Living the Dream - Ben travels around South America - July 2022 until August 2023

In July 2022 - after a two-year, Covid-induced delay - I left on a year-long sabbatical. Starting in Madrid (Spain), my travels will take me all across South America - and possibly further. My plan is to move slowly, taking my time to properly explore and roam, before returning home to Berlin (Germany) in August 2023.

I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy my journey. Any feedback (public comment on any blog entry or a private message) is very much appreciated and makes the blog special to me and everybody else.

Also have a look at my pictures on Flickr.

Previously on this blog: Living the Dream - Ben travelled around the world - April 2008 until March 2011
In April 2008, I quit my fast-paced corporate job, sold most of my belongings, and left on a world trip - and never looked back. Starting in Berlin (Germany) and heading east, my journey would last for three years and took me across parts of Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia, Oceania, Central America and finally India, before returning home to Germany at the end of March 2011 after 1091 days on the road. It truly was a trip of a life-time, and the memories will stay with me forever. You can find the pictures of this trip on Flickr and my chosen route here.

I have also published a book about this trip - you can find it on Amazon, iTunes or Kobo (and most other online book shops).

Please also take note that I never intend to offend anyone with my blogs but merely want to share my experiences (good and bad). So please don't get all worked up by my entries. Constructive criticism is of course very welcome indeed! Having said that, I was never aiming to write a politically correct blog. My writing is (naturally) highly subjective and expresses my personal opinions.

Finally, if you want to support my travels with a small donation via Bitcoin (bc1p7a23v00vs6szxtk333k04ge5kmzf8cyy7qqr0uc9dh46kzg6hyhssfzp9p) or Ether/ Polygon/ BSC (0x4a33E893edfba89bbEf6A50F8e53D4291Bb05b52), this would be very welcome indeed!

My journey between 2008 and 2011: Germany (home, start) - Turkey (9 days) - Germany, Berlin (2 days) - Lithuania (6 days) - Latvia (4 days) - Estonia (5 days) - Finland (4 days) - Russia (26 days) - Mongolia (17 days) - China (70 days) - Japan (42 days) - South Korea (10 days) - North Korea (10 minutes) - China (8 days) - Vietnam (15 days) - Laos (35 days) - Thailand (3 days) - Myanmar (25 days) - Thailand (9 days) - Malaysia, Peninsular (74 days) - Singapore (7 days) - Indonesia, Sumatra (27 days) - Malaysia, western Borneo (36 days) - Brunei (4 days) - Malaysia, eastern Borneo (42 days) - Indonesia, Java & Bali (28 days) - Singapore (7 days) - Taiwan (17 days) - Philippines (18 days) - Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (2 days) - Indonesia, Lombok & Bali (10 days) - Australia (47 days) - New Zealand (107 days) - Fiji (14 days) - USA, Hawaii & California (31 days) - Mexico (21 days) - Guatemala, Tikal (3 days) - Belize (9 days) - Guatemala, Rio Dulce (5 days) - Honduras, Copan (2 days) - Guatemala (26 days) - El Salvador, western part (9 days) - Honduras (16 days) - El Salvador, eastern part (8 days) - Nicaragua (13 days) - Costa Rica (14 days) - Panama (35 days) - USA, Florida (11 days) - Germany, break at home (55 days) - India (96 days) - Germany (home, the end).


South America » Colombia » Ipiales October 20th 2022

(Day 112 on the road) The area south of Medellin is coffee country. My flight from Cartagena put me right in the thick of it, in the city of Pereira. And thus I spent the next few weeks exploring the region, starting with some beautiful hot springs near the village of Santa Rosa de Cabal, before moving on to the hot springs near Manizales. Now, Manizales is one of those second-rate Colombia’s cities which most people have probably never heard of. But they are one of Colombia’s cities I have seen that have incorporated cable cars into their public transport system. It is ingenious really: As Manizales lies in pretty hilly terrain, the bus terminal is located not near the city center, but at the bottom of a hill, right next to a cable car station. ... read more
Getting a shoe shine in Manizales
Willy jeep

South America » Colombia » Cartagena September 24th 2022

(Day 86 on the road) Not further accelerating climate change can be hard. Faced with the choice between a 16-hours bus-ride for 20€ or a 50-minute flight for 35€, I admit that I opted for the plane. Thus, leaving Bucaramanga in Central Colombia, I soon found myself in the northern, somewhat shady city of Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. It felt like being in a different country. For one, compared to the central parts of Colombia, the northern coastal area seemed poorer and less developed. Power cuts were frequent – if there was electricity at all. A number of places I visited relied entirely on diesel generators. Maybe counter-intuitively, prices for most things - especially accommodation & food - were higher (not just in some remote areas, but also in the bigger cities). The culture ... read more
Ciudad Perdida
Lightning on the beach
Amazing sunset in Cabo de la Vela

South America » Colombia » Santander » Bucaramanga August 25th 2022

(Day 56 on the road) It’s been roughly a month since I arrived in Colombia, so now seems like a good time for a first recap. And to say it upfront, it has been a pretty good month indeed! After a two-hour flight (and a 3 ½ hour wait at the completely understaffed Colombian immigration), Medellin with its 2,5 million inhabitants was my first port of call. And despite of what image the city has as the former base of the infamous Pablo Escobar and its drug cartel, these days I found it to be an inspiring and forward-looking city. Gone are the days when Time Magazine called it “The Most Dangerous City in the World”, complete with its gang wars and the highest murder rate in the world. Nowadays, the whole city seemed to brim ... read more
Comuna 13 in Medellin

(Day 23 on the road) After a fairly painless flight and a late-night Uber into the city, I arrived in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The main reason for coming here was to take a language course for a week to brush up my Spanish, before hitting South America a few weeks later. The school was located in Sosua, on the north coast of the island; and all in all, it was the right decision to start with the course. I did learn a lot, and since my co-students did not always show up for class, I often ended up being the only student. Nice. The next couple of weeks I spent exploring the island - the beautiful Samana peninsula in the north-east, the capital of Santo Domingo, Jaracaboa in the mountainous inland ... read more
Deserted Playa del Amor
Parque Central in Puerto Plata at sunset
Preparing my fresh fish for dinner

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid July 3rd 2022

(Day 3 on the road) I am on the road again - more than 11 years after my last sabbatical ended. And boy, it does feel good! Between 2008 and 2011, I travelled across many parts of Asia, Australia & New Zealand, Central America and India. This time, I am looking at a 12-months trip around (mainly) South America. Originally planned for two years ago, Covid has delayed my plans just slightly. But now I have finally started, and I couldn’t be happier. They say that anticipation is sweet, and it certainly was in this case. A lot of flights to Latin America are going via Madrid, so that's where I am starting my trip. The first order of business was getting a proper and thorough haircut - having almost no hair makes things just so ... read more
Metro Estacion del Arte
At the Prado
Installation at Reina Sofia

Europe » Germany » Berlin » Berlin June 30th 2022

(1 day until departure) I am in the final stages of preparing for a 12-months sabbatical. Over the last few weeks and months, I have dealt with wide range of issues – from booking my first few flights, finding a language school to brush up my Spanish, getting some vaccinations, purchasing travel insurance, subletting my flat, handing over my work to my colleagues, to saying goodbye to family and friends. The last time I did a bigger trip in 2008, there were virtually no processes in place at my company for a longer leave of absence. In the end, I had to quit my job to go travelling. This time around, things are very different. Over the years, many big companies in Germany haven given worker-retention and motivation some serious thought. The result is, that I ... read more

Asia » India » West Bengal » Darjeeling March 31st 2011

(Day 1091 on the road) OK, I know that I have “ended” my trip before and that I have already written the “final” blog of my journey back in October 2010, before returning to the road for a few more months. But I promise that this time it is really over. Safe from a possible Highlight-Blog in a few months' time, this will be my last entry. It is a sentimental feeling to know that this time it really is the end, but there is no way around it really. Three years of travel, albeit with a two-months break in between, have gone by, and I feel this is somehow the right time to end it all. And what better place to look back on nearly 36 months of traveling than at the foot of the ... read more
Woman in traditional Gorkha dress
One of over 80 tea plantations in the Darjeeling area

Asia » India » Andhra Pradesh » Hyderabad March 21st 2011

(Day 1081 on the road)Holi cow! I knew that the ecstatic Indian Holi festival was going to be great, but nobody could have prepared me for what we were about to experience. It was a simply mad, and we had a blast! A little background: Holi is celebrated in India to welcome the spring and say goodbye to winter. Basically people take to the streets and throw bright colour powder called gulal at each other, while bonfires the night before are lit to symbolise the demise of the evil demoness Holika, who gives the festival its name. It is celebrated differently in different parts of India, with the north apparently being wilder than the south. But the celebrations here in Hyderabad proved plenty for us as it turned out, and we were very content. It had ... read more
Coloured Luc and me
Holi cow - celebraters at the Holi festival
Getting directions to the city's Holi hot spots from the colour mechant

Asia » India » Kerala » Kochi March 18th 2011

(Day 1078 on the road)A long time ago, I made a list of 50 places in the world I wanted to try and visit during my life. I have already managed to see a fair bit of these, but not yet the lesser-known backwaters of Kerala. Together with better-known places like the pyramids in Egypt, Angkor Wat in Cambodia or indeed the Taj Mahal here in India, Kerala has always been on that list. Not surprisingly, I was very excited when we were finally entering Kerala on yet another overnight train from Goa – and I was not to be disappointed! Kerala's interior is criss-crossed by a network of 900km or so of canals, rivers and lakes, where often the only means of transport for the people living here is by boat. Thus, the life of ... read more
Fisherman retrieving his net
Local fishermen in Kochin
Young girl with red chilly

Asia » India » Goa » Palolem March 11th 2011

(Day 1071 on the road)And then, things got better. The further south we moved, the less hassle there seemed to be. After we left the northern Indian states behind and headed for the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Ellora Caves, Mumbai and Goa, things turned decidedly more relaxed. Of course there were still the constant "Hello sir, auto rickshaw?" cries from the drivers in the streets, but they seemed less persistent than in the north of the country, and non-rickshaw touts declined noticeably. Ah, niiice. Speaking of auto rickshaws: One of these, painted bright yellow, made of plastic, maybe about 20cm long, and in the possession of naughty Luc, proved to be a near endless source of fun for us all and many passer-bys. Jasmin had bought the toy auto rickshaw for Luc in Udaipur, ... read more
Life guard putting up his flag on Palolem's beach
It wouldn't be an Indian beach without cows on it
University of Mumbai

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