reto mag

about the land and the people

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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.

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