Category Archives: English

Five months since we (2/3) are home

Five months after two of the backpacks have left South America and returned to their respective countries, the situation is as follows:

Iunia brought Noemi Paymal (Bolivia) to Romania, to share Pedagooogia 3000 and her Holistic Education ideas with the people of Europe.

Boca brought Diane Dunn (Peru) to Hungary, to share the Munay-ki and other Andean teachings with the European people. (more info munaykihungary.wordpress.com)

Boca and Iunia attended the International Annual Conference of Pedagooogia 3000 in Brussels. There they met two of their sisters, Hui Min from Singapore, now living in Finland, and DJ from the Philippines, now living in Singapore. It was a most special family reunion, 13 months after. 

Boca is now working on building her business in Hungary to help people find balance and happiness in life.

Iunia has gone up on a mountain with her pink laptop, to seriously work on bringing her book to life.

Iunia has visited Boca twice, and Boca is planning on visiting Iunia soon.They’ve starting to really appreciate the pricelessness of the bond created after spending every moment of 10 months together.

Life has not been challenge-free since coming back, and it’s definitely been very intense. The experiences and lessons started to settle, and that led to even more learnings. Every moment of every day is an opportunity to grow, learn, love, live fully and enjoy fully. 

The third backpack is still in Cusco, and Silviu is still continuing to learn and grow heaps and heaps in those special places and among those special people. What tomorrow holds, he does not know, he’s just embracing it all with open arms.

Life in the Universe continues its course, and just as before, all is well :).
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What being on the road has taught us (III)

  1. Learning is indeed a life long process, and the first thing we should teach our children at the start of their journey on Earth is to learn how to learn. Every experience, every person, every challenge. “What can I learn from this?” should become the question we carry with us at every moment.
  2. Studying and learning are two different things. The first one happens in school, the second one in life. Do not be fooled with respect to which one is the more important one. School is over after 20 years. Life… usually takes a bit longer.
  3. We’ve been focusing on the “what” to study for too long. Even the “how” and “why” are obsolete. Time to start looking at “who” it is we’re trying to teach. “One size fits all” is so last millennium it makes me wanna cry…
  4. Those you consider freaks will most times be the ones with most to teach you. Suspend judgment.
  5. Suspend judgment.
  6. Suspend judgment.
  7. Sometimes our most meaningful and unexpected life lessons will come from old unschooled ladies selling dodgy looking food by the road side.
  8. And our greatest teachers will sometimes be those we thought were our students. As long as we put our pride aside and allow ourselves to be taught.
  9. When we think we’re teaching is when we learn the most. Let’s put down our arrogance and stay open.
  10. Kids are so much smarter than we think. The kids of today more than ever.
  11. We can’t teach someone who is not willing to learn. What we can do is make the person see why learning is important. If that fails too, maybe we’re not meant to be the teacher. Or maybe the time has not yet come.
  12. When we say “I never thought I would…” almost every day, it means we’re on an accelerated journey of learning and growing.
  13. Learning from books, movies and stories is great. It’s all intellectual learning though, and it only becomes life changing when the heart learns it too. That happens by experiencing.
  14. When you sell a product or service, give something for free first. People will be so much more inclined to buy from you after that
  15. If you’ve been inspired at least once in a day, it was a day well spent. If you inspired someone at least once in a day, it was a week well spent.
  16. No matter how many sunrises and sunsets you have seen in your life, you will still find ones that will simply take your breath away
  17. After 10 months on the road with nothing but a backpack, even 9kg will sometimes prove to be “too much stuff”
  18. Indeed, happiness has nothing to do with the amount of stuff we own. It’s not directly proportional with our things, but with our attitude
  19. You can’t go to a different part of the world with the beliefs and habits from your own and expect to fit in and be just fine. You won’t be just fine, and then you’ll end up blaming it one the part of the world you’re visiting (because obviously you’re not going to blame it on your own rigidity). The smart thing to do is either embrace “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, or just stay home. The world is not ready for your judgments. And you’re not ready for the world.
  20. When you go up a mountain for a day, make sure you have enough food for two. Even if you make it back down in time, there will always be someone starving up there
  21. Talking with locals in a market somewhere in the middle of the mountains can sometimes be the most special moment you’ve had in a country
  22. Some of the best teas don’t come from fancy tea bags, but rather from orange, pineapple or apple peals, cinnamon or eucalyptus leaves.
  23. If you think having freshly made pop-corn in front of your tent by a lagoon 4200m high is wishful thinking… think again ;).
  24. When you find yourself excitedly exclaiming upon seeing a hostel room: “Wow, we have a lamp! This is a posh place!” it means you’ve been backpacking long enough.
  25. One can not only survive for a year, but actually be truly happy with nothing but 3 changes of clothes and an old pair of shoes. In fact, that’s all one needs.
  26. If you think that people who dance like no one’s looking are a myth, go to Brazil and see the damage you’re causing to yourself by being so stiff. Relax a little. Live a little.
  27. When traveling, do things you’ve never done before. That’s where most of the learning and excitement lie. Make and sell sweets in the street, work in a hostel, build a house, work in the field, pick fruits in the jungle, take care of animals, teach someone. So many incredible things out there we’d never be able to learn and experience sitting in an office.
  28. You can’t be too fancy when traveling, you’d be missing out on way too many things. No one has ever died from eating in a local market, drinking hot chocolate from an auntie in the street or squeezing in an old bus that looks like it’s gonna break down after 5km. Yet so many special experiences are being lived doing exactly these things.
  29. There is a major difference between a tourist and a traveler. The first one experiences things mainly mentally and certainly superficially, while a true traveler finds his heart transformed.
  30. Use your common sense and you’ll be fine. If a place looks dodgy, don’t go there. If you’re alone, take care at night. If someone’s face makes you think he’s trying to cheat you, go to someone else.
  31. Wake up early and go out, especially when in a small town. The daily coming to life of such a place is simply delightful!
  32. When you find a “favorite place”, remember there are many other places out there you don’t know about yet, but they could be your “even more favorite place”. Don’t settle for “good”, because “great” might be just around the corner. And never stop exploring.
  33. If you don’t speak the language of the place you’re going to, learn at least the basics. It’s the least you can do to show your respect towards the people whose lands you’re crossing.
  34. Be prepared to say good bye to “I never” and “I always”. There will be many first times, and that’s what it’s all about.
  35. You’ll also do many things you never thought you would. That’s when you’ll really experience the truth of “never say never”.
  36. When things don’t go as planned, which will very likely be all the time, just smile. Enjoy anyway and take it as an opportunity to learn about patience and flexibility.
  37. The first cold shower is the worst. Every subsequent one gets better and better. After a while, you will even start enjoying it (nah, sorry, that’s a lie).
  38. The local markets, that’s where all the goodies are – from the incredible food to the best information and conversations. Also the nicest people around.
  39. Do not sit under the sun at 4000m high with no sunscreen on. You’re not made of plastic (yet). You will burn.
  40. The skill and speed of hand washing your socks does become better with time.
  41. When you exclaim “The thing I liked most on this plate was the onion” at the end of a dinner, that’s a sign to never step into that restaurant again.
  42. Your hair will go through changes according to location, climate, altitude. You’re not in a Schwarzkopf commercial, you will have bad hair days. It’s best to just accept them and smile to the world anyway.
  43. When traveling, trust, believe, but always triple check your information. And sometimes, quadruple check it.
  44. If you’re in the mountains and ask for the time to reach a certain place, multiply whatever you’re being told by 3 in order to get the accurate time.
  45. DO NOT go into the jungle without a repellent, and if you did it anyway, DO NOT scratch! I know it’s the equivalent of telling a dog not to chew on a meat covered bone, but you have to be strong, put your human quality of control and will power to good use.
  46. Being a vegetarian saves you money. In some countries in South America it might mean you’ll be eating the same thing 4 times a week, but hey…:)
  47. When traveling by plane, have always your toothbrush and an extra T-shirt in your cabin luggage. Cause you really never know…
  48. If you’re adamant about sticking to your original plans, chances are you’ll end up stressed and unfulfilled. If you feel the calling of a place you’ve just heard of, go there. If you feel you need to stay more in a certain place, do it. If you feel you must move on, move on now!
  49. By being inflexible about your plans you’ll also be missing out on so much, as the best moments of a trip turn out to be those you really couldn’t have planned.
  50. There’s no such thing as „I’ve seen it all”. Even if you think you have, you haven’t. There’s also no such thing as „I’ve tried it all”. When you think you have, know there are still things to be tried.
  51. Have more faith in yourself. Those around you need you to
  52. “No need to run, and hide, it’s a wonderful wonderful world”… indeed 🙂

What being on the road has taught us (II)

  1. It’s not what you’ve done that matters, not when, how or with whom. It’s who you have become as a result of that experience. That’s what CVs should be about: the who, not the what.
  2. If something “embarrassi” happened and you’re worried about what others think of you, you’re giving yourself too much importance. Nobody goes to bed at night thinking about other people’s humiliation or mistakes. They go to bed thinking of their own humiliation and mistakes. There’s a reason why “I” is the word most often used by humans, while “you” is not even on the list.
  3. If what others think means more to you than what you think, you’re trapped in a cage built by society. The good news is the key to get out is with you. Also the decision when to set yourself free
  4. Having the courage to choose heart (your soul’s desire) over mind (societal programming) will bring you more gifts you could have ever imagined. Not having the courage to do so will bring you more regrets and guilt than you can bear.
  5. If something feels wrong, it probably is wrong. For you. So get out of there!
  6. If you find that your religion makes you judge and condemn others, you’re practicing the wrong thing. Find another religion. Or create one for yourself, one that has “Love and accept other beings, starting with yourself” as it’s first and only commandment.
  7. We start to appreciate the magic of nature, music and poetry more as our heart and mind gain purity and authenticity.
  8. When bees sting us, they act out of fear. Immediately after that they die. We look at them, feel sorry and say “Aren’t you silly? Why did you do that, I was not going to hurt you”. Then we go out there in the world and do the same: we sting another being. When a part of our relationship and of ourselves dies, who’s there to see it from a higher perspective and ask us “Aren’t you silly?”
  9. When flies in their greediness fall in our cup of chocolate milk and die, we look at them and ask “Aren’t you silly, killing yourself over some milk?”. When we in our greediness do the same, except over something bigger and shinier, who’s there to see the bigger perspective and ask us “Darling… aren’t you silly?”
  10. It’s true that the people we love the most are the ones we hurt the most. It’s good to become aware of that and see what we can do to cause less harm.
  11. Others can make you feel bad only once. The tyrant after that is you, playing old and painful scenes in your mind over and over again. The other is not to blame anymore.
  12. Similarly, you’ve made a mistake once. Give yourself the gift of learning from it and then move on. You’ve got no reason to keep punishing yourself for it over and over again.
  13. We’re our own greatest torturers.
  14. Things are almost never as bad as they seem. Don’t make them even worse by giving yourself too much importance or taking yourself too seriously. Live a little lighter, live a little more.
  15. Next time you catch yourself thinking “Why me?”, as in “Why should I do it?”, it’s so much more constructive to replace that with “Why not me?”. Because if you don’t do it, no one will. We are indeed the ones we’ve been waiting for. Time to wake up to that.
  16. Next time you catch yourself thinking “Why me?”, as in “Why is this happening to me?”, think of it as life’s way of saying “Have you learned nothing?” and teaching you to step out of victim mode. If we see things from a higher perspective we realise we’re not special at  all. Life IS, with its good and bad, for everyone, and we think it’s “me” only because we’re selfish. What keeps us in “poor me” mode is the needing of the sympathy of others. Well, they might be sympathetic, but we’re the one being pathetic – is that the best we can do for ourselves in this life?
  17. If you feel alone, you alone have made that choice.
  18. If you think you can’t, you won’t. It’s really that simple.
  19. When you find yourself taking too long to make a decision, go back to your first instinct. It really works.
  20. Don’t be too quick in expressing opinions about something you’ve not yourself experienced, but only read or heard about. Borrowing the opinions and knowledge of others can be a dangerous thing.
  21. Work smart, but work hard. Waiting for things to fall from the sky straight on your plate is not fair. Why would they? What’s so special about you for them to?
  22. If your work now has nothing to do with what you have studied, you’re not the only one. And if you love what you do, congratulate yourself for your courage!
  23. Put the whip down and be kinder to yourself. You’re really not as bad as you think :).
  24. When you find you have no choice, just relax and enjoy. It’s better than stressing out and feeling scared – the end result will be the same, the only difference is how you’ll feel about it. Might as well choose the good feelings.
  25. If your today looks the same as your yesterday and you think your tomorrow will look the same as your today… you have got to make a run for it, get out now and save yourself!
  26. They speak the truth when they say when we think we can no more, we find hidden strength within us that will keep us going. Have more faith in yourself. Those around you need you to.
  27. Wherever you are, never give up on your rights, especially when you know you’re not in the wrong.
  28. Reward yourself on a regular basis. You deserve it and someone has to do it. If not you… then who?
  29. When we find ourselves in a hole it’s only up to us how long we choose to stay there and when we decide it’s enough, we’ve learned our lesson and it’s time to get back up
  30. We are baffled when people whom we think should be sad are actually happy, and the other way around. Maybe it’s best to then stop looking at others’ happiness, and just focus on living our own.
  31. Making someone’s day is so much more rewarding than someone making your day. And the great part is, you have more control over it too :).
  32. The story of the frog turning into a prince is true. Have you ever seen a person blooming after getting into a relationship in which she receives true love from her partner? “What have you done, you look fantastic!”. What happened was… love. The “ugly” people are those so deprived of love they don’t dare to know how beautiful they are. If this were not true, then all those shows of “Before and after” would not exist. If the right clothes, make-up and care for oneself can make that difference, then let’s take our frogs shopping… and be ready to meet our princes or princesses! Or better yet, let’s give them the love and encouragement that will make them want to take themselves shopping. That way it will be permanent too:).
  33. When you have 1 dollar and give 10 cents of it to someone who has nothing, your feeling of abundance knows no limits. Your abundance is not relative to how much you have, but to how much you give.
  34. Too many people are uncomfortable with saying and hearing “I love you”. Yet not many people have issues splurting out a “screw you” every 5 minutes. Are we missing something here?
  35. Bad days exist, and that’s a fact. Be patient and kind to yourself when they come, and help them pass with grace.
  36. Learning to let go (of things and people) is one of the things that sets us free.
  37. Generalisations are called that way for a reason. Don’t make them personal.
  38. A genuine smile will not take us a long way. It will take us the way. It’s worth more than … No, in fact a smile is simply priceless! We should use it more often. Might end up changing our life.
  39. Being grateful is one of the most wonderful feelings!
  40. Pick your fights and don’t get emotionally involved in fights which are not yours to fight
  41. It’s not what we say, but how we say it. That’s why written messages can fup a relationship. It’s happened before and it will happen again. If we’re aware, not to us.
  42. Aggressiveness is not a sign of strength, but of great weakness
  43. Sometimes giving in doesn’t mean you’re weak, but on the contrary, that you are the strong one.
  44. “I’d rather be right than happy” is a choice – but is it the best choice?
  45. Instead of judging people’s actions, look at their intentions. It will help understand the other more and be more tolerant too.
  46. ”Coincidence” was a word probably invented by someone who didn’t know how to notice and analyze all the things that have to go right (or wrong) for that “coincidence” to happen. Be aware. Pay attention
  47. The secret of the 80 year olds holding hands while strolling in the park, as well as of life long friendships, lies in continuous and conscious learning and growth. If today we’re a different person than yesterday and tomorrow we’ll be different than today, we can never get bored of our partner and he can never get bored of us… because we’re living with a new person each day. And we have to rediscover each other each moment.
  48. The same applies to 3 friends traveling together for 7 months, seeing each other 24 hours a day, every day, except for toilet breaks 🙂
  49. Best learning comes with genuine listening, with all our senses. There’s a reason why silence is the one associated with wisdom, not talking.
  50. The fantastic person you meet who inspires you greatly… that could be you. Don’t be afraid to watch and learn. That’s how we all better ourselves.
  51. We’re all good people in the end. We should really love each other more.

What being on the road has taught us (I)

  1. The most memorable experiences from the many countries we’ve been to are all to do with the people we were with or met, not with the places we’ve seen, no matter how incredible they were. Life is all about the people. Not about the “where”, but the “who”.
  2. The public opinion might be “public”, but it’s still just an opinion. Don’t let it rule your feelings and life.
  3. Envy is a great thing! It’s a sign that we want to better our own life and our own self. It turns into venom when it’s being kept at the level of gossip and blame. Up to us to take it to the level of action and turn it into fulfillment and happiness.
  4. When people around you are happy for something that to you looks stupid, be happy with them. There’s no right or wrong reason for happiness. In fact, there’s no need for a reason at all. Happiness is the one thing always worth celebrating!
  5. You can’t go to a different part of the world with the beliefs and habits from your own and expect to fit in and be just fine. You won’t be just fine, and then you’ll end up blaming it one the part of the world you’re visiting (because obviously you’re not going to blame it on your own rigidity). The smart thing to do is either embrace “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, or just stay home. The world is not ready for your judgments. And you’re not ready for the world.
  6. If you’re not open to other people’s opinions, resume to talking about the weather when in the company of other humans.
  7. We can’t expect others to act as we would or as we do because they just aren’t us – they were brought up with a different set of beliefs, experiences, way of life. So next time you catch yourself saying “I would never do that”, suspend that judgment and remember … that’s not you!
  8. In fact, you’d have conflicts with the world even it were made of 7 billion exact copies of you, because so many times you don’t even agree with your own actions.
  9. People talk because they have a mouth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are using their brain (properly). Don’t take it personally, you’re only hurting yourself.
  10. People do change, and that’s a fact. They might not change in the direction we want them to, or in the respects we want them to, but they change. Even you do. Do you think and behave the same as you did when you were 5? 10? 15? I hope not! (Most of us don’t, at least). That means you have changed. You’re not even the same as yesterday… If we were to stop and analyze our change at the end of each day, we’d be fascinated.
  11. We’ve been programmed by nature to function best in pairs/groups. Even those of us who want to consider ourselves anti social. Even those of us who are anti social. Proof: the way we perpetuate as a species. If procreation could happen within one individual, we’d then know we don’t need others to make others.
  12. Yet, with all this knowledge and natural programming, we are so worried about our bank accounts that we are ignoring our relationship accounts. Are humans insane then, I ask? When have we gone insane, I ask?
  13. A wise friend, who is now in Heaven, once told me “Iunia, nobody likes the smart kid in class”. If we think we know everything, we don’t. If we get to the point when we start choosing being right over having happy relationships… boy, we’re in trouble!
  14. Just because someone says “No” doesn’t mean everyone will. It also does not mean it’s about you. It also does not mean they will not say “yes” tomorrow. Don’t take “No”s personally.
  15. People’s anger makes them do horrible things which have nothing to do with you. Don’t take it personally.
  16. Don’t take it personally.
  17. Have I mentioned not to take it personally?
  18. We all influence each other’s lives all the time. Someone making a T-shirt in China impacts your life because you wear it and feel a certain way about it too. Someone’s life in Africa is impacted by the grain of rice you donate. The smile the shop assistant gives you brightens your day. The smile you give to the shop assistant creates ripples, as she’ll be passing it on to other customers. We make a difference all around, all the time!
  19. When going in a new relationship, no matter the nature, the other person is as scared as you are.
  20. Thinking is a very complex process. Don’t expect everyone to be proficient at it, and have compassion towards those who are not. Help out.
  21. Releasing the people you hate from your mind will give you back the energy to live your own life. Think about it, when you’re so busy hating, blaming and thinking of others… who’s living your own life?
  22. We have family all over the world. We just don’t know it yet.
  23. The best way to make a problem or misunderstanding dissolve is to discuss it with the person we think is causing it. If we put the stinky cheese under the table it will stink up the whole place, but if we put in on the table next to a couple of biscuits and a quality red wine, we get ourselves a heavenly snack. If there’s only one thing you remember from this whole list, please let it be this!
  24. If the people around you are spoiling your mood or making you feel a certain way, you’re giving them too much power. Take it back and create your own mood and feeling.
  25. Life is so exciting and interesting… yet there are so many people out there suffering from a very heavy disease: that of seeing only the sh.t in life. These people are very, very dangerous… they will try to smear some of that stuff on your life too, so they’re not alone in their misery. You must have none of that! If you can’t help them, run for your life!
  26. Accept all compliments you receive with a smile. Otherwise they will stop coming. And offer genuine compliments to others, with a smile. Otherwise you will become bitter.
  27. Sometimes a discussion we dread or a person we dislike can give us the most powerful ideas, insights and realisations. Suspend judgment. Pay attention.
  28. Some people will be disappointed with the decisions you make. If that’s the case, they should start focusing more on living their own lives instead of living yours. At the end of the day you’re the one who has to live with the decision taken… and who do you live for?As Oriah so beautifully said in her poem The Invitation, “I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself”.
  29. Can you?
  30. Many times, what we think other think of us is not what they think of us at all. But our acting as a result of that belief might actually make them think that way later.
  31. When we find ourselves upset or irritated by something or someone, it’s time to remember life is a mirror and take it as a sign to look inside – something needs to be brought to our awareness and healed. If we’re irritated by someone’s selfishness, we’re given a powerful message that we need to work on our own. And even if we think we’re altruistic, we should think of it as a scale: if we’re at 7 on a scale with the ends “0 =selfish” and “10 = altruistic”, this is our chance to push ourselves up to 10.
  32. Trusting in another can be such a scary endeavor… but the more we practice it, the better we get at it. And we’ll discover it’s…oh, so worth it!
  33. Sometimes a sentence or even a word at the right time from the right person can change a perspective forever. And a new perspective can change a life. Might even be yours.
  34. You being a victim only causes those around you to suffer. Nobody owes you anything, so why make others pay for your inability to deal with your own life? Don’t be selfish, take responsibility for your own life and let others live theirs. It’s only fair.
  35. We are all attracted to balanced and wholesome people, they are the ones whose company we seek and enjoy. Nobody likes victims, except other victims and new aggressors. So don’t be one. You deserve better.
  36. Being an adult doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. It just means you’re now allowed to pretend you do
  37. Flexibility is not an option anymore. It’s the one thing that will keep you sane in times of great change.
  38. Choose “living” over “thinking about living”. It’s much more exciting!
  39. Rules and customs are made by people. Use your common sense before following or breaking them and before judging others for doing so.
  40. The world is how it is today because we keep telling our children to be a “good girl” and a “good boy”. And then give them stupid definitions of what that means. If we were to tell them to be “themselves” instead, the world might be a completely different place. It’s not too late!
  41. When we think there’s no more hope, hope will come knocking dressed up as a stranger’s smile. That stranger might even be you. Smile more, it’s really worth it!
  42. Having a vision is a must. Making plans is obsolete. As the word goes, “How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans”. Now more than ever.
  43. Confidence does not come with age, but with wisdom. And unfortunately (or is it fortunately?) wisdom doesn’t come with age either, but with the development of the ability to learn from life.
  44. The receiving always comes after/with giving. If we don’t see it is because we choose not to notice it.
  45. Dreams really do come true. If you don’t believe in that, you don’t believe in your dreams enough.
  46. Sometimes, the people who don’t seem are the ones who are.
  47. Aniche – the law of impermanence. Whatever situation you find yourself in, remember that this too shall pass, be it good or bad. That way you can keep your objectivity, realism, balance. Sanity. Aniche.
  48. Whatever our beliefs about the universe, life and death… we only choose them because we want to make ourselves feel a certain way. No point in disagreeing with another then, because we all choose to believe what makes us feel good. In reality nobody cares what you think, just as, honestly, you don’t really care what others think. Unless you’re looking for a confirmation or an answer that will make you feel better.
  49. Fear of the unknown and judgment of others are the most common things keeping us from experiencing life and people to their fullest. Fear of judgment is another. In all cases we’re the ones who lose. Majorly.
  50. Sometimes the best experiences are those that did not happen as planned. We could learn to appreciate surprises more.

100 things we did in the past 10 months. In 7 countries

  1. Climbed an active volcano in Chile
  2. Swam with the pink dolphins in the jungles of Bolivia
  3. Went in search of anacondas
  4. Looked a piranha in the face and told it “bite me!” (which it almost did btw…)
  5. Slept in a salt hotel. Meaning a hotel made of salt. For real.
  6. Spent 36 hours on a ferry to the “End of the world”. Gained a whole new perspective on sea sickness.
  7. Flew over Patagonia in a 20 people plane and managed not to cry or throw up
  8. Had a chat with the sea wolves in Chile
  9. Sand boarded in the most arid desert in the world
  10. Climbed Wayna Picchu, the peak seen in most Machu Picchu pictures
  11. Meditated inside the sacred Inka Monastery, the Machu Picchu
  12. Ate a dish of pasta and potatoes, with rice on a side – Peru
  13. Picked cocoa fruit, oranges and mangoes straight from the respective trees
  14. Built Eco houses in an Eco Yoga Park in Argentina
  15. Spend special days with an outstanding Inca Priest
  16. Rode a horse through hundreds of years old forests in Argentina
  17. Almost got robbed in Montevideo
  18. Walked the streets of Uruguay with a mate cup in one hand and a thermos in the other – the real Uruguayan way
  19. Spend 10 days in silent meditation in the Sacred Valley of Peru (Buddhist meditation retreat)
  20. Gained a complete perspective change on the favelas in Rio de Janeiro
  21. Numbed our legs while samba-ing at the rehearsals of one of the best samba schools in Rio de Janeiro
  22. Ate too much street food
  23. Ate more pizza in two months that in our entire life up to that point – Argentina
  24. Drank more great wine in two months than in our entire life up to that point – Argentina
  25. Made friends with a monkey in Bolivia – well, at least until she managed to steal all the food we had brought her
  26. Petted our first baby llama and baby sloth. The sloth winked at us. I swear it did.
  27. Had Inka Cola and Chicha (Peruvian corn “beer”)
  28. Visited the most famous silver mine in South America
  29. By the Lake Titikaka I set and wept
  30. Marveled at the graciousness of pink flamingos in Chile and Bolivia
  31. Had a bath in a hot pool in the largest geyser field in South America. 8am, -7 degrees.
  32. Patagonia, we were invited by the ferry captain up in his cabin, then given a personal tour of Puerto Toro, the Southern most inhabited point on planet Earth
  33. Stared and stared at Perrito Moreno, Argentina’s gorgeous blue glacier
  34. Finally experienced being served wine and champagne for dinner on a bus – Argentina
  35. Saw the unbelievable: 1kg bread 37 pesos, 1L wine 30 pesos in Uruguay
  36. While staring at Casa Rosa in Buenos Aires, saw Evita in my mind’s eye giving her famous speech from the famous balcony
  37. Went to the circus in the capital of Paraguay
  38. Walked through beautiful Jesuit ruins in Paraguay
  39. Got drenched in the Iguazu Falls
  40. Got a close look at the huge Jesus hugging Rio de Janeiro from up the hill
  41. Fell in love with Brazilian feijao, acai and caipirinha
  42. Paid 1USD to enter the public toilet on Ipanema beach in Rio
  43. Became addicted to beach volleyball on Copacabana beach
  44. Were escorted by fire flies out of the largest urban forest in the world
  45. Partied and samba-ed the nights away, Brazilian style
  46. Attended our first ever bull fight
  47. First ever Andean baptism
  48. Made and sold truffles on the streets of Peru
  49. Took part in a Temazcal (sweat lodge) and fire ceremonies in a Tipi
  50. Bathed in waterfalls
  51. Managed an impressive 93 mosquito bites in 3 days. With repellent constantly covering our skin, that was.
  52. Visited the people living on the floating islands on Lake Titikaka
  53. Had a picnic on an island full of cacti, in the middle of a salt desert
  54. Said “hi” to the largest rodent in the world. Then “bye”. Quickly.
  55. Sat next to people who were savoring a guinea pig in Peru. Fought hard to keep our own food in.
  56. Spent 60 hours straight on a bus crossing Brazil from East to West. Yes, we did shower during that trip.
  57. Spent 28 hours on a bus that was supposed to take 16. No, we didn’t shower during that one. We also managed not to kill ourselves either.
  58. Found pink flamingos feathers by colorful lagoons
  59. Drank Tsunamis in Chile and Submarinos in Argentina
  60. Exchanged stories with the papacho selling churros by the road side in the Sacred Valley of Peru
  61. Entered 2012 around a fire with beautiful people and a crazy dog, under the fabulous star filled sky and in the sweet sounds of accordion, guitar, drums and divine voices
  62. Woke up at 4 am for 10 consecutive days… and meditated
  63. Had the greatest conversations… with ourselves
  64. Slided on slides made of rocks, in the middle of Incan ruins
  65. Had lunch on the floor of the bus station in Sao Paolo…
  66. … and caught a guy red handed slowly walking away with my small backpack
  67. Wore the most non matching outfits and colors and did not care about it for one second
  68. Had a band rehearsal on Christmas night
  69. Ate raw fish soaked in lemon, with crispy corn and sweet potato
  70. Bowed in front of the birth place of the Sun God, on the Sun Island in Lake Titikaka
  71. Barbecued vegetables and burnt them beyond recognition. Three times.
  72. Danced our socks away with some hundreds of Brazilians at a concert of the famous Celebrare
  73. Out of the 10 months on the road, we spent 4 as guests
  74. Mountain biked on an actual mountain
  75. Ran after a donkey down a mountain for 2 hours, on a trail that normally takes 4
  76. Bought flowers from an old lady and shared them with a whole train going to Machu Picchu.
  77. Got one of our bags stolen on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro
  78. Experienced 2 earthquakes in Chile
  79. Petted a dog, cat, cow, pig, donkey, horse, llama… and a sloth 😀
  80. Became fans of the “poor’s food” in Chile – the best salmon we ever had was “a la pobre”
  81. Haven’t combed our hair for… lets say, a very long time
  82. Managed to not buy anything except for food for 8 full months (well, except for socks to keep our toes from freezing in Patagonia)
  83. Traveled on a bus together with mosquitoes, a dragonfly and a grasshopper – all at the same time
  84. Spent 5 days in the world’s highest capital – LaPaz, 3650m
  85. Swam in the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titikaka
  86. Managed to wear the same 6 T-shirts for 10 months
  87. And realized you don’t really need more than 6 T-shirts, 1 pullover, 2 pants, 4 socks and one pair of old shoes to wander the world and be happier than ever
  88. Slept in almost 100 different beds… couches, floors, tents, buses, planes, ferries.
  89. Showered in almost 100 showers (many cold ones, mostly at winter time), and we had a bathtub once. Once!
  90. Packed our backpacks at least 150 times
  91. Slept in our sleeping bags almost 100 times
  92. Ate avocado for breakfast, lunch and dinner and in between meals, with cheese, or cheese spread, or tomatoes or fruit salad or just by itself
  93. Made life long friends
  94. Met incredible teachers every step of the way
  95. Recognised that the 3 of us have been sisters and brother for a long time
  96. Fell in love, multiple times
  97. Ate fresh popcorn with butter and drank tea with rum in front of our tent, near a lagoon at 4200 meters high
  98. Visited 7 Countries and over 50 cities
  99. Had the time of our lives…
  100. Smiled, laughed, cried, ate, prayed, loved, learned, danced, jumped, marveled, glowed, wrote,  enjoyed, understood, accepted, thanked. Lived.

Thoughts after 10 months of being a bum (a.k.a backpacker)

10 months we were on the road together, the 3 of us together. We laughed, we cried and we learned together, we grew, we understood, we accepted, we thanked. And now it’s time to move on, towards a new (in fact old, both for us and in itself) continent. The end of this experience is the beginning of another: HOME! “Mixed feelings” doesn’t begin to cover it.

For the past 10 months we have slept in more than 100 beds…couches, mattresses, floors, tents, buses, boats, planes. Eaten at more than 500 tables. Have moved by means of plane, bus, jeep, car, bicycle, horse, tuk-tuk, minivan, boat, ferry, train, metro, own two feet, big bus, small bus, fancy bus, 100-years-old bus, motorcycle, lifts.

Out of the 10 months, we were guests for 4.

We spent a week in the company of an Inca Priest, went to church for Easter with very Catholic Chileans and then spent 3 weeks in a Hari Krishna Yoga Park. We meditated in silence for 10 days during a Buddhist meditation retreat, then spent 2 months in Peru with healers, shamans and people following the Mayan Calender.

We stopped being tourists fairly early, and instead became world travelers (the main distinction between the two, as I see it, is that the first experience things mainly with their eyes and mind, while the latter find their heart transformed). That is just who we are and will be. For now though, a big stage is about to end, and another one about to begin. There is uncertainty all around, but one thing we know for sure: we are so grateful for the experience and support we have been offered for the past 10 months, and for all the incredible people we have in our lives, regardless of distance and place. Thank you!!

So… are we afraid of going home?

I’m speaking for myself now, but Boca’s feelings are quite similar. The word is “scared shitless”!

I left home four years ago for a one year experience in Singapore, because experiencing Asia was something I just had to “get out of my system” before “settling down”. Now, four years later, I am aware that traveling, exploring and discovering are some things I will never “get out of my system”. That it’s not a hobby, not a dream, not something on my bucket list. It is instead who I am. It is a part of me, just as I am a part of the same world I am dying to explore. Getting to know it helps me know myself more, and getting to understand myself more helps me understand the world more. A mutual relationship that I found really works (for me).

Do I know what’s waiting for me once I get home? Not a clue! Well, that’s not entirely true, some things I can already see in my mind’s eye: legions of extended family members, smiling ear to ear “you’re finally home, we’ve been waiting for you since…” (the truth is probably since the day after I left). Lots of friends, old and not so old, some I will easily reconnect with, some I will never quite be on the same “wave length” with again. People with lots of opinions about my experience, about what I should be doing next, about my life. MY life, that is.

Probably that’s what will happen. Definitely. Maybe.

Scared shitless I said… so what am I afraid of?

  • That I won’t be able to reconnect with my old friends. That we’ve all grown a lot in the past four years, and we’ve grown at different speeds and in different directions.
  • That I won’t be able to easily find new friends who share my view of the world and life, people who think the same and live their lives according to more or less the same principles as I do.
  • That my family members (grandmothers and aunts being the champions at this) will continue not to understand why I can’t just be a “normal child” and live my life the way I “should” live it: settling down in my own house, nailing a “stable” job (little do they know that “stable job” is pretty much an oxymoron these days), finding a husband, a good man they’d approve of, then having a couple of kids because “I want to know my grandchildren before I go”.
  • That people will judge me, look down on me or up to me, not understand where I’m coming from and where I’m headed
  • That the guy at my favorite groceries store will not even remember me, let alone recognize me.
  • That I have forgotten all the shortcuts and traffic-free streets and I’ll spend half of my life from now on being lost in my own city, and the other half stuck in traffic.
  • That it will not be easy to find the support I need for what I wish to accomplish next
  • That people will think I’m a freak and will throw tomatoes at my window.
  • That, as my mom says, “all the good guys are slowly taken”.
  • That I will function on Latin American time. “Oh, the show starts at 7? Ok, shall be there by 9”
  • That I’ll start bargaining with taxi drivers
  • That I will go to the market to buy lunch, or will look for it by the road side… and upon not finding it, shout at the top of my lungs in desperation “Where are all the mamachas????”

So… is that enough to keep me from going home?

Not a chance! I’ve never known it more strongly in my bones. This is it, and the time is now:).

What am I most excited about?

  • A room/kitchen/bathroom/place to call my own
  • Driving!!!
  • My big soft fluffy towel. The pink one.
  • Having a closet!! A c…l…o…s…e…t…
  • Perfuuuuuuume
  • My cellphone actually ringing
  • Lipstick! Oh, lipstick!
  • My grandma’s pancakes whenever my heart desires
  • My high heel shoes. Oh… Lord, I will never complain again…
  • Going to a theater play or a concert with friends
  • A shower that is sure to supply me with hot water until the end
  • Making omelet with my dad
  • Going shopping with my mom
  • Watching some Romanian TV shows (especially the really crappy ones… or maybe not:p)
  • Going to my favorite tea place and sinking in a book
  • Endless laughing nights with those close at heart

 From Boca: I wanted to read the post, to make some changes, add on some things, but the only thing I see or feel differently is that I am not so much looking forward to see Romanian TV, rather Hungarian J otherwise, my sis said all perfectly!

Conclusions after these 10 months?

Only one – life really is how we make it.
So be it! Amen! Arie! Aho! Haiaia!

Gracias a todos, love you always!!

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Peru in a nutshell

(Disclaimer: the following is relevant mainly for the Sacred Valley and Lake Titikaka, as we spent the four months only in these two regions, so things are probably different in other places)

Daily budget: USD27 – 73 Soles

Actual daily expenditure: USD13

Cities visited

  • Puno – Lake Titikaka
  • Cusco
  • Pisac – Sacred Valley
  • Calca – Sacred Valley
  • Urubamba – Szent Völgy
  • Ollantaytambo – Sacred Valley
  • Quillabamba – the high jungle
  • Lima

Most expensive city: Quillabamba, Ollantaytambo, Lima

Cheapest city: Calca, Urubamba

Favorite city: Calca, Ollantaytambo, Cusco (although we wouldn’t mind if there were less tourists in the last 2)

What to do in the Sacred Valley of Peru

  • Meditate among the walls of the sacred Inca monastery, the Machu Picchu
  • Climb Wayna Picchu (behind Machu Picchu)
  • Visit Lake Titikaka and the Taquile and Uros Islands
  • Clean your soul with a dip in the lake
  • Walk around Cusco’s traditional streets
  • Visit the Coca Museum – Cusco, San Blas Square
  • Discover the Incan ruins in the Sacred Valley: Tambomaquay, Sacsayhuaman, Quorichanca, Moray, Pisac, Ollantaytambo
  • Visit the salt pools near Urubamba – Moran
  • Rest for a few days in the peaceful Full Moon Lodge – Ollantaytambo
  • Visit the high jungle cities and the waterfall on the way to Echarate – Quillabamba
  • Take a few Network Spinal Analysis sessions with Howard Levine in Cusco – Heart Nectar Healing Centre , San Blas Square
  • Rest in the Paz y Luz Lodge, Pisac, also a spiritual and healing center
  • Learn about Munay-Ki (the Reiki of the Incas) from Diane Dunn at Paz y Luz (or in Hungary on 1-3 June 2012 – for more information on tha please drop us an email at threebackpacks@gmail.com)

Most challenging thing: leaving the Sacred Valley… 🙂

ACCOMMODATION

Most expensive accommodation: 15 Soles person/night in Quillabamba, no internet and no breakfast

Cheapest accommodation: 7.5 Soles person/night n Cusco, San Blas, Casa de la Abuela without breakfast but with Internet

Favorite accommodation: Our favorite places were the ones we stayed in for weeks as guests, in places such as Calca, Cusco or Lima

FOOD

In Peru we mostly had the traditional Peruvian food, and our lunch was most often the Menu of the Day. Although it almost always contained meat, there was no problem for the nice people there to change the meat for egg or salad, or prepare an Arroz ala Cubana instead. Unlike in other countries, in Peru we cooked a lot at home, mainly because we stayed for long periods of time in the same location, and had access to a kitchen.

 

Favorite food: ceviche, pink trout from Lake Titikaka, fruit salad from the market, Churros, rice pudding, Arroz ala Cubana
 

What we didn’t like very much: the soup with the famous frozen potato

For a comprehensive description of Peruvian food, please visit the following articles:

https://threebackpacks.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/peruvian-delicacies-what-to-eat-and-where/

https://threebackpacks.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/peruvian-delicacies-ii/

TRANSPORT


Our experience with long distance transport varied a lot – from Puerto Maldonado, a town at the border with Brazil, to Cusco and from Puno to Tacna, at the border with Chile, we contemplated suicide on the night bus. The bus from Cusco to Lima was more than decent though, although not very cheap (the quality of the buses and the prices of the trips from Cusco to Lima are extremely varied, ranging from 130-185 Soles, and from normal bus seats to presidential seats with a recline of 160 degrees. From what we understood, the best company is Cruz del Sur, 180 Soles, and the second best is Tespa, 140 Soles. We chose Tespa, and we definitely recommend it). In Peru it’s worth buying “cama” tickets, as the seats are much wider and more comfortable, and the prices aren’t much higher. Between cities people usually travel in minivans, and the system is “we pick you up from anywhere on the road and you just scream when you want to get down.”There are big buses connecting cities as well, but you can only take them from the bus terminal and they’re not as frequent as the minivans. Within cities the most common means of transport are “autos”, as they call them here, a 2 people vehicle similar to the Thai tuk-tuk or Indian rickshaw.

The best thing in the country: the indescribably soothing environment, the wonderful people, the harmonious combination of mountains, lakes, rivers, blue sky and clouds that God painted so incredibly beautiful over there. Lake Titikaka, the traditions in the Sacred Valley, the Inca ruins … and, of course, the one and only magical Machu Picchu

Back in Peru … for the third time


We knew our stay in Bolivia was limited by the deal we had made with Carlo to go back to Ollantaytambo and take care of Full Moon Lodge for a month, while he was back in the States over the holidays. So we calculated the dates as best we could, and on December 9 we were back in Cusco, ready to go back to Ollanta on the 10th to take over the reins from Carlo.
We had such a great feeling reentering Peru, and again we felt like we had come back home. We were enthusiastic about returning to the Full Moon Lodge, but our enthusiasm about spending a month there, tied to the land, was not as present as before. Especially when we got to Howard’s office and were overwhelmed again by the feeling that “I wanna stay hereeeee”. We secretly wished we had not made the arrangement with Carlo and we’d now have the freedom to stay in Cusco for as long as our heart desired.

Change of plans again, because… why not?

The last few days we had no Internet access on Isla del Sol, as they don’t do much Internet there, so one of our first concerns upon getting to Cusco was to get to an Internet and catch up with the outside world. Not little was our surprise when in our Inbox we found an email from Carlo, in which he was informing us that he had to leave earlier than expected, and therefore had to find someone else to take care of the lodge… and if we wanted to we could go back to volunteer as before, but he had found someone else to be responsible for the place.

Bang! Talking to Boca we realized we both felt so relieved at receiving the news, that we had both secretly wanted to be free to stay in Cusco for a while instead of going back to Ollanta. And as a result, that was exactly what we decided, and “coincidently” we found the perfect location: Howard’s office! Silviu had just finished arranging a room that was designed for someone in two weeks time, but meanwhile the room was available. That’s because obviously it was meant for us. Howard agreed, and so we got to see our dream of “I want to stay hereeeee” fulfilled. Wouldn’t you know it…:)

It was a great pleasure to spend time there, with Silviu, with an awesome library, with Howard, with the energies there. I started a series of treatments with Howard, Network Spinal Analysis (http://www.associationfornetworkcare.com/whatisnsa.shtml), a type of therapy designed to awaken your inner doctor. Something downright fascinating, and I was glad for the opportunity to experience such a thing over there.

Christmas and Calca, our favorite little town

The 2 weeks passed by in an instant, and before we knew it, Christmas was upon us. Ilya, one of Howard’s friends who became our friend as well, invited us to his place in Calca for Christmas, to the little town we had fallen in love with during our 10 days of Vipassana meditation. So we accepted the invitation with great joy, and were left speechless when we first saw the place: a beautiful house by the river, surrounded by greenery and lots of colorful flowers, and dotted with fig, apple and plum trees. Plums! One of my favorite fruit, but one I hadn’t really had in the last 3 years in Asia. Picking the plums from the tree in Ilya’s yard I felt just like in my grandmother’s garden, and realized how such a simple gesture can recreate such vivid memories.

Sitting around the table on Christmas Eve (a real feast!) and sharing stories, we found out Ilya was also planning to write a book. So we suggested something that seemed to have a lot of sense: “Ilya, we have the perfect plan! The 3 of us should lock ourselves here in your house for two weeks, and each work on our book, and from time to time share writers ideas.” “Ah, that sounds great, and I really wish I could do that, but unfortunately I have a job waiting for me. I can lock the two of you here though, and I’ll come from time to time to chat and share ideas.” Wow! Speaking of dreams come true again! Since Boca and I had entered Ilya’s house, we had both had the same thought – this is the absolute perfect place for writing! And it proved to be indeed – we spent two exceptional weeks there, and could not be more grateful to Ilya for his generosity and trust.

Decisions, decisions …

For a while now, Boca and I had some thoughts we had not previously had: thoughts that yes … we sort of feel that “this is it”… that the time for us to head towards our homes was rapidly approaching. We did not feel nearly half of the enthusiasm we had felt before at the thought of experiencing a new country, we were happy beyond measure when it came to stopping somewhere for a long time, and we slowly began to identify that we were “suffering” from what they call “travel fatigue”. In addition, we were filled with emotion whenever we thought of “home”, and felt so strongly in our stomach and solar plexus that yes, it’s time. It’s time. And as we had created the good habit of listening to our instincts and acting when we feel we must act, we managed at the end of the year to buy ourselves tickets to return to Europe in the first month of 2012. Based on the prices we found most convenient, I was to fly out on the 18th, exactly 366 days since I first put the backpack on my back, and Boca was to fly out on the 22nd, exactly 10 months after we landed on South American land. Quite significant dates, we thought :).

Silviu listened to his instinct as well, and therefore decided that for him the time has not come yet, he still had some discovering, learning and growing to do. So the plan is for him to spend some time, not to long, still in Cusco, then return to Brazil for some projects with the people from Hub Rio, and then move towards Bolivia and Colombia where he has some people to know and experiences to have. We hope he will keep us informed about his plans through this blog. We shall live and see:).

Last days in Peru … and South America

So in the light of these new decisions, and three weeks away from “D” day, we contemplated some options on what to do in the little time we had left. We played with the idea of exploring other parts of Peru, since we had not gone out of the Sacred Valley for the whole 3 months we were there, but eventually we decided against it … we still didn’t want to leave that area! And we figured that whatever else is there to explore in Peru … we’ll do it next time. We wanted to spend our last days in South America in one of our favorite places, the little Calca town … and that was exactly what we did!

We had some great surprises during this time, one of which was Steve, the friend we had made during our Vipassana meditation retreat. It was full circle – we had met Steve and spent some wonderful days with him at the beginning of our adventure in Peru, and now we had the opportunity to spend some time with him again back in Calca, at the end of our adventure (and his) in Peru. Awesome, just awesome.

Another special event was the entry in 2012, which we celebrated in Urubamba and which I can summarize as follows: the Sacred Valley of Peru, greenness, mountains, a fire under the magnificent star filled sky, a group of wonderful people, a big white dog in my lap, a huge bowl of fruit salad and one spoon circling around, a bottle of chicha and one glass circling around, guitars, accordion, divine voices. Joy. Peace. Gratitude. Welcome, wonderful year! 🙂

Perhaps the greatest surprise and joy during this period was the fact that we managed to meet Diane Dunn in person, the woman whose book Cusco: A gate to inner wisdom had impressed Boca and me so deeply. We met her several times, and from the discussions with her a decision was taken: Diane is coming to Hungary for three days in June 2012, to share some Andean wisdom in this part of the world as well. The course will cover interesting knowledge about the 4 elements (earth, air, fire, water), based on the ancient Andean traditions and Munay-Ki.

What is Munay-Ki?

The Munay-Ki are the nine rites of initiation from the descendents of the Inca, the indigenous people from the Andes. Munay-Ki comes from a Quechua word that means ‘I love you’ . Munay-Ki is a nine step process to heal the wounds of the past. Through these we are then free to become who we truly are, the new human being: ‘Homo Luminous’.

After receiving the Nine Rights:

  • You will more easily be able to see the ‘bigger picture,’ and view life from a higher perspective.
  • You will become more of who you truly are: your soul-self, higher self, your Divinity.
  •  Your ‘life purpose’ becomes clear. You follow what brings you joy.
  • You begin to come more readily from a place of greater wisdom, love, peace, harmony and clarity.
  • You know and love who you are.
  • You more easily cast off what does not work for you.
  • You transform in wonderful ways. The world around you transforms in wonderful ways.
  • Your life begins to flow more smoothly and you perceive beauty around you.
  • You begin to truly know that “All is well” and ‘Heaven on Earth’ can be our Destiny.

If you would like to participate to this unique workshop or would like to get more information, please drop us an email at threebackpacks@gmail.com.

Ready to go

Our flights back to Europe were from Lima, so we got on a bus from Cusco on a Sunday afternoon, after saying goodbye to our dear Silviu, enthusiastic about the continuation of his adventure, and we prepared for the 21 hour bus ride* to Lima. Time passed quickly and without major events, and in Lima we were received and hosted by Emi, Giselle’s mother, who lives there. Two days later … I was on a plane heading home:).

Read in the next posts our thoughts and feelings on finishing the journey, and on the beginning of a new phase: home.

___

* The quality of the buses and the prices of the trips from Cusco to Lima are extremely varied, ranging from 130-185 Soles, and from normal bus seats to presidential seats with a recline of 160 degrees. From what we understood, the best company is Cruz del Sur, 180 Soles, and the second best is Tespa, 140 Soles. We chose Tespa, and we definitely recommend it

Bolivia in a nutshell

Planned daily budget: USD27 – 187 Bolivianos

Actual daily expenditure: USD19

 

Cities visited:

  • La Paz
  • Uyuni – salt desert
  • Potosi
  • Rurrenabaque – jungle
  • Copacabana
  • Isla del Sol – on Lake Titikaka

Most expensive city: the South part of Isla del Sol

Cheapest city: the other cities had pretty much same prices

Favourite city: Isla del Sol (North), Rurrenabaque, Potosi

To do in Bolivia

  • Shop in La Paz
  • Visit the Coca Museum – La Paz
  • Have loads of 30 cents fresh orange juices in the street
  • Travel to the Salt Desert – Uyuni
  • Visit the famous silver mine – Potosi
  • Admire the nature and animals in the jungle – Rurrenabaque
  • Spend a few quiet days in Isla del Sol
  • Take a dip in Lake Titikaka
  • Have some pink trout from the world’s highest navigable lake, the Titikaka

 

Most challenging thing: finding vegetarian food and walking through streets that the locals treat as outdoor toilets

 

ACCOMMODATION

Most expensive accommodation: 75 Bolivianos per person/night in Rurrenabaque (Hotel Orient), with breakfast, without internet

Cheapest accommodation: 15 Bolivianos per person/night in the North of Isla del Sol (Refugio Wiracocha), no breakfast and no internet

Favorite Accomodation

  • Potosi – Koala Hostel
  • Rurrenabaque – Hotel Orient

 

FOOD

Finding vegetarian food is not easy in Bolivia. The dishes served for “Menu de Dia” contain meat most of the times, and while in Peru it’s easy to have them replace the meat with salad or eggs, here we didn’t find it as easy. The good news is food is pretty cheap eveywhere, including in the fancier restaurants, so most of the times we paid the 20Bolivianos (USD3) for a vegetarian meal instead of the 7 Bolivianos for a regular “Menu de Dia”. Which is not the best when traveling on a budget, but we ended up having some pretty good food around.

Favourite Food: The lentils burger we had in Potosi, in a place called something like Tour de Pizza. Divine! And the freshly squized juices on the street.

What we didn’t realy like: the vegetarian potatoe empanada with surprise meat inside

A very popular dish you might want to try is theSalchipapa: slices of sausage with french fries.

 

TRANSPORTATION

Besides the bus to Rurrenabaque, the rest of the buses we travelled with were basic but clean. Of course they didn’t reach the standards of the Argentinian buses, but we didn’t have any problems with them either.

If you plan to go to the jungle in the North,brace yourself as the roads are absolutely terrible, and many times instead of the 16 hours ride you might end up being on the bus for 24.

The best thing in the country: Shopping (bhahaha) and the fresh and cheap fruit juices on the street. And of course the salt flats and jungle :).

Isla del Sol – back on Lake Titikaka, but on another island

As I’ve repeatedly mentioned before, Lake Titikaka is one of my favorite places int he whole wide world. I could spend a lifetime there and it would still not be enough. So I was extremely happy when I had the opportunity to go back to the lake for the third time, this time from a new direction – Bolivia. We were to enjoy the lake from Isla del Sol (The Sun Island), not from Taquile as the previous two times.


We were to take the boat to the island from Copacabana – the second Copacabana we were visiting in the last 6 months. When we got there, Boca asked me “And … how many Copacabana are you intending to visit? “. “Eventually… all of them, of course” was my immediate answer. Well … why not? 🙂

Once in Copacabana the plan was to get to the island as early as possible the next morning. We found that ferries leave at 8.30 and we were told the North is more beautiful than the South, more quiet and “there are more ruins to see.” Well, if that was the case … we took the advice and bought a 15 Bolivianos ticket to the North. That was where we were planning to go anyway, as Noemi (the Pedagooogia 3000 wonderful lady) told us she was working with some people from a refugio in the North on openning a school for adults on the island. So we were excited to meet the people she worked with, and also to see the location for the school we intend to spend some time in as well in the future.


The North
We headed North then, and after two and a half hours, when our eyes met the piece of island where we were going to stay, we fell in love with it immediately. The simplicity, peace, calm, beauty. We easily found the Refugio Wiracocha, the place Noemi had told us about, and we were speechless at the price they quoted per person per night: 15 Bolivianos (2USD). Simple conditions, true that, but a really charming location and truly wonderful people. We were so happy we were going to spend the next four days there, in that superb location.

They were some awesomely peaceful days, and we did nothing but hang out on the beach, pick and choose beautifully carved stones from the lake, walk around the island, write and read. One day we visited the famous ruins, a visit we totally recommend. One of them is said to be the birthplace of Wiracocha, the Creator God in the Inca faith. That’s where humanity was born, legend says. Then you have some original paths from the times of the Incas, and it’s a tremendous pleasure to step on those neatly arranged stones and imagine how our ancestors walked on them half a millennium ago. We adored that feeling, and we spent a big part of the day in that area.

Another thing that gave us great pleasure each day was the incredibly delicious trout we had every day for lunch, the pink trout from the world’s highest navigable lake. It’s something you do not want to miss if you’re around the lake, either in Bolivia or in Peru.
Boca was super excited about every small or big animal on the island, from cows to donkeys, pigs, sheep and birds. She terrorized them while chasing them to „just pet one”.  I found the image of this blonde girl running after many a desperate sheep and baby pig thoroughly entertaining. Later I appologized to them for my friend’s behavior, and they understood. Good guys, good guys.

One thing to remember when going to the island is that the sun is extremely strong there – at 4500 meters it’s expected to be so, so make sure you have enough sunscreen with you. There are only 3 stores on the island and they’re not that well stocked with sunscreen – we found some only in one place and we paid twice as much as we would have normally paid.


The South
After several days of peace and calm in the North, we decided to go South to spend at least one day there as well, checking out some more Inca ruins. Most people who visit the island move from North to South or vice versa on foot, and it seems to be an lovely 3-4 hours walk. We didn’t choose this option beacuse we had our big backpacks with us, and the idea of walking up and down the hills at 40 degrees with 10kg on our back was not greeted with much enthusiasm. So we chose to take the boat to the South. A choice we do NOT recommend, for reasons I shall share a bit later.

When we arrived in the South we were oh, so disappointed – the place seemed to have been invented exclusively for tourists, and nothing else. A number of hostels and restaurants had been built by the lake, and up the hill (or rather behind the hill) was a small town where the locals live. It’s a half an hour climb, and if you have some luggage with you it’s not necessarily a pleasure climbing the hill with your tongue hanging out, under the bright sun. We stayed by the lake, in one of the hostels that charged 20 Bolivianos a night. The same day we went to see the ruins… and we could hardly keep back the thoughts “Whyyyyy… why did we leave the North … Whyyyyy… why did we come here??” Especially if you go without a guide and you have no knowledge about the ruins, the little trip is really not worth it. Luckily we managed to join a couple with a guide and learned a couple more things about our Inca ancestors. That yes, we recommend.


What we suggest you do
If we had known before how things go around the island, this is what we would have done (and this is what we recommend to you as well): we would have left our backpacks at the hostel in Copacabana. Taken a morning boat to the South (10 Bolivinanos), quickly visited the ruins in the company of a guide, then walked the 3-4 hours to the North. There we would have stayed at Refugio Wiracocha and spent a few peaceful days, without any stress (whihc we actually did, in fact). And from there taken a boat straight back to Copacabana (for 20 Bolivinanos, not 40 as we paid in order to stop in the South).

This way you’d save a few bucks (on the boat tickets and on the cheaper accommodation in the North) and spend time in the more non touristic and more beautiful part of the island. And you’d get to cross the island from one end to the other on foot, a pretty desirable experience, they say.

And that’s pretty much it … 

Don’t forget to enjoy each moment and have a chat with the lake from time to time. It has much to tell, the old fella’.

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Boat Copacabana – Isla del Sol: 10 Bolivianos to the South, 15 to the North
Boat North of Island – South of Island: 20 Bolivianos
Boat North / South os the Island – Copacabana: 20 Bolivianos
Accommodation in the North: Refugio Wiracocha: 15 Bolivianos / night
Accommodation South – at least 20 Bolivinanos

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