Journal

Here you can browse our jounal and read all about our travels.
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North America

The turtle museum and leaving Mexico

After two days on the beach with changing weather and more rain, we decided to pack the motorcycles, visit the turtle museum and drive towards the boarder to Guatemala. In the rain we packed the motorcycles, said goodbye to the beach and drove the 10 minutes to Mazunte, where the National Mexican Turtle center (Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga) is located.   The National Mexican Turtle center is great and worth a visit! We would recommend that you visit on a dry day.     You can get really close to the turtles!   The museum had 7 of 8 marine-turtles (no leatherback turtle ), plus a lot of fresh water and land varieties     After a full day in the rain we stopped for the night at an auto hotel. Not even our raingear and my gore-tex Rukka pants could keep out the rain. We were soaked! Bring a line, so you are able to hang your clothes to dry.   It rained through the night, and it was still raining the next morning when we got up. The rain was light, and we stopped in a small and poor town to drink a cup of coffee. We didn’t have coffee and cake, but we did have coffee and tamarindo (right picture)… maybe you think it looks like something else, but it is not   On our way we visited a state government turtle conservation project “Campamento Tortuga”, which is a 3 km drive northwest from the light house in Puerto Arista. The turtles start to nest during June, but we learned that they only collect turtle eggs form July through September. Again we were at the right place, but at the wrong time. Timing means everything, when you want to experience nesting sea turtles and turtle hatching. The employee spoke a few words of English and in combination with our few words of Spanish and our translator on the phone, we learned more about the sea turtle season for nesting and hatching. And they had a small baby turtle in a tub, that we could see… and the employee picked it up. Look how tiny and cute it is . The sea turtle will reach adulthood after Ten to fifty years after hatching (depending on the species).   “The lost years”: From the time the hatchlings take their first swim until they return to coastal waters to forage as juveniles may be as long as a decade. This period of time is often referred to as the “lost years” since following sea turtles movements during this phase is difficult and their whereabouts are often unknown. Following the “lost years”, when they have grown to approximately the size of a dinner plate, their pelagic (open ocean) phase comes to an end and they return to coastal waters where they forage and continue to mature. During this time, these reptiles are highly mobile, foraging over large areas of ocean (Source http://www.seeturtles.org/sea-turtle-life-cycle/). During our visit it started to rain really hard, and we asked the employee if we could stay until the worst rain was over. They said “Yes”, and we were invited to join them for a cup of coffee. Our best chance of seeing sea turtles nesting and hatching is in July in Costa Rica or Panama. We have decided that our turtle hurt will have to wait until we get to those countries. We had a great time and after an hour the rain had stopped. The manager of “Campamento Tortuga” came out to see our motorcycles, and to have her picture taken with us. Thank you for your hospitality. It was time to leave Mexico and we got on the road to Guatemala. We were back on the motorcycles. Look at the pictures, this is how much rain we got in less than one hour… there was no water on the road when we arrived at the “Campamento Tortuga”. BUDGET AND EXPENSES: We have been keeping track of ALL our expenses during our travel. We travelled 86 days in Mexico, and including every expense in our Toshl Finance app on the phone in average we used 50 USD per day. Check out this overview of ALL our expenses in Mexico: “Expenses in Mexico (86 days of travel)”. A the Mexican border: First a meticulous examination of the motorcycles. Here we also to export the motorcycles and documenting our exit of Mexico in our passports. A lot of paperwork and it takes a lot of time, but the employee was very helpful and friendly.   Then to the border in Guatamala…   First at the immigration office and after that we had to import our motorcycles. Again a meticulous examination of the motorcycles making sure everything is in order (left picture). Also we were allowed to park our motorcycles in a no parking zone, while one of the locals was cleaning and looking after the motorcycles. We tipped him 5 Guatemalan Quetzal (0,80 USD or 5 DDK).   After 3 hours in total at the borders and we were ready to drive to our destination a hostel in Xela (Quetzaltenango) in Guatemala. It was only 70 miles (112 km), BUT… First we hit a lot of rain… yes, I got wet but this time my boots stayed dry Second we hit a lot of heavy local traffic – and it is really hard to pass if your can’t see a thing! We finally came to the hostel after 3 hours of driving. We could park the motorcycles behind the gates at the hostel “Hostel Argentina”. A nonprofit and volunteer-run trekking company called Quetzaltrekkers (https://www.quetzaltrekkers.com/xela/) are located at the hostel, so it is time for some hiking.

Hierve el Agua and Zipolite beach

From Orizaba we drove to Hierve el Agua, which translate into “the water boils”. The rock formations are created by fresh water springs, whose water is over-saturated with calcium carbonate and other minerals. As the water scurries over the cliffs, the excess minerals are deposited creating this sight (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierve_el_Agua): The underground bubbling mineral springs run into natural infinity pools on the cliff’s edge. The mineral-laden water is cool to cold but swimmable.   The view from the edge is amazing… Hiked to the bottom of Hierve el Aqua… it looked liked a petrified waterfall   The sky was getting more and more cloudy…   We put up the tent, and got up early the next morning hoping for a clear sky… not exactly a clear sky, but the clouds where rolling over the mountain edge (right picture)   We packed our motorcycles and put on the rain gear and rode towards the beach town Zipolite. We only made it to the gate at Hierve el Agua, because it was still locked. We had been locked inside the area of Hierve el Agua, which happens a lot of places when you stay overnight at tourist sights here in Mexico. The best part is that it keeps unwanted visitors outside, and we do feel safer when we camp in our tent. 5 minutes later one of the employees showed up, and we where on the road. First the weather just got worse…   But we were lucky that it cleared up again during the day. In the right picture you see us passing through a small town, but it had traffic lights. Because of all the plastic banners hanging across the street, it was really difficult to see the traffic lights, while keeping an eye out for speed bumps at the same time. The result was that I overlocked 2 or 3 traffic lights, nothing bad happened. Just saying that you really have to pay attention.   The road got more and more twisty, and we both used more and more of the sides of the tires… maybe my knobby tire (Dunloop 606) will last longer!   As we got closer to the beach we hit rain again, lowering our speed even more on the twisty road. Several places we meet landslides and mud on the road, or fallen trees/braches. We really had to be alert all the time… the plan was to reach the beach at 1 pm, but the road and weather condition’s added 1½ hour to our drive.   When we finally got to Zipolite we were exhausted, and because of the extra driving time, we didn’t make it in time for the turtle museum . A lot of rain had fallen during the day! The turtle museum was closed to next two days, and we decided to camp at this nice place at the beach. The Mexican people were really worried that we had to sleep in our tent because it was suppose the rain again during the night. We tried to explain that our tent is waterproof, but we also found out that it is really unusually to have a waterproof tent here in Mexico. The wind was blowing and though the tent was waterproof, we found out that is was not sand proof, so we had to put two of our bag onto the tent fly to prevent the sand of getting into the tent. The turtle museum was closed to next two days, which we spend on walking on the beach We also had time to exercise and eating fresh coconuts.   Updating our website with new posts for al of you, while enjoying a Michelada and the local tamales (steamed corn dough)  

On the road through Coatepec and Orizaba

The state Veracruz is known as a coffee-growing region and is home to the highest peak in Mexico “Pico de Orizaba” (5611 meter). We stopped in Coatepec, which is known for gourmet coffee. Coatepec was founded in 1701 and the coffee has been grown in the surrounding cloud forests for almost as long. In 2006 Coatepec was nominated as a “pueblo mágico” (magical village). The Mexico Tourism Board created the “Pueblos Mágicos” program to recognize places across Mexico that imbue certain characteristics that make them unique and historically significant. This promotes a series of towns around the country that offer visitors a “magical” experience – by reason of their natural beauty, cultural riches, or historical relevance. We just wanted to camp for the night, and in my tourist book I had found a Hostel were we could camp for 100 pesos. BUT… were we came to the hostel the price was 185 pesos per person for a campsite. Instead we found a hotel in the center of town for 300 pesos. We walked to the mail square “Pargue Miguel Hidalgo” and bought dinner. YES – I had a grilled corn with mayonnaise and added chili powder (not spicy)   Esben had “Doritos con esquites” – a bag of Doritos with boiled corn kernels, cheese, mayo, lime and chili powder (not spicy).   The next day we were back on the motorcycles riding on the twisting mountain roads… looking out for at coffee break.   We stopped in a tiny town in the mountains were we had coffee and three pieces of sweet bread. We only paid 36 pesos (2 USD or 14 DDK). Before we got back on the motorcycles the nice lady who owned the restaurant gave us a bag with ground coffee.   Back on the motorcycles we drove to Orizaba were we found some kind of motel where we had to pay 150 pesos per person per night. Sometimes you pay the for room, sometimes you pay per person and sometimes you pay per hour for the room (auto hotels). The next day we visited the free zoo in Orizaba.         What is special about the zoo is that it is located on both sides of the river “Rio Orizaba”, which runs through town   Several places you can walk across the river… just stay on the yellow path   And watch your head – or Esben watch your head It was a nice walk with statues of Cri-Cri cartoon characters (“The singing cricket”) in 1934. Here in Mexico the inventor of Cri-Cri, Francisco Soler, is compared to Walt Disney and Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket was inspired by this famous Mexican character.   We had coffee in the center of town were you can visit the “Gran Café de Orizaba”, what is special about this place is that it is designed by Gustave Eiffel, who build the Eiffel tower in Paris from 1887 to 1889. Like the Eiffel tower the “Gran Café de Orizaba” is built in iron. For lunch we found a family run restaurant that offered “comida corrida”, which is a set menu for just 30 pesos person. It is the cheapest “comida corrida” we have had. The dishes came with a jug of melonwater. Including tips we paid 70 pesos (7 USD or 50 DDK). This is what we got: Two entrees for each. To the left a bullion soup with pasta and to the right rice in green tomato sauce with tortilla   For main dish, to the left chicken with plantains and tortilla, to the right enchilada with salad on the side   We were so full after all the food and went for a walk in the local park, were we saw performing dancers with their band. Always visit the local parks or markets, because here in Mexico something is always going on. Some of the local parks also have exercise equipment, which is a great opportunity for us to do strength training. Next stop “Hierve el Agua”

Central America

Die Stahlratte adventure–life in the water (from Panama to Columbia)

Vising the San Blas Islands 1½ day we had time to snorkel at the nearby reefs and visit some of the smaller island that are known for the white beaches and waving palms. The place is also known as Paradise, so we swam from the ship onto the beach and walked all the way around the this island before breakfast.   Is it Paradise…? A Guna’s hut and wooden canoe. Yes, they lived in the hut and one of the Guna had a speaker, so he could play music. He visited the ship to get the speaker charged. Some of the bigger islands near the coast have electricity, but most of the islands doesn’t. Taking pictures of the starfish laying close the to beach of the islands   Snorkeling around the reef close to the islands was amazing, and Esben was trying to get a lot of good pictures. In total we took more the 800 pictures in 4 days! Esben going under water   Catching some of the amazing formations of the corals – the reefs here were a lot more colorful than the reefs at Cabo Pulmo in Mexico, and the diversity was bigger here   Getting a few close ups photos of the life under water      Stingrays trying to hide in the sand   A sand shark Playing around chasing the small school of fish It takes time, plenty of photos and good ideas to get the good pictures under water: (1) have a waterproof camera and play around, (2) try to get close to the smaller and bigger fish, (3) have patience, because sometimes you just have to lie still and wait for the fish to come to you, (4) have some pictures with people on and (5) be tough when you delete pictures and edit the ones your want to show to others. Taking video under water is even more difficulty, because it is so hard to keep the camera steady. After taking more than 800 pictures, we deleted more than 400 and had 376 pictures left of which we only picked 76 pictures for editing and further use (blog and Facebook). I pick the best pictures, but I also pick pictures that can tell a story. YES, we still have 300 pictures, that we didn’t have the heart to delete. These pictures fall into a category of moderate quality pictures, that brings out good (and bad) memories from our adventure. Saying goodbye to the San Blas Islands and great snorkeling by sailing into the sunset

Die Stahlratte adventure–life on the ship (from Panama to Columbia)

Passing the Notorius Darién Gap on our motorcycles is not an option, because the Pan-American Highway is a system of roads measuring about 30,000 km (19,000 mi) long that crosses through the entirety of North, Central, and South America, with the sole exception of the Darién Gap. The Darién Gap is a break in the Pan-American Highway consisting of a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest within Panama’s Darién Province in Central America and the northern portion of Colombia’s Chocó Department in South America. The gap begins in Yaviza, Panama and ends in Turbo, Colombia, stretching between 100 km and 160 km (60–100 miles) long. Roadbuilding through this area is expensive, and the environmental cost is high. Political consensus in favor of road construction has not emerged. Consequently, there is no road connection through the Darién Gap connecting North America with South America and it is the missing link of the Pan-American Highway (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dari%C3%A9n_Gap). Instead we went oversea from Carti in Panama to Cartagena in Columbia with Die Stahlratte When we got to Carti Die Stahlratte was already waiting. We just had to take all the luggage of the motorcycles and load the motorcycles on the ship.   Loading the motorcycles on the ship   It is a four day trip including a trip to the San Blas islands: 20th of July loading the motorcycles, getting comfortable on the ship and jumping into the water21th of July visiting the San Blas Island and getting to know the crew and the other travelers on the ship22th of July visiting the San Blas Island and taking off towards Columbia in the evening23th of July sealing towards Cartagena in Columba in open water, arriving in Cartagena before midnight24th of July in the port of Cartagena fixing immigration and import of the motorcycles to Columbia, unloading of the motorcycles Meet the other travelers: Juan from Spain and the two girls from Germany YES – here we are again, but meet the crew: the standing girl, Anna (Holland) and the captain Ludwig (Germany) sitting in the back of the dinghy Meet the ship: Stahlratte was born in 1903 in Holland, but today its homeport is Bremen in Germany. At birth the ships dimensions was 24.41 x 6.55 x 2.80 meters (left picture), but it has grown since, and today its is 38.50 x 6.60 x 2.85 meters, with a weight of 128 tons. The ship operates worldwide as a sail-training vessel, which means that you can apply to volunteer on the ship. It can carry a maximum of 22 people and up to 17-19 motorcycles. It has a lot of life experience, serving as a fishing vessel for 80 years and in 1984 the non-profit Verein zur Foerderung der Segelschiffahrt e.V. bought the ship.   In 1998 the ship was sailing for Greenpeace Life seen from the view of Die Stahlratte     Just spending time on the ship and in the water… it is warm and humid, with a temperature at 30 Celsius I just had to cool down with a Radler (beer mixed with lemonade), or jump into the ocean.   Just relaxing…   All meals was prepared and included in the trip Ending the two days at the San Blas islands with lobster and fish (we think that it is a barracuda)   Anna doing all the hard work, but the result was amazing! (Anna is vegetarian, so more lobster for us)   The local people are called “the Guna” (pronounced “Kuna”). The Guna people have lived in the eastern part of Panama for more than two centuries. Their language indicate that the Guna migrated to San Blas from Columbia after the 16th century. Today there is an estimated 50,000 Guna, where almost 32,000 live on district’s islands. The Guna inhabit only 49 of the 400 cays, but all the islands you see with coconuts is farmed by the Guna, who export coconuts to Columbia. Don’t take anything from the islands, because it is seen as steeling from the Guna. The locals often come and visits the ship and Captain Ludwig is respected by the Guna. Ludwig made a deal that they would clean the ship on the outside…   The Guna worked for several hours, and off course they were paid for their work, on top of that Die Stahlratte also pay to anchor the ship in the area of San Blas Islands. BUT… sometimes the Guna just came by to get food or beers. So the crew have given the Guna the nickname “Guna-aches” like the cockroaches, because they sometimes just come onboard to clear out the refrigerator. Here leaving with a six-pack of beer Climbing the mast on the ship, and Esben taking pictures   But everything comes to an end… and we had to leave the San Blas Islands to get to Cartagena in Columbia… not even one hour after leaving the San Blas islands I was seasick, and YES I did take medicine against my seasickness, that should prevent me from getting seasick. I felt so bad that I took another pill again three hours after the first one (one pill should last 8 hours). I still felt sick, and for the next 30 hours I looked like this. Not able to do anything, everybody else helped setting the sails, which makes the ship made staple on the ocean. Just saying that we had the perfect weather for sailing almost no wind, the waves that made my sick, was just the natural movement from the ocean. The Caribbean ocean is big, and the natural movement is a lot bigger than what I have ever tried in Denmark. I survived and finally we made it to Cartagena… those 30 hours felt like forever! In the port of Cartagena the water was still, and I felt better. Panoramic pictures of Cartagena, night and day The next day we could unload the motorcycles a 5 pm after immigration and import of the motorcycles was fixed (Yes, off course

Panama City and the Panama Canal

Panama and Panama City is known worldwide because of the Panama Canal. Visiting the Panama Canal has been on our “bucket-list” since we started this adventure. But first we had to drive 600 km from Almirante to Panama City. We left Bocas del Toro in rain, and was hit by two thunderstorms with heavy rain on our way to Panama City. At this point we don’t even remember, when we last time had one day without rain. We feel that the rain keeps following us – is it a curse? But we also had some dry weather and sunshine on the way to Panama City. Riding on the Pan-American highway (highway 1), enjoying the well maintained pavement, very light traffic and the four lanes. We still had to kill the last kilometers. Killing kilometers and time while sitting on the motorcycle can be a challenge… but I had time to change my position on the motorcycle, and we put some music on from the GPS. First Esben connects our SENA intercom headsets and then he connects the GPS (Garmin). The music on our Garmin (ZUMO) has been downloaded from our computer. Something about riding my motorcycle happens, when hard rock is being played – I love it!   During lunch we met these two iguanas. A lot more exotic than the ducks in Denmark   We got to Panama City – please enjoy the panoramic pictures Panama City has big contrasts between the colonial Casco Viejo (the upper panoramic picture) and a center with sultry skylines of shimmering glass and steel towers (lower panoramic picture). On the lower panoramic picture you also se a highway, which has been built in the shallow water around the historic part of town “Casco Viejo”. Off course we had to drive on that piece of highway. There was almost no cars (just saying that the traffic in Panama City is horrible and not not working at all!) and the view of the city is amazing. We drove out on the Amador peninsula (also called the causeway) south of Panama City, to get a view of the containerships that are waiting to go through the Panama Canal.   It is a 2 km palm-tree-lined calzada/causeway, that connects four islands of Naos, Culebra, Perico and Flamenco to the mainland. It almost felt like being in Miami (not that I have been there, but everything looked American) with big, bigger and biggest speedboats and sailboats lined up around the peninsula. We also passed by a colorful building, that turned out to be the Biomuseum. Panama has an astonishing biodiversity, and the museum is world-class. We just didn’t feel like visiting museums this day.   Back in the Casco Viejo we walked around and saw some of the few ruins that was built after 1674. Panama City was founded in 1519 by the Spanish, that makes Panama City the first European settlement along the Pacific. It was ransacked and destroyed in 1671 by the English pirate Captain Henry Morgan, leaving only stone ruins of what today is called Panama Viejo. Three years later Panama City was relocated 8 kilometers south in the area known as Casco Viejo, where the city was easier to defend. I 1821 Panama gained independence from Spain and became a part of Gran Columbia. 10 years later the regional confederation dissolved and Panama belonged to Columbia until November 3, 1903 when Panama declared its independence from Columbia and Panama City established as the Capital. We visited the fish market (Mercado de Mariscos). We had fish and shrimp cerviche – love it!     The fishing boats laying in the shallow water at the fish market Casco Viejo   Back to the Panama Canal and the impressive construction of the canal, which started in 1904 and was finished in 1914 opening a full transit from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. From May 12th, 1963 the Panama Canal begins operation 24/7, and on the 29th of February, 1968, an amount of 65 ships go through the Panama Canal in one day, that is the most transits on a single day. BUT… the first try in constructing the Panama Canal was made by the French in 1880, but financial troubles and diseases (about 22,000 workers died) made the initiative fail. In 1903 the government in Panama negotiates an agreement with the United States for the construction of the Canal, administration and operation. We visited the Miraflores Locks   On December 31, 1999 Panama takes over the administration and operation of the Canal. The Canal is 80 kilometers long, and since 1914 more than 1 million ships has passed through saving time and money. Depending on the size of the ship the transit takes 8-10 hours. The visitor center at Miraflores Locks was great   The Canal is an interoceanic waterway with a system of three lock complexes, each one with two lanes that operates as water elevators and raises the ships from sea level to the level of Gatun Lake, raising the ships 26 meters in total. From the Pacific ocean the ships first enter The Miraflores Locks, second continues across the Miraflores Lake to the Pedro Miguel Locks, third the ships sail through the Culebra Cut to Gatun Lake and fourth ending the transit at the Gatun Locks, lowering the ships to sea level at the Caribbean/Atlantic sea. This vessel went through the Miraflores Lock when we visited   The expansion of the Panama Canal began in September 2007. The expansion consisted of to new sets of locks on on the Atlantic side and one on the Pacific side, a 6,1 kilometer access channel connects the locks on the Pacific side to the Culebra Cut. The Culebra Cut is the Canals narrowest part and its 12.7 kilometers had to be excavated so bigger ships could go through. Also the water level in Gatun Lake was elevated. The expanded Canal is in the background of the picture, no ships going through. If you look close you

South America

Scuba diving, no gasoline and Brazilian hospitality (Santos)

Scuba diving in Laje de Santos Marine Park     Before getting to the dive site, we had 1,5 hours boat ride ahead of us. The tour was booked with Orion Diving in Santos, we tried on the rental gear, which was in good shape. It looked like it was gonna be a great day for diving.   Arriving at the dive site ready for the first of two dives. Going in with style!   Descent by the anker chain, only smaller waves, no current and okay visibility. Our hope was to see manta rays, that should be gathering in sheer numbers from May to September. Our first stop was at the shipwreck “Molfia” – the visibility was not great. It is our first time diving at a shipwreck, and it is not gonna be the last. Better visibility would have made the experience even better, but it is nature, and we are not in charge. It is always about getting the best out of the dive, and we have not done any dives the last 7 months, so it was great to practice again.   From the left a “Mero” (Epinephelus itajara), a “sea urchin” (Lytechinus variegatus) and a “pepino-do-mar” (Isostichopus bodianotus)     The “Pepino-do-Mar” was big! We also saw a lot of “Corcoroca” (Haemulon aurolineatum), which is the fish the two yellow stripes, here one of them goes through the eye. In the right picture the “Corcoroca” is together with, what looks like a “budião-verde” (Halichoeres brasiliensis).   NO MANTAL RAYS = NOT AN AMAZING DIVE. We talked to our dive instructor about the masses of manta rays. This year they have only seen one manta ray, which was 4 weeks ago, so it sounded like that the manta rays are not gathering here anymore. Great to get into the water again after 7 months without any diving. Still I continue to suffer from seasickness (I took medication before getting on the boat), and had to nap on the way back. I pretty much slept the whole way back, and didn’t have to throw up. The seasickness just makes the diving so much harder, and I feel that the seasickness is taking all my energy and focus from the diving. I am really looking forward to a dive, where I not feel sick from the boat ride before getting into the water. While I was a sleep on the way back, Esben really captured how big influence the trucker strike had on the ship traffic. The container ships are not able to unload their cargo, because there are on trucks to carry on the load. This is how it looked online. All the green and red symbols are ships waiting for the trucker strike to end, so they can unload their cargo   In Santos we were also welcomed by a Brazilian family Enjoying a traditional Brazilian dinner together with the family. It is an experience every time we get the change to visit a family, and to taste homemade food. This sausage fried in its own grease with onion, served with french-fries and manioc flour to soak up the grease. Don’t forget… more white bread. The mother of the family also made the dish “Feijoda”, which is the national dish in Brazil. It is savory stew of beans, beef and/or pork. Thank you so much Laura, for giving us the real taste of Brazil and letting us into your home .   Still the trucker strike was continuing, and still no gasoline. I had booked a place on Airbnb in Rio de Janeiro, but we didn’t have enough gasoline to drive all the way. We cancelled our reservation, and contacted Verena and Charles in São Paulo to ask if we could stay at their house until the strike was over. Off course we could stay with them, and we said goodbye to the family. < p align=”center”>Got a goodbye present, Laura’s homemade hotsauce! Love it it is amazing – Thank you so much We left Santos behind and drove to São Paulo. On our way we really got to see how the trucker strike had escalated. They are tried to close the freeways by setting tires on fire. The police were already there, and we could pass the blockade in the emergency lane.   We did make it to São Paulo, but for how long would we be staying there? Check out the next post to find out.

Relaxing with friends (Praia Guacá)

Its been a while since we last saw our friends Venera and Charles, who lives in São Paulo in Brazil. So how did we become friends? Well, we still love meeting both locals and other travelers on our way through South America, and maybe you remember our hike to Mount Tronador in Argentina (if not check out this post “The hike to Mont Tronador”)? So at the Otto Meiling Refugio we meet Verena and Charles, who happened to sit down at the same table. Quickly we started talking, and they told us they were from Brazil living in São Paulo, and we were more than welcome to come and visit, if we ever make it all the way to Brazil. The next day Verena and Charles left early to go on a glacier walk, and we returned with our friends to celebrate New Years on Camping Ser. During our travel we have kept contact on WhatsApp with Verena and Charles, and “YES!” we made it to Brazil. Meet Verena and Charles It turned out that Verena and Charles were going to their beach house in the weekend in Praia Guacá 200 km northeast of São Paulo, and they invited us to spend the weekend with them. So instead of just driving the 300 km to São Paulo we had to drive 500 km to reach Praia Guacà. So I started early, while Esben was still sleeping in the back. We did good on the bigger road keeping the speedometer around 80 km/h, but the last 120 km was slow going. We drove a long the beach, where the road was winding and going through several towns with tons of speed bumps and a speed limit of 30-40km/h. Beautiful, and we finally made it just before sunset. Charles were surfing on his paddleboard   Charles and Verena rent out the beach house on Airbnb, but this weekend nobody had rented it – what a luck  . The beach house has 16 beds, so what a perfect place for a big family weekend (in my family we have one family weekend per year). Big seating area inside and outside. Enjoying having lunch together with our friends.   Going for a hike together! To find the small trails you really need to go with someone, who knows where it is. In the second try Venera and Charles found the right trail   Butterflies – a real challenge for Esben   Made it to this beautiful viewpoint on the cliffs – GO DENMARK! It was really windy this day… After the walk we relaxed and enjoyed the local drink “Caipirinha”. Traditionally it is made with cachaca, lime and sugar, but this edition is made from passionfruit, cachaca and sugar. Love it Another walk on the beach, which we will never get tired off – love it , maybe because it reminds me so much about home… expect that the climate here is a lot warmer   The weekend passed by very quickly, and Verena and Charles left Sunday afternoon, and we could stay in the beach house for the next few days. This was just amazing, and thank you so much, Charles and Verena. We got a chance to update our blog, exercise and watch a movie while eating popcorn. One morning a went for a run on the beach… still keeping my snake average at 1 snake per week . We had some amazing days at the beach house. Verena also helped us book scuba diving at Laje de Santos Marine Park. This meant, that we would have to back track a long the winding beach road to Santos. We don’t like backtracking, but Verena and Charles had told us about this place, that makes 30 cm long pastels (a thin squared dough stuffed with whatever you like). What’s not to like? We got one with beef and one with Nutella and coconut   First we had trouble booking the scuba diving. Esben had written 10 e-mails to 10 different scuba diving companies, and we had also tried contact on WhatsApp, but we didn’t get a single reply! Thanks to Verena making several calls, she was finally able to book the scuba diving. Since we don’t speak Portuguese, we were not able to make the calls ourselves. It is just so frustrating, when we spend time on arranging tours, and nothing happens. For us this is very typical for Brazil, which also makes it more difficult for travelers like us, to experience Brazil and all its beauty. Then came our second problem. While we were in the beach house the truckers had begone their strike. So what does it have to do with us? Well almost everything in Brazil are transported with trucks including gasoline. Before leaving the beach house we went to three different gas stations, before we found one, that was not “out of gas”. < p align=”center”>So we made it to Santos…

Making art at the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (Curitiba)

We got to the Oscar Niemeyer Museum around lunchtime, just because we wanted the see the building itself   The museum consists of two building. The first one was designed in 1967 by Oscar Niemeyer, faithful to the style of the time, and conceived as an educational institute. The second building, a distinctive annex, is a reminiscent of a human eye and fundamentally gave the museum a new identity. The annex was completed and opened to the public in 2003. Oscar Niemeyer completed the “Eye” at the age of 95 (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Niemeyer_Museum). It was Wednesday, and I had read in the tourist book (“South America on a shoe string” from Lonely Planet), that the entrance was free on Wednesdays. So why not go? Yes, the entrance was free! The museum focuses on the visual arts, architecture and design and we were really fascinated about many of the different exhibitions. < p align=”center”>Like these two pictures…   It is allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but without a flash. So after feeling inspired by all the art, we started playing with the camera to create our own art between the art at the museum Movement     Is it standing or is it hanging?   These are the coolest instruments I have ever seen… (left picture), and in the right pictures, the art creates the illusion of a pistol   Usually we don’t visit that many museums, but sometimes it is good to do something different. This time we found it really fascinating and were inspired, so maybe we will visit more museum in the future. We also walked up the stairs and into the “Eye”, but at this moment a new exhibition was being set up, so no pictures. You better go there yourself. We left Curitiba, where even the dogs know how to use a pedestrian crossing. The Brazilians highway are loaded with trucks, and accidents happens everyday. On just one day we passed three accidents with trucks!   This is were we camped for the night, and for the first time tried our new investment – A BLENDER Our plan is to make different smoothies for breakfast, and cold soups for dinner/lunch. Here in Brazil it is still quite warm even when it rains. When it rains we have to close the doors in the van, so we when cook at the same time, the van becomes like a sauna. If we can make cold soups, we don’t have to cook.   The next day we had planned to go on a hike from the first ranger station at “Caminho do Itupava”, where a road leads further into the park. But we didn’t get far on the trail. The rain was just a drizzle when we started walking, but after just walk 30 minutes it was raining. It was not possible to see anything, and we decided to turn around.   It pretty much rained the rest of the day By a coincidence we ended up on the scenic road PR-410, the road was still amazing, but there was not much to see in the rainy weather Next stop is Praia Guaecá, where we are gonna meet up with our friends Charles and Verena, who lives in São Paulo, but have a house by the beach. We are planning on enjoying the weekend together with them. Brazil is still beautiful on a cloudy day. See you in Praia Guaecá.