Getting to the Bolivian – Brazilian border is one thing. Crossing it is a completely different thing. Although I took a night bus and arrived quite early at 7 in the morning, there was already a tremendous line on the Bolivian site to get the official stamp of leaving the country. The problem was, that almost all buses from different companies arrived at the same time or earlier. After 3 hours of waiting in the line under a higher and higher rising sun (and without any kind of roof or shade) it was finally my turn and three seconds later I had a stamp in my passport and could continue – to the Brazilian side with the Brazilian immigration procedure. And also here, the queue was not advancing at all. The reason could be discovered two hours later, when it was finally my turn. A totally relaxed officer was alone in charge of doing the immigration procedure, and the Bolivian passports were controlled in a very rigorous way. Me in turn, I got my stamp kind of immediately.
The first nights I spend in the Hostel Road Riders at Corumba, close to the boarder. It was the perfect place to get prepared to Brazil, getting more and more into Portuguese and the Brazilian vibes, also thank to the great atmosphere, that the owner Diego created along the guests. After some days of “acclimatisation”, my next destination was the Pantanal region, the world largest tropical wetland area. During the rainy season it is almost completely flooded, while in the dry season there are huge rivers, pools and swamps, with a huge diversity of different animal species to admire. I booked a three-day tour and together with our guide and a group from Belgium we discovered the region: boat trips, piranha-fishing, bird-watching, swimming in the river (Piranhas don’t like clear waters, so that was our place to swim), swamp-hikes (with water up to the belly) and night-walks and a trip on a horse.
After the Pantanal region, I continued my journey to a small city called Bonito, which is known in whole Brazil for its wonderful natural attractions. Due to them, the whole city Back to South America part 3: Brazil weiterlesen
Arriving in La Paz, I was stunned! I felt like back home. As if not 3.5 years would have passed, but only a few weeks. I navigated through the terminal, ignoring the taxi drivers. I went to the same spot on the street I always went to catch a Micro (these kind of vans used for public transport) to get to my home for the next ten days: la casa de la familia de Ximena, a good friend of mine.
Together we went through La Paz and I got to see all the things that have changed: Some new buildings here and there, some new and fancy cafés, a new mall and, most important: some new cable car lines. So we also discovered La Paz from very high up =). In all the time, La Paz hasn’t lost any of its charm, it’s still a very adventurous, partly chaotic, super special and amazing city. I got to visit all my old friends from university, we went out to party in old
and new places and it felt as if I would have never left.
I also visited the colleagues of the time of my internship there, and could even attain a workshop on solar powered irrigation systems, with Reinhold as a trainer. The workshop was organized by GIZ and hold at my old university, I even found myself standing at the speakers desk, giving a short presentation about one of the topics =D.
I could have spent more days or even months in La Paz, but I still had a very big open point for my journey: Brazil. So I took a bus to Santa Cruz, in the eastern low lands of Bolivia, a god 17 hours bus ride. There I spend some days with friends of friends and was getting used to some higher temperatures, my winter boots were packed deep deep down in my backpack. Santa Cruz is very contradictory to La Paz: its way warmer, the streets are wide and traffic is well organized and there are many big parcs (with some of them being full of huge mango trees). Santa Cruz also has a huge botanical garden. For sure the biggest one I have ever seen. It took a good two hours to get from one side to the other!!
From Santa Cruz it took another 10-hour bus ride to get to the boarder of Brazil. I finally did it, I made it into Brazil 🙂
In the end of August, I started to the next adventure: a six week trip to South America. I didn’t really plan out the whole journey ahead, in fact, I just booked a flight to Santiago de Chile and the return from Brasilia in advance. Everything in between was then kind of spontaneous.
Arriving in Santiago de Chile, I spend some days in the house of a befriended family, which I got to know 4 years ago during a trip in Peru. Coming from the German summer, I first needed to get used to the temperatures in Santiago. It was the only time during my journey, that I was happy to have brought my winter boots. I wouldn’t use them for the next 5 weeks of my trip.
A part of the time in Santiago I was still working on a consultancy I accepted some weeks ago: the translation of a toolkit about solar irrigation from English into Spanish. Exactly 2 weeks later, I saw my translated work on a training seminar in La Paz, but I will come to this.
Beside the translation work, I wandered around in Santiago, but I still don’t have this right connection to the city. So, I wasn’t too sad to leave after a few days direction north: to Arica!
I didn’t want to take flights within South America, to see a bit more of the country and really get a feeling for the distances. By the way, I think there is nothing more comfortable than Bus Trips (of course the bus should be somehow in a good condition): there is always something to see outside, the seats are very cushy and for the time being in the bus, letting your thoughts fly. Of course you should bring enough food with you 🙂 Back to South America part 1: Chile weiterlesen
The first semester of my master-program of “Agricultural sciences in the tropics and subtropics” was just about to be over, when I already left to the tropics: to Kenya. During the semester I worked as a research assistant in a university project about solar milk cooling. In the semester break beginning of March I was then send to Kenya, to coordinate the installations of two new systems. They were part of a project to assess the business model behind the technological innovation: to check if the benefits of the systems are high enough to cover the system costs.
I arrived in Nairobi late in the night, then, after some hours of sleep I continued to Kisumu, at the border of the Lake Victoria, in the western part of Kenya. Temperatures were of course a bit challenging, from -10 °C in Stuttgart to a sudden +30 °C, but I wouldn’t complain. Arrived in Kisumu Airport I met with a colleague, Georgia from South Africa, who partly works as a consultant in the project. A driver named Cosmos (who also already drove around colleagues in former missions) drove us the next days to the different installation points in rural areas in the north. I still wonder if his name was really Cosmos, I kind of doubt it =D
- Georgia and I arrive late in the evening at our booked hotel in Kitale. Georgia (with a huge experience in travelling and hotels in Africa), asks at the check in for two quiet rooms, far away from the generator. We are asked to have a seat in the lounge, someone would come to do the registration. They bring us some delicious Chai (tea with milk). We are tired from an exhausting day. 20 minutes later, a receptionist comes with some papers to fill in and disappears. We fill the documents and wait. We are tired. And hungry. The receptionists have some discussions and phone calls going on at the reception. There seems to be some trouble. After ten minutes of waiting we bring them the papers and tell them that we would like to get to our rooms. They want to see our passports and ask us to please have a seat and drink some Chai. We do so. A 20 minutes later they want to bring us to the rooms. We hear the sound of a generator. Georgia eventually mocks about it and tells that “this is why you always ask for a room far away from it…”. The receptionist seems to feel a bit uncomfortable. We arrive to the rooms, they are basically next to the generator. The rooms seem to vibrate. We kindly ask to get other rooms (it was kind of a big hotel). They tell us they are all booked out, these would be the only ones. We tell them that they either find us other rooms or another hotel and go to eat in the restaurant of the hotel. The food is delicious. We see some guest moving around with luggage. One hour later, the receptionists tell us that they have two quiet rooms for us. We are happy.
For three days we interviewed about 20 farmers at the two installation sites about their household and milk situation. Filling out the questionnaires was super interesting, to get an understanding of the farmers living situation, income and expenses or the way the they Kenya. weiterlesen
Ende November hatte ich die Möglichkeit, für eine Woche nach Santiago de Chile zu fliegen. Warum nur eine Woche? Es war kein Urlaub und lag auch noch mitten in meinem Semester: Die GIZ hatte mich für eine Woche angeheuert, um ein Training zum Thema Solare Bewässerung mit zu leiten.
So flog ich an einem Freitag von Frankfurt aus und hatte sogar eine Zwischenlandung in São Paulo, meine ersten Fußschritte in Brasilien :). Ein paar Flugstunden später kam ich dann am Samstag in Santiago an und machte mich auf den Weg zu einer peruanischen Familie, die ich vor ein paar Jahren in Peru getroffen haben. Da sie jetzt praktischerweise in Santiago wohnen, konnte ich noch zwei Tage bei ihnen verbringen. So erkundeten wir bei sommerlichen 30 °C ein bisschen die Stadt, kochten peruanisches Essen und schauten uns Santiago von oben an. Am Sonntag joggten wir ein bisschen durch die Stadt und auf einen Aussichtsberg hinauf. Das Beste: jeden Sonntag werden in Santiago für ein paar Stunden ganze Straßenzüge gesperrt, damit Jogger, Radfahrer, Inlineskater etc. sich mal so richtig austoben können. An den Strecken gibt es dann Verpflegungsstellen, wo man sich mit Wasser und Bananen stärken kann – alles umsonst und organisiert von den verschiedenen Ministerien.
Am Montag traf ich dann die anderen drei deutschen Trainer, mit denen ich das Training durchführte und zusammen planten wir den Ablauf der kommenden 4 Tage: eine Exkursion zu ein paar installierten Pumpsystemen und drei Tage interaktives Training. Am Dienstag ging es dann los, mit 30 Teilnehmern aus den verschiedenen lateinamerikanischen Ländern: Chile, Peru, Bolivien, Ecuador, Uruguay, Costa Rica und Kolumbien. Bei dieser Gruppenkomposition aus Latinos war die Dynamik natürlich richtig gut, nur an der Pünktlichkeit haderte es hier und dort mal ;). Die Teilnehmer arbeiteten alle im Wasserbereich in verschiedenen Institutionen und hatten ein riesiges Interesse an der solaren Bewässerung, die in Chile auch schon weit verbreitet ist. So lauschten sie spannend unseren Vorträgen zu den verschiedensten Bereichen dieser Technologie, tauschten sich untereinander aus, arbeiteten mit unseren Berechnungstools und waren am Ende überrascht, dass es auch noch thematische Spiele gab. So eine interaktive Schulung war für die meisten wahrscheinlich Neuland 🙂
Für uns Trainer bedeutete die Vorbereitungen und Durchführung 4 volle Tage, in denen wir nichts von der Stadt mitbekamen, außer dem Hotel und dem Tagungsort. Doch am Ende hatte es sich richtig gelohnt: alle Teilnehmer waren sehr zufrieden, haben viel gelernt, und sich untereinander perfekt vernetzt. Nach einer letzten Nacht in Chile ging es dann am nächsten Tag wieder zum Flughafen. Sonntag landete ich abends in Frankfurt, zurück in Stuttgart stapfte ich dann durch den Schnee nach Hause. Am Montag ging es dann zur Vorlesung.