An Act of Kindness (day 1): Handing a Seat and a Cup of Coffee

This is day 1 in the 30-day series “An Act of Kindness by a Stranger”. Today I did not encounter 1 but 2 friendly gestures worth sharing, which I consider a positive omen for this project.

We are camping at a petrol station near Campo Grande, in southwest Brazil. The Land Cruiser is being washed. There is no automatic carwash system where you put your car on a belt and the employee only has to push a button (a system that is practically non-existent in South America). Nope, washing cars is generally still done by hand, and so it is taking a while. Continue reading

An Act of Kindness by a Stranger

Sharing Time and Knowledge with a Stranger, here in Bhutan, where the owner of a restaurant taught us our first words in Bhutanese.

So often we encounter kindness, and so often from people we don’t even know. For the next 30 days I will share these acts of kindness by a stranger with you. For me to become more mindful and for you how simple joys can make the day of a traveler. Continue reading

Watching a 360-degree Waterfall in Iguaçu National Park in Brazil

The waterfalls of Iguaçu have been credited with all kinds of superlatives: the best, the highest, the largest, the most spectacular, the deepest, the most impressive. They create expectations and because Coen and I like to get what we expect, we had no problem waiting two days for the weather to clear before we bought our ticket, walked through the gate and stepped on the bus that drove us to the catwalks. Continue reading

Allowing a Place to Unfold

“I have some chicken on skewers left. Would you like one?” Marcel asked.

I looked at Coen; we just had noodle soup for dinner and aren’t hungry.

“With peanut sauce,” Marcel’s wife Sandra added with a smile.

Coen was lost: this guy lives for peanut sauce. The chicken, succulent thanks to a marinade, and peanut sauce came with a beer. We had already fallen for the charm of Pousada (guesthouse) Portal do Vento on arrival, but now we wanted to stay. Continue reading

Is Tourism always Welcome?

Leaves of the carnauba tree are braided into a hat.

With his six brothers and parents, Marinaldo lived on fishing. Day in, day out. “We would leave on Monday, be gone the entire week fishing in either the lakes or if there was not enough water we’d go out on the ocean and return on Saturday. We’d have one day at home and we were off again.” Continue reading

5 Places in South America to Listen to Silence

Silence in Deserto do Diablo in Northwest Argentina (©photocoen)“The sound of silence”
~Paul Simon

My parents had an album of Simon & Garfunkel. I loved listening to it and when I started learning English in highschool, one particular song triggered me: The Sound of Silence. I loved the melody and although I didn’t understand much of the lyrics, the words ‘sounds of silence’ made me wonder: did silence have a sound? It started listening to my surroundings and I concluded that the world was hardly ever silent. Continue reading

Eating Starch? – What’s the Secret to Making a Proper Beiju?

Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Why did I not think of this before? I’ll just buy tapioca and we’ll make beiju,” I concluded.

It was such a simple solution to such a simple problem: staying in a village where I couldn’t find bread and needed something for breakfast. Continue reading

5 Places to Connect with Wildlife in South America

Wildlife in South America: Birds of Prey in Parque dos Falcões in Brazil (©photocoen)One of South America’s great features is its wildlife. Not only can you see animals often and at many different locations, at some places you can touch them, caress them, connect with them. Here are some of my favorite places to connect with wildlife in South America: Continue reading