It’s hard to prepare for Iran. It overwhelmed me, even though I thought I had done my research. It’s hectic, difficult and everything is almost exclusively written in the Arabic alphabet. There are so many things which differ from other countries I’ve experienced so far. But, after a while, I was getting more familiar. When I started to get more familiar, I enjoyed it fully and came to love this special country.
After spending two-and-a-half month in Europe, I finally made it to Turkey. This meant I would soon make a big step by leaving the European continent. I arrived in Istanbul by taking a night bus from Thessaloniki (Greece). In Turkey, I would volunteer at an organic farm for the second time and travel to Georgia by crossing a lesser-known area.
I didn’t want to ‘just travel’ as I planned to take off for one year. For the last couple of years, food has become a more important and interesting topic in my life. A plant-based diet became better suited for me. This realization started after watching some documentaries, reading articles and, later, trying it out for myself. Sustainability however, had been playing a major role in my life for much longer. Combining these two with practical curiosity, I challenged myself during my journey to start volunteering at places where the ideology of permaculture is a central topic. After my journey I want to understand the practices of self-sustainability better and see what it can bring me in my future life.
Peru and Ecuador are the last two countries I covered in South America. When I entered Peru, I had almost 40 days to cover both countries. This is pretty quick considering the size, sights and activities it has to offer. With the time almost equally divided between Peru and Ecuador, I knew Peru would be the most exhausting part. But in the end, seeing these natural and man-made wonders, it was more than worth it.
Time for a new adventure! After four months travelling in South America, I don’t feel like settling down already. In this next journey I want to go to Ethiopia. The country where my father is born (and thus part of my roots). Even though I’ve visited Ethiopia twice, this country still remains a bit incomprehensible to me. I tend to stay there for a few months. Learn the basics of the language, travel new places and get in contact with a few of their many cultures in the hope to understand this country (and a part of me) a little better.
Eduardo Galeano had described its fate very well in his book ‘Open veins of Latin America’: “The city which has given most to the world has the least”. It is a perfect example of European greed, the start of capitalism and all the consequences that came after. While reading this book, I felt like I became more aware of the whole situation Latin America is struggling with. Afterwards, I felt determined to see this place with my own eyes. Although, as I came closer, I wasn’t sure about its kind of tourism and if I was even physically able to visit it. I’m talking about Potosí, or better, Cerro Rico. The mountain filled with rich minerals towering behind this former prosperous city.
Bolivia is perhaps the most unfortunate country in South America. After it became independent in 1809, neighboring countries took over half of its territory. Present day Bolivia is struggling with high poverty rates and is considered one of the poorest countries in South America. Besides these struggles, Bolivia has now one of the fastest economic growth rates in the region and economic inequality is getting less. This is partly thanks to the first indigenous president Evo Morales. Politics aside, this country has one of the most iconic landscapes you can find in South America. And being one of the cheapest countries to visit as well, it is great for travelling on a budget.
Once arrived in Chile, I thought I wouldnt stay here for this long. I calculated on maximum a week, as I planned only to see San Pedro de Atacama. From Mendoza I would make my way up in Argentina and cross the border via Salta. Thing is, I went from Mendoza to Valparaíso and my stay in Chile turned out to be a little more than a month.
Valle de la Luna, probably the most surreal and beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. It was a rough ride cycling there by bike. But cycling through the driest desert in the world and watching the most beautiful sunset gave me an experience I will never forget. Here are some of the pictures I took on that day: