Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil, 2009
From January the 1st to May the 16th 2009 I walked, hitchhiked, flew and jumped around South America. I first wanted to plan everything; where to go, what to see, when to head back etc. As every graduated high school student do it these years - the boring Lonely Planet-way. But luckily a man from Chile living in Denmark, advised me that I should go without any bigger plans, "just buy a ticket and go", he guaranteed. I bought a one-way ticket and I arrived in Santiago de Chile without any plans nor any expectations but to travel away my youth. I was a young fella ready to fill up my backpack.
After some days in Puerto Varas and Pucon I continued to La Serena - a town situated at the shoreline. My parents called me by phone to say that my sister had passed her undergraduate project with the highest grade you can achieve. It was hard not to stress – I was just strolling around SA by then. In La Serena I met a Canadian guy who studied Geography in Mendoza, Argentina. We decided to go to the desert to do camping for some days. We bought lots of food and rum + coke and hitchhiked into the desert of the northern Chile, Atacama desert. We put up our tent on the beach, just next to the noisy, roaring sea. In the nights we cooked on a small fire. We drank rum and talked about life.
Further north to Antofagsta, San Pedro de Atacama; where tourists meet. Then Iquique and Arica; spent time with two Canadian guys, Pat and Matt and an Italian guy who was a HIV-positive, he wanted to have a fun end of his life traveling SA. Col guy. I did paragliding and we surfed in Arica and celebrated the big Latin American carnival.
In a little car I crossed the border to Peru and went to Arequipa. I did a three days hike in the impressive and deep Colca Canyons. I ate some food that my stomach didn’t like; I took a shit with the most magnificent view on top of the canyons. That night I had nose blood, I was shitting like an UZO, I threw up and I was freezing like maniac. I really missed to travel with a friend. The hotel was so empty, so cold, no one was in the restaurant, all the keys were hanging in the reception, the streets were empty and the air was thin.
Cusco too was invaded with tourists. I was still sick when I arrived. I sat in front of McD waiting for the door to open. I bought three burgers and some coffee, I wrote my diary. In Cusco I met the Canadian guys again. We went to clubs at night, danced and hung out with some Australian girls.
Of course we went to the abandoned town of Machu Picchu // Wayna Picchu. Beautiful at 6 am in the morning when the grass still was wet and the lamas still were hungry. When we drove back to Cusco, some locals had blocked the road with big stones and trees. The dewy windows made the whole situation difficult to understand. They were not satisfied with the past years increased tourism.
Lake Titicaca was my next stop. I stayed one night at “Isla del Sol” - “The Island of the sun”. Then I continued down to La Paz. In the world’s highest capital city I visited the San Pedro prison. It was an unforgettable experience… A big, black guy came up to us at the square, I was with some guys from Israel, “do you want to see the prison from the real side?”. We got in there, and our guide was a dutch man who had been arrested at the airport El Alto with several kilograms of cocaine, which he wished to smuggle into Amsterdam. Bad luck for him, maybe he is still there when you read this? Maybe he'll die in there? We also had a bodyguard protecting us inside the prison. Our bodyguard had killed three people and received a lifetime sentence – but we felt safe the most of the time. When the tour around the prison came to an end we were shown into a naked room. We were told to shut up and not to tell anyone about the following session; we could buy as much cocaine as we wanted. Two Australian guys bought six lines for 100 Bolivianos. They used a banknote to sniff the white powder, to get high, to get wild, to get gateway to get away. They were shaking a lot, so scared about the whole setup. After being in prison for four hours we met with freedom again. Redeeming.
Some days later I went mountain biking down “The worlds most dangerous road” The North Yungas Road (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yungas_Road) running from La Paz to Coroico. It’s 61 kilometres long and pure downhill. We started out in an altitude of 4550 m.a.s. surrounded by snow capped mountains and minus degrees. We finished off swimming in a warm pool 1200 m.a.s. - surrounded by singing birds, fruit plantations and 32C degrees. It was simply just stunning.
I planned to climb a mountain in La Paz but the Irish guy who was supposed to join me went to one of the cocaine bars around the town and I didn’t see him anymore. I hope he is still alive. And so I cancelled my trip to the heights.
From La Paz, I went down to Sucre, the white, sleepy city in the mountains.
Potosi, 4,090 m.a.s., was the next place where I nearly couldn't breathe! Lots of dust in and around the city and not really anything groundbreaking going on there. The city was growing as fast as London and Paris from 1500-1700. So to see the village now, left alone, was pretty scary. Nothing was left, except from a big, beautiful church as a sign of Potosi’s heydays.
Went into The Rich Mountain, “Cerro Rico” where some miners still work 10 hours a day to extracting different minerals and metals. The mountain peak is not poor yet, but not very rich either. First a man builds a little bomb of the dynamite that we bought back at the miners market and suddenly he lit the one meter long fuse just in front of us. We took pics with the burning fuse around our necks. When time was in he ran down to place it in the sand. We waited desperately... OMG! It was such a powerful explosion we felt… This was a method to get further in to Cerro Rico. Afterwards we went into the mine, the caves. Totally dark, only light from our headlights showed the way. Small cars were rolling on rails inside the mountain, and we had to cling to each other when a car came by. One girl took my hand as a reflection of her fear. We went down and down, deeper and deeper into the heart of The Rich Mountain. The air was so polluted by asbestos, one of the reasons why all the miners die in an age of 40-50 years old. We made a stop near to “the miner’s Buddha”, for whom they prayed after every ended day at work. They adored him.
We sat by the Buddha drank 96% alcohol, smoked homemade cigarettes and chewed coca leaves which relieve most pain naturally. The miners chewed the leaves the whole damn day, otherwise the physically demanding work would be too hard. Inside we met 12 years old boys working like men. We gave those people leaves, soda, alcohol and cigarettes.
I leaved the ghost town and arrived to Uyuni in the night. Uyuny is the gateway to Salar de Uyuni “The desert of Salt” – a white desert, looking like a place on another planet. Slept there for the night, bought a trip in a jeep starting the following day. In the centre of this desert I visited “The cactus island” and took some weird pics.
Then I continued to Tupiza, characterized by dramatic red escarpments.
In Salta, Argentina I met a guy from USA, a guy from Peru, and two Argentinean girls. We started to hitchhike direction south, and after a crazy long time of waiting for cars to take us we arrived in Cachi in the back of a 4X4. A little, little village in the Andes mountains. Next day we stayed by one of the girls sisters in Seclantas. They lived in mud houses in the middle of nowhere. They cooked for us the whole day; scones wit jam, and in the night we got small empanadas with cheese and meat. I ate till I couldn’t walk. We continued hitchhiking all the way down to Cafayate.
Down there we went hiking and The American guy, Pete, explained to us about the stellar location when we walked back in the warm, clear night.
I continued my trip to “Iguazy Falls” on the border of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Impressive waterfalls, no doubt, but too many tourists.
In “The Pananal” the worlds biggest wetland, I stayed in a jungle camp with some other Europeans. I met two Danish guys there and we had a lot of fun. We fished piranhas, fed crocodiles; saw wild snakes and rare birds. We slept in hammocks and were eaten by mosquitoes.
After a 24 hour long bus ride I arrived in Rio de Janeiro. At the Bus terminal I was held back by some gangsters in a taxi. They locked the doors around me and told me to use my seatbelt. I tried to say that they had a beautiful town and that their football players were big idols to me. Anyway they just wanted all my money. The old man who had jumped in on the back seat, was starring deep into my eyes… But I am a stingy Dane and I shook my head and said “no, no, no, no, por favor” and since it was probably one of the first times they had done this – they seemed pretty nervous too, they allowed me to run away, shaking like a scared dog.
At Cobacabana I played beach soccer with an Argentinean boy I met at Maracanã Stadium to a soccer match, we drank fresh coconut water and had a very good time.
The boy and me went training in a little club, visited some of his relatives and went to local parties with so many hot brunettes.
I crossed the land of Argentina, made a stopover in Mendoza, biked around the wine plantations with a hot dutch girl and ate in a good restaurant in the city at night. This girl I hooked up with again in Santiago, she was so sweet to me and gave me some love.
I went south to Florianopolis, an idyllic spot, island Santa Catarina. I settled down for a week just drank caipirinhas, sailed around and did a lot of running.
I decided to go to Buenos Aires. There I met up with one of the hitchhiking girls from North West Argentina, Karen. I stayed in her apartment just next to the Obelisco monument. Later I went to visit her family in Hurlingham. I slept there, did fitness with Daniel, her father, ate local food and ate oranges in the city park.
They took care of me as if I was a king. Many thanks and love to them <3
After a week in the buzzing capital I went on a bus to Rosario, the city of Messi’s birth. I stayed with the family I met to the football match in Rio.
The last week I stayed in a Chilean family, who have a relative in Denmark. There I wrote the last words in my diary, I enjoyed my last time in the third world and looked forward to come back to Denmark to study…… ---> Story continues…..