Journal

Here you can browse our jounal and read all about our travels.
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Latest posts

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. < p align=”center”>

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) < p align=”center”> 

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. < p align=”center”> 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 < p align=”center”><img width=”75%” title=”P7235774″ style=”display: inline; background-image: none;” alt=”P7235774″ src=”http://www.lessismore.one/wp-content/uploads/7918bf41f6b2_A925/P7235774_thumb.jpg” border=”0″ “=””>

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. < p align=”center”> 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

South America

Visiting the floating islands “Uro’s” (Lake Titikaka)

The Uro’s islands are located at 3810 meters above sea level floating in Lake Titikaka Roger was our guide for the day, you can find him on www.ioverlander.com   We left Puno behind us and was heading for the islands   We got to visit one of the local schools. Here Aymara is their first language, Quechua is their second language and Spanish is their third language.   40 kids at he age of 7-13 go to school here from 8am-2pm     Every tour that Roger makes is different. In total there are 120 floating islands in the Uro’s community, of which you can visit 100 of the islands. The islands have 3500 inhabitants, and the population is stable. Esben could fly with the drone to take a picture of some of the floating islands. A you see they are quite small. Roger has his own island. But how can the islands float? The islets are made of totora reeds, which grow in the lake. The dense roots that the plants develop and interweave form a natural layer called Khili (about one to two meters thick) that support the islands. The reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away fairly quickly, so new reeds are added to the top constantly, every 15-20 days. The islands are 3 meters thick, and the fresh straws forms the top layer, which is 1 meter thick. This is especially important in the rainy season when the reeds rot much faster. The islands last about thirty years (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uru_people). The second way to built and island (more traditional) is to use several rafts built from the straws, they are tied together, and on top the straws a stacked upon another.   Transport of the straws The straws are called “La totora” (in Latin “Schoenoplectus tatora”), and grow in Lake Titikaka. The plant is not only used for building the floating islands and houses, but also provides medicine and food for the Uro people. The straw can reach a height of 2-5 meters. The special construction of the islands make them soft, and as you walk around you can feel how you feet are sinking. They have stones underneath the wood fires stove, so they don’t let the island on fire. We have never been a place, where life is so relaxed, it felt like being in a different world with a different feel of time. Here the husband is doing the laundry (right picture).   Melt the locals. In the right picture you see Rogers wife     During the rainy season the water level in Lake Titikaka raises 2 meters, and so does the islands. The islands are anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake in a shallow area no deeper than 2-7 meters, keeping the islands together (left picture). They even have a network of roads, “water ways” that connect the district of the floating islands to other parts of Lake Titikaka (right picture).   The tour is cheap, we only paid 15 soles per person (4.5 USD or 30 DDK) for 4 hours. A part of the tour is to buy souvenirs from Roger, this way he can keep the price down for the tour, earn a little bit of extra money by selling souvenirs (some of them are homemade) and you get a memory from your visit. We also had lunch on one of the other floating islands. Fresh caught trout, and it was cooked to perfection (right picture).   The handcraft of the straw are amazing     They also make traditional boats. There are three sizes of boat, which each have a different purpose. The largest one (lower picture) are used to transport several people and tourists. Many years ago the Uro’s people were living on the boats and not on the floating islands. The boats were built completely of straw, and would only last for about 3-5 months. Today they fill up the sides with plastic bottles (2000-3000 bottles per boat) and wrap the bottles in a tarp before putting an outer layer of straws. This makes the boats last for 2-3 years instead. It takes about 1 month for two men to built a boat.   We had a great day, and as we returned back to Puno it was in a tuk-tuk. Yes, we are back in the country of tuk-tuks, and we love them < p align=”center”>  What are our plans for Peru? If you read the post “The pleasure of owning a Chilean vehicle” you already know, that I have been having problems with my right knee. The conditions of my right knee is not good, and I will not be able to do multi-day hikes in Peru. Instead we have decided to get the full “rock experience” here in Peru when we get to Cusco, but first it is church day.

How hard can it be to get to Peru?

The answer was: “Harder than you would think”, and would we ever get to the pre-Inca cemetery Sillustani in Peru? We already knew, that it would be almost impossible to drive across the border from Chile into Peru, due to the Chilean law. In Chile the law is, that you can’t leave from Chile and into Peru with a Chilean vehicle as a foreigner without a Chilean resident identification card. Well, for several years the Chilean Aduana hasn’t been very strict about it, so we drove to the border to give it a try. Well, we were not allowed to drive out of Chile, and had to turn around. We drove back to Arica, and shopped some food. As a dietician I also go shopping for local fruit and vegetables, but I guest the locals have other priorities. I have never seen, the use of a baby lift in that way, well it protects the beers as it protects the babies.   We know that the same law apply between Chile and Bolivia, but that we can cross from Chile into Argentina with a Declaration Jurada. Still when being in Arica it is a very long drive south and east to cross from Chile into Argentina, so we decided to take our change at the border between Chile and Bolivia, where we had driven into Chile. Also the Chilean Aduana at the Chile-Peru border advised the same thing. It is a 200 km drive, with an ascent of 4500 meters in altitude. As we left Arica we stopped, at the worlds largest Coco Cola sign made out of old glass bottles. We drove all the way to the border, but the Chilean Aduana told us, that they could not let us pass. Since we had just  come from Bolivia one week ago, we explained that we just wanted to go back to Bolivia after renewing all our papers on the vehicle in Arica. The employee told us, that only his boss could give us a special permission to cross from Chile into Bolivia. Well it turned out, that the boss for the Chilean Aduana was at work, at the border going from Bolivia into Chile, so we had to drive the 10 km black to talk with him. We drove back, waited 30 minutes and got to talk with the boss. We explained him everything, and at the end he made a special permit (an exception), that we could leave Chile and drive into Bolivia on our Declaration Jurada. With the special permission we drove the 10 km to the border crossing into Bolivia and the Chilean Aduana would let us out of Chile. We could finally get a temporary vehicle permit at the Bolivian Aduana, which took forever since we had to get copies of the title, passport and the Declaration Jurada and the copy machine was not working. After spending more than 4 hours at the border we could drive into Bolivia. It was not like the employees were getting stressed out. Finally we were in Bolivia where we would drive north towards Lake Titikaka and cross from Bolivia into Peru. We were tired after the long border crossing, and we quickly found a place to wild camp just outside Sajama National Park (Bolivia). We got up the next day back tracking to Oruro, passing it for the fourth time during our trip. Oruro is the city, which we has ranked as the dirtiest city in Bolivia. This day we passed it without stopping and headed towards the border. We did make one stop, at some of the funeral towers a long the way. Here they are called chullpas.   The Chullpas are old traditional Carangas tombs made of solid mud bricks (wallin or adobe) or stones.  They served as ceremonial sites, and was built between 1200-1550 A.D. They are located in the Bolivia highlands, where the Carangos Lordship were governed by Mallku, the Carangas Chief. The “window” were pointed towards east due to the sun rise, and I stuck my head in to see what was left.   During the afternoon we cross into Peru without any problem. It was just a relief. As the sun was setting we found a wild camp spot at the shore of Lake Titikaka. A very relaxed spot, where the locals came to water their cattle and horses. We celebrated our arrived in Peru by making Danish meatballs “Frikadeller” The “frikadeller” taste amazing in toasted ryebread/“rugbrød”, which we had found in the big supermarket, Lider in Arica back in Chile. Dinning in Peru: “frikadeller” on toasted ryebread with mustard and pickled red cabbage. The taste of home .   Finally in Peru we made it to Sillustani located on the shores of Lake Umayo near Puno in Peru – love the landscape   The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpas, are the vestiges of the Qulla people, who are Aymara conquered by the Inca Empire in the 15th century. We had already seen chullpas in Bolivia, but these chullpas where different in construction, and much more impressive (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sillustani). We are talking BIG rocks.     The structures housed the remains of complete family groups. They were to house the Aymara elite of the immediate pre-Inca and Inca period. Unfortunately more of the structures have been damage by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished. In the left picture you see a “chullpa-ramp” used for building the chullpas. When the had reached the right height and was finished, the ramp was removed.   Many of the chullpas at Sillustani show pre-Inca characteristics that were later redressed with Inca stone blocks    Chullpas from the Tiwanaku epoch The only openings to the buildings face east (like the ones we visited in Bolivia), where it was believed the Sun was reborn by Mother Earth each day. Corpses were not intentionally mummified, but in the dry environment created by the closed tomb, they survived for centuries. Most mummy bundles

The pleasure of owning a Chilean vehicle (Arica, Chile)

When to buy a vehicle or when to rent? If you have limited time, which means that you are planning to travel 4 months or less we would recommend renting a vehicle. Yes, it is more expensive to rent, and after the renting period, you don’t get any money back. Remember that you have to spend time on buying and selling (we recommend 2 weeks for buying and 2 weeks for selling), and you can’t leave before you have sold the vehicle, unless you can find someone, who will sell it for you (it is all about trust). Here is our version of “the pleasure of owning a Chilean vehicle”: 1. The vehicle “Lance” (name your vehicle) is ours, this means that we can keep Lance as long as we want or can afford to have him 2. We can go, wherever we want (no renting rules)   Love wild camping 3. He is not only some kind of transportation, he is our home   Eating in the van is just a part of our van-life no matter if its in the bed, or if we have put up the table. Here in Arica we bought ceviche right next to the road, and was enjoying lunch on the front seat (right picture).   4. We can custom fit Lance to our needs fx mounting a rack for a bicycle on the rear end, and making a new cabinet for the camping chairs   5. We have to maintain him fx oil change, new brake pads and discs, new tires, repairs of the starter motor etc. Maintenance takes time, and sometimes it can take days, so if you have a tight schedule during your trip, think about the condition of the vehicle before you buy or rent.    6. We also have to maintain the interior fx painting of wood, filling up the gas bottle for cooking, interior light, the electrical cooler etc. When we bought Lance, we chose to invest in a 155 Watts Solar Panel and a deep cycle battery, this set-up can keep us running for 2 days without driving.   The pictures might need an explanation: “Our electrical cooler died”. Esben had changed a part in La Paz, but one week later it stopped cooling again. We spend a whole day visiting 3-4 different stores in Arica to find a new one. It was not easy to find one, that would fit into our custom made cabinet. BUT… we did it! Found a Coleman, that Esben had to rewire to connect it with our solar panel. It works so much better than the old one, now the beer and white wine gets really cold. When owning a vehicle we have to fix things ourselves, this means that we also spend money on buying tools, that will do the job, this time we had to buy a soldering iron.     7. We have to make sure, that all the paper work is in order. These are the rules in Chile: a. Pay the mandatory annual insurance in Chile called “Consorcio”. b. Pay the mandatory annual municipal tax called “Permiso de circulacion”. c. The vehicle have to go through “Revision tecnica” once a year (a manual inspection of the vehicle to check if is safe to drive on the street). d. Have a print of the title called “padron”, which you can get at Registro Civil. with a, b, c, and d in order you are ready to travel in Chile. If you want to drive across the border you have to make sure this is in order too: e. Get a Declaracion Jurada at a Notary. This document is valid for 6 months (has to be renewed every 6 month in Chile) and states that you as a foreigner can leave Chile into Argentina with a Chilean registered vehicle, when you present the Declaracion Jurada at the Chilean Aduana (the customs at the border). From Argentina you can cross the border into Uruguay, Paraguay, Brasil and Bolivia to see more of South America. It can also be a good idea to have a print of the law “Capitula 4: Salida de Mercancias”, section “17. Otros documentos de Salida Temporal” referring to undersection 17.2. and 17.2.3. f. Buy an insurance that cover the vehicle outside Chile fx MAPFRE makes an insurance that cover Argentina, Brasil, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. We recommend buying it in Chile (at one of their offices) or online, simply because it is easier. g. Don’t get any traffic tickets. You can not sell the vehicle, before you have paid the fines. Yes, we did all of this and so can you. Taking the vehicle through Revision Tecnica first time (left picture) and second time (right picture). Lance didn’t go through the first time, but after chancing a few light bulbs and having the rear brakes adjusted, he was ready for one more year on the road.   We are the loving and proud owners of Lance. Would we do it again? “YES”. We love our van-life as a way of living a life on the road. Along the way we have become wiser, especially what is important and what works for us, when living a life on the road. Not everything was practical in Arica, we also took some time off to be tourists. We do spend a lot of time being tourists, but we spend even more time on daily living on the road, which makes Lance such a big part of our lives when traveling here in South America. Visiting the monument of the unknown soldiers   The tomb was erected in the memory of the Chilean soldiers who gave their life for their country without their remains being identified. The memorial site is located on a high cliff “Morro de Arica” overlooking the city and the harbor. Tasting the local ceviche – love ceviche   I don’t consider myself as a “museums-person”, but during this trip Esben and I have