Looking back at five months of travel…

I never noticed I had missed the singing sparrows until I walked up to my parents house. Springtime and the changing of the seasons is so magical and something you don’t really have in Southamerica. But except for the birds everything was so quiet! No honking, no music, no screaming, no chatter – it was as if someone had turned off the volume.

Not one week back in Germany and I already miss the crazyness and chaos of Peru and Bolivia. Although my trip was different from what I expected it was defnitely just as amazing as I had hoped. If you have been reading my blog from the start you might remember my first post where I tried to come up with some personal goals for the journey. Today I would like to have a look at them again and let you know what became of them:

  • Being aware of my needs and taking good care of myself: I defnitely did a good job at taking care of myself physically and mentally – and it was a lot easier than expected! Fortunately I didn’t really get into many uncomfortable, let alone dangerous situations and the longer I travelled the less challenging situations I got into. I felt comfortable and confident so quickly that the hardest situations for me were saying goodbye to some friends I made on the road. I I guess that just shows I had a great time with them.
  • Learn peruvian embroidery and / or weaving: Sadly, the workaway host that was going to teach me this cancelled on me and then my priorities gradually changed. I would still love to learn peruvian handicrafts, but other plans came up whenever I could have made time to learn it. I did however learn macrame from Melina and went totally overboard with buying supplies! You will find me in the streets trying to sell my braceletts to other hippies…
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Some examples of my new skills

  • Going on a multiday hike in the Andes: If I over-accomplished one goal it must have been this one. My love for trekking grew so much during this journey and each hike excelled the previous one in some way. In addition to some other day hikes I walked with luggage for the first time, went up an incredibly high volcano, made my way to Macchu Piccu by foot and spent six days hiking and camping at over 4500m (including a hailstorm and several passes). Unsurprisingly my legs got really strong and my hiking boots fell apart completely.
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Ausangate Trail – so far the most amazing hike of my life!

  • Asking people more questions about their passions, views and inspirations (instead of e.g. their jobs or which sites they visited): Ok, I didn’t completely skip the small talk, but sometimes I got more creative with my questions. I also spent a lot of time with some people which allowed us to naturally end up having more meaningfull conversations. Also I noticed that as a rule of thumb the longer people travel and the less tight their scedule the more interesting the conversations usually are.
  • Explore the Amazon: The Amazon was defnitely a personal highlight. My granddad always dreamt of seeing the Amazon djungle (he never did) and I get why. It is amazing!
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Melina swimming in what later on becomes the Amazon river

  • Do some yoga: I’ll be honest – of all of my goals I defnitely failed on this one the most. I can count the times I practiced yoga with my fingers and I have no good excuse because each time I actually did yoga it felt amazing! So this is a goal that will stay on my list to hopefully become more of a routine in the future.
  • Write a diary to hold on to beautiful memories and new ideas: In five months I filled more than 150 pages with memories, notes, tickets and occasionally even convinced other people to contribute to my journal. I also bought pencils to add a little colour and soon my journal became my most valuable posession. Yes it was difficult to catch up with all the stuff that happened, but I am so gald I managed to write a little bit about each day to prevent forgetting about all the little precious moments and many people I met.
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One of the beautiful contributions to my diary

  • Approach new people openly: Not that I was ever really bad at this, but I guess I got better. I stopped even thinking about it and just talked to people when I felt like it. Yes there was the awkward moment when I couldn’t come up with any good questions, but it happens to the best of us.
  • Regularly share photos and blog about experiences: You judge if I did an ok job on this – but honestly, I enjoyed sharing things on this blog and will continue to both travel and occasionally share stuff with you!
  • Take the time to mindfully enjoy new places: I spent three months just in Bolivia so I was relatively slow. Of course being slow doesn’t guarantee mindfullness, but it defnitely helps! And I did improve over the months really looking with my eyes and feeling a place with my senses and not just snapping pictures without stopping to actually enjoy it. Occasionally I had to remind myself to take my time to lok and forget about my camera but all in all I did improve.
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Enjoying the sunrise and changing colours at rainbow mountain (not pictured)

As you can see my evaluation is pretty positive so my plan to plan less and enjoy more worked out! Of course this was really just the start of my journey as I plan to continue exploring parts of Europe and even Africa until spring 2017 so we will see how my goal evolve from here…

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Pisac is the new Samaipata

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Souvenir shop in Pisac

Every once in a while when travelling you find a new home. Not just a comfy hostel, but a place you become part of so much that the urge to explore almost vanishes. When I first knocked on the door of “El Parche Rutero” Alvero opened and greeted me with a hug, Lucho instantlyt offered me some cold beer and not five minutes later I was helping to make pancakes. It was already then that I realized I would probably stay longer than the two or three planned nights. To be honest I would still be at this great hostel if my flight back to Europe wasn’t in three days…

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El Parche aka the psytrance hostel

El Parche is owned by Felix, an Artesano who travels a lot to festivals in Europe to sell his stuff there. He also organizes monthly goa full moon parties in the sacred valley together with Lucho and the psytrance influence defnitely shows. Everythiung from the spacious kitchen to the chill-out area and the sunny patio is decorated with artesania, posters of past festivals and beautiful murals.

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Hanging out in the sunny patio

On my first night we went to a psytrance party in the village and I got to know some great people. Beer was passed around, there was fire, good music and lots of dancing. And this nice atmosphere stayed, although the hostel was a little more relaxed. During my two weeks in Pisac I went to the ruins twice (at 4 o’clock in the morning in order to avoid the hefty entrance fee), enjoyed the thermal baths in Lares and visited the inca salt terraces in Maras, but mostly I just chilled at the hostel.

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Salt terraces near Maras

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Pisac ruins at sunsise

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Landscapes of the sacred valley

Each day someone would cook for almost the entire hostel and in the evenings there were fire shows and cuddly movie nights. It felt like hanging out with friends I had known for years and when Melina arrived things got even better! Her first two days were spent exchanging stories about what happened after we went our seperate ways and later we took lots of time to improve my macrame skills.

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Melina, Lucho, Nicola, Cynthia and me enjoying one of the great communal meals

But I didn’t just see Melina again, I also ran into more than a handfull of friends I had met in Bolivia: Lennard who I volunteered with in the djungel, Alan in whose house I stayed for a while in Samaipata, the argentinian family with their three children… It was great to catch up again and and I defnitely made lots of new friends too: Kent from Southafrica who shared his Ayahuasca experiences and always knew a fitting quote, Christine the fellow psycologist who taught me about logotherapy, Nicola who made the most delicious wraps from scratch and was always great to talk to, Sam the Canadian with  excellent german skills and of course Alvero and Lucho who basically ran the hostel while producing incredible artesania and designing flyers for the next party and still managed to spent lots of time with us.

I could go on about the many other amazing people I met but you get the picture. I had a great time and my two weeks in Pisac were the best end of this trip I could imagine. As we say in Germany: Wenns am schönsten ist sollte man gehen (if it can’t get any better one should leave)!

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On our way to the thermal baths