Travel Memories – The Beauty of People

Workshop in Quito, Ecuador (©photocoen)In Quito, Ecuador, Coen and I camped in a car workshop for a couple of weeks. We were surrounded by broken vehicles and mechanics whose overalls were black from grease and dirt, and the noise of a blaring radio. This was not the first time we were camping in a workshop; we had done so before during our then ten-year overland journey in Asia and South America.

You get used to many things when traveling for a longer period of time, but each time I am flabbergasted by the hospitality of people and the confidence they have in us. Continue reading

Visiting an Awarak Community in Guyana

Santa Rosa Church's Graveyard in Moruca, Guyana (©photocoen)The music stopped. Silence took over, only interrupted by the twittering of birds. In her new coat of snow-white paint, the recently restored Santa Rosa Church stood outlined against a green landscape of coconut trees, palm trees and weeds that were about to reconquer the cemetery around the church.

Wooden crosses, bare wood or painted blue or white, bore the names of the deceased. Their dates of birth and dead were referred to as ‘sunrise’, or ‘dawn’, and ‘sunset’. Across from the church stretched the savannah, the late afternoon sun turning the grass into a mixture of golden yellow, warm red and soft green. The Moruca River cut across the savanna, which was interspersed with narrow waterways; families and their kids were quietly paddling in their dugout canoes. It was a moment of bliss. Continue reading

The Perfect Reason to Visit Venezuela

Open your eyes and let the adventure begin!

Open your eyes and let the adventure begin!

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ~Jawaharial Nehru

Los Llanos are vast plains of grasslands and savanna in both Colombia and Venezuela. In Colombia we had traversed them for six days to reach the Venezuelan border. We felt a bit saturated with the landscape, but now had to cross the Venezuelan Llanos as well, this time to get to the Andes Mountains. Continue reading

How Meeting a Stranger Can Be More Than ‘Just’ a Meeting

Meeting a Strangers (©photocoen)Even after more than ten years on the road I can still be surprised how one meeting can lead to all sorts of events, adventures and other meetings. Maybe because I never take them for granted. It is not something you can plan, or find in a guidebook. You can plan a meeting, but you can’t plan all results of such a meeting. And that’s where the charm lies: the unexpected. Continue reading

Slow Living – Inroads to Suriname

Having a Social Life in Suriname (©photocoen)You can travel; you can slow travel; you can stop for a while and stay in a place. We’ve done all three and each have their charms. What I miss about the first two is a social life. Sure, when you slow travel you have more opportunities to meet people than in ‘regular’ travel, and sometimes you do meet kindred spirits, but that is not the same thing as having a social life. Continue reading

Slow Travel Through Waterfalls

Waterfall at Ponto de Pedra, West Brazil

Waterfall at Ponto de Pedra, West Brazil.

What is the link between slow travel and waterfalls, you may ask? Does seeing the Niagara Waterfalls or Iguazu Waterfalls slow you down in any way? On the contrary, you may argue. These type of destinations we often visit for the destination itself rather than looking for anything interesting along the way. Continue reading

Peru’s Best Ice Cream, Produced by Deaf People – Meet Heladería Holanda in Cajamarca

Peru's best ice-cream - Heladería Holanda, Cajamarca (©photocoen)Several travelers and locals had mentioned it to us: Heladería Holanda, an ice cream parlor in Cajamarca. Since the owner is Dutch, and so are Coen and I, it made sense to visit it when in Cajamarca (what is it about wanting to connect with your countrymen when abroad?…). The ice cream parlor is tucked away along the spacious Plaza de Armas, downtown Cajamarca and not easy to spot, which is quite different in Baños del Inca, a town 3 kilometers from Cajamarca. Here one of Heladería Holanda’s ice cream parlor is brightly signed and easily visible from the parking place of the hot springs that the Baños del Inca is famous for.

Heladería Holanda in Cajamarca

Cajamarca is home to Heladería Holanda’s first ice cream parlor. They can’t hang a Dutch flag outside, or color its outdoor walls orange because the building is part of the national monuments that characterize a city. I have to say, I love it when a city is strict on banning all kinds of neon or otherwise ugly advertisements – it makes a place so much nicer and friendlier to wander about.

The entrance is a narrow hallway, after which we immediately recognize ‘home’. Not so much because of the ice cream, which invokes more an Italian association, but for the orange-colored walls and posters featuring the Netherlands. The employees wear orange shirts and caps. Both are women, and later we learned that a large part of Holadería Holanda’s staff consists of single mothers. The second group of employees is deaf people, about which more later on. Continue reading

Slow Travel – Does it Really Matter Where You Are?

Slow travel – Camping in a workshop in Quito, Ecuador (©photocoen)It’s weird, it’s funny, it’s incredible. We’ve been camping here for close to four weeks and I’m still somewhat in awe of us being here: in a workshop.

We had planned, for as much as we do, to stay a week in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. That should be long enough for our to-do list: new glasses, new business cards and decals for the Land Cruiser, getting our shoes fixed, and there were some items on Land Cruiser’s to-do list as well. Oh, and we wanted to do some sightseeing of course.

The Land Cruiser Needs Maintenance

Here’s the thing about traveling vs. living somewhere. When you live somewhere, you have addresses, contacts. You know where (not) to go. When traveling, this is hardly ever the case. Finding a place to buy new glasses, get your shoe fixed, go to the hairdresser are all time-consuming actions because you need time to shop around. It’s one of my least favorite things I do. Continue reading

A Successful Children’s Home in Suriname: Sukh Dhaam

Kids painting Sukh Dhaam's church.

Kids painting Sukh Dhaam’s church.

It is Friday afternoon and it has been a long week of writing and researching. I’m tired.
“I’m going to lie down for a bit and listen to some music,” I tell Coen over lunch.

“After you do the dishes, I’m sure,” he responds, but with a smile. He has done the cooking so the dishes are mine. I’ve never had the discipline to do the dishes right after a meal, why would I do so now? The reason is simple: if I wait another twenty minutes or so, about a zillion ants will have beaten me to it, which is not exactly my idea of a proper dishwasher.

The spray can is working overtime; the ants and I are in serious combat to gain the upper hand. Hygiene is taken to another level. Leaving my spoon on the table, with which I just stirred sugar in my coffee, is punished immediately – the table top will soon be black. Ants were the cause of our first laptop to give up (they like the heat inside, and had eaten away the cool pad). Are they the reason for this laptop to have hiccups as well?

Done the dishes, been to the toilet. I lie down in the hammock strung on the one-meter wide veranda of our guest lodgings, which is part of Sukh Dhaam’s children’s home in Alkmaar (Sukh Dhaam means House of Happiness). Continue reading

Exploring São Paulo – Meet Extraordinary People & BossHouse

São Paulo (©photocoen)Throughout our more-than-ten-year journey we’ve met people in intriguing ways, which in some cases has led to a long-lasting friendship: people who stopped us in the street to invite us to their house, an invitation through our website. We love the sightseeing and roaming-the-countryside aspect of traveling; however, in the end our warmest memories are always related to people.

I was reminiscing on this the other day with Coen, as we tend to do every while. Admiring a sunset above the ocean, sipping from our pisco sour cocktail, talking about the rich lives we lead… I figured it might be a nice idea to focus on a short series on exactly this aspect of traveling: meeting people, how beautiful they are, and how one thing can lead to another. Here’s part 1.

Meet Our Friends & BossHouse in São Paulo

São Paulo is South America’s largest metropolis and the place to go if you love international cuisine, entertainment and nightlife. Coen and I weren’t particularly attracted to it as its huge (17 million inhabitants!) and didn’t really have an image of being a safe place. There was no reason to visit it until we received an invitation from Milena. Continue reading

Organic Chocolate in French Guiana: Walapulu

cacao bean

cacao bean

Paying 5 euros (6 US dollars) for a chocolate bar? What kind of price is that?

Yves Delecroix’ presentation of his chocolate making process came with une dégustation – a tasting of his homemade, organic chocolate. You don’t need to be a connoisseur to immediately appreciate this pure chocolate, made with 72% cacao.

Suddenly 5 euros is not that bad a price to pay. Continue reading