my 6 month trip in nerdy facts

July 11th, 2012

Looking back on my trip through the Americas, here are some interesting or boring facts:

Countries visited
Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, United States.

(Latin) America 201112 - Google Maps

Projects worked at: community farm/bakery in Argentina, family farm in Uruguay, social project in Brazil, community restaurant in Brazil, children education project in Colombia, hostel in Colombia, health/community in Costa Rica, community farm in California, US
Random jobs: publishing an ebook on, picking up trash, building fences, teaching English to Colombian kids, making granola, washing dishes, making beds, making arepas for breakfast, feeding chickens, cleaning toilets and picking, packaging and delivering avocados.

Met people from: Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Read the rest of this entry »

looking back on the past year

July 4th, 2012

Over a year ago, in February 2011, I set out on a great adventure: for 6 months I was going to work and live in the Shelter, a Christian youth hostel in Amsterdam, and afterwards I would work and travel in the Americas for 6 months. It’s been over three months since it all ended, and I would like to share something about how I look back on my trip, and what I’ve learned during the past year. These are personal insights, but perhaps you can take something from them.

Since my return, many people have asked: what was the most memorable part of your trip? Read the rest of this entry »

California: a perfect ending

April 2nd, 2012

For a long time, I’d been looking forward to the last part of my trip: California! Here I was going to visit another Twelve Tribes community, and a few friends from the Shelter, the hostel in Amsterdam where I worked last year. On the 3rd of March I got on the plane in San Jose, Costa Rica, to Houston, Texas, for a long day of travel. Though I had to undergo an thorough luggage check (I guess young solo travelers are always suspicious..), it was nice to be back in the USA.


After another flight to Los Angeles, a bus ride to Union Station, a train ride to Oceanside and then a car ride, it was about 1 am when I arrived Read the rest of this entry »

Costa Rica: camping in the jungle, fascinating people and health talk

April 2nd, 2012

Early February, I arrived in Costa Rica. This country has a reputation of being the most safe and peaceful country in Latin (or at least Central) America, a little paradise being all about “Pura Vida” (Costa Rica’s slogan, which means something like: “full of life”).

So I was certainly curious to see what that was all about, but it was not my first objective. First, I was going to visit a Canadian who calls himself “the medical missionary man”, and who is trying to set up a Christian community in Costa Rica. It was to be another chapter in my journey of exploring the idea of (Christian) community, while at the same time having a place to hang around for a while, and do some work in exchange for food and a bed.

The property where I was staying, at Las Tumbas near Tinamastes

And so I arrived by bus in Dominical, a little beach town on the Pacific coast, Read the rest of this entry »

Panama: urban adventures, a village in a volcano crater… and a blocked highway

March 13th, 2012

Much later than my initial plan was, I arrived in Central America. When I started planning my trip, I was thinking about 3 months of South America and 3 months of Central America. But there I was in Panama City, on the 31st of January, with less than two months left. Many travelers that I’ve met along the way had had similar experiences, so I guess that’s just the way it goes!
I landed at Panama Tocumen Airport, which is the very airport from where I will take my flight back to the Netherlands. Strange to realize that.
Just getting from the airport into the city was already an adventure, I was trying to save some money and took the bus. About 3 hours later I finally arrived at Luna’s Castle hostel (funny, since it only took me one hour to get from Medellin to Panama City). At the hostel I was lucky to get a bed, since I hadn’t been able to make a reservation. “If anyone asks, just say you had a reservation, ok?” Ok.

Luna's Castle, great hostel in Casco Viejo

Luna’s Castle certainly is a cool place, Read the rest of this entry »

Colombia part IV: in the slums of Medellin

February 19th, 2012

My final two weeks in Colombia were spent in Medellin, one of the biggest and most notorious cities in Colombia (drug lord Pablo Escobar used to live and reign here). In this very place I was going to work in a project in the slums called Pa’ Mi Barrio (“for my neighborhood/slum”). I found it through a German missionary, who (partly) runs this project, and during the rest of the time works as a schoolteacher with kids of the wealthiest families in the city. In this way he is trying to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
Now how did I end up with this guy? Well, in December 2010 I was visiting relatives who live in eastern Germany. On Sunday, in their church (where he’s originally from), he was there to hold a presentation about his work in Medellin. At the time I already knew I was going to Colombia so I asked if I could come by for a few weeks to help out with Pa’ Mi Barrio.
We kept in touch and on the 15th of January, over a year later, I arrived in Medellin.

view over Medellin

The slum where they’re running the project is called 8 de Marzo and when you learn more about it, your heart just might break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Colombia part III: volcanoes and coffee

February 5th, 2012

Coming from the Caribbean coast, arriving in Manizales was like arriving in another country. Cooler weather, mountains, clean streets and modern buildings. I spent a few days here, staying in the highly recommendable Mountain House hostel, enjoying the vibe of this city and visiting the Nevado del Ruiz volcano and Hacienda Guayabal, a coffee plantation. Both places showed two very different sides of Eje Cafetera (the name of this region).

Nevado del Ruizcoffee plants..

The trip to Nevado del Ruiz was long, expensive, mostly done by bus and literally breathtaking Read the rest of this entry »

Colombia part II: the Caribbean coast & back in the hostel business

January 25th, 2012

Since I had quite a lot of time to travel around in Colombia (4 weeks), I figured it would be nice to stay in one place for a while, and do some work. So I was looking at and found a hostel called Casa Loma, in the little village of Minca. It’s located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, an area of mountains covered in rainforest on the Caribbean coast.

Casa Loma in Minca (in the Sierra Nevada), worked here for a week and a half IMG_1303.JPG

another amazing sunset at Casa Loma

last night in Casa Loma..

After a stiff walk up a hill, I arrived and immediately loved the place. It has an amazing view and a very relaxed atmosphere. Casa Loma is run by a guy from England, and there was another girl from England who was helping out just like me. I pretty much started working right away, helping with cooking dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Hospitality and homesickness in Colombia

January 13th, 2012

On the 19th of December, at 3.30 in the morning, I took a cab to the airport of Rio de Janeiro. It had been good, though with mixed feelings. Changed planes in Lima, which was a bit like familiar ground to me, since I’d been there in 2009. On both flights I managed to get a seat with extra legroom, thanks to Meanwhile, the ‘mixed feelings’ hadn’t changed, in fact, I had to admit that I just felt like crap. I was homesick and tired of traveling. I just wanted to be done with it, and wanted my family and friends, Dordrecht, winter, whole-wheat bread with ‘hagelslag’ and good cheese! And I couldn’t think about much else. But, for now, not much else to do than to carry on and see how things go.
A Colombian guy who I’d met in the Twelve Tribes in Argentina had offered me to stay with him and his family in Bogota, but I hadn’t heard from him in a while, so I wasn’t counting on it. What a surprise it was to find him waiting for me at the airport, awesome!
So there I was in Colombia. My first impressions of Bogota: a huge and modern city, and cold! It took us more than 1,5 hour to get to my friend’s house by bus, and later I saw we had only crossed part of the city. I was welcomed warmly by my friend’s family and got a hug from his little sister. The ‘Christmas spirit’ finally started setting in here, since it was quite cold here and they had a big Christmas tree.

with my friend and his family in Bogota

It was amazing to stay with this family and it made me forget about my homesickness for a while. Read the rest of this entry »

Living water in Brazil

December 28th, 2011

On the 22nd of November I arrived in Ritápolis, at the place of Wim & Daniëlle and their kids. They have been working as missionaries in Brazil for some time. I got to know them last year when I went on a mission trip to Brazil for a few weeks. Since a year they are living and working in Ritápolis. It’s a village with about 9,000 inhabitants in the state of Minas Gerais, about 5 hours north of Rio de Janeiro. It’s nicely situated, spreaded out over a hill. Wim & Daniëlle’s house is on the edge of the village and has a beautiful view over the surrounding hills. Not a bad place to be!


Read the rest of this entry »