints of dinosaurs. Yeah, I´m not joking. There are some well preserved footprints of dinosaurs on a huge wall. Before the tectonic plates shifted, the dinosaurs were walking along here.... Isn´t this cool?!


30. April 2009, Potosi (Bolivia)

Another adventure was waiting for me in Potosi, apparently the highest city in the world (4090m). Here I did a tour through the active silver mines. Well, I can´t say that it was fun... but it was an interesting experience. The temperatures are extreme, the walls and tunnel floors are muddy and slippery. We were crawling through the tunnels and climbing steep ladders to decend to the next level. Men and boys pull carts full of rocks, shovel rocks into sacks which are heaved up several levels for removal, all by hand. The miners constantly chew coca leaves, helping them stand the overwhelming heat and prevent them from being hungry. The lack of oxygen, sulphur and asbestos fumes (Schwefel und Asbest Gase) and exhaustion make it hard to keep yourself from getting a panic attack. It was hard...but I made it. It was an unforgettable experience to see these miners work in these conditions, working so hard for hardly any money, breathing the noxious fumes every day and permanently facing the threat of silicosis (Staublunge). Seeing their happy faces when we gave them soft drinks, coca leaves and dynamite which we brought as presents for them made you feel like helping them at least a tiny bit. After coming out of the mine, happy to breath again, we were fooling around with the dynamite we bought at the miners market (Increadible but in Potosi it´s absolutely legal to buy dynamite) and made an explosion. The city Potosi itself is nothing special and so I decided to go straight to Sucre after the tour, which is only 3 hours by bus away.


25.-27. April 2009, Rurrenabaque (Bolivia)

After a 4hrs 4x4 ride on a very bumpy dirt road, we finally arrived in Santa Rosa to start our 3 day trip through the Pampas. It was brilliant. We were 5 people in our group: 2 Dutch girls, an Irish girl, an English guy, me and our funny Bolivian guide Negro. During these 3 days we spent most of our time on a boat cruizing through the Pampas looking for wildlife. We saw plenty of monkeys (yellow monkeys, black monkeys and brown monkeys), alligators and caimans, a snake, capybaras (Wasserschweine), turtles, a sloth (Faultier) and many different kinds of birds. One night we were looking for alligators with torches to see their eyes shining. One morning we walked through the swamps in rubber boots looking for anacondas (and our guide really found one :-) ), we went swimming with pink dolphins and went fishing for piranas which we had for our next lunch. Then we saw some beautiful sunsets and amazing skies with millions and millions or stars.... It was an amazing trip. We were very lucky with the weather and had beautiful sunshine all the time. I told you about my horror bus trip on my way to you can imagine that I was not looking forward to making this busride again. As it didn´t rain for a couple of days this meant that there was an alternative to this horror ride.... an airplane! The runway for the 20-seat airplane is just a grass field so they can only fly if the grass is dry. The flight was so much fun... instead of 16hours bus ride it was only 40 minutes flight time... 20 seats in 2 rows, so only window seats, you could look into the cockpit and during the whole flight there were amazing views.


24. April 2009, Rurrenabaque (Bolivia)

Yay, I survived the downhill biking on the world´s most dangerous road :-). I can now proudly wear my T-Shirt "Death Road Survivor"! It was so much fun. We drove by car up to 4700m and went downhill to 1200m (on 63km) along the Death Road. If you wonder why it´s the most world´s dangerous road... until 3 years ago about 200 people died per year on this winding gravel road with a drop of about 600 meters and most of the road no wider than 3.2 meters. But don´t worry, they built a new road so there is hardly any traffic on the Death Road anymore, except crazy travellers like me ;-).

Even more scary than this bike ride was my 15,5 hrs bus ride to Rurrenabaque yesterday. The road was just like the death road, just with additional crazy rainfall so that the driver could hardly see the road and massive holes in the dirtroad so that we felt like on a rollercoaster ride. Sleeping was impossible, furthermore I had a light food poisoning from the food I had during our dinner stop (luckily I had a window seat and the rain washed my traces away) and above all, the shabby bus was leaking so that we sat in the bus wearing rain jackets hoping this 15,5 hrs horror ride will finally come to an end.

But well, here I Rurrenabaque. Tomorrow I´ll go on a 3 day trip through the Pampas hopefully seeing many monkeys, colourful birds, searching for anacondas and alligators as well as swimming with pink dolphins...


20. April 2009, La Paz (Bolivia)

La Paz, the highest capital city in the world... This is how I actually expected the other South American capital cities to be like as well. It's a city with a lot of smog, shabby houses, street stalls everywhere, graffiti,... But still it has some style.

Luckily the altitude doesn't give me any problems anymore. After my tough Chachani hike nothing can shock my body anymore.

Today we went to the With Market. It's crazy what stuff they sell there... you can even buy llama foetuses, dead frogs and more disgusting stuff.

Tomorrow we'll go visit the Valley of the Moon and the day after it's time for another adventure... we're going to do downhill biking along the worlds' most dangerous road :-).


16.-19. April 2009, Lake Titicaca (Bolivia)

Bolivia, here I am. The bordercrossing was the easiest so far. And then I arrived at the beautiful Lake Titicaca. It was so amazing. Permanent blue sky, cristal clear blue water, views of snow capped mountains, lush green landscape, ... Wonderful. I first stayed in Copacabana on the shore of the lake and then I went to Isla del Sol in the Lake Titicaca for two nights. Isla del Sol was so chilled and peaceful, no cars, and amazing views, beautiful sunsets and nice walks. At the moment I'm travelling with Alex and Dominic, two friends from Brighton who I met for the first time in southern Ecuador and then we bumped into each other a few times in Peru as well.

After our relaxing time on the Isla del Sol we left Lake Titicaca and went straight into big city life in La Paz, the highest capital in the world.


10.-13. April 2009, Machu Picchu (Peru)

What can I say... Wooow it was brilliant. It was one of my dreams to see Machu Picchu some day and there it was, the day.

So together with Tom and Roger I started another DIY (do-it-yourself) hike. So saving the 170 USDollars for the organized tour, we did it on our own. It was a lot of fun. As there were enough tour groups around there was always a way to find the right path. After half a day of bus ride, one full day hiking through the jungle and one day hiking on train tracks we arrived in Aguas Calientes, the city on the bottom of Machu Picchu. Next morning we started climbing the thousands of stone steps to Machu Picchu at 4:30h in the morning in pouring rain. Wet and freezing cold we arrived on the top. Rain was still pouring and the clouds were only permitting us a very limited view of Machu Picchu. But the bigger was the surprise when it finally stopped raining and the sky cleared up... The views are breathtaking. After an interesting guided tour we climbed the steep Huayna Picchu mountain to overlook Machu Picchu. Awesome views.

Well, and then came the hectic part of the day. We heard that there is a massive strike going on and neither busses nor trains are going. Damn, how are we going to go back to Cusco? Finding out that the tour groups organized private transport we left Machu Picchu, hurried back 2 1/2 hours along the train tracks to the place where the groups should be picked up, hoping we can find some free seats in a tour group bus. And yeah, we managed... :-). So there we were, sitting in a mini bus adopted by some nice tour group on our way back to Cusco. But it wasn´t as easy as this. There was a massive protest going on. Farmers were protesting about the ridiculously low prices they get for their products. And angry as they were, they somehow managed to block the roads with huge rocks and burning trees. It was so crazy. We drove for 9 hours or more in a small caravan, stopping every few meters to remove the roadblocks as we seemed to be the first cars that day/night passing the roadblocks, as the protesters finally went to bed. This was such a crazy day... but so funny.

And Machu Picchu.... you cannot describe it nor can the pictures really show it. You have to see it!


Cusco was a lot of fun as well. I visited plenty of archeological sites in the surrounding area, checked out the nightlife and just enjoyed this beautiful very touristy city.

Tonight it´s time to move on. I only have 2 months left in South America so I better get going. I´m taking the nightbus to Bolivia!!!! :-) Can´t wait to see this country I heard so many great things about.


06. April 2009, Cusco (Peru)

This morning I arrived in Cusco. On the bus ride I noticed that this was the first time since the end of February that I was travelling alone again. But well, luckily tomorrow Tom and Roger are arriving in Cucso as well and I will meet up with Alex and Dominic, two friends I met further north in Peru a few weeks ago. So yeah, I will survive this one lonely day^^.

Cusco is a beautiful city with lots and lots of beautiful buildings and plenty of archeological sites in the surrounding area. So now I´ll go explore the city and plan my programme for the next days.


04.-05. April 2009, Colca Canyon (Peru)

The trip to the Colca Canyon was cool. I hiked for two days through this stunning canyon with Tom and Roger (London). Hiking up and down these small steep treks along the sheer rock walls through boiling sun in altitudes around 4000m was pretty exhausting, but the beautiful landscape and views all along the trek were rewarding enough. Spending the night in a tiny village with simplest mudbrick houses and having dinner cooked on an open fire outside made this trip a typical peruvian experience. In another village local kids invited us to join their volleyball match on the street.

Before returning to Arequipa we stopped at the Cruz del Condor, a viewpoint where in the early mornings many condors can be seen. It was amazing to see these giant birds gliding gently through the air, flying circles through the canyon. All in all -another great trip!


Oh, and in the evening I saw the first Pre-Easter Procession in Arequipa. Easter is going to be massive... especially in Cusco.


03. April 2009, Arequipa (Peru)

Yeah, I´m back alive :-). The hike to Chachani was crazy. The altitude was killing me. The first day was pretty easy, after 3 hours drive up to an altitude of 5100m we hiked for about 2 hours to reach our base camp on 5300m for acclimatization. But with our heavy backpacks on carrying tents, sleeping bags, food etc. this short hike was enough. Luckily I felt quite okay on these 5100m just that I froze to death during the night in the tent- sleeping with 3 pairs of socks, 3 fleece jackets, 2 pairs of pants and a sleeping bag I still couldn´t sleep because of the cold. After a night without much sleep we got up at 1am (yes, during the night!) and started our big hike at 2am. Thank god we could leave most of our stuff in the base camp so that we only had to carry our food, water, ice axe and crampons. The hike was so tough. The altiude makes the smallest hill feel like climbing the Mount Everest. After a short while the altitude made us feel pretty bbad with headaches, feeling sick in the stomach and feeling dizzy. First Stephen (Canada) gave up, then Emma (London) and then also Andrés (Colombia) gave up because they couldn´t handle the altitude anymore. Reaching the top of the mountain Fatima in 5800m Andrew (Australia) and me, the last surviving people from our hiking group also gave up. It would have been another 2 1/2 to 3 hours hike to reach the 6075m of Chachani and we couldn´t handle it anymore. But well, we found out that from 16 tourists who started the hike to Chachani that day with other companies, only 2 made it to the top... so I don´t feel too bad. Even though I felt sick like a dog and like having the worst headache of my life (Yes, it´s worse than a hangover!), it was an awesome hike. We climbed with crampons and ice axe through snow and ice and reached an altitude of 5800m, having a great view of the snow covered mountains and of the city of Arequipa... That was rewarding enough! :-)

Yes I know I´m crazy ;-).


After checking out Satuday nights nightlife in Arequipa tonight, I´ll leave tomorrow morning to go to the Colca Canyon. It´s deeper than the Grand Canyon and you can see Condors there. My next update will be from Cusco, as this is where I´ll be going after doing some hiking through the Colca Canyon.


30. March 2009, Arequipa (Peru)

Now I´m in Arequipa. Here, the next adventure is waiting for me. On wednesday I´ll make a 2-day hike on the Chachani mountain. We´ll camp one night in a base camp on 5300m and reach the top of Chachani (6075m) with snow crampons on our feet the next day. Can´t wait for this adventure :-).

Today and tomorrow we (I´m still travelling with Emma from Britain and now Stephen from Canada joined us) hang around in the beautiful city Arequipa and explore the neighbouring towns as we need to acclimatize before going on our hike.


29. March 2009, Nazca (Peru)

Nazca was such an adventure. In a tiny airplane for 5 tourists plus pilot I flew over the Nazca Lines. Wooooow, it´s so impressive flying over these geometric line clearings made by the Nazca people between 800BC and 200AD, which were only discovered in the 1920s when the first airplanes flew over this region. Even today, archeologists are not sure what the meaning and reason for the creation of these gigantic Nazca lines was. It´s a mystery.


28. March 2009, Huacachina (Peru)

Huacachina is such an awesome place. It´s a little oasis in the middle of the desert, surrounded by sand dunes. The village has a lake in the centre with boats on it and the people are using for a refreshing swim. Around this lake there are 2 or 3 roads and that´s it. It´s such a cute town. We had a great time with an all inclusive BBQ in the night, having great food, Pisco Sour, Cuba Libra and beer... Oh yeah, a great party.

The next morning it was time to explore the desert. We went on a dune buggy ride through the desert. Wow, increadible. With full speed we were going up the dunes, nearly flying over the top and going down nearly without touching the ground... it was better than a ride on a rollercoaster. Every now and then the guy stopped the buggy on top of a dune, we took sandboards and went down the dune on the board. Cool, I always wanted to try was so much fun. A great day.

In the afternoon we made our way to Nazca.


26.-27. March 2009, Pisco (Peru)

After a fun night with some locals having dance classes for free, I left Lima. Together with Emma from Britain I went to Pisco see the "Poor mans Galapagos Islands". It was alot of fun. On the "Islas de Ballestas" we saw millions of birds, sea lions/ seals and penguins. Wow, I was scared they would drop a wet surprise on my head...they were so many. And all these sea lions, making funny noises... Really cool. After this boat trip, the tour continued by land. We went into the desert and saw beautiful beaches with canyons, saw flamingos and a red beach. It was a great trip. Especially the desert is just so amazing and the contrast with the deep blue skye and the ocean...


24. March 2009, Lima (Peru)

Yeah, I can walk again :-). Thanks to antibiotics and lots of other stuff the doctor gave me my foot is doing great. Yesterday I could finally do my hike and it was awesome. Together with my friend Kristine from Denmark I hiked for about 3 hours through a beautiful landscape with permanent view of snow capped mountains, arriving at the wonderful "Lake 69" at an altitude of 4500m. I was happy like a child, jumping up and down when I saw this lake with cristal clear blue water which is so bright blue that it nearly hurts in your eyes. After taking some pretty pictures, something unexpected happened.... believe it or not- it started snowing. My first snow in South America^^.

With the altitude I managed pretty well, thanks to our dope. We made some coca tea the night before and took it with. Haha, don´t worry I was not on drugs. Coca tea is indeed made with coca leaves where cocain is made from, but it is harmless and great for altitude sickness and all kind of other illnesses. And it really works. When I was hiking at Cotopaxi on about the same altitude, I felt so dizzy... Thanks to the coca tea I could nearly run up the mountain ;-), well not really. The altitude is crazy, you need to stop every few meters because you´re out of breath. There´s just no oxygen... But it was absolutely worth it. The hike was amazing.

Being exhausted from the day, I slept like a baby on the 9 hours busride to Lima.

Lima is okay. Nothing too special. An interesting visit today was the visit of the San Francis Monastery and Catacombes. It was a weird feeling seeing these thousands of bones and skulls... But it was interesting.


21. March 2009, Huaraz (Peru)

Together with a friend from Denmark I left Máncora by nightbus (9hrs) and arrived in Trujillo. Here we had a full-day cultural programme. We visited the Temples of the Sun and the Moon, which are very impressive and moew than 100 archeologists and students are working on them to discover and preserve more and more of these gigantic temples. After this we visited Chan Chan, the largest mud-brick citadel (20ha) dating back to the pre-hispanic era. It was stunning.

After this exhausting day we hopped on the next nightbus to reach the Cordillera Blanca after another 9 hours of busride.... Why does this country has to be so huge?!

This is where I am now. In Huaraz with view of the snow covered Cordillera Blanca mountain peaks. Having a swollen foot due to an infected mosquito bite I have to rest for a few days before hiking through the Cordillera. Damn it...

But well, this way I had time to finally update my blog again.


18. March 2009, Mancora (Peru)

I´m still in Mancora, enjoying the feeling of being on holidays :-). Yeah, it´s good to relax a bit on the beach or at the pool and to have a little break from always travelling, sightseeing, action, packing the backpack and spending a lot of time in busses. Might sound funny, but sometimes you need a holiday during a Round the World trip. So I really enjoyed my beach time.

Yesterday I rented a surfbord and tried surfing on my own... Hahaha, it was more lying on the board surfbord and watching the waves come and go than surfing. Either the waves were too big, they were already taken by other surfers, they were too close to the beach or I was just to afraid to take the wave^^. But well... it was nice seeing the exhausted surfers while lying on the bord floating through the ocean :-).

At night, it was time for my first St. Patricks day party! It was a fun night, the hostel was decorated all in green, we got green T-Shirts and listened to Irish music the whole night.


16. March 2009, Mancora (Peru)

Peru, here I am!!

After an adventurous bordercrossing (2 busses > 1 Taxi > Exit stamp Ecuador > Taxi > 1,5km walk > ride in a funny peruvian rickshaw (Rikscha) > Entry stamp Peru > 22km ride in the back of a police car :-), they were so friendly to give us a ride > 1 bus) I´m in Mancora now, enjoying the beach and temperatures around 35degrees. This morning I took a private surfing lesson. It was awesome. I managed to surf lots of waves :-). The rest of the day I´ll be relaxing on the beach or at the pool of the hotel-like partyhostel I´m staying at. So yeah, so far I really enjoy Peru!


14. March 2009, Cuenca (Ecuador)

Believe it or not, I´m going to cross the Peruvian border tomorrow!!! :-)

Yeah, I visited Ecuador quicker than I expected. I skipped the Ecuadorian beach and decided to go to the beach in Peru which will be on my way anyways. This way I can save some time which I will need in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.

The train ride in Riobamba was nice, but unfortunately we weren´t allowed to sit on the roof of the train. The reason was that about a week ago one tourist got hit by a rock during the train ride...dead. During our ride we had to stop several times to remove the rocks and mud slides from the track. Well, okay...maybe it was better they didn´t let us sit on the roof.

After saying bye to my travel companions Jon and Simone, I already found new friends to travel with :-), Janis and Jeanna from Canada. So together with them I´ll cross the border tomorrow and enjoy some beach time in Peru.


12. March 2009, Riobamba (Ecuador)

After visiting Guaranda and Salinas, two nice towns off the beaten track, I´m in Riobamba now. Visiting these two villages was a great experience. People were so friendly, all greating us and smiling at us. They are not used to see tourists, which makes it a very special visit. Salinas is a village situated in a lush green hilly landscape with little factories producing cheese, marmalade, chocolate, ceramics etc. and all of them can be visited.

Riobamba is THE place to go if you want to go on an exciting train ride. That´s what I´m doing tomorrow. You can sit on the roof of the train and enjoy the amazing landscape. After the train ride I´ll head on further south, to Cuenca... Peru is coming closer and closer :-).


08. March 2009, Quilotoa (Ecuador)

Today we visited one of the highlights in Ecuador. The Quilotoa crater with its emerald lake is so pretty. We rented a truck with driver and drove through the stunning countryside. I like Ecuador a lot. To me it is much more how I expected South America to be like. Colombia was more westernized... But here the people really look indigenous, many of them wearing colourful ponchos and hats and having charactristic faces.


06.-07. March 2009, Cotopaxi (Ecuador)

After some sightseeing, climbing into the top of the Basilika, having jumped over the Ecuator and having experienced Quito nightlife, I had the most important things crossed off my to-do list and was ready to leave Quito. Together with Jon (New Zealand) and Simone (Australia) I travelled to a hostel close to the Cotopaxi vulcano. It was amazing. The weather was perfect and from the hostel we had a perfect view of the snow peaked vulcano. After using the first day a bit to acclimatize (the hostel lies on an altitude of about 3500m), we made a hike through the stunning area and went up to an altitude of about 4700m. The lack of oxygen makes even the easiest hike very tough. But the amazing views are rewarding enough.

In the afternoon we continued our travels and arrived in Latacunga. From here we are going to start the Quilotoa circuit tomorrow.


04. March 2009, Quito (Ecuador)

And here I am. Yeah! I´m in Ecuador!

This morning we arrived on the border just before it opened. So we were lucky and did not have to wait in the long lines which are there during the day, waiting for 3 hours to get the Exit and Entry stamps. It was pretty exciting, as it was the first border crossing I made by land in my life. Everything went smoothly and I have 2 new stamps in my passport now :-). Moneychanging was also quite fun, trying to bargain with the guys on the street to get the best exchange rate. So I got rid of my last Columbian Pesos and have US Dollars now. Yeah, for those of you who didn´t know, Ecuador doesn´t use an own currency anymore. They only use US Dollar bills and have some Ecuadorian Dollar cent coins.

On the border I met a guy from New Zealand. After arriving in Quito and saying bye to my Australian friend who went to a city further south in Ecuador because she´s more or less just crossing Ecuador to go to Peru, we decided to go find a hostel together. We found a nice hostel with a terrace on the 5th floor and a great view over the city. Then we explored Quito. I heared so many bad things about Quito, but I´m glad I could get my own impression of the city. I like it. It reminds me a bit of Cartagena with many beautiful houses in colonial-style.

Tomorrow I´m planning to make a day trip to the Ecuator! After having crossed the Arctic Circle plenty of times last year, it´s time to go jump across the Ecuator! :-)


03. March 2009, Popayan (Colombia)

When seeing the rainy weather this morning, I spontaneously decided to leave San Augustin. And 30 minutes later I was already on my way to Popayan. So together with my Australian friend I visited the so called "white city". It was a nice little city with white kolonial houses. As I was so close to the Ecuadorian border now, I could not wait to cross it and so I left the same night by nightbus to the border.


02. March 2009, San Augustin (Colombia)

After having visited a pretty little coffee farm in Salento, I took the night bus to go to San Augustin. I was travelling with 3 Norwegeans, 1 Swedish, 1 Australian and 2 Germans I met in the hostel in Salento. We found a hostel where we could stay all together and explored the archeological sites of San Augustin during a 5 hour horse trip. It was so much fun that we nearly decided to buy horses and cross the border to Ecuador on horseback...but it would have taken 20-30 days, that was a bit too long.


28. February 2009, Salento (Colombia)

I´m heading more and more south, approaching Ecuador slowly. Right now I´m in the Zona Cafetera (Coffee region). Haven´t seen a coffee farm yet, but that´s my plan for tomorrow. Today I went to the Valle de Cocora, a stunning valley. I went together with a girl from Argentina I met, so I could practice my Spanish alot :-). We took a "jeep taxi" to reach the valley and I can tell you, it was an adventure. There is no limit of people they take... they manage somehow to squeeze them all in. Guess where my place was... I sat with 2 other people on the roof of the jeep. It was so much fun. On our way back, we were 15 people in, on and around this little jeep^^. The valley itself was so stunning. The first part went through a beautiful valley with hundreds of giant palm trees and then we walked through a cloud forest up to a viewpoint and returned again through the palm valley. Wow, amazing!


22.-26. February 2009, Medellin (Colombia)

Medellin, what a city. I could not believe they even have a metro system here. And as plenty of suburbs are situated in the mountains, the metro even includes a metro-cable-car.

Well, what did I do in Medellin... some sightseeing in the city, I´ve been to a soccer match of Medellin playing against some Uruguayan team in the Copa Santander Liberatores (like our Champions League), I went partying in the Zona Rosa (don´t worry, it´s not a red-light district ;-), just the name of THE party area with plenty of bars and clubs), and I made a day-trip to an amazing viewpoint over a huge artificial lake district and a village with the most colourful houses I´ve ever seen. Oh, and not to forget the evenings we spent in Christians luxurious appartment (I spent alot of time together with Christian from Swizerland and Steffi from Germany in Cartagena and Medellin) cooking and drinking cocktails.

21. February 2009, Baranquilla (Colombia)

Carnaval de Baranquilla, yeah!!!

It was so much fun. For the first time in my life I was not freezing on Carnival but sweating.. this was so good :-). Guys, you would have loved seeing these beautiful Colombian women in sexy short colourful skirts and wearing  feathers and flowers...

After a short while we were already integrated in a big Colombian family and celebrated, danced and drank rum and beer with them. They were so nice and after the parade, they invited us for dinner and we continued celebrating and dancing at their home. It was a real colombian experience. The crowd is not really dressed up with costumes like during carnival in Germany. But after 5 minutes your face will be "painted" all white and you´ll be full of foam.. Everyone buys an aerosol can with foam and a package of powder whiting (feingemahlene Kreide) and sprays/ blows it into other peoples faces. The colombians liked it even more to show us foreigners how they celebrate Carnival and so we were all white and full of foam.

We had lots of fun.

On Sunday night I`ll leave the beautiful city of Cartagena by nightbus arriving in Medellin on Monday morning.


20. February 2009, Cartagena (Colombia)

Some of you thought I was crazy, walking for 6 days through the jungle... so what are you saying when you see the pictures of me having a bath in a mud vulcano? :-)

It was so funny, we went to this vulcano. It was nothing more than a small hill with a huge mud hole. Then you climed into this grey mud and you got a massage in there. This was so funny. We killed ourselves laughing. Have a look at the pictures and you´ll laugh, too. Afterwards we went into a lake nearby and there were some women washing us... That´s service :-).

Oh, and did I tell you I had salsa class? Well it was offered by my language school and so we took the opportunity. But I still suck... 

My Spanish course finished and it helped... it´s a first step at least. Now I need to study my dictionary and try to increase my vocabulary so that I can manage to have proper conversations.

I still love Cartagena. I was enjoying the city life, going to nice restaurants and just relaxing. It feels good to stay in one place for a bit longer and have the feeling of really living in the city for a while, not being a tourist and having all days packed with programme.

Cartagena night life is a lot of fun as well. I went to a club yesterday with some friends and we loved it so much that we´re going there tonight again. They are mostly playing salsa music and people are really dancing salsa in the clubs. Good fun.

Tomorrow it´s time to experience Latin American Carnival :-). We´re going to Baranquilla, THE place to be for celebrating Carnival in Colombia.

Hope you all enjoy Carnival!


15. February 2009, Cartagena (Colombia)

Wow, Cartagena is such a lovely city. I am so impressed. The old part of the city is completely surrounded by a wall and is full of beautiful, well maintained colonial houses. The houses are very colourful and with beautiful mostly wooden balconies. I would never have expected a city like this in Colombia. It looks so luxurious, so well-maintained and clean. During the night there are even beautiful horse-drawn carriages taking tourists (mostly colombian tourists) through the city. It looks so unreal that it feels like you´re walking through film setting. 

It´s a very touristy city which is for a change nice as well.

I loved this city so much that I spontanously decided to stay here for the whole next week and take Spanish classes. I´m getting along somehow with my Spanish at the moment, but it´s more sign language that I´m speaking :-). Locals are really nice and helpful here and it´s such a pity that I cannot have proper conversations with them (hardly any local speaks English). So I hope this Spanish course will help a bit.

Another good reason to make the Spanish course here and not somewhere else is, that this way I have a reason to stay a bit longer and I can celebrate Carnival in Baranquilla (together with Rio and Salvador it´s one of the biggest carnivals in South America). So yeah, that´s how quickly plans can change :-).


13. February 2009, Cartagena (Colombia)

Today I decided to move on to Cartagena, further west on the carribbean coastline of Colombia. Everyone said Cartagena is such a beautiful city, so I´m excited how it´s going to be like. I just met another German girl who´s sleeping in my dorm and we´re going to have dinner together tonight. Tomorrow then I´ll check out the city and meet up with another friend I met a week ago in Taganga. So you see, even though I´m travelling alone, I´m never alone. As soon as you arrive at a new place, you already meet other nice people.


10.-12. February 2009, Tayrona National Parc (Colombia)

After a horrible boat trip of one hour resulting in plenty of bruises on my bum, I arrived in Tayrona. It´s a pretty National Parc with sandy beaches and white/ grey rocks, palm trees and jungle. I had a good time there, meeting lots of people I knew from the Lost City and other places I´ve been before. But after two further nights in a hammock on a campsite with very dirty bathroom facilities, I felt like I need to go back to civiliztion. So here I am, back in Taganga after a nice shower in a clean bathroom :-).


04.-09. February 2009, Lost City Tour (Colombia)

Hey my friends, I´m back to civilization :-). My 6-day jungle trip to the Lost City was amazing. It was one of the biggest adventures I had in my life. We were walking through sun and rain, water and mud, through breast-deep rivers and were passing a river in a cage, were meeting Cogi Indians (a real Indian tribe living in the middle of the jungle like hundreds of years ago), were sleeping in hammocks during the night,... It was such an adventure. We were only a small group: a French guy, an Israelian guy, me and our local guide. It was sometimes so exhausting when walking 2 hours only uphill and in this extreme high humidity...But I managed. And was able to keep track with the guys. I don´t have strong legs, but I do have a strong mind and if I really want something, then I can do it. My mind is stronger than my body, that´s something I learned about me during this trip. I would sit here for ages trying to explain what I experiences, but no words can explain them. Walking through this deep deep jungle and being part of this increadible nature is such a feeling you cannot describe.

Oh, I had one experience which was really horrible. I had a tarantula sitting on my head and I´m not kidding. I felt a kind of nylon yarn on my arm anmd thought my t-shirt would unravel, but when I pulled it just became longer and longer. Then I felt something on my head and when I took my hand and felt what it was, this tarantula was jumping on the ground. I really had this disgusting thing sitting on my head. Oh my god, I was really disgusted. The locals told me it was only a brown tarantula and it´s the black one which is poisonous, this one would only have hurt badly if it would have stung me... Well, this didn´t really make it better for me...

The Lost City, which was the destination of our 3-day hike was amazing. These old Indian ruins have only been found a few decades ago and are open for tourists only since 1981. It´s a magic atmosphere there and the fact that you cannot reach it by bus or any other means of transport (only a hike like we did makes it possible to reach this Lost City) makes it even nicer, as there are not many tourists. What you wouldn´t imagine is also, that there is quite a lot of military in the middle of the jungle you have to be registered with your passport number to be allowed to walk through this part of the jungle. The reason for this is, that about 10 years ago a group of tourists were kidnapped there and since this time there is military presence. I took a nice photo with them.

I will upload some pictures as soon as I can. Unfortunately this PC is not able to read my camera card..don´t know why.

By the way, those who worry about me... I´m doing great and I feel much safer here than I thought I would. It really does not feel unsafe here and I keep my eyes open, so don´t worry :-).

Tomorrow morning I will go to Tayrona National Park. It´s in the jungle as well with some really beautiful beaches. So you won´t get any updates during the next days.


03. February 2009, Taganga (Colombia)

And here I am now... I´m in Taganga, near Santa Marta on the Carribbean coastline of Colombia. You cannot believe how hot it is here. When just walking down to the beachfront, my face was so red and I was sweating like I´ve never been sweating before. The humidity is quite high and the sun is burning... I couldn´t move too much today as I first have to cope with the heat. I was only relaxing in a hammock with sea view, while reading a book. That´s how nice life can be :-). But I really need to relax, because during a night in a bus you don´t get so much sleep (even though the busses are impressively comfortable here). But the better reason is: I´m going on a 6 day hike through the jungle tomorrow. It´s an organized trip to reach the Lust City, some old ruins of the Tayrona Indians in the middle of the jungle. It´s going to be tough, but as I´ve heared it´s an absolute highlight and a great experience. So I´ll have lots and lots to tell when I´m back I guess. So don´t expect an entry for the next week. There won´t be internet in the jungle ;-).


02. February 2009, San Gil (Colombia)

I believe I can fly..... I believe I can touch the sky....

Paragleiding was so much fun today :-). Unbelievable. It´s so relaxing flying above a beautiful landscape and feeling like a bird. Cool. Don´t worry, I wasn´t doing it all alone, it was a tandem flight. Just when the guy started to spin, my stomach felt a little upside down...but it was fun.

Then I took the night bus for about 12 hours to arrive on the coast.


01. February 2009, San Gil (Colombia)

Well, I know January has 31 days, but yesterday nothing special happened, so I decided to skip the day.

Today time came to do some adventure sports. I went rafting. They offered an easy rafting trip and a tough one...well you should know which one I took :-). Wow this was so much fun. We spent about 2 1/2 hours on the river, including a little lunch break. The rapids were ranging from grade 3 to grade 5 (grade 5 is the highest you can go on a raft). We had good fun.

Oh, some people asked me how expensive Colombia is. I can tell you, I love the prices. A full meal with a soup, a main dish with meat or chicken, rice, potatoes etc and a 1/2 liter of juice costs about 2 euro. A beer is 0,40euro, a piece of pizza 0,65 euro, and 1/2 liter of fresh made fruit juice or fruit milk shake ( I fell in love with those) is 0,50 euro. A dorm bed costs about 6 euro per night and for the paragleiding tomorrow I´ll pay 20 euro. So I can´t complain, I´m enjoying life here :-).


30. January 2009, San Gil (Colombia)

Today was a great day. Together with a girl from New Zealand I made a trip to the Juan Curi Waterfalls, close to here. It was a hike up a hill through a gorgeous kind of jungle. The thin air and hot sun up here, together with a steep path with ropes and ladders made the trip quite a challenge. But it was great. The 108m high waterfall in this scenery is very beautiful. Afterwards we went to a nice little botanical garden and walked through the village.

Tomorrow I´m going on a rafting trip and the day after it´s time to try paragleiding :-).


29. January 2009, San Gil (Colombia)

I left Bogota and after a journey of about 10 hours I arrived in San Gil. But the long trip was definitively worth it. I didn´t even want to close my eyes for a minute because I would have missed another piece of beautiful landscape. It was just an amazing drive. Hills up and down, surrounded by banana trees, bamboo, palm trees and plenty of trees and other plants I´ve never seen before. Every now and then appeared a house with a cow, horse, dunkey or goat tied up in front of the house. So nice.

In the evening I just played a board game with some others and sat here chatting to other travellers.


28. January 2009, Bogota (Colombia)

Today I made a trip to Zipaquira, about 1 1/2 hours by bus. Zipaquira is a nice small city with a lovely little shopping street, a nice plaza and the famous Salt Cathedral. It's a huge cathedral inside a salt mine. It was quite impressive. Additionally I also joined a tour through the salt mine wearing a helmet with a lamp, looking like a real mine worker ;-). We even got a fake explosion simutated. It was a really nice day trip. Tomorrow I'll leave Bogota. it's a nice city but well, it's a city... and to really get an impression of the country I need to go and explore smaller villages and see the beautiful landscape the country has to offer... I'm going to San Gil, a centre for adventure the right place for me. It's about 8 hours north of Bogota.


27. January 2009, Bogota (Colombia)

After a rainy arrival on Monday evening, I had a beautiful sunny day (resulting in a little sunburn in my face). While walking through Candelaria antigua, the older part of the city where my hostel is located too, I felt like really being arrived in South America. The houses are all painted in different colours. In combination with this blue sky it looks so colourful that it seems unreal.

In the afternoon I went with an English girl and a Canadian guy up the hill Montserrate by cable car to enjoy an amazing view of the city. There I could for the first time feel the hight of the country... We were on 3152 meters above sea level and you can feel you get tired so quickly.

And in the evening I visited the 'museo de oro', the gold museum which was nice... but after a seeing the 100th piece of gold became a little boring. That was my first day in Colombia.


26. January 2009, Bogotá (Colombia)

The moment has come, now my trip has really started... My dream of a trip around the world is reality.

I'm there! I safely arrived in Bogotá, Colombia. It was a long trip, but everything went well. I'm in a cute hostel now where I'm hoping to find people to join on their way through Colombia.

Oh, and guess how many kilo's I'm travelling with... My luggage weight was less than 10 kg!!! I was so proud :-).

That's it for today, didn't see much of the city yet, because I only arrived in the evening.

Just quickly wanted to let you know that I arrived safely!