reto mag

about the land and the people

reto mag header image 4

Entries from January 25th, 2013

4/2013 image of the week: »morning walk at the chinese wall«

January 25th, 2013 by stefan · beijing, china, image of the week, photography

This picture was taken on a foggy wednesday morning, when this Chinese mother decided to take her child for a walk at the wall. The seemingly endless stone structure climbing up a steep yet treeful hill in the distance made the scene in the background look like a giant tapestry floating in the sky.

© 2013 by stefan wagner (

→ No Comments

talking with bella

January 23rd, 2013 by nina · interview, south america, talking with

bella is my friend for over 2 years now. when people ask us how we met there is always an akward silence and a glance. because actually we get to know each other via a book-board on internet. i never thought i am going to make friends on the internet. but it happened. in real life we met for the first time in autumn 2010 and realised we live really close and we have a lot in common. that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. a friendship full of books, music, travelling and laughter. our next plan is to travel to amsterdam together in march. so never blind yourself to the opportunities of making real-life friends on the internet. it is possible!
last year bella visited parts of south america and i really wanted to know about it.

    name: bella
    age: 26
    job: in real estate business
    origin: frankfurt/ main, germany
    current city: cologne for some month
    passion: reading and travelling
    where i want to live: somewhere in the world         where i feel home

you traveled through south america, tell us a little bit about the background.
after my master’s degree i wanted to be off for a while. while studying i saved some money and decided to travel through south america by myself. i planed an eight-weeks-journey through parts of columbia, bolivia, peru and ecuador. unfortunately i had an accident after 4 weeks (including a hospital stay in peru) and had to abandon the journey.

why did you among all the places in the world choose south america? was it a long time dream or more a crank?
i am fascinated about central and south america since i was about 10 years old. to travel through these area was a long-cherished dream which i fulfilled myself – although only partly.

which countries did you visit and where did you like it most?
i went to columbia, bolivia and peru. in the end i can’t tell where i liked it most. the people have been so wonderful in each country and the countries itself have been unbelievable and fascinating.

how did you plan your journey? did you travel by yourself or with a group?
because of my master thesis i had nearly no time to plan the journey in detail, so i haven’t planed that much at all. the journey itself was a potpourri of everything. in columbia i visited a friend and ate the best colombian food in the world. i had a time on my own in la paz before joining a tour group for lake titicaca and the inca-trail.

the inca-trail was the big highlight. how did it feel to walk this special path and see machu picchu?
absolutely, the inca-trail was one of my highlights. to overcome 42 kilometer in the high altitude of several thousand meters surrounded just by nature. i am not an alpinist or a person who hikes regularly so i was stretched to my limits, especially at the death woman’s pass. but it was an amazing feeling to get to that point and beyond. that really impressed me and got me closer to the mantra “if you really want it, you will make it”. whereas i was a little disappointed by machu picchu city. of course it was impressive how the inca built the city but if you hike through nature for 4 days and arrive at machu picchu at 8 in the morning after an 3 hours walk, the longing for a shower and a snatch of sleep mitigates everything else.

you are a woman and blonde. how was it to travel through countries where you stick out?
i was not scared at all nor had problems in one of the countries. at the beginning it was a little weird because you just stick out and the people look at you but you get used to it. nevertheless i need to say that i had an uneasy feeling but that had nothing to do with the locals or the countries but with friends from germany who told me how bad and dangerous it is for a blonde woman to travel through south america. i can’t approve that. if you stick to certain rules, avoid certain areas and don’t walk the streets at night alone like in every city, in every country in the world there is nothing going to happen.

did you meet some interesting people?
i never met so many people from israel in my whole life. even the tourism is partly catered to israelis. there are coffee shops and hostels based on hebrew. apart from that i met a lot of britons who gave me an unbelievable funny time and helped me during my accident time. based on them i totally changed the idea i had of englishman and i still ask myself why the german men can’t have such good manners? in la paz i met two funny girls from new zealand in my hostel and we had some great days together.

which experiences did you make with the locals?
only positive experiences. while the stay at my friends’ house in bogotá i got to know his parents and the wonderful colombian cuisine because they made traditional food for me three times a day. further i met our peruvian tour guide maruja, our peruvian inca-trail-guide and some really nice and helpful nurses in peru. i made only exclusively positive experiences with the locals but i need to mention that i master spanish which helped a lot, especially at the hospital. oh, i nearly forgot my host family at lake titicaca. my host mum had 4 children and harbored me and a woman from scotland. it was amazing to see how happy they are even though they are so low on everything.

best food/drink?
arepas and the uncountable, delicious and fresh fruits in colombia, quinoa soup and the fresh fished fish on the islands of lake titicaca and of course the waking mate de coca, tea from leaves hand-picked in bolivia and the andean region of peru.

best location?
the island on lake titicaca where we slept. for me this was one of the most impressive places ever.

best moment?
on my third day i met a group of 6 guys. we jumped and run up and down the stairs and lanes from a mountain during the inca-trail to our tents for nearly an hour. i felt like a little child who jumped from stone to stone at a creek. it was not that good for my joints and knees but who cares.
another amazing moment was the night at the island on lake titicaca when we danced with the locals in traditional costumes and there were more stars on the dark black sky than i’ve ever seen before.

have you changed because of your journey? how?
yes, i think i changed. on a certain kind i became more self-reliant and fearless. and of course my desire to travel got stronger. on the other hand i am sad that i didn’t had the chance to stay till the end. the time i needed to stay at the hospital in peru was one of the saddest and worst experiences. but the journey made me realize that you can’t plan your life. you need to live and enjoy it the way it is because things can pass by so fast.
oh and one thing…don’t go paragliding in peru and always get a travel interruption insurance!

was it hard to come home and get back to normal in germany?
it was really hard for me to get back to germany and to my daily routine. i felt like a fish out of water and wanted to go back. i nearly hid myself away in my room. my parents and my friends sustain and supported me a lot during that time.

what do you do if you miss south america?
i made a lot of plans for coming journeys and walk down memory lane. i really want to go back as soon as possible.

and what’s next? what big travel-dream do you want to come true?
this year i plan some trips inside of europe. travel to some capitals. once i get a contract of employment of indefinite duration i am going to make plans for my next big journey. a travel-dream? yes of course i have one and it is huge. i want to go on a world tour or maybe “just” go back to south america.

→ No Comments

4/2013 green journey: public libraries

January 21st, 2013 by sophie · green journey

My green tip for this week is very simple:

  • use public libraries
We don’t actually need all the books we buy or all the books we read. Most of them get read once and afterwards they won’t be touched in years. So why shouldn’t we use the libraries or at least buy second-hand books? Maybe also sell the books we are sure of that we are not going to read them again, someone else will be happy to get a bargain.

→ No Comments

traveling pages: marie pohl – maries reise

January 19th, 2013 by nina · books, review

marie pohl
maries reise
first publication 2002
fischer taschenbuch verlag, germany
352 pages
languages: german, chinese

have you heard of marie pohl? no? don’t worry the most of you never heard of her but this is going to change….right now.
marie pohl is from germany. she lives in berlin and new york and is a writer, singer and actress. i got her first book “maries reise” (maries journey) at christmas some years ago. my dad thought the story of a young woman travelling through several countrys would be exactly what i like. and he was right.

it’s the year 1999. marie is 20 years old and she has a plan. bevore actually start her own life as a adult person she wants to get to know the life of others. she is curious about her generation, the awakening generation of the new millennium. in 8 citys all over the world she is trying to find a special 20 year old.

hometown: berlin, germany
want to find: a 20 year old lone fighter
found: Anna, 22, hedonist
in her hometown marie meets anna who just came back from living in israel. they talk about the problem you have when there are no boudaries when everything you do is ok, even for your parents. at the end you have just one choice: to go your own way. and it doesn’t matter which direction you choose – you will end where you have to be.

1. stop: havanna, cuba
want to find: a 20 year old student of biological chemestry, a 20 year old political dissident and a 20 year old cigarroller
found: yassel, 20, college dropout and waiter, yunior, 20, married with the wrong woman and the love
havanna is old houses, chevis, good music and colours. in havanna marie feels free and happy. in a minute everyone knows about the girl from germany living at mirtas house and wants to meet her. the people are friendly and openhearted. she meets yassel who never wants to leave cuba and yunior who married a swedish girl to leave the country although he loves danae. and marie? she is falling in love with pablo…

2. stop: buenos aires, argentinia
want to find: a 20 year old subway driver
found: sabrina and geraldine, the best tango dancer at the milogna
in buenos aires marie lives at the house of a professor who is the first to take her to the milogna – the place where tango is a religion. she meets sabrina the tangodancer with the tatoo who becomes her friend. she spends the nights out at the milognas watching the dancers and missing pablo.

3. stop: san francisco, usa
want to find: a 20 year old hiphopper, a 20 year old multimillionaire
found: justin, 20, winamp inventor and multimillionaire and jason, 20, westcoast hiphopper
san francisco is a multicultural area where marie lives at the house of the painter ronald. she tries hard to get in touch with justin frankel who invented winamp and sold it for 70 million dollar. finaly she could ask him the questions but he is not really sympatic. much more sympatic is jason, called gramps. jason is writing hiphopsongs for a long time and tells marie everything she wants to know about music and the dangorous life on the street.

4. stop: hanoi, vietnam
want to find: a 20 year old puppet artist and a 20 year old master chef
found: vy, 20, scooterrace-driver, binh, waitress and three italiens who have a restaurant
vietnam totally different to anything else. the first person marie meets is binh who is becoming her best friend in hanoi. but being in vietnam isn’t easy. finally she meets alex, gino and paolo who are friends, italians and restaurantowners and life is starting to get better. she meets vy who drives illegal scooter races with his friends. he takes marie to his house, to eat snake and to drive scooter races with him.

5. stop: tbilissi, georgia
want to find: the most beautyful guy
found: sukho, 30, theaterdirector and raki, 20, poet
first thing that happens – maries planeticket from her stopover istanbul to tbilissi got lost. the plane was waiting for over an hour but the passangers, all georgians, applaud and sing when she’s finally getting on bord. in georgia marie meets sukho who is director at a theater and with him a whole bunch of artists. she meets raki who is the best friend of laschi the famous writer. they take her to the theater, movienights, vernissages and concerts. she meets salome the sad girl who is the inspiration for everyone and learns that the most important thing in life is having a friend.

6. stop: jerusalem, israel
want to find: a 20 year old telling her how it is to live with the war
found: meital, 20, orthodoy settler and a lot of new friends
in israel marie meets people with a different political position and religious background. Kobby who is jewish, inventet a childcare and became student council. even the minister came to his party after the elections. Orit who is a soldat at a camp. Fuad and Auni the two palestinien guys from bethlehem who invite marie to a traditional arabic celebration. And Meital who lives in the israel settlement beit el and whoes parents are orthodox. meital explains her life to marie, how it is to be orthodox and to love an christian guy from the netherlands.

7. stop: helsinki, finland
want to find: the 20 year old circus performer and her friend the magician
found: anton, 22, club member and working for eso and Päivikki
marie don’t want to be in helsinki, it is grey and cold. but then she meet two cuban who invite her two a havanna-club-party an she stays. she meets anton who is member in 16 clubs and tells her everything about the so called nations. in helsinki marie savors the silence and calmness. she strolls around, goes to a crayfish-party at a nation, walz with the culture secretary and sings drinking songs. and at the end she goes to that havanna-club-party and it all ends where it started….with cuba, music and salsa.

every country marie travelled was special and different like the people who live in it. some are loud and noisy, some quiet and restful. the most of the people she met were openhearted, friendly and hospidable. although marie almost never found what she was looking for she always found something, somethig even better. people who showed her how they live, told her their storys and became her friends.

unfortunately the book is only available in german or chinese
but it’s really worth read it.

→ No Comments

3/2013 image of the week: »bumper car«

January 18th, 2013 by sophie · austria, image of the week, photography, reportage, vienna

this is a picture i shot in 2010 when i explored the “prater” in vienna. the prater is a nostalgic amusement park, a very great location to drift and shoot.

(c) sophie daum

→ No Comments

3/2013 green journey: coffee to go

January 14th, 2013 by sophie · green journey

Coffee to go – a great addition to our culture! but do we really need to produce so much rubbish?

  • the solution: a thermos mug!
    - you can buy them at many coffee places (i got one from starbucks which doesn’t leak out a drop, even if you have it upside down in your bag) , and they are all happy to fill your coffee in the mug you bring with you!
    - plus: your coffee stays warm for a longer time!

→ No Comments

2/2013 image of the week: »sea of galilee«

January 11th, 2013 by sophie · image of the week, israel

this photograph is shot while our journey through israel. it shows the sea of galilee and west bank.

(c) sophie daum

→ No Comments

2/2013 green journey: junk mail

January 7th, 2013 by sophie · green journey

we all get a lot of junk mail every week. there is one free sunday paper, which everyone trashes without actually having a look at it. and besides that we also get a lot of other advertising and free pizza menus. it made me think about how much paper rubbish we produce without actually wanting it. and there is such a simple solution:

  • just stick a little label on your mailbox: no junk mail!

→ No Comments

1/2013 image of the week: »karekare«

January 4th, 2013 by sophie · image of the week, new zealand, photography, reportage

it was a windy day at karekare beach in new zealand, which i shared with my very best friend chris. we took soy latte and sushi with us. and like every time we went on a trip, i had my camera with me, and chris brought his guitar and his knife. this picture remembers me of sitting in the protection of a cave with a great view over the beach. we could see everything and everyone and noone could see us.

©  sophie daum

→ No Comments

1/2013 green journey: gift wrapping

January 3rd, 2013 by sophie · green journey

new years makes you think about a lot of stuff. what happened last year, how did your life change and what missions did you accomplish. it also makes you think about the future, about which goals you want to reach in the coming year and which dreams you would like to come true. and of course, you think about what you would like to change in your lifestyle. maybe as i did, you also thought about, how you could be more friendly with your environment and how you could reduce the pollution you cause.

green journey will be one of our new blog-inventions we start in 2013. the weekly posts will give you some advice about what you could do to live more green. whenever you have a question or an idea, let us know, we would love to hear some feedback and share your ideas!


Christmas is just over and my full rubish bin makes me think about finding a better solution for wrapping gifts, than buying loads of paper, which gets thrown away after it got wripped off the presents. I love giftwrapping, its a big part of giving a present to someone. Still, I don’t like buying stuff which isn’t useful at all and gets thrown away in the end – like paper for gift wrapping. The fact that making paper is one of the most polluting industries on earth confirmes my point: The less we use, the better.

Thats why i spent some time to think about alternative solutions to actually buying gift wrap paper.
Here they are:

  • Reuse the Paper from gifts someone else gave to you!
  • Newspaper – Giftwrap
  • Shopping Bags
  • Sunday Comics
  • Food packaging
  • Banana leaves (if you have a plant at home)
  • Posters
And some other options, which are not free, but still reusable:
  • Reusable Cloth Bags
  • Kitchen Towels
  • Scarves
  • Recycling Paper


You are welcome to add your ideas as comments, so we can collect as many alternative solutions to gift wrap paper, as possible!

→ No Comments