My Long Lost Sister From Aruba

My Long Lost Sister From Aruba

A moment lived in Aruba by Gem, a traveller from the US

Just like the rest of my travel “plans”, I impulsively booked a flight to Aruba.

I knew it was a trip that I needed to make the best out of because my stay was going to be short—only four days.
Other travelers reassured me that four days would be more than enough. Aruba is quite small: only nineteen miles long and five miles wide.
Whenever I visit a new place, I post a public trip on Couchsurfing in the hopes of offering to show me around. This technique rarely works because it’s a public post, and I am not directly reaching out to a specific couchsurfer in their inbox. Thankfully, this time around another couchsurfer named Emma reached out to me and offered to give me a tour of the Island.

When I travel, I love getting lost, exploring, and figuring things out on my own.
Being in a foreign land and not knowing where to go or what to do is both scary and exciting to me. It’s scary because it forces me to get out of my comfort zone., and exciting because I know I have nothing else to do but to explore.
It’s a great feeling when I stumble upon a beautiful place or view that I know I wouldn’t otherwise find if I wasn’t lost.
I was thrilled knowing I would have Emma to guide me. Since that first message, we’ve had a nonstop dialogue between the two of us.

I love the vibes I was getting every time I would talk to Emma. Though strangers, we were able to connect with a very amiable way. As time passes by, I feel closer to her. I watched our friendship grow into one of the best things that has happened to me in a while.

We finally met when I visited Aruba. Emma was exactly how I pictured her to be—kind, caring, respectful, full of life, happy, and generous. Emma has a busy schedule, but she never missed a beat whenever it was time for her to pick me up and drive me around.

I remember my last night on the island. I was with Emma and her daughter Amy. We went out to have dinner, only to find that the place we wanted to go only accepted cash. I went to draw money, the ATM stopped working and took my card. I later found out that happened because of an ATM alert protection from my bank back home. I was worried because that it was the only card I had. I had NO cash whatsoever.
On the bright side, it was my last night in Aruba. I could only imagine how interestingly different my stay would have been!

After dropping me off, Emma lent me $20—enough to pay for my taxi back to the airport and some change. Thirty minutes later, I got a text from Emma saying she was outside. To my grand surprise, she handed me a bag full of fruits and a bottle of water.

“You have a long day tomorrow,” she said and smiled at me. I got so moved and almost teared up. People who are genuinely nice and caring are far few and between. I truly admire Emma for being genuine.

We laughed our hearts out, made good memories, and talked about everything and nothing. It didn’t feel like she was someone I just met for the first time, but rather like a long lost sister. Despite being strangers mere months earlier, we were having some of the best of our lives as if it had always been that way. Just like love, friendship transcends culture, diversity, sexual orientation, gender and et cetera.

Finding and building meaningful friendships can be a daunting task, especially when people tend to be superficial. Traveling has helped me find a few human connections which were deeper. I now connect better with others and I also become more attentive to their needs.

Emma was just another reminder as to why I love traveling—not all strangers are dangerous—and that makes the world a beautiful place.

This traveller has a blog : Live Love Travel


Biking Rainbow Mountain

A Biking Adventure to Rainbow Mountain

A moment lived in Peru by Tanlines for Two, travellers from United Kingdom

We have been living on bicycles for over 6 months now and we recently found ourselves very close to the Rainbow Mountain in Peru. We couldn’t decide whether the 6-hour bike ride on a gravel road followed by a 3+ hour hike would be worth it, just to reach the peak of a cold mountain at 5,000m altitude. We aren’t hikers, we are bikers; we didn’t know how we would fare.

However…we woke up the next morning with an adventurous spirit and set to climbing to the top of the windy road on our weighty (35kg!) touring bikes. 5 hours in and exhausted, we were caught in a hailstorm our poor waterproofs couldn’t protect us from. Soaked to the skin, freezing cold and not sure if we were anywhere near the top, we spied a half-built shelter we immediately took refuge under. In a daze we managed to pitch the tent and get warm.

The next morning we woke to find we had stopped precisely where the trail to Rainbow Mountain begins. A real stroke of luck! We left our bikes with the jolly family who owned the shelter we slept under and trekked 3 hours to the top of the mountain. The euphoria we experienced as we reached the top of the mountain, accompanied by some people who had taken bus and horse to get there, was greater than any other experience on our adventures so far or since.

We made a swift descent by foot to where our bikes were, enjoyed a quick lunch before hopping on the bikes to bike the 40km downhill which had taken us 6 hours the previous day. Still shaky with exhaustion, adrenaline kicked in and we descended the 40km in one and a half hours without stopping, grinning the whole way down and being overtaken by countless tourist buses returning to Cusco.

After a good night’s sleep, despite immense fatigue, we woke up feeling ready for the last 110km to Cusco and attempted it in a single day. Unfortunately, that was a little beyond us, but we arrived in Cusco the day after and began recovering from our energetic exploits.

It was truly a human powered adventure we will never forget.

These travellers have a blog : Tanlines for two

credit photo : Tanlines for two


Press credentials for the big festival

A moment lived in Peru by Alison, a traveller from Canada

February 10th 2013. Puno, Peru. It’s a Sunday. Were standing in line outside the town stadium waiting to buy tickets for the first of two Sundays of the dance competition. It’s the Candelaria Festival, an annual event that draws fifty thousand dancers and twenty thousand musicians from all over the Andes to this small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The festival, although not as well known as Rio’s Carnival, is equally as big, and equally as colourful. It’s about ten in the morning, and although the competition started at seven, we’re not worried. We know it will continue throughout the day and into the evening.

We’d arrived in town the day before, and really don’t know much more about the festival except that today the dancing starts at the stadium.

Suddenly a miracle happens although we do not realize it as such at the time. A local woman who speaks English walks up to us and begins talking, introducing herself, and asking if she can help. This is what I learn: the stadium is divided into four quarters; you cannot move from one quarter to another; the best place for photography is the south quarter. I don’t realize how invaluable this information is until later when we enter the stadium.

We buy our tickets for the south quarter and go in. The first thing I notice is that between the concrete stadium seating and the field where the dancing takes place there is a high wire fence. Looking up I realize that to get any photographs without this fence in the way I will have to go to the top of the seating and then will be photographing dancing ants, even with my long lens. I’m momentarily disappointed, and then inwardly shrug: well I guess I won’t be taking any photos today.

As we walk along at the bottom of the seating looking for a place to sit I notice a gate in the fence. The gate leads to the athletic track that surrounds the field. Beyond the track is a low fence and beyond that is the dancing. And in that space I see photographers and cameramen. There is a man guarding the gate. Completely spontaneously I find myself, in my best halting Spanglish, asking if we could go in there, explaining that I have an online journal. The gatekeeper sends for a more important man who allows is into the media area for the day. Wait what? We’re press? We’re in the official media area! We have front row seats to the dancing with nothing obstructing our view!

Later I ask him if we could come back the following Sunday when the competition continues. He says we need to get press credentials from the Candelaria office and tells us where to find it. During the week we apply for, and are granted, press credentials and return the following Sunday for the rest of the dancing. You have no idea how wonderful it feels to be ushered in ahead of everyone else, and to get the best view because you have the right authorization hanging around your neck.

And all this because out of nowhere, like a miracle, a local woman came up to us while we waited in line and told us about the configuration of the stadium and the best place for photography. We actually didn’t even see her coming. Suddenly she was there, saying hello and introducing herself.
Even now as I write about it I still find it completely mind blowing. Without her information we would have arrived at the ticket window and not had a clue what tickets to buy, and probably not enough Spanish to find out. A truly amazing travel moment!

This traveler has a travel blog: Alison and Don

credit photo: Alison

Coming back to my first love

A moment lived in Argentina  by Elita, a traveller from Ireland

What does it come to your mind when someone asks you about child memories? For me, it’s road trips.
My mom and dad used to pack all our bags in the car and we would drive for hours and hours around the country. We would plan the route and enjoy the road until the great destination. These trips were the most amazing experience, almost like a tradition for the entire family. My dad was in charge of the driving and the bad jokes, my mum was the co pilot ready for conversation and preparing mate all the way there, I was in charge of photos and the map and my sister used to ask “Are we there yet?”.

So, as you can already imagine, travel is something that grew inside me since I was a little girl and for that reason, two years ago I decided I wanted to do more of it. I moved to Ireland to experience a new world, talk a different language, make new friends, visit cities I have never been before, eat food for the first time. I came here to live the ‘new’, to live the exciting things my body was asking for after being so tired of routine. The only thing is that all those ‘news’ are now ‘olds’ and my body began to ask for the old familiar so I went back to my city, my family and friends.

I flew several hours to cross the ocean and I arrived home. I was home away from home to meet my family. All the tears of happinness, cuddless, beers, walk around familiar places. I walked around the streets listening to people talk, falling in love again with the accent and the manners like I was a tourist but this time, in my own city. Being together again was amazing but it felt like wasn’t enough so we decided to do a road trip as a family, like the old times. Ok, we took a plane this time so it was like cheating but we went as far as we could to be somewhere new to all of us and we decided the Perito Moreno Galciar was the chosen one.

Now, you probably want to know more about the place. Right? Well, we walked on the glaciar for almost three hours, we took pictures, we felt it so close but no picture can show how insane this place is. Have you ever been in a place so inmense you stay speachless? This is exactly what the glaciar is: INMENSE. It looks like is infinit, the way it connects with the mountains. In between the silence you can hear when it breaks, so loud like a thunder. Falling into pieces like a perfect puzzle on the silver water, waiting there to be part of the lake. Real proof of how nature can be oustanding and leave you in a limbo, just staring at the beauty of being such a tiny thing in this wonderful world.

I went to Argentina to re live the old, to go back to my comfort zone for a few days, my house, my home but I instead I’ve got a surprise from it. I was not fully home, not there nor here in Dublin because once you leave it is hard to feel 100% home wherever you go. My heart is leaving pieces in places I visit and people I meet. My heart is now from the world and home can be everywhere. It is in Buenos Aires with my family, it is in Dublin with my friend and it is here with me wherever I go because once your heart travels, it is hard to stop.

This traveler has a travel blog : The Irish Luck

credit photo : Elita

Living the dream!

A moment lived in Argentina by Cirilo, a traveller from France

Once upon a time, not so long ago (13 years to be exact) I decided to buy my first backpack (and I actually still have it) to hit the road for the first time of my life outside Europe.
During those last few weeks I was talking to my friends about going on a trip and on a Saturday morning, I woke up, passed by the ATM to withdraw 690 € and headed straight to a travel agency to purchase my “pass” to the outside world! I bought an open ticket to Santiago de Chile…Why? I do not know …but what I know is that I landed there on the 26th of May 2003 and damn, it felt sooooooo good!
Nowadays, I always say: “The best thing about traveling is not knowing where you are going, no planning is the key and I said to my friends before leaving that I would go wherever the wind would take me, well…It turned out that it took me to Argentina ! Buenos Aires to be precise, it is a very fast paced city with a population of over 15 millions, the city (as the country in general) is holding some very strong Italian – Spanish roots because of the migration during WWI. It is crazy to be in South America and be able to eat, what is for me, the best Pizza and pasta in the world…Let’s not forget the ice creams, which are a delight and the red meat can be cut only with a spoon as it is so tender.
But the biggest thing in the country is Football! And Buenos Aires is a capital city well known for its best football , there is a huge rivalry between the clubs of the capital! The most famous are Boca Junior where “the god” a.k.a Diego Armando Maradona played in the 80’s, the second biggest one is “River Plate” among some other ones.
While I was in Buenos Aires, I could not stop myself from going to la “Bonbonera” stadium to see a Boca game, and so…I was in for a treat as that year they won La “Copa Libertadores”. For the ones who do not have any clue about what “La Libertadores” is, it is the equivalent of the European Cup of football ! It is simply the “Holy Graal” of football in Latin America ! Later that week, I found myself walking around the city centre not anticipating what I would find that evening.. Just approaching to the “Obelisco” (the spot where Argentinian’s seem to celebrate everything or protest or just gather for any National day or sport victory) I found myself trapped among thousands of Boca hooligans screaming, jumping up and down.. singing “Football songs”.. and the funny thing is that they wanted me to be a part of it.. it almost seemed as I did not have any choice. Now…Close your eyes and imagine a young kid from Europe, not understanding the culture or language very well.. what would you do? you just JUMP! How did I end up this beautiful night? Well the latin way.. riots.. police arrival and hooligans challenging them! It is at this moment that someone took my hand and told me “Corré!!” = ” RUN!!” but… run WHERE?!! Well guess what? 13 years after I am married to an Argentinian Boca fan, and I came back to Boca Stadium more than 6 times already.. VIVA ARGENTINA and their passion for FOOTBALL!

credit photo : Cirilo