A Butterfly in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest

Butterfly, Amazon Ecuador (photocoen)

“Happiness is like a butterfly. If you chase it and chase it directly, it will elude you, but if you sit quietly and busy yourself with other things, it will come and light upon your shoulder.” ~Old Chinese Proverb

What’s so special about a butterfly, you may ask. Well, I got a visit from one who cleaned my keyboard. Seriously. Continue reading

What Makes a Sunset so Special? – The Mashpi Eco Lodge

Sunset at Mashpi Eco Lodge, Ecuador (©photocoen) “You know what would be a great idea?” Coen asked as we moved up the last steps of the stairs that brought us to a 30-meter-high watchtower.

“What?” David, our guide, asked.

“To serve champagne upstairs. Wouldn’t that be a fantastic surprise?”

David didn’t respond and we continued our way up. Continue reading

Admiring Wildlife from a Canopy Walkway – The Pakaas Jungle Lodge

View of Pakaas Lodge Swimming Pool & River (©photocoen) For weeks we had been traveling through the Amazon Forest in Brazil. Some areas consist of virgin forest, but large parts have made way for cattle ranching. The region is known as the Arc of Deforestation. From Mato Grosso we drove into Rondônia, the state where in the 1980s each minute an area the size of a football field was deforested – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a period of 10 years. The speed of cutting down forest has diminished, but the deforestation is an ongoing process. Continue reading

Exploring São Paulo – Meet Extraordinary People & BossHouse

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. Continue reading

Pousada Vila Bela Vista in Jericoacoara, Brazil

At 6 a.m. the sun is rising rapidly above the horizon, yet not burning fiercely as it will in a couple of hours. I stroll over the sandy plain dotted with shrubs that feed the local horses and donkeys. Behind me is the village of Jericoacoara, along Brazil’s northeast coast. In front of me are only dunes. They attract like a magnet. Continue reading

Relaxing at Pousada Vila Bela Vista in Preá (Northeast Brazil)

I am lying stretched out on a wooden bed covered with a brightly striped bath towel. The sun prickles my skin and a breeze caresses my body, preventing me from overheating (note to self: next time slather myself in sun lotion before lying down).

I look at the ripples on the transparent, blue water of the swimming pool – large enough to swim laps and surrounded by wooden walkways. Behind the pool a fence of woven branches of a local shrub separates Pousada Vila Bela Vista from the white sand beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading

Pousada Portal do Vento Along Brazil’s Kitesurfers’ Beach

Edited to add, 2017: Marcel and Sandra no longer run this guesthouse, but Kite World Wide does.

At the end of a long day of exploring of Brazil’s beaches we meet the kitesurfers first. It’s late afternoon and Coen and I are in search of a place to spend the night. We drive onto Tatajuba Beach and see the sky filled with a dozen colorful kite sails: with wind force six the skillful kitesurfers put on a fantastic show of sailing at enormous speeds including spectacular jumps. Continue reading

Camping in an Ocean of White

Salar de Uyuni, in southwest Bolivia, is a vast ocean of white of 130 by 90 kilometers surrounded by the Andes Mountains – it is said to be the largest salt flat in the world containing some 10 billion tons of salt. At the entrance are series of salt pyramids that have been scraped together from the surface and are ready to be transported to the nearby village of Colchani.

Wherever we look we see white. It looks like a world of fresh snow which has not yet been disturbed by footsteps. Continue reading

The Rewards of Rough Camping

I lean backward, balancing my body on my tailbone, holding my hands under my 45-degree-bent knees. With my feet just reaching the surface I can perfectly balance myself in the river, sitting on the laterite road. According to our GPS the river should run 1.8 kilometers from here! However, it is rainy season and the river has flooded vast stretches of the countryside, including the road. Continue reading