900 Tage 

[2014.10.01 | Bolivia | 3 comments]

The head full of ideas, the hard drive full pictures, an empty bank account. Time for a winter camp, sort ideas and pictures, refill the holiday fund. After two years south America it’s also time to see family and friends in person, to put some nonsense in the nephews head and just let the paper falling – south America travelers know exactly what I mean.
For 900 days I lived out of my panniers, was staying where I want, how long I want and with whom I want. I’ve been sitting mouth open under the incredible starry sky of the Atacma desert, fought 5000m a.s.l. on my bike against sand, steep uphill’s and lack of oxygen, was philosophizing with people from all over the world about the live, the universe and all the rest while drinking icy mountain water, fresh fruit juice or tasty red wine. And I did, heard, felt and saw hundred thousand things more. This freedom, this independence, this driven by my own curiosity only – I don’t want to miss that anymore.
What’s next? For a handful months, the panniers will be in Germany. But then back to the road again. Until then there is a lot to do: filling the wallet, work on this website and write more articles, sorting the 400GB on raw files just from this year and think about all the great ideas I had on the road – probably just to dismiss them.

 

But now I need to pack. The plane leaves tomorrow.

comment

far south - #222 Antarctica reached 

[2014.09.01 | Antarctica | 3 comments]

Antarctica. Cold, rejecting, hostile to life. Dream destination for somebody who wanted to be an explorer as a child. The heroes of the childhood: Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton. Logbooks and expedition reports instead of comics. Together with an adventures woman I stand in the harbor of Ushuaia. Not an old shabby sailing ship is waiting for us, a big modern cruise ship  is on the quay. Welcome at the gangway “you’re the two germans!” – “um, so why?”. Broad grin; “We have 166 Chinese and you guys”. Cultural adventure on top.
First of all: modern arctic “expedtions” cruises are as comparable to the old expeditions as a donkey cart with the latest model of $GermanPremiumCarCompany. The biggest challenge is to keep the all evening 3 course meal (shrimp cocktail instead of scurvy!) where it belongs. It was not always working.
Instead of months - or even years – at sea, we spend only 15 days (all inclusive and always cared) on board. At the end we’ll be 7 times ashore. For not getting bored: cruise program. Fortunately they left the Fun professionals at home and got some real pros aboard. Geologist, photographer, historian, ornithologist, biologist – it’s lecture time. Of course, a bit traditional: Captains Dinner, BBQ on deck, live music night, costume party and original – of course! – Chinese karaoke. Mandatory sessions: emergency exercise, safety drill, biosecurity including vacuuming cloths and equipment and disinfect footwear.
Ashore on Zodiacs. Hundreds of penguins, wild tumult on the beach, tight small groups, loud scream of the young for food, loud scream of the old against attackers, industrious nest building, apathetic brooding, tired stretching, vigorously arguing, affectionate welcome, creaking radio, rushing outboard, too fast back aboard.
Another beach, another colony, the camera is clicking on the tripod. A few meters further, some penguins inspecting my stuff. I move slowly closer. Eventually the discover me, thinkof me as interesting, moving towards me. One starts pecking my jacket, then the back of my hand, then my fingers. Attacked by wild Penguins in Antarctica. I can’t stop smiling.
Experienced Vladimir at the outboard. He reliably finds the interesting places. A leopard seal less than 10 meters from the boat. In his mouth a penguin, he throws his head back and forth, so he pulls the feathers over his head – literally. 5 minutes later we circle around a floe, a leopard seal on it, asleep. We come close, very close. The animal raises tired its head, examined the clicking cameras half asleep, yawning photogenic and goes back to sleep. The next floe, the next leopard seal. Again we get closer without any signs of disturbing the animal. “Humpback Whale” creaks the radio, Vladimir turns the boat, opens the throttle. To other Zodiacs mark where we aim to. In front of them a floats a dark spot in the water. Now and then a fountain hisses high. We wait for what everyone is waiting here: the majestic descent, topped by the high rise fluke. The moment comes, is over much too fast, but burns deep in the brain. The shiny, smooth black surface of the fluke, water beads off, the gentle arc in which the fluke rises from the water, the moment in which it seemingly weightless pointing skywards, the consummate elegance when the fluke finally cuts into the water and the slight curl which remains on the surface. Vladimirs radio creaks, we must return to the ship. All begging and bothering does not help, the captain called.
Evening at the bar. I fished a piece of ice in Paradise Bay. From the glacier. Dark, old, crystal clear. A whiskey with thousand years old ice, a must. Use on your own risk, the bartender accepts no responsibility for the quality of ice. Also on your own risk: the extended stay in the bar. The original Chinese Karaoke system is running and the singer – let’s stay polite – has endeavors within its means. Good thing there are only Chines songs, so could easily skip the session. For everybody’s sake.
South Georgia. The last stop of the trip. Here – in more detail in Grytviken – ended Shackleton’s heroic rescue ride, here ended his life, here he was laid to rest. Of course a visit at the grave, of course I pose for a photo. Founded in 1904 and left more or less in 1966 Grytviken tells a rusty story of the local whaling history. Thousands of whales were hunted, cut up, processed and shipped. Today they only catch tourists. Museum, post office, gift shop. The main sales seems to be Royal Family Devotionals, very British. Maybe the hand full of British official’s need resistant supply of “Royal Baby – collector’s edition” cups for being a valid part of the Empire. Anyway, more fascinating is what happens in the other bays of the island. For here, here there is a truly royal family, the king penguins. Tens, no, hundreds of thousands small dots line the shore. We go ashore and are in the midst of a huge King Penguin colony. Again, wild tumult, loud screaming, little brown chicks vying for attention of the almost one meter high adults, skuas flying low in search of easy victims, seals sleeping nearby, giant elephant seals arguing beside, a gigantic sea of black and yellow heads… each second, every direction deserves attention, everywhere fascinating, constantly. In between, I lose my eyes for a few seconds on the horizon, the screaming sounds dull away, my head cannot believe where I am, what I see, what I experience. Over and Over again.

 

Henry says: "The temperature range is quite comfortable and there is some real snow under the hooves! Also the salad buffet was great, but the whiskey selection at the bar sucks. Not even one single malt! Hello?!?! And to be honest. Hundreds of kilometers on a shaking boat without any elk woman (okay, there was a cute bug aboard), just to see for a handful of minutes some flightless birds being too stupid to walk onto the beach without falling over. I don’t know. And no green stuff anywhere. And the grass shit growing on South Georgia Island is only good enough for the dumb reindeers living there and missing one boat after the other. Nice, but nothing for life."

 

skeptical king penguin is skeptical. stormy start first time ashore fu*#%$ bad weather clear opinion. enough complaining An iceberg? Grit your teeth and get to it! hard attacked Bosscrew most important lever exhibition Vladimir. Humpback Whales light and ice together hide and seek alerted icy guess. BBQ Paradise Bay. brown skua low level flying little Punk most stylish guy Polar plunge. at relaxing at the dentist at work Humpback Whale if somebody will explain me 3 course at the dinner Oh, look a glass full yellow liquid and the winner is... golden penguin you can make name tags in between Grytviken the expedition crew Grytviken will be take some years the grave of Sir Ernest - Henry Shackleton sunrise on South Georgia Island. typical Kingpenguin seals no beer belly here! a sea I'm trying extreme hard chicks to the centre protected from elephant seals but they can fight bad weather a very big THANK YOU Good

 

Due to reasons™ the video of my Antarctica visit will be publieshed later. Thank you for your patience...#

 

comment

A nomad's life 

[2014.06.04 | Argentina | one comment]

The last one and a half year as a nomad in South America.

 

Kind of a sequel to northern Europe by bike.

comment

reached #4 Easter Island 

[2014.04.14 | Chile | one comment]

Preface: in some coding languages, a $ sign as first letter marks a variable. For easier understanding you usually name a variable with a word that gives you an idea of the variable content. $name probably means a random Name, maybe Stefan or Henry.


On the list of crazy things man invents in his - on crazy things extremely rich - history, "Moai" expected to be near the top. Almost 900 of these stone statues stand and lie around on Rapa Nui. Size: colossal, purpose: unknown. On top to that a still not decrypted written language, a bunch of ominous art and ritual objects, some vague descend customs and rites, all you need for a proper mystical civilization. That this civilization disappeared quite suddenly fits the topic perfectly.

Some facts: Rapa Nui - also known as Easter Island - with 160 km² as big as Liechtenstein or Disney World / Florida, 24km long and 13km wide, located in mid Pacific. 3500 km to the Chilean mainland, 2000 km to the next inhabited island, 5800 residents, subtropical climate, barren landscape. So far, so boring. But there are these impressive Moai. The "Jon DoeMoai" is on average 4 m tall and 12 tons heavy, the highest ever erected is near 10 m, an unfinished one even 21 m. Carved out of solid rock without metal tools, often moved for kilometers across the island, some are even got a heavy red stone "hat".

 

There are only speculations about the Who and Why. Relevant experts have different opinions, locals tell strange legends and you can yarn your own story while sitting in the shade of a Moai, watching the sunset. The (currently) preferred opinion's been a settlement sometime in the 5th century from West. Whether this was done by a group of heroic explorers, visionary artist, useless telephone sanitizer, nasty pirates and / or religious fanatics, no one can say for sure. Probably the nasty pirates unauthorized reproduced or distributed copyrighted stone statues, where investigated by the FBI and punished with lifetime exile. So the guilty ones where thrown into some canoes with course towards west. They had some space left, so they packed the lazy telephone sanitizers and the religious fanatics also into the canoes. Against all odds, the mob survived the trip, landed on a lonely island and named it Easter Island Rapa Nui. Here in the land of the free, home of the brave, the pirates where able to carve their statues warning letter free, the fanatics enjoying free speech even for their hate preaching, and due to the lack of phones, the telephone sanitizers are laying lazy around the beach all day long. Eventually they get hungry, but there is no one who cares about the food. A proper fanatic tends to be lazy but imaginative, so they explain the telephone sanitizers that the pirates are carving the status because of $imprtantReason, a $bigDisaster threats if the statues are not $keyFeature and if you work dutifully until death, a $unbelievableReward is waiting for them in the afterlife, all others will get $cruelPunishment. Who's not helping is promptly blamed for a recent $misfortune (logical, he has angered $god) and to motivate all others he will publicly $heavyPunishment. The sanitizers are now highly motivated working on the logistical support of the stone carvers and fanatics. This is working great for the next few hundred years, the statues are getting larger, more beautiful and powerful, the fanatics wear wonderful hats, invent funny dances and carve elaborate cult objects, the telephone sanitizers are turning slowly into professional agricultural economists and even colonize the barren inland. In between they fight a little bit about who owns the best / coolest / biggest stone sculpture, splits into a few clans, build alliances and breaks them, steals cult objects / food / women from the others, they just behave as you can expect from a decent high culture of that time. And as the high cultures have to be, one strives on higher and higher. Obvious, the new stone sculptures may under no circumstances less $keyFeature as the ones before. The small island only provides limited resources and so unsurprisingly at one point they start to secure trade routes and stone sources. From about 1500, the local defense industry develops high-tech spears withs sharp obsidian blades, raids and wars increase and the fanatics raise the crowds hard. Just imagine if the crowd would figure out that the $importantReason for carving the sculptures has nothing to do with $bigDisaster, also the $unbelievableReward in the afterlife is maybe nonsense and the whole thing seems just to serve the fanatics to live an easy and fun live. In fact, most would prefer to sanitize phones and hit the beach right after work (phones are not yet invented, so beach for the whole day) instead of work like a dog for vague promises. Time has come in the mid 17th century: the stone workers union calls for a general strike, the statue production stops, the exploited agricultural economists are waiting far too long for a reason to start a revolution and the fanatics lose most of their credibility as $bigDisaster fails to appear even as the statue productions has stopped. Their worldview erodes even more when the first European tourists stops by. There are reports from 1722 about intact ceremonial platforms and erected statues, just 50 years later (the next European visit) the facilities are abandoned, the Moai are overturned, the worldview of the fanatics finally bursts. What follows is the reasonably well documented (and as usual poorly processed) classic rape of an indigenous tribe by European "explorers" with all its disgusting cruelties and brutal savageness.

 

February 2014. During the first two weeks of the month, the most important festival - the Tapati Festival - takes place on Rapa Nui. A wild mix of sport competitions and modern entertainment, historic preservation and touristic attraction, traditional rites and put-on customs. At noon the gods propitiated with an archaic ritual including a chicken (what else?), just to race down a quite steep hill on banana trunks right afterwards, in the evening men with shirt and feather headdress playing accordion. There are competitions in spear throwing, swimming, paddling, face painting and dancing. Poorly insincere from time to time but mostly wonderful honest and sometimes with pleasent consideration to the present tourist, myself included. On addition the impressive ceremony facilities, the many small and large cultic sites, this very small island with its very large culture. During the whole time on the island I feel like a child, constantly discover new, understand everything and realize nothing.

 

Henry says: "Yeah, this Island is quiet impressive! We don't have figures like this back home in Sweden. At all, there where no Elk girls, but I met a very sweet and open minded ladybug. We discovered the island together, Stefan was distracted by filming and photographing all the time, sunrise here, sunset there, full moon over there... Oh dear was he stressed..."

 

eher übersichtlich nicht viel zu sehen die klassische Osterinsel Ein Wheinachtsbaum Speerwerfen Schilfboardpaddeln Rennstrecke die gesamte Insel Hühnchen Opfern selbstgebaut einer der Rennfahrer alle helfen mit bis zu 80km/h stolz präsentiert Abends wird getanzt und musiziert breit gegrinst die Hüften geschwungen und alte Rituale nachgespielt herrliche Bunte schlechtes Wetter zwischendurch dafür haben Blumen Ausflug unter Wasser der alte Mann große Parade mit Kind und Kegel ob ganz jung oder schon etwas älter schwer engagiert oder eher gechillt einheimisch oder Tourist mit den Kumpels oder allein hoch oben auf dem Wagen... Erkundung auf dem Rad Nachts am Friedhof Abends am Strand Nachts am Strand Apropos Palmen Freut den Esotheriker Bilder im Fels Bilder auf Fels Bilder im Fels Höhlenforschen manchmal steht manchmal wächst die berühmten Steinfiguren diese Moai An der Produktionsstätte Abtransport der größte Moai fast wie Gartenzwerge seltenes Exemplar Mit Vollmondpircing, 6 Moais Hutmacherei Tongariki beeindruckend groß ganz besonderer Moment oder dahinter und langsam die Sterne

comment

swimming Easter Island 

[2014.03.27 | Chile | one comment]

from the serie "swimming at exotic places..."

comment

place #111 aconcagua visited! 

[2014.01.26 | Argentina | 3 comments]

Aconcagua. A 6962 meters high bureaucracy monster. The visit requires a permit, exclusively sold in Mendoza. Crime scene Av. San Martin 1182, 2nd Floor, Aconcagua National Park Authority. At first, fill out an online form. Name, date of birth, complete address, mobile and phone number, passport number, e-mail address, gender, blood type. Then choose your tour (seems that Telekom and Deutsche Bahn - both famous for their tariff jungle - were consulting here): ascent route A or B, 1, 3 or 7 days trekking, half-day excursion, with an agency (only Licensed, see list!) or without, Argentinean, Latin American and other foreigner, planned ascent route (very nice, called "upgrade path"), number of expedition members, guide (choose from list, only licensed!), name of the expedition leader, other tour providers, emergency contact, insurance including details, medical data (long list), GPS tracking system including access. I choose 3 days trekking, high season, other foreigners, no agency, no guide, call mum in case of emergency, healthy - except glasses (yes, you have to specify). Switch from computer to human. human number one can't find my request - special characters in names are something ugly. Finally, the request is found, compared with passport details and printed. Under controlling gaze I have to read the three pages carefully (written like a license agreement - inaudible) and sign it. Now leave building, go a half block further, and hand over the application form plus a wad of notes to human number two in a dingy kiosk. He scans a barcode, compares my pages and the screen, counts the wad (three times), checks two notes in detail, prints a receipt, pin it to the application, stamped both, sign something and dismisses me. Back to the office. Passing the stamped application and the passport to human number three. Informations on passport and application are getting inspected, matches get marked with yellow marker. If the application is yellow enough three signatures are following and the leaves are directed to human number four. A barcode scanner beeps, comparative views between paper and screen, a bit of keyboard clatter, a bit of mouse clicks, appreciative nods, the three pages disappear in three different drawers. A printer rattles. The print result - the permit - goes to human number five. Check of ID and Permit again, marking passport number and name in yellow, signing the new document three times, stamp it three times. At the park entrance (I'm getting ahead) human number six compared ticket and passport, transferred some information in a book, write a number three times on the ticket, in a book and on a plastic bag, three times pops a stamp three times followed by a signature and the upper third of the ticket stored in a drawer. The usual policy (Do not leave paths! No fire! No free camping! Do not shit in the streams! Penalty!) followed by some special notes. The numbered plastic bag is the personal assigned garbage bag, give back necessarily (Penalty!) and not empty (Penalty!) at park exit, to see the camp doctor is mandatory (Penalty!) and has to be confirmed on the ticket (Penalty!), same for the proper use (Penalty!) of the provided toilets including confirmation (Penalty!) on the ticket and that I should not exceed (PenalWTF!) a maximum height of 4,300 meters under absolutely no circumstances!
I just wanted to go trekking!

Needless to say that human number seven in the first camp though controlled Passport and Permit but no doctor examined me and confirmed my proper bowel movements, nobody controlled my maximum elevation and the trash bag disappears into a container without any further investigations.

 

By bus - I cycled the same route a few days later - from Mendoza (800m) to the park entrance (2850m), on foot to Camp I, Confluenzia (3400m). That was slightly too fast. The unusually thin air takes its toll, I pay immediately with 12 hours of dreamless deep sleep. Also in the morning limp, dull, tired. Unfortunately, time is money here, my three days Permit is 170 $, extend it in the park is not possible. And at least I want to see the southern wall. Amazingly, once a tired body forced on the road, all inertia drops, the body obeys as usual and the legs follows willingly the path. The path winds its way through a surreal, barren landscape with a fascinating vision and sharpness, with endless new rock formations and color combinations, with a scorching sky-blue and glistening peak-white. At Plaza Francia (4250m) the path ends at the nearly 3000 imposing Aconcagua South Face meters. 4 km air line to the summit - so incredible far away. I sit for a long time, staring into the wall, looking for lines, succumb wild ascent fantasies but knows that this wall will remain untouched by me. But the summit, the summit! A few days ago, the decision to climb not now but "sometime" was looking perfectly reasonable, logical and rational (money! time! equipment!) but now the longing is hitting hard and shouts a vicious "told you so!" at me. Eventually, a small noisy group wakes me from my dreams. Chris, Andy and Jon are now on a acclimatization hike, the summit is planned for the next days. They tell of past tours, speculate about future ones and rave about the current trip. Their reality rushes my longing like a startled deer until it hurts. I mumble a "ciao", turn my back to group and mountain, start walking - no running, want to escape, sprinting away from my longing. This doesn't work a minute and the landscape captured me again, I marvel at my surroundings, be so happy to be here today, breath deeply the fresh air, enjoy every single step and know for sure, I'll come back and stand on top. At the very top and look down to where I was today.

 

Henry said: "Headache! I have headache but not even drunk! Wow is that high! So Stefan can go alone to the top if he really wants. That's nothing for a elk. I'll wait in Mendoza, check out the vineyards and visit the girls on the alpaka farms. And he even not think about using me as a mule to save some money! What is he thinking who I am?!?"

Kitesurfen recycling was yesterday! golden mountain Area for studying and reflexion Hiking boots To build a bridge Stone formations lonesome valley fascinating bridge of the incas Tourist market Dragon Park entrance Laguna Espejo means mirrorlake Fine: 37 $ Lugageservice Camp I Confluenzia great stone lines the coolest guy around a lst bit of greenyellow stone desert Stone formations I Stone formations II Stone formations III On the way the south face End of my way Plaza Francia lonesome not cheap

comment

 

archive 

tags