Category: 2014

I had left Wadi Halfa in Sudan early in the morning. My hope was to reach Abu Simbel in early afternoon and to be able to visit this famous temple on the way to Aswan. I had tried to get on the first bus. My hopes were soon dashed as all the five buses left at the same time with mine actually being the latest. We arrived at the Sudanese-Egyptian border and it was still closed. It took three-and-a-half totally ineffective hours to leave Sudan. […]

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The border post is in a small village. The main road is not even tarred, little traffic passes over this border. Ethiopia and Sudan are culturally distinct and there seems to be little interest in the “other”. To my surprise, I am not crossing this border alone. A Japanese guy was on the bus to the border and at the border we meet an Italian who is overlanding with his motorbike. It might surprise you but crossing Sudan is the easiest option of going north-south in Africa. […]

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The famous churches of Lalibela are waiting. To get there from Djibouti most people would have chosen the following approach: Taking a day-long bus from Djibouti Ville to Dire Dawa, another day-long bus to Addis Ababa and another day-long bus from Addis to Lalibela. I chose another option, why not try to get there on the most direct route? Small roads with rare or none public transport promise an eventful journey and will still be faster. […]

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I am a victim of my own faulty planning. Originally, I wanted to head north in Kenya to get to Ethiopia overland through the beautiful region around lake Turkana. I had not properly informed myself about Ethiopian visa rules and while it is very easy to get a visa on arrival when flying into Ethiopia, it is impossible to get one at the border and near impossible to get a visa for Ethiopia in any other African country. I tried in Nairobi but failed. […]

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On arrival at Mombasa Airport, we have to fill out health cards and our temperature is taken. Deadly ebola is raging in parts of West Afrika and Kenya wants to be safe. Another poster asks if you have recently been to the Middle East or China and have respiratory symptoms. Being on the watch for MERS. […]

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I am short on time. I have to be in New York in only four days for my flight back home. In fact, I should not visit Canada at all but I want to have a short peak over the border. Better to get a quick impression than not getting any impression at all. I visit beautiful Toronto (skyscrapers always make me happy) and Niagara Falls (not bad) before heading back to the US. I also have to endure a moment of despair. […]

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The United Nations has its headquarter in New York. It has extraterritoriality status, meaning it is not ruled by the laws of the United States. In a smart move, the famously rich Rockefeller Family had gifted the building site. Proximity is influence. The headquarters is a joint design of a group of architects based on two competing proposals by the French architect Le Corbusier and the Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer. […]

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Because of trouble with the bus crossing from Mexico to the US, I end up crossing the Mexico-US border on foot in the middle of the night in one of the most crime-ridden areas on earth. Two border guards await me. One takes care of my passport and the other one wants to see my bag. I keep my attention with the one with my bag. I get my passport back, welcome to the United States, you are done. I ask if he has stamped my passport, it is more a rhetorical question but the answer is a surprise: […]

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As we leave the boat in Chetumal we are told to put all our bags on the ground in one line. The dog comes and sniffs around, searching for drugs. No results. I spend too much time visiting Valladolid, the Cenotes (sinkhole lakes) of Zaci and X-Canché and the Maya ruins of Ek Balam so I have to cancel my planned visit of the famous Chichén Itzá. Just no time. On to Mérida. […]

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I start by taking a boat on the tranquil Rio Dulce. This is both enjoyment and a way to move on. The Maya Ruins of Tikal are one of the most impressive sights I have seen in my life. One of the mayor cities in the classical Maya period (3rd to 9th century) it has six major temple-pyramids of up to 70 metres of height. It has been inscribed into UNESCO’s World Heritage list as early as 1979. Tikal has thousands of structures, […]

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At the time of my visit, Honduras is known as one of the most dangerous countries on earth. San Pedro Sula, its second biggest city has the distinction of currently being the city with the highest murder rate in the world. Out of 100,000 inhabitants, 180 get murdered per year. As San Pedro Sula has about one million inhabitants that means 1,800 people killed. As a comparison, the rate for the United States is 4.7, for Germany it is 0.9. […]

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I head to the small village of Perquin, home to the Museum of the Revolution and during the Salvadoran Civil War one of the centres of guerrilla activity. In nearby El Mozote, 800 people, half of them children, were massacred by government forces. The American journalist Raymond Bonner, making the atrocity known to the wider world, was vigorously attacked for his entirely correct reporting, that was dismissed as Communist propaganda. […]

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I am on a whirlwind tour of Central America; time is short as I have to be in New York soon. But better to get a quick impression of the countries than not getting any impression at all. Still, planning such a trip is sometimes painful, I can only visit places that bring me further north, no time, for example, to visit beautiful Ometepe Island with its two volcanic cones rising from the sea. […]

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