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Rio and the colours of life

Rio de Janeiro. This city sheer fascinated me ever since I took my first step out of the plane. It has so many different faces, so many facets. You are surrounded by colours, sounds and people. It’s the most vivid city I’ve ever been to. So many people are out on the streets, so many cars and buses are going around. So many impressions, I was completely overwhelmed at first. But there I was. Directly in the middle and ready to get to know the most famous Brazilian city.

At first, of course, I had to discover the most famous sights simply everybody goes to. However, I wasn’t there all by myself but with my boyfriend, a real carioca, who’s been born and raised in Rio by my side. So, I got quite an insight of “normal” Brazilian life as well – apart from all the tourists and sights.

Let’s start with the most obvious sight though – Christ the Redeemer. This giant statue of Christ opening his arms while watching the city is situated on top of a hill. It was built and established due to celebrating the 100 years of independency from Portugal. The catholic church founded the stature as they wanted a sight representing their religion in the country. This place is just always crowded with tourists who even lay down on the floor in front of the Christ to get their perfect selfie. But the Christ is not all there is to it. Up on the top I had an amazing view over the whole city. It’s so big you can’t even see all parts of it. Sun shining on my face, wind playing with my hair I could have stood there for hours just absorbing the beauty of Brazil.

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View from the top of the hill of Christ the Redeemer

Copacabana. The famous beach. With its long promenade it’s one Rios most touristic areas. While I was there the sea was still a bit too cold to swim as it was just spring yet, but the beautiful beach attracted a lot of people anyway. If you sit down there, you can watch the sea on the one side, the city lying behind your back and hills to your left and right. A lot of food shops opened at the beach, a lot of people were constantly marching up and down the promenade selling food, drinks or even bikinis or towels.

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The famous beach Copacabana

There, I noticed the division of class in Brazil for the first time. As all the people selling stuff at the beach had darker skin I began to wonder if there might be a relation between skin colour and poverty. And sadly, there is. The poorest people who live in the slums, the Favelas or sell things at the beach or in the streets always have darker skin. This division really shocked me even though it makes perfect sense. Those are the remains of slavery that Brazil still didn’t succeed to overcome. The poor stay poor, because they grow up in a favela and can’t go to a good school – or no school at all if is none. Without a proper education, the children will end up like their parents and the vicious circle takes its course.

Mountains. Dark green with colourful spots in between. A beautiful picture. A dark reality. The colourful houses everybody talks about, which are all over postcards and pictures. The Favelas. Slums. People so poor we can’t even imagine. At the time I was in Rio shootings in Favelas were reported nearly every day. It was a time you should rather stay out of them. Some touristic companies who offer Favela tours kept running during this time though. Essentially, these tours just take you into a Favela to watch the poorest of the poor. For me, these tours are simply too much. It is just not right to shove the people their poverty right in their faces. Maybe even taking pictures of them.  Treated like animals in the zoo only that they are watching people. It’s rude and insensitive even to consider going on a tour like that and it’s definitely not the right way to get to know these places. If you really want to there, go with someone who knows the city, but not with a guided tour. If the roles were reversed, you wouldn’t want to be watched like that as well.

The Favelas in Rio are not all equally bad or dangerous, some of them are controlled by the police or calmer in general. But some of them are controlled by criminal organisations. The biggest organisation is Cormando vermelho which is ruling a lot of Favelas and is operating in other countries as well – like Peru, Bolivia or Venezuela. Their criminal activities start with bank robbery or fraud and range to assault, drug trafficking and murder. The organisation also kind of take care of the people who live there. Sometimes they give them food or other things in order to spread their word or to gain loyalty. Contrary to what you can read in most of the western the media, people in Favelas are included in the Brazilian society. The often also work in the city, but they just don’t pay for anything. They don’t pay rent in the favela, they don’t pay for electricity as they get the cables from somewhere else. Since the government doesn’t really care about what they are doing, they are also not punished for it.

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A Favela. Not the best picture, but you get an idea where you can spot them in the city.

Brazil is a beautiful country, Rio is an awesome city, don’t get me wrong. But there are a lot of downsides to life there as well I simply couldn’t ignore. If you come from Europe you might be shocked seeing more people sleeping on the streets than you’re used to. Or just seeing poverty in general. What I found amazing though, is that people there help each other. Once I saw a woman with two small children out in the streets selling peanuts. In Vienna, I’m used to people ignoring street vendors, maybe one in a hundred stops for them. In Brazil, that’s different. A lot of people bought her peanuts, because they could see she needed the money. The same thing appears if a street vendor enters a bus. He will never leave without having sold a few items at least.

So, from the Brazilian lifestyle we can learn a lot. Helping each other as much as taking life not too seriously. One situation in particular stuck to my head. We were driving with the bus to a quarter named Lapa – which is the party district of Rio. People were already drinking wine and just having a good time. The bus ride was quite bumpy as the roads in Rio are old and covered with a lot of potholes. Buses drive over them so rapidly that you are jumping up and down on your seat the whole time. Due to that bumpy ride someone ended up spilling the red wine he was drinking on the white T-shirt of another guy. However, the guy even though all covered in wine didn’t even care and they went one having a good time. That really got me thinking – because I’m convinced that same scenario would have ended completely different in Vienna. People definitely hold grudge longer there. So, overcome our seriousness and just live – that’s something we should adopt from them.

Going out in Rio was also way different from what I was used to. Of course, going out was different when I went to Chile as well, but Brazil took it to a whole new level. Lapa, as I mentioned before, is the place to be if you want to party. Crowded, a lot of people already dancing and singing in the streets. Music coming form every corner. Reggaetón and Funk, you’re completely caught up in the atmosphere. It’s chaotic, but it’s a fun chaos. Food places can be found everywhere in the streets and of course- a lot of places were selling Caipirinha. Going into a club everybody knew how to dance – something I can’t generally say for Austrians or even for myself. Brazilians really feel the music differently than we do.

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. The lake in Rio is a beautiful little oasis. Sun is shining on the blue water, you can rent a boat there or just go around the lake by bike. That’s what we did. Just biking alongside green trees on the one side, the lake on the other. It’s a great place to relax or run as a lot of people do here. At the lake you also have an amazing view on the city and the sugarloaf.

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Lagoa de Freitas

Remains of the Olympics. The Olympics cost Brazil a lot of money and a lot of people were against them. The country has other problems and the money would have been needed elsewhere. The government got a lot of money from the games though – due to corruption a lot of politicians enriched themselves during the games. Today the Olympic boulevard is a souvenir of the games. This part of the city has been completely rebuilt. It’s a part of the city that seems a bit out of place. The Olympic boulevard is so clean, so new and modern. The opposite from the rest of Rio. Faces of different nationalities covering a huge wall, watching everyone who walks through. It’s a beautiful part of the city, that’s for sure. But if seems like a mask, like an image just built for the Olympics. If you just see that part of the city, you wouldn’t get the full spirit of Rio.

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One of the many faces representing different nationalities on the wall of the Olympic Boulevard

My souvenir of brazil went under my skin. Literally. It all started with a couch surfing meeting we went to. Situated in a hostel, there already were staying a lot of nice and fun people who travelled as well. The first one I got to know there was an argentinian bartender. During the evening I learned he also did tattoos. As I really wanted to get one while I was there, that perfectly fit my needs. So, I didn’t hesitate for long, went to the tattoo place the next day and a half an hour later it was done. I didn’t want to leave without a souvenir that went deeper than just a statue of Christ. I wanted something to always remind me of the time I was there, because it really changed my point of view on certain things once and for all.

 

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Buzios and the Paralelepípedos

Brazil. How long have I been waiting for you? Too long indeed. Now I finally found myself at the airport in Rio about to be picked up by the man of my dreams. Only that I wasn’t dreaming at all – it was just my dream finally coming true. I was fully awake and still unable to believe it.

Soon we were off to Buzios, a bit outside of Rio where we were about to stay next. Driving through Rio I was already amazed. So many colours so many mountains. Just marvellously beautiful. It didn’t even matter I got sick on my way and lay down with fever the first four days. Because when these days were over I could finally enjoy the city at the fullest.

Buzios the city of statues and Paralelepípedos. The second one being my favourite portugese word of all times. It literally means cobblestone and is not even that useful to know but I still liked to funny sound of it. And you can impress any portugese speaker telling him you know it. There also were statues everywhere – I even found Brigitte Bardot. The bronze statues are places alongside the beach throughout the city. You can even find some fisherman with their nets at the sea placed directly in the sea. Of course, statues and Paralelepípedos are not all there is to Brazilian culture. I should know – I learned from the best. From a real carioca – someone born and raised in Rio.

Food. Kind of the most important thing when you go abroad. Well, Brazil won’t disappoint you there. Tropical fresh fruits in shapes you didn’t even see before. Green coconuts which were completely new for me. I guess we Europeans only know the brown and hairy ones we get in our supermarkets. Cheap mangos, starfruits, bananas, passionfruit – I was in fruit heaven. Acai bowls and all the fancy food we would buy a fortune for cheap and ten times better than at home. So, trace the roots of your fruits you won’t regret it.

Roots and Nutella – and never mix it up. So, I got quite a bit of an insight in Brazilian culture and what can’t you miss getting to know another country? Exactly, their roots. And nothing describes the concept of roots versus Nutella better than comparing their drinking habits. Trust me, to really be accepted you want to adopt the concept of roots as well. So, let me explain it a bit further. Being roots means you drink every beer at every temperature out of a plastic cup while eating fries and listening to a drunk song. Whereas a Nutella beer drinker doesn’t drink corn beer, his beer has to have a solid 6°C temperature and eating fries with it would be a no-go – rather would he eat it with fish or fine meat. One glass for each beer of course and analysing the taste is also a must. So, you can decide now which concept suits you best. For me it is clear – you should always stick to your raiz (roots). So, join a few Brazilians to try out their cheapest beer and you’ll get a lot of the brazilian lifestyle.

Cachaça. If we’re already talking about drinking, let’s stay there for a bit. Cachaça, the typical rum of brazil. Strong and definitely effective, but also delicious. Especially if you find a home-brewed one they sell in tiny shops all around the city. It’s also a perfect souvenir to bring home. Of course, Cachaça is also part of their most famous Cocktail, Caipirinha, which definitely guarantees you a fun time.

Another thing I really likes in Buzios were the rocks. Yes, rocks. At least I am holding a special memory of them as I managed to fall off one while climbing to the top. I even kept a scar on my back as a souvenir. However, it was worth it. The view up on the rocks is amazing. I was directly facing the sea with the waves hitting against the rocks underneath and the salty water splashing up, floating the lower rocks completely. Reminding us of the incredible power of the sea. Trying to keep up with Brazilians you have to climb these rocks as well – even if they will be jumping over them so easily while you might be scared of your life trying not to trip and fall.

Buzios by night. A stunning view. Gazing over the sea, watching the boots lying at the haven. A lot of expensive beach clubs we couldn’t afford at the promenade. Just sitting around under palm trees and streets made of paralelepipedos drinking cheap beer directly out of the can was completely enough. During the night the city was full of life as well. Reggaeton playing in restaurants, a lot of people out on the streets, eating, singing and dancing salsa. A lot of popcorn stands out on the streets, the salty-buttery scent of corn filling the air. Not a lot of light out on the streets, the city was appearing in a dim- orange light. A perfect end to a lot of perfect days. But it wasn’t the end of my stay in Brazil for sure. That stay had only just begun.

 

 

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My little paradise

Easterisland – it’s a wonder of the world and it’s a wonder of the world for a reason. It’s so quiet and calm you can really call it a little paradise.

I did not stay there for too long, but as the island is very small even 4 days were enough to get to know this beautiful place.

On this island I stayed with a couple from Couchsurfing. They moved from Santiago to the Easterisland 3 years ago and haven’t been able to leave ever since. The two were just so amazed of this peaceful little place is they never even considered to leave. Having been to Santiago already I can see where they are coming from. Country and island are nothing alike, are not even situated close to each other. A 5 hours flight away from the country, surrounded by nothing but water the endlessness of the sea. The island seems so isolated, so lonely but that’s the real beauty of it. If you need to calm down, get your thoughts in order or just figure some things out, this is the perfect place to do so. You’ll have all the quietness you need to think.

As my hosts had to work every day I was there they didn’t have so much time to show me around. So, this was the only time I was alone for a bit. Having been on the road for a bit already I was a bit exhausted and needed a few days to calm down. The timing to be here couldn’t have been more perfect. I just rented a bike and discovered the island on my own. Within 4 days I did my best to discover every little corner it had to offer. Biking up and down the 3 main streets of the island I could appreciate the beauty of the island. Blossoming trees, green grass, horses and dogs running around everywhere. I’ve never seen so many wild horses in my entire life. It was beautiful to see untouched nature in that way.

Riding my bike along the coast I discovered a lot of the traditional Moais–the famous sculptures made of stone. A few remainings of the old Polynesian cultures who once ruled this island. Some natives still live her but due to tourism and a lot of foreigners moving to the island it is not their island anymore. However, the ones who remained there try to keep up their traditions as best as they can. They speak their own language, cook their own traditional meals and live a very simple life.

I even got to know a native Rapanui – which was surprising because I rarely saw other people there. While I was riding my bike through the abandoned streets I never spotted more than a few cars and once I left the centre I just had an empty road ahead of me.

While driving to the coast I crossed an old exhibition about wartime with a native Rapanui taking care of it. I was the only one visiting it, so we soon started to talk. He told me about his life there and about his cultural background. Then he even invited me into his little house and offered me coffee and bread. There I had one of the most interesting conversations of my whole trip.

The native Rapanui don’t agree how they are treated by the government. They are governed by Chile and depending on the country. Every two weeks a ship full of food and supplies is coming from the country of Chile to the island. Without this support people would soon have nothing to eat anymore. They don’t have their own farms or grow their own food. Everything they have comes from the country. However, they want to be independent and have an own government as most of them do not identify as Chilean. However, the Chilean government itself doesn’t want to hand over the governmental power – presumably because of the income generated by tourism on the island.

Afterwards I listened to the problems the Rapanui told me I was only the second person he invited into his home. He normally doesn’t even like tourists as he has nothing in common with them, he said. But with travellers, apparently, it wasdifferent. I could see how much he loved his home and he also stated to never wanting to live anywhere else in the world. That’s the general opinion of people living there. They might go abroad for a while, but everyone who ever left eventually came back again as they can’t live in a different country forever.

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Survivors of Death Valley

Death Valley, Moon Valley, Lagoons, salt flats and the red rocks. So many fascinating places to see, so many wonders of the desert yet to discover.

Valle de la Luna – Moon Valley. My first trip into the desert and outside of San Pedro. It was my second day in the desert when I decided to walk around in San Pedro for a bit, not even sure what I was about to do with my day. Too many offers, too many stunning places, too much room for decision. Luckily, San Pedro was small enough to coincidently run into a Brazilian girl I met the night before. She had already planned to visit the Moon Valley and I quickly joined her. We started off visiting the three statues of Mary – three statues made of salt and sand in the desert you could only interpret as women with a lot of imagination. Then we went on to the sand dunes which were bigger than I expected. It took us an hour to climb onto the top as it was also not that easy to move forward with our feet getting stuck in the sand all the time. But we made our way to the top anyways, where we had an amazing, endlessly seeming view over the whole desert. We couldn’t stay there much longer, a little sandstorm nearly blew us away. So we quickly left for the caves o the desert. There it was so dark we had to use our flashlights the find our way. The walls of this over thousand-year-old cave was covered in salt. Fascinated we even tried to taste if it really was salt or not every time. The last place of our tour was a gorge where we waited for the sunset. Standing on the sides, seeing the sun slowly sinking down at the horizon. The sky turning first yellow, then orange, then red. The sun getting smaller and smaller until it disappeared like behind the mountains. A beautiful end of a beautiful day.

Valle de los Muertos – Death Valley and my favourite part of the desert. That day I decided to discover the desert on my own. So I just grabbed a bike and started to drive to the Valley. When I entered I was immediately struck by this lonely but beautiful place. So quiet and peaceful, no noises to be heard. Not even the wind was hushing around the dunes. Everything was still and silent. There was no one except me. No other people, no animals, not even insects or plants. Nothing. Red sad, stones and salt surrounding me. The sun burning, no clouds in the sky. Just a single path leading uphill. So I went on with my bike to follow it. The Valley had a viewpoint up on a hill I had to climb at the end – and it was worth all the way. On top I had an amazing view all over the Valley and beyond. I could even see San Pedro seeming even smaller from above and the mountains at the horizon. A breath-taking scenery.  Everything seemed so small from up there – a cheesy phrase, but true. When you see what nature has to offer, what amazing wonders our world can built you just forget everything else for a while. There’s something so much bigger than all these small worries one might have. An experience like that can shift your priorities in life. If you stay there long enough it won’t leave you unaffected.

Up there I met one of the most amazing people of my whole trip. I sat down on a bench just gazing over the Valley and a girl sat down next to me. We started talking and I immediately noticed a German accent in her voice. She indeed was from Germany, but studyed in Santiago. We became friends right away, walking downhill together and talking the whole time. Sometimes you just have this special connection with a person – and she definitely was one of them. We even met up another time in San Pedro the next day, to discover the city together.

Salt flats and red rocks – my last tour in the desert. And the most intense one. We had to get up quite early in the morning to see the sunrise at the salt flats. When we arrived the sun wasn’t up already so it was still freezing cold. But the sky was already turning pink and blue. Flamingos standing in the water, the lagoon layaing in front of us. Behind us the salt flats. A fascinating place. They even built a path for us to go through the salt flats, because the crystals were too sharp to walk over. Right there, looking over the beautiful scenery we had a litte breakfast. There were two Brazilians taking this tour as well with whom I got along great. They were also travelling together so we soon started talking about travelling and all the experiences we had yet to make. Afterwards our group went on driving uphill to the mountains. The landscape changed, soon we were standing in front of another lagoon. The red rocks. Rocks so bright red and water so turquoise blue I couldn’t even believe it was real. A perfect mixture of colors, another spectacular miracle of nature. It was a bit muddy so you could easily sink into the ground. We all ended up with our feet and jeans coverd in mudd. Then we moved on to the next destination. The landscape surrounding us changed, suddenly we weren’t in such a dry part of the desert anymore. Suddenly there was grass growing in the desert and we even spotted a group of vicugnas. Behind them a mountain with its top covered in snow. Snow. In the middle of the desert. I was amazed how that was even possible. I was even about to see more snow when we went on to our destination in the mountains – two big lakes. Christal blue water, surrounded by snow and a bit of grass. A beautiful combination. After a long lunch we went all the way back, also crossing the tropic of Capricorn. The most southern latitude where the sun can be seen directly above your head. Going back it was getting dark and cold quickly. As soon as the sun disappeared behind the dunes the cold was coming immediately. However, the most beautiful part of the desert at night is the clearness of the sky. Unpolluted by light or traffic emissions. Another peek to go visit the Atacama to see for yourself – if there haven’t been enough already.

 

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San Pedro – the touristy pearl of Atacama

Desierto de Atacama. The worlds driest desert. With one single road seeming to lead into nothingness.  Then, far away on the horizon something is slowly appearing.  San Pedro. A small town in the middle of nowhere. Here, in the middle of sand, dust and stones someone decided to build a city.With a lot of success. San Pedro has been transformed into a touristic highlight. Walking down the streets to the city center you barely spot any locals. It’s a city of foreigners. But if you do spot a local person, they are all working in tourism as well. The three main streets are covered in touristy places. Hostels, restaurant, shops and travel agencies. The few houses outside of the city center can’t make up for the fact people there are really depending on tourism. Without it, this city would probably disappear quicker than you can blink.

Red. That’s the color of San Pedro. Red houses and red sand are covering the walking lanes into the city center. Within 30 minutes you can walk through the whole city. If you already know a few people living there, you will definitely bump into at least one of them, because it’s just such a small place. It’s also a rather expensive city – maybe another reason why there aren’t so many locals. And those who aren’t working in tourism are really poor. Every day they came together and gathered around the main place. They brought their guitars and sat down all together to sing and dance. Once I even was invited to join them and got a self-made metal rose in return – to remember them as they said.

San Pedro was full of surprises and one was the cold. It was freezing during the night and the temperature probably dropped below 0 degrees. In my hostel, we gathered around a campfire at night to keep us warm. Every second night they even offered a BBQ. Music was always playing and people soon started to dance alongside the fire as well. As national holiday was about to come, some Chileans also taught us how to dance Bachata to get the real spirit of their traditions.

National Holiday is a big part of Chilean culture. There is a big party going on and every night people are coming together to celebrate. Even though San Pedro is very small, there was a lot going on when the holiday came along. In the evening there were parades, people were dressing up in traditional clothes and walked through the streets singing and dancing. In restaurants live music was playing, all musicians were dressed up in folk costumes. With their big hats and outfits matching the color of the Chilean flag, white, red and blue they were putting all their heart and energy into their performance. This rhythm didn’t let anyone stay on his seat very long. Soon everyone was dancing, laughing and having a good time.

Even though there wasn’t a lot going on considering nightlife in the desert national holiday changed that. They even build their own tents to have different clubs to party. It finally was allowed to play load music longer than until 1 o’clock at night. That night I was just going out with people from my hostel, walking through the city several times to check everything out. Welcoming national holiday with them was definitely one of the most memorable nights in the desert.

There also were a lot of Germans staying in my hostel. I shared my room with three German girls and some other German guys were staying there as well. In San Pedro I was very independent, because I didn’t travel with a group of people like before. I just went along to join people I just met on a tour or for going out. Every day I joined someone else, every day I was open for new possibilities. On my first day I even got to know a tour guide and some Brazilian girls who were working in San Pedro as well. So I already had some people to advise me on which tours to take and what to see in the desert – and there was a lot to see indeed.

Which parts of the desert outside of San Pedro did I discover? Stay tuned for my next post to find out.

 

 

German version

 

 

 

San Pedro – the die Perle der Atacama

Die Atacamawüste. Die wahrhaft trockenste Wüste der ganzen Welt. Einmal angekommen ist man einzig und allein von Sand umgeben. Roter, leuchtender Sand, so weit das Auge reicht. Und dann erscheint San Pedro am Horizont. Eine kleine Stadt, mitten in der Wüste. Genau hier kam jemand auf die Idee, eine Stadt zu erbauen – mit großem Erfolg. San Pedro zählt zu den beliebtesten Sehenswürdigkeiten Chiles und hat sich mittlerweile in eine Touristenmetropole verwandelt. Spaziert man durch die Straßen San Pedros wird schnell ersichtlich, dass die Menschen hier ausschließlich vom Tourismus leben. Das können auch die paar Häuschen außerhalb des Stadtzentrums nicht mehr wettmachen. Ohne Tourismus würde die Stadt wohl nicht sehr lange überleben.

Rot. Das ist die Farbe San Pedros. Rote Häuser, roter Sand, der die Straßen bedeckt. Streunende Hunde, die durch die Stadt streiften durften natürlich auch nicht fehlen. Innerhalb von 30 Minuten konnte man die gesamte Stadt abklappern – was bei den drei Straßen aber auch keine große Kunst war. Allerdings ist San Pedro schon etwas teurer. Das erklärt auch, warum hier nicht mehr viele Einheimische wohnen. Sie können sich diese Preise einfach nicht leisten. Die wenigen Einheimischen, die es hier noch gibt und nicht im Tourismus arbeiten, treffen sich jeden Tag auf dem Hauptplatz um gemeinsam zu musizieren und zu tanzen. Einmal wurde ich sogar eingeladen, mitzumachen und bekam zum Dank ihre Freude ein wenig geteilt zu haben sogar eine handgefertigte, metallene Rose geschenkt.

San Pedro war voller Überraschungen, doch eine der größten war die Kälte. Während der Nacht war es bitterkalt, oft fiel die Temperatur sogar unter null Grad. Glücklicherweise gab es in meinem Hostel jede Nacht ein Lagerfeuer, um das wir uns versammelten um uns zu wärmen. Jede zweite Nacht gab es zudem ein BBQ. Die Musik tönte aus den Boxen und einige fingen an, um das Lagerfeuer zu tanzen. Chiles Nationalfeiertag stand kurz vor der Tür und so sahen einige Chilenen das sofort als Anlass uns Bachata, einen chilenischen Tanz, beizubringen.

Der Nationalfeiertag ist ein großer Teil der chilenischen Kultur. Die Feier beginnt bereits einige Tage vor dem eigentlichen Tag und erstreckt sich über ein gesamtes Wochenende. Jeden Tag steigert man sich also ein bisschen. Und natürlich fanden auch in San Pedro die traditionellen Paraden statt. Tanzende und lachende Menschen zogen durch die Straßen. Musiker spielten in Restaurants, herausgeputzt in ihrer traditionellen Tracht. Weiß, rot und blau, die Farben der chilenischen Flagge. Sie steckten wahrhaft all ihr Herzblut in diese Performance.

Obwohl in der Stadt abends nicht besonders viel los war, fuhr man zum Nationalfeiertag alles auf, was man hatte. Zelte wurden aufgestellt und in Clubs verwandelt, Fahnen wurden gehisst und die Musik durfte einmal länger als bis 1 Uhr in der Früh gespielt werden. Das Nationalfeiertagsfieber hatte San Pedro also sichtlich gepackt.

Außerdem gab es in meinem Hostel einige Deutsche. Sogar mein Zimmer teilte ich mit drei deutschen Mädchen, die in Santiago studierten. Was mir an San Pedro besonders gefiel war, dass ich komplett ungebunden war. All meine Freunde waren weitergereist, nun war ich wieder alleine unterwegs. Jeden Tag unternahm ich etwas mit jemand anderem, lernte somit jeden Tag jemand neuen kennen. An meinem ersten Tag freundete ich mich bereits mit einem Reiseleiter und einigen Brasilianerinnen an, die in San Pedro arbeiteten. Die drei halfen mir auch sofort, einige Touren zusammenzustellen und mir zu berichten, was ich alles ansehen musste. Und das waren so einige Vorschläge.

Aber welche Seiten der Atacma habe ich nun wirklich entdeckt? Mehr gibt es dann in meinem nächsten Post zu lesen!

 

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Colors and coasts

“We are not hippies, we are happies” – the famous graffiti of Valparaiso is describing the vibe of this city perfectly. Attracting hundreds of tourists each day it is a place you just have to visit once you are in Chile. Just a few hours away from the capital it is simply breathtaking. The whole city is covered in street art; the whole city is a fine piece of art itself. I could have walked through these streets for hours because I was so impressed by its unique character. Even the hostel I was staying in had completely adopted the valaparisian flair. With their walls painted in every color possible it was my favorite hostel right from the beginning. The patio on the rooftop also offered a spectacular view all over the city which I could enjoy every night. Sadly I couldn’t be in the city much longer than a few hours the first day. Just enough to take some pictures and enjoying a pizza while letting my eyes wander over this multicolored city.

Then I already had to leave for Viña del Mar which is the city next to Valparaiso, because I had a place to sleep there. The Family of a friend – so very convenient for me. Or at least I thought so. Looking back I wish I had stayed at my hostel. I drove to the city at night when it was already dark.  On the streets in Chile I always felt quite safe, but being all alone waiting in the dark corner of a bus station made me a bit uncomfortable. Spotting that I was foreign right away the bus driver then even put me in the front seat next to him, explaining that this would be safer for me. So maybe I had a reason to be worried. The neighborhood I was driving to was said to be one of the more unsafe ones, so while driving there all different kinds of scenarios came to my mind. I left the bus with a weird gut feeling, hoping to find my way as quickly as possible. I shouldn’t have been worried, because I got picked up at the station and everything turned out fine. But I promised myself not to travel to such an area during the night alone again. Who knows what could have happened if my gut feeling had been right.

The next day I had some time to discover Viña del Mar. At the coast I spend a few hours walking there with a friend, just admiring the view and the stunning scenery. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and a little breeze was coming from the sea reminding us it wasn’t quite summer yet. With the sea hitting the rocks at the shore, just walking along the long street of the coast was really calming me down and a great contrast to the busy city center of Santiago I’ve been to before.

Afterwards I even had the pleasure to be part of a Chilean English class for adults. My friend was there to show them what a real American accent sounds like – as he was from the States – and I could come along too. It really impressed me that people at the age of my grandparents were still learning English and still so motivated and eager to improve their language skills. People here don’t learn English really well and especially older people often just speak Spanish- so only their mother tongue. But with English being more and more widespread and more tourists coming to Valparaiso as well people want to be able to interact with them. After their regular class I was also talking to them – first in English then I had the pleasure to use my Spanish skills as well. I still remember an elderly gentleman who was coming up to me after class thanking me so much for my efforts and telling me I reminded him of his granddaughter. I enjoyed this English class so much that I was starting to consider getting into teaching as well. I love working with people, I speak multiple languages – what way better than financing my travels through teaching?

Going back to Valparaiso the next day I had the pleasure experiencing its beauty one time over again. From there I went on a wine tour in Casablanca. This trip was a bit expensive as I was trying to travel with a low budget (not very successfully) but definitely worth it. While biking through the wine yard we were hearing about the ancient tradition of wine making and the legacy of the family owning this yard. Tasting the first glass took place in the woods and then we drove our bikes back – little unstable and shaky, the wine was already doing its job. I even met an Austrian girl there who was the first Austrian I’ve met during my whole trip. If you meet someone from your country you instantly become best friends – and we were no exception. After a few glasses of wine we had the best time and even kept in touch after the visit. We might be a small country but it’s beautiful to see that we’re also spreading out all over the world.

 

 

German version

 

 

Kunst und Küste

“We are not hippies, we are happies” – das wohl berühmteste Graffiti in ganz Valparaisos, das den Charakter der Stadt perfekt beschreibt. Jeden Tag zieht sie hunderte Touristen an, die die kunterbunte Stadt ebenfalls bestaunen wollen. Sie scheint buchstäblich in einen Farbtopf gefallen zu sein. Jeder Winkel, jede Ecke ist bunt und fröhlich. Die gesamte Stadt ist ein einziges Kunstwerk. Durch die Straßen Valparaisos hätte ich bestimmt stundenlang wandern können. Gefesselt von dem einzigartigen Charme dieser Stadt konnte ich mich gar nicht sattsehen. So viele Farben, ich wusste gar nicht, wohin ich zuerst sehen sollte. Sogar mein Hostel hatte sich an den Flair Valparaisos angepasst. Alle Wände waren bunt, fröhlich und voller Kunstwerke. Von dem Dach konnte man die ganze Stadt überblicken und zusehen, wie die untergehende Sonne die Stadt in ein magisches Leuchten tauchte, wie sie die Farben noch ein letztes Mal erstrahlen ließ bevor sie hinter den vielen Häusern verschwand. Leider konnte ich hier nicht sehr lange verweilen, doch selbst in den paar Stunden, die ich hier verbringen durfte, hat diese Stadt bereits einen bleibenden Eindruck hinterlassen.

Dann ging die Reise bereits weiter nach Viña del Mar, dem Nachbarort Valparaisos, da ich hier eine Schlafmöglichkeit hatte. Die Familie einer Freundin – also durchaus ziemlich praktisch. Rückblickend hätte ich aber wohl doch eher in meinem Hostel bleiben sollen. Als ich mich nach Viña del Mar aufmachte, war es bereits dunkel. Auf den Straßen Chiles hatte ich mich immer recht sicher gefühlt, doch nun waren die Straßen wie ausgestorben. Ich wartete ganz alleine in der dunklen Ecke einer Bushaltestelle. Ständig sah ich mich zu allen Seiten um, wartete nervös, dass der Bus wohl endlich kommen möge. Nach einer gefühlten Ewigkeit tauchte mein Bus schließlich auf. Der Busfahrer sah mir wohl sofort an, dass ich nicht von hier war und meinte, ich solle mich neben ihn setzen, um sicherer zu sein. Vielleicht hatte ich also wirklich einen Grund, nervös zu sein. Als ich auch noch erfuhr, dass die Gegend, in die ich gerade fuhr eine der unsichereren Gegenden war, ging meine Fantasie natürlich sofort mit mir durch. Ich malte mir bereits alle möglichen schrecklichen Szenarien aus. Den Bus verließ ich mit einem mulmigen Gefühl im Bauch, ich hoffte nur meinen Weg so schnell wie möglich zu finden. Da ich von der Haltestelle abgeholt wurde, hätte ich mir eigentlich keine Sorgen machen müssen, doch ich schwor mir, nie wieder alleine im Dunklen zu reisen. Wer weiß – mein Bauchgefühl hätte auch recht behalten können.

Am nächsten Tag hatte ich ein wenig Zeit, Viña del Mar zu entdecken. Ich verbrachte ein paar Stunden damit, die Küste mit einem Freund entlang zu spazieren und den bezaubernden Ausblick zu genießen. Felsen ragten aus dem Meer, die Wellen rauschten und zerschellten an den Klippen. Die Sonne wärmte unsere Gesichter und vom Meer aus kam eine leichte Brise, die uns erinnerte, dass der Sommer wohl doch noch nicht ganz hier war. Nur einige Bauarbeiter kreuzten unseren Weg, ansonsten war es ruhig. Die lange Promenade entlang des Meeres war ein riesiger Kontrast i zu dem Großstadtleben in Santiago das ich bis dahin gewohnt war. Doch die kühle Seeluft wirkte so entspannend, so beruhigend. Dies war wahrhaft der perfekte Ort, um dem Großstadtdschungel eine Weile zu entfliehen.

Danach nahm ich an einer Englischunterrichtsstunde für Erwachsene in Viña del Mar teil. Der Couchsurfing Host meines Freundes war nämlich Englischlehrer und wollte natürlich, dass wir seine Schüler kennenlernten. Wir beide sollten ihn einen Tag lang unterstützten, insbesondere mein Freund aus den USA, da seine Schüler unbedingt einmal einen echten amerikanischen Akzent hören sollten. Die Schüler waren bereits ältere Herrschaften, zwischen 50 und 80 waren hier alle dabei. Ich war begeistert, dass all diese Menschen trotz ihres hohen Alters noch voller Motivation eine neue Sprache lernten. In Viña del Mar nimmt der Tourismus immer mehr zu und die Menschen wollen sich mit den Reisenden verständigen können. Deswegen beschlossen nun auch zunehmend ältere Menschen, Englisch zu lernen. Eine Sprache, die sie zuvor nicht in der Schule gelernt hatten, also eine echte Herausforderung. Nach ihrem regulären Unterricht durften wir uns dann mit ihnen unterhalten. Zuerst auf Englisch, doch dann kamen auch meine Spanischkenntnisse zum Einsatz. Noch immer ist mir ein älterer Herr in Erinnerung, der nach der Stunde zu mir kam, mir aller herzlichst für mein Engagement dankte und meinte, ich würde ihn an seine Enkelin erinnern. In diesem Moment begann ich, selbst in Betracht zu ziehen eines Tages zu unterrichten. Ich liebe es, mit Menschen zu arbeiten, spreche einige Sprachen und besonders hier in Südamerika brauchen die Menschen dringend gute Englischlehrer. Dies wäre eine fantastische Möglichkeit, mir meine Reisen zu finanzieren.

Am nächsten Tag ging es auch schon wieder zurück nach Valparaíso, ich hatte also die Möglichkeit, diese Stadt noch einmal zu bestaunen. Von dort fuhren wir nach Casablanca, zu einer Weinverkostungstour. Diese Tour war eine der teureren Erlebnisse meiner Reise, doch sie war es auf alle Fälle wert. Während wir mit dem Rad im Weingarten herum radelten, erfuhren wir ein wenig mehr über die Jahrhunderte alte Tradition des Weinbaus und die Geschichte der Familie dieses Hofes. Unsere erste Verkostung fand mitten im Wald statt. Eine Weinflasche wurde hinter einem Baum hervor gezaubert und wir durften den ersten Wein verkosten. Dann ging es mit dem Fahrrad wieder zurück zum Hof – schon ein wenig wackeliger, doch wir hielten uns gut. Hier lernte ich sogar die erste Österreicherin im Ausland kennen. Und wie es auf Reisen so ist – triffst du jemanden aus deinem Land, so werdet ihr augenblicklich beste Freunde. Genauso war es auch bei uns. Während wir die anderen Weine verkosteten und die Runde schon ein wenig lockerer wurde  unterhielten wir uns prächtig und blieben sogar danach noch in Kontakt. Österreich mag vielleicht klein sein, doch es ist wunderschön zu sehen, dass auch wir bereits auf der ganzen Welt verteilt sind.

 

 

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Austria meets Chile

I have to admit – being brought up in Europe and then going to South America can result in a little culture shock. Not that I was completely unaware of possible differences – but if you’re travelling a lot of things can turn out to be different than expected. I myself didn’t really know what to expect from Chile. I just went there. Without any prejudices and without any expectations. And then fell in love with this beautiful country. It’s “un pais maravilloso”, a wonderful country, as a Chilean would say.

Starting in Santiago I went on to explore the north. I had quite a rocky start after arriving there. The first thing I struggled with was the money. Chilean pesos are worth a lot less than Euros, making everything sound very expensive. I didn’t know the exchange rate yet I just knew things had to sound expensive, when in fact they were really cheap. In the end, this lack of knowledge led me to paying way too much for a taxi from the airport to my hostel. A quick note on the side: always check the exchange rate before. It will help you save a lot of money.

However, that incident was soon forgotten when I arrived at my hostel. I’ve never stayed in a hostel before and I was thrilled by how many amazing people I met there. Everyone had so many different stories to tell and I couldn’t get enough of hearing about more travel experience. It instantly knew my five weeks here wouldn’t be enough. There were too many places to see, too many hidden spots I still, until now haven’t explored.

The hostel itself was located in a party district with loud music playing every night. People were out on the streets partying the whole week, they didn’t reserve having fun only to the weekends. Every day they wanted to party. Something I easily got caught up in. I was travelling, I wanted to have a good time, so that’s what I did the first days of my trip. Clubs were lining up one after the other as soon as we left our hostel. Every day there was a different party and I experienced a variety of Chilean clubs. Latin music playing, quite a few beers, people dancing and having a good time. Every night. Chilean people know how to party for sure.

The city during the day was completely different. While doing a city tour and just walking around randomly I noticed so many differences and so many things I wasn’t used to at all. There were stray dogs all over the place. Everywhere you went there was a pack of dogs running around. What surprised me was that they were indeed well tended. Due to a governmental program people here feed and take care of those dogs. Being every ones and no ones they walk around in the city, occasionally follow you for a bit and then go their separate ways. They sometimes made me so sad, because I just wanted to give them a home. I just felt like they really wanted to belong to someone but no one ever gave them the chance to.

Another thing I really had to get used to were the buses and bus drivers. You would think they would stop when you just wait at the station – but no. At least 20 buses passed by me until I figured out you actually have to put your hand out to show them you want to be picked up. Buses were also racing each other on the driveway, every bus driver wanted to go faster than his college if they were driving next to each other for a while. When you wanted to get off they sometimes didn’t even stop- you just had to hop off and pray not to break a leg. I really wonder what old people do around here – or if they just got used to jumping on and off the bus they still can do it being 80 years old.

Some differences were more shocking than others. In contrary to Austria poverty is visible here. In Austria you barely see people living on the streets but here you do. A lot of them try to make a living while selling stuff on the bus. Once a man just hopped in and started selling candy, someone else sold scissors and wool. Things you would think no one really needs- but a lot of people ended up buying it. They were trying to help those out who needed it and that was so heart-warming to me. In a way I think people here care more about each other. Because in Austria I’m convinced no one would ever buy something like that. We would consider it a waste of money. But can we really call it a waste if it’s helping others to survive?

People were also selling more stuff on the street than I was used to. Which was convenient as well – and sometimes it ended up being so crowed you didn’t even know where to look at first. There also were no supermarkets at all but that was something I enjoyed a lot. In my area, they had a huge market hall which was stunning. So many fruits and vegetables, so many different scents and colors. I was amazed by everything I didn’t even know where to look at first.

As I’m a vegan that large offer of fruits was really convenient for me too. At first I wasn’t sure how I should possibly get by as a vegan in South America – but it turned out to be easier than expected. They even had a vegan bakery shop in Santiago which offered all traditional food like empanadas, quesadillas – only vegan. So I had the pleasure to try them out as well.

Santiago is also said to be a very safe place, one of the safest in South America. Which is true, at night you can walk on the streets on your own just like in Vienna and nothing will happen to you. The only thing common here is pick-pocketing, which also happened to a friend of mine. After her phone got stolen I was even more careful being aware of where my things are the whole time.

Acting so careful and checking where my things are all the time it was easy to spot I’m a tourist. Being blonde and rather light-skinned also didn’t help. I wish people couldn’t have spotted that I was foreign that easily but they always did. With my rather basic command of Spanish it was also quite obvious . So I experienced Santiago from a very touristy point of view. I didn’t interact with locals because I always hung out with people I met in my hostel. It’s also a nice way of travelling but looking back I can say I prefer travelling like a real traveler and interacting with locals as well. But that was all about to come.

 

German version

 

Österreich goes Chile

Eines muss ich schon zugeben, in Europa aufzuwachsen und dann nach Südamerika zu reisen resultierte schon in einem kleinen Kulturschock. Natürlich war mir klar, dass es einige Unterschiede geben musste, doch schließlich endet auf Reisen nichts so, wie man es sich vorher ausgemalt hat. Anfangs wusste ich nicht wirklich, was ich mir von Chile erwarten sollte. Ich machte mich auf den Weg, ohne Vorurteile, ohne Erwartungen, nur mit einer gehörigen Portion Neugier ausgerüstet. Und verliebte mich augenblicklich in dieses wunderschöne Land. Die Sprache, die Menschen, die Musik. Doch natürlich gab es auch Schattenseiten, die jedes Land in sich verborgen trägt. Sichtbar oder unsichtbar, sie sind dennoch da. Und eines ist klar – zwischen Österreich und Chile gibt es einiges an Unterschieden.

Chile ist ein wunderschönes, vielseitiges Land. Von Santiago aus wollte ich zunächst den Norden Chiles erkunden. Doch der Anfang gestaltete sich etwas schwierig. Meine ersten Probleme hatte ich mit dem Umrechnen des Geldes. Chilenische Pesos sind nicht sehr viel wert, 10 000 Pesos sind gerade einmal 13 Euro. Da ich dieses Verhältnis aber noch nicht kannte, zahlte ich im Endeffekt viel zu viel für ein Taxi zu meinem Hostel, da ich dem netten Flughafenmitarbeiter, der mir den besten Preis versprach, dummerweise vertraute. Nun eine kleine Erinnerung an mich selbst – nicht jeder, der nett wirkt hat auch Gutes im Sinne.  Manchmal wird man eben einfach übers Ohr gezogen.

Doch ich möchte mich hier natürlich nicht auf schlechte Erfahrungen konzentrieren, in Santiago ist doch auch so viel Schönes passiert. Das fing bereits bei meinem Hostel an, das voller toller, aufgeschlossener Menschen war. In Santiago lebte ich außerdem in einem richtigen Partyviertel, jede Nacht tönte spanische Musik aus allen Ecken. Die Straßen waren voll, jeder ging sogar unter der Woche aus um zu feiern. Wozu sich nur auf das Wochenende einschränken? Jede Nacht war eine einzige Party. Natürlich konnte ich mir das auf keinen Fall entgehen lassen. So kam es dazu dass ich wirklich jede Nacht unterwegs war. Wenig Schlaf, viel Getanze und das eine oder andere Bier – und ich war glücklich wie nie zuvor. In Chile weiß man definitiv, wie man das Nachtleben so richtig genießt.

Doch nicht nur die Nächte in Chile waren wunderbar, die Tage in denen ich die Stadt im Sonnenschein erkunden konnte, waren ebenso beeindruckend. Sofort fielen mir so viele Unterschiede auf, es gab so vieles, dass ich überhaupt nicht gewöhnt war. Eines davon waren streunende Hunde. Davon gab es in Santiago eine Menge. Sie liefen in Rudeln oder manchmal ganz alleine in der Stadt umher. Überraschender Weise waren diese Hund erstaunlich gut gepflegt und wohlgenährt. Hier kümmert sich die Regierung darum, dass diese Hunde umsorgt werden. In gewisser Weise gehören sie also allen und niemandem, folgen einem manchmal eine Zeit lang, bevor sie wieder ihren eigenen Weg gehen. Ich hätte nur allzu gerne einen von ihnen mit nach Hause genommen. Bestimmt hätten sie gerne ein zu Hause gehabt – doch es gab so viele von ihnen dass das ein Ding der Unmöglichkeit zu sein schien.

Etwas, an das ich mich auch erst gewöhnen musste, waren die Busse und nicht zu unterschätzen, die Busfahrer. Ist man aus Österreich denkt man sich natürlich, der Bus würde, schön ordentlich wie wir es gewohnt sind, an jeder Haltestelle warten und die Wartenden einsammeln. Dem ist nicht so. Mindestens 20 Busse fuhren an mir vorbei, bis ich endlich verstand, dass man dem Bus doch tatsächlich ein Zeichen geben muss, dass man einsteigen möchte. Als wäre das noch nicht genug gibt es anscheinend auch geheime Bus-Rennen auf der Autobahn. Fahren zwei Busse nebeneinander merkst du förmlich, wie sie sich immer und immer wieder aufstacheln, jeder will schneller sein als der andere. Auch das Aussteigen ist nicht ganz so einfach. Manchmal hält der Bus nicht zur Gänze – und man muss eben springen . In diesen Situationen habe ich mich immer gefragt, was wohl die Älteren hier machen. Vielleicht sind sie dann aber auch mit 80 Jahren schon an die ganze Hüpferei gewöhnt.

Manche Unterschiede waren schockierender als andere. Im Gegensatz zu Österreich ist Armut hier sehr deutlich zu erkennen. Viele, die ihr Geld nicht anders verdienen können, verkaufen Krimskrams im Bus. Steigen ein, bieten ihre Ware an und ziehen dann weiter. Verkauft wird alles Mögliche, von Süßigkeiten bis hin zu Scheren und Wolle. Man möge sich denken, das wird doch kein Mensch kaufen, doch dem war nicht so. Ich denke, dass die Menschen hier ein viel größeres Verständnis für Armut haben und den Betroffenen auch helfen wollen. Deshalb verließ niemand dieser Verkäufer den Bus ohne einige Dinge verkauft zu haben. In Österreich wäre dies für die meisten bestimmt Geldverschwendung. Doch kann man wirklich von Verschwendung sprechen, wenn diese paar Pesos einem Menschen das Überleben sichern?

Es wurden auch viel mehr Dinge auf der Straße verkauft, als ich es gewohnt war. Zeitweise war das natürlich sehr praktisch, doch manchmal waren die Straßen so überfüllt und voller Händler, dass man sich kaum noch dazwischen bewegen konnte. Es gab keinen einzigen Supermarkt, die Menschen hier gingen ganz traditionell am Markt einkaufen – und dieser Markt war ein einziges Paradies für mich. So viele verschiedenen Früchte, so viele neue Gerüchte und Farben. Einige hatte ich noch nie zuvor gesehen. Und billig noch dazu, da es sich die Menschen schließlich auch leisten können mussten.

Als Veganerin war das für mich natürlich sehr praktisch. Zuerst war ich ein bisschen unsicher, ob ich in Südamerika überhaupt vegan überlebten würde können. Doch das war einfacher als gedacht. Vor allem in Santiago – hier gab es sogar eine vegane Bäckerei, in der auch ich die nationalen Köstlichkeiten wie Quesadillas und Empanadas genießen konnte. In dieser Hinsicht hat mich Santiago auf jeden Fall überrascht.

Diese Stadt sollte außerdem die sicherste Südamerikas sein. Das einzige, das hier weit verbreitet ist, ist Taschendiebstahl. Man sollte seine Wertgegenstände also ständig im Blick haben. Und das hatte ich auch. Dies war wohl der größte Unterschied zu zu Hause, hier gehe ich viel Nachlässiger mit meinen Dingen um, habe aber keine Angst, dass sie gestohlen werden. Dort wäre ein Diebstahl aber auch eine größere Tragödie gewesen. Daran merkt man auch immer wieder, dass man doch nicht daheim ist.

Manchmal fühlte ich mich schon sehr touristisch. Blond und ziemlich hellhäutig war ich hier ungefähr genauso unauffällig wie ein bunter Hund. Jeder konnte sehen, dass ich hier Ausländerin war. Außerdem ist mein Spanisch noch nicht so gut, wie ich es gerne hätte. Santiago habe ich definitiv eher von der touristischen Seite erlebt. Mit Einheimischen hatte ich gar keinen Kontakt, da ich ständig etwas mit meinen Freunden aus dem Hostel unternahm. Ich hatte dort eine tolle Zeit, doch rückblickend würde ich sagen, dass ich die Art als Reisende und nicht als Touristin zu reisen, definitiv bevorzuge. Doch das würde alles noch kommen.

 

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The other side of the world

For 19 years my life was just taking place in Vienna. Well, ok, not only Vienna. Maybe Europe. But that was about it. Just a few trips to other countries were part of my childhood. Resulting in the typical family-vacation-situation. Flying to the beach, laying around and letting yourself getting sunburned out of boredom several times. Not really being active just hitting the waves at the beach occasionally but not engaging too much in it. With our energy running on a low level, we were focusing more on food, sleep and the occasional fight with the family – pretty normal, pretty boring. But eventually I had enough of these kinds of holidays.

So that’s how it happened. That’s why I ended up on the other side of the world just a few weeks ago. South America, to be precise. But why exactly did I go there? Well, I wanted to be able to feel a real cultural difference to Vienna and to Europe. I wanted to see and to experience something completely different, something that would amaze me, that would take my breath away. And that was certainly not something Europe could do.

This journey changed me and it changed my perspective on a lot of things as well. I was travelling alone for the first time I was all on my own and just had myself to rely on. That way of travelling definitely had a huge impact on me. Travelling on your own changes you, you never return home the same person you left. Too many experiences on the way, too many adventures. It’s so easy to get caught up on the road and soon you don’t want to leave anymore. Your life “at home” just seems so far away you can’t even imagine going back. Constantly exploring, getting to know different ways of life and talking to various people from everywhere – you could easily live like that for decades. While travelling you adapt to a completely new way of life.

You are meeting a lot of different people from all over the world, from every single corner this earth has to offer. People from the north, east, south, west. From different countries and continents. As different as they might be, what you all have in common is your passion to travel and to go on adventures. You all want to gain some knowledge about the country you are visiting, about the people who live there. Soon you become friends with complete strangers, people who just happened to stay in the same place as you. People you just met for a few days or even just for hours suddenly become your best friends. Sometimes, it’s so easy to connect with someone, just looking each other in the eyes is enough, the connection is there. Immediately. Countries and boundaries don’t matter here at all. That’s the beauty of travelling.

The world is your oyster it has so much to offer and so many possibilities await you. We, we are lucky to grow up in central Europe, privileged like probably no one else in this world. But our way of life is not the only one and certainly not the best one. Some of us might think we are superior to others, but we are not. We definitely can learn from other cultures. Especially the south american way of life which is so much more relaxed, not that hectic and work-orientated as our lives. Not taking life that seriously and just living, that’s something we should pick up, too. It’s going to give our life so much more energy and fun.

However, it’s crucial to make this experiences by yourself. Nothing is as valuable as the things you see with your own eyes, feel with your own skin, smell, taste or hear with your own senses. Nothing is as memorable as the feeling to talk to a person who grew up on the other side of the world, thousands of kilometers away from you. But this one person also knows so much about this place, can teach you a lot even if it’s just a simple farmer. You should never judge people by their education, you should never judge a book by its cover. You can learn from everyone. Every person has hidden talents and qualities. It’s so important to always keep that in mind.

So travelling is beneficial for everyone. Do you want to know more about yourself? Just travel. Do you want to know more about the world? Just travel. Do you want to meet new people? Just travel. Just go on and travel. It’s as simple as that.

 

 

German version

 

Ans andere Ende der Welt

19 Jahre und das ganze Leben lang in Wien verbracht. Nun gut, nicht nur in Wien, Europa, wenn wir großzügig sind. Ein paar kleine Expeditionen in andere Länder gehörten natürlich dazu. Rückblickend zählen diese Erfahrungen so gut wie nicht. Familienurlaub, Strand, Sonne, Meer, All-inclusive Hotels – all das mag vielleicht seinen Reiz haben, doch Reisen kann man es kaum nennen. Wohl eher Urlaub – auf der faulen Haut liegen, sich mit Leckerbissen vollstopfen und daheim nach guter österreichischer Manier aufregen, keppeln und schimpfen, dass man dann doch ein wenig zu viel Speck angesetzt hat. Ja, diese Art von Urlaub mag vielleicht typisch sein, aber ich hatte definitiv genug davon.

So kam es, dass es mich vor kurzem ans andere Ende der Welt verschlug. Südamerika, um genauer zu sein. Doch warum genau dorthin? Nun, weil ich den Unterschied zu Europa so deutlich wie möglich spüren wollte. Und das konnte ich auch. Natürlich hatte ich Erwartungen, Vorstellungen und Vorurteile, doch die Welt mit eigenen Augen zu sehen war etwas völlig Anderes. Diese Reise unterschied sich so sehr von allen anderen Reisen die ich je unternommen hatte. Alleine und auf mich gestellt auf einem anderen Kontinent. Eine Erfahrung, die meine Sicht auf viele Dinge verändert hat, eine Erfahrung, die ich auf keinen Fall missen möchte.

Das Reisefieber hat mich ganz klar gepackt und fest im Griff. Es lässt mich nicht mehr los, lässt mich ständig neue Abenteuer erleben wollen. Die Welt ist voller Orte, die ich noch erkunden möchte. So schnell wird man zum Wanderer, zum Weltenbummler. Und eines ist sicher. Man kommt niemals als dieselbe Person wieder nach Hause zurück. Reisen verändert, formt den Charakter, erweitert den Blickwinkel. So viele neue Menschen, Orte, Abenteuer. So viele neue Eindrücke und Erfahrungen. Sie werden ein ganzes Leben lang bleiben, ein ganzes Leben prägen.  Nichts ist so intensiv und beeindruckend wie etwas selbst zu fühlen und zu spüren.

Begegnungen mit anderen Menschen, aus allen verschiedenen Ecken und Winkeln der Erde. Menschen aus dem Norden, Süden, Osten, Westen. Aus allen Ländern, Himmelsrichtungen und Kontinenten. Menschen die verschiedener nicht sein könnten und doch sind wir alle irgendwie gleich. Was uns vereint ist die Leidenschaft zu reisen, Erfahrungen zu sammeln, die Welt zu erkunden. Und das möglichst gemeinsam mit Gleichgesinnten. Genau diese Menschen werden zu den besten Freunden, egal wie kurz man sie auch erst kennen mag, es ist unglaublich welch eine Verbindung man schon nach kurzer Zeit spüren kann. Alle sind auf der selben Wellenlänge, jeder spürt die Abenteuerlust des anderen. Länder und Grenzen spielen keine Rolle mehr. Man kann sich mit jedem verbunden fühlen, egal woher er auch kommen mag.

Die Welt liegt einem zu Füßen, man muss nur den Mut haben, sie auch wirklich zu betreten. Unsere Welt bietet uns so viele Möglichkeiten, die Chance muss nur ergriffen werden. Wir haben genug Glück, privilegiert in Zentraleuropa auszuwachsen. Gerade wir sollten verstehen, dass unsere Art zu leben nicht selbstverständlich ist. Es gibt auch andere Arten das Leben zu genießen und glücklich zu sein. Arten, die uns hier nie in den Sinn kommen würden, doch am anderen Ende der Welt hervorragend funktionieren. Vielleicht können wir doch alle voneinander lernen.

Dafür sollte man sich am besten vor Ort ein Bild machen. Erzählungen und Fotos können die eigene Meinung und eigene Eindrücke niemals ersetzen. Nichts wird so in Erinnerung bleiben wie das Gefühl mit einer Person gesprochen zu haben, die an diesem Ort aufgewachsen ist, die weiß, wovon sie hier spricht. Und man selbst ist mittendrin. Sieht, fühlt, riecht, schmeckt und hört alles selbst. Man kann sich von allem ein Bild machen. Ist nicht ebendas in unserer Gesellschaft so wichtig? Selbst aufstehen, die Ärmel hochkrempeln und sich in die Mitte des Geschehens begeben. Genau das sollten wir alle tun. Genau das ist es, was das Reisen uns lernen kann. Du willst mehr über dich selbst erfahren? Geh auf Reisen. Du willst mehr über die Welt erfahren? Geh auf Reisen. Du willst neue Leute kennenlernen? Geh auf Reisen. Im Endeffekt ist es ganz einfach – man nur den Mut aufbringen, den ersten Schritt zu wagen.

 

 

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Expectations

Studying journalism, 20 years old, Vienna-based. A girl who recently spent all her savings on getting to know the world a bit better.

This journey taught me a lot. Taking me hundreds of kilometers away from home, I eventually landed on the other side of the world. In south America. I’ve made a lot of experiences there I now want to share with all of you.

You might ask yourself now: Why should I even read this blog? Well, as a very young person I’m sharing my perspective of things here. I’m sharing it the way I experienced being on my own and travelling to a lot of different places. I’m sharing my experiences without filters, open-minded, without prejudices. Everybody sees the world a bit differently, so I want to share my point of view here.

In Vienna, too, are living a lot of different people. They are living next to each other, door to door, but often don’t exchange more than a simple “Hello”. I want to help turning this next to each other into a with each other. That’s why I’m also going to focus on the different cultures and different influences in Vienna.

However, I’m going to start with my journey through south America. But be prepared – there are lot of other things still to come.

 

 

German version

 

Erwartungen

Publizistikstudentin, 19 Jahre alt, Wien. Die in den letzten Monaten all ihr Erspartes zusammengekratzt hat, um ein wenig in der Welt herumzukommen.

Eine Reise, die mich einiges gelehrt hat und über die ich nun berichten möchte. Eine Reise, hunderte Kilometer weit weg von zu Hause. Ans andere Ende der Welt. Nach Südamerika.

Warum dieser Blog gelesen werden sollte? Nun, hier sind die Eindrücke eines sehr jungen Menschen vertreten, frisch und ungefiltert. Jeder sieht die Welt mit anderen Augen, nun möchte auch ich meinen Blickwinkel hier teilen.

Auch in Wien leben viele verschiedene Kulturen miteinander, nebeneinander. Dass dieses nebeneinander mehr zu einem miteinander wird, dazu möchte ich beitragen. Schließlich werde ich mich nicht nur auf meine Reisen, sondern auch auf die unterschiedlichen Kulturen und Einflüsse hier in Wien konzentrieren.

Los geht das ganze aber einmal mit meinen Eindrücken vom anderen Ende der Welt. Ihr dürft gespannt sein, was euch sonst noch erwartet.