Page 3 of Robert F Travel Blog Posts

The way towards the Brasilien border involves crossing part of a vast plain called the Grand Chaco. This is a dry and thorny lowland is penetrated only by a mud track and the infamous death train towards the frontier city of Quijaro. This train got its name because it almost never reached the destination. The track was and still is challanged by its remoteness and occationally washed away by floodings in the rainy season. The deformed track made it derail frequently. Sometime ago the old death train was replaced by a more modern train that takes the journey at a real low pace. Still the train coaches jump like mad during the whole journey. I think it should be renamed from death train into shake train... A strange encounter were some missionary folks in blue overalls ... read more

South America » Bolivia » Chuquisaca Department » Sucre April 3rd 2006

Sucre was a both necessary and welcome stop on my way to the Brasilien border. It is a town of many universities and has been the capital of Bolivia for a long time. Still today many ideas and political movments are said to have their origin here. My visit was more extended than planed because the Bolivian busdrivers went on strike to paralyse the country. Rising fuel prises made them call the government for a zero taxation. When their service started again after three days the government had promised to do so. Later I heared the promise wasn't kept as usual... Until I could catch a bus again I hung out with some young German fellows to play cards. For the first buses that left one had to pay double. Naturally, since many people were waiting ... read more
Pizza Anyone?

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Potosi April 1st 2006

Potosi was once the richest city of South America. Silver and other precious material has been mined from its Cerro Rico, meaning rich mountain, for more than four centuries. And a visit to this city is still impresive today. High in the Andes I could hardly catch my breath in the first days. At about 4100m Potosi is as high as human settlements get. While the vast number of churches and decorated colonial buildings testify the wealth of the past, the mines inside Cerro Rico still opperate today. For most of the men that are forced by the alternative of unemployment to deal with the grim reality of the mining job the situation has hardly changed compared to their comrades from the colonial times. During the mining history of Cerro Rico an estimated number of eigth ... read more
Compania Jesus
Central Plaza
Potosi Houses

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni March 30th 2006

In the middle of the Altiplano is the Salar de Uyuni, one of the biggest salt lakes on earth. I spent some days in the town with the same name visit the salt lake and to acclimatize to the high altitude conditions around there and the passes to come. With a group of mostly spanish speaking guys I had a guided tour of the lake. We drove in a run-down jeep across the extensive white, visited a salt producing family (Well, is more packing than producing, since the salt is already there. It just has to be dried and filled into plastik bags.), visited Isla de pescadores, a cactus island, had fun with salt crystals, and in the evening stoped for some pictures at the old train cementery. It was one of the best places I ... read more
Salt Lake Tour

Towards the Andes, deeper in the vast dryness of the desert is San Pedro de Atacama. It is a small town of clay-brick houses and a white-painted church next to the plaza. The broad valley around San Pedro is formed by some salty erroded desert hills in the west and the rising Andes in the east which form a dramatic backdrop of a chain of snowcapped volcanos at the border between Chile and Bolivia. Most remarkable on one end the high peak of Licancabur towers over it all. San Pedro's townsfolk, their thin belt of green fields around town, and of course the lavish tourists all depend on the sparse waters of a small river running down the valley and nearly drying up afterwards. During daytime you better get into the shade here. The sun is ... read more
The Andes
El Tatio Plateau
A Breast of Mother Earth?

South America » Chile » Atacama » Cerro Paranal March 26th 2006

The Atacama Desert is the driest place on earth. For that reason it has been chosen as a site for various space telescopes. Astronomers and Astrophysicists value the dry atmosphere and the little amount of diffused light due to the remotenes because it gives them a much clearer view into the sky. It makes visits to the telescopes quite difficult though. I had arranged a visit to the telescope of the European Southern Observatories (ESO), the Very Large Telescope (VLT). This prestigious facility was built during the nineties on top of Cerro Paranal as a cooperative project between different European countries. It still remains to be the most powerful telescope today. I had once taken part in a summer school where we got to know the telescope's basic features and discused research projects done based on ... read more
Observatorio Paranal
A Long Way into the Desert
Espejo Grande

South America » Chile » Antofagasta Region » Antofagasta March 25th 2006

The planed visit to the ESO Telescope in norther Chile was waiting, so I didn't waste any time in Santiago but put myself into the next Bus to Antofagasta. When I woke up in the Bus the next morning and looked out of the window we had reached the first parts of the Atacama Desert already. The Panamericana was winding its way over dusty ocher hills with occational small villages in between. The further we got, the more abandoned it got, the villages gave way to a few smoking factories that looked much like mining, concrete, smelting and gravel industry. Finally the Bus turns left to follow a valley down to the coast. At the valleys opening towards the sea, clutched to the hills that reach still with allmost no tace of green- into the sea ... read more

South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago March 24th 2006

Latest since the release of Jule Vernes "Around the world in eighty days" we know about that special day that you win when traveling eastwards around the world. You count you days by observing the continuous change of day and night while traveling. Finally you come back to the place you started from and if you counted correctly the folks at home will tell you, your journey took you one day less than you counted... How come? Imagine you do your journey in a very fast plane. The plane is so fast that you camo back on the same day...just imagine. Imagine you do your round the world flight in the morning, starting from Europe. While you are sitting in the plane and flying eastwards you observe the sun through a window. Above Europe you see ... read more

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland March 21st 2006

For some time I lived at the airport. Some time willingly and some time unwillingly. I used the airport showers, ate airport food, figured out how to make most of all vouchers I got, made friends with other people living at the airport, moving to an airport hotel, and back to the terminal where a trolly was my home. A bit like in this movie, "The Terminal". But I had a chance to leave, I was not trapped there. Just a bit of patience was necassary. My flight to Santiago, Chile was via Papeete, Tahiti with Air Tahiti Nui. And the flight to Papeete was four hours late which would have led to a five day stop-over in Papeete. Onward fights to Santiago are rare. I would have had no objections at all to have a ... read more

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Taupo March 20th 2006

If I really want to be so crazy, here's the place to do it: Taupo Skydiving. Jump out of a plane, from 12,000 feet, roughly 3650 meter. Freefall for about 40 seconds, then hopefully the parachute of your tandem partner opens for a nice ten minute scenic flight and a smooth grass landing! So far the theory. I called the evening before to make a reservation, the next morning at around eight we drove to Taupo's small airport. Where else would you find a sky diving school. In Taupo there is three of them, thus, the low prices. For less than eighty euro you are on the next plane! So I signed away my life (literally, you have to sign that you do not blame the sky diving school if you die!). Then I got some ... read more
Say Good Bye to It All

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