This is part 3 of the 3-part podcast about my experiences here in no man’s land between the border of Peru and Brazil. I have put some pictures below that go with the story. For more than just these pictures you can also check out my Instagram account where you will find a lot of content under the heading “Vlog” between my highlights. Haven’t listened to the first two parts of this podcast series yet? Then I recommend that you do so first.
Click here for part 1 of the podcast series ‘Nobody’s Land
Click here for part 2 of the podcast series ‘Niemandsland
Have fun listening to the third part of this podcast series!
CLICK HERE for part 3 of the podcast series ‘No Man’s Land
This is part 2 of the 3-part podcast about my experiences here in no man’s land between the borders of Peru and Brazil. Below you will find some pictures that belong to the story. Part 3 will be online very soon! For more than just these photos you can also check out my Instagram account where you will find a lot of content clicking on the heading stories ‘VLOG’. Haven’t listened to the first part of this podcast series yet? I recommend that you do so first.
This time, instead of a newsletter, I have chosen to make a news podcast. This is part 1 of the 3-part podcast about my experiences here in no man’s land between the borders of Peru and Brazil. I have placed some photos below that go with the story. Very soon part 2 and 3 will also be online! For more than just these photos, you can also check out my Instagram account where you’ll find a lot of content under the Highlight VLOG between my Story Highlights.
A lot has changed since the last time I wrote a newsletter. After I stayed with the German family in Pisac and helped them with their activities, I decided to move a bit more through the valley. I ended up with a Peruvian family in Calca (not far from Pisac) who have an organic garden where they could use some help. And I spent most of my time with that family.
It was a nice time in which I also had a lot of time to work on the educational videos that I started to make together with Julia (a Dutch girl who has been living in Calca for a about 6 years). The first one is now online and you can watch it here! We plan to make a series of videos about plastic that can be used by schools in Spanish-speaking countries for their online lessons.
After having spent 4 months in the valley and Peru became a little less strict, I decided to think about the next step. I had heard that Uruguay has opened its schools for some time now and that it has recently even been mandatory again to go to school there. Since there are stories in Peru that the schools will not open until far into the new year anyway, and nor will the rest of the countries in South America, I started thinking about options for driving to Uruguay. Through Chile and Argentina, will be impossible, because in Argentina even Argentineans don’t enter and you can’t travel between provinces. So I started thinking about other options and one evening a friend of mine came up with the brilliant idea of going via Brazil, where you can travel freely throughout the country and reach Uruguay. I had not thought about that because I thought that route was not passable because of Jungle and scary beasts… But after doing some research with my traveling friends, I found that it is a good route and that this is just a good time to drive it as the rainy season is coming and the route may become a little less comfortable.
The decision was made, I am going to try to cross the border to Brazil to reach Uruguay and after the summer holidays are over (which lasts throughout South America from about December to March) continue my project in Uruguay. The borders of Peru and Brazil are officially still closed so some people here say it is impossible to get across but others say it is South America and there is always a way to cross it. These people use the motto “if you have the right contacts you will get everything done”… Well I decided to trust their way of thinking!
On the 24th of October, after more than 8 months, I left the Cusco region! A day of extremes. I drove from an altitude of 2900 meters to almost 5000 meters and it also started to hail and storm, a true spectacle! Then the descent started… which ended in yes… THE JUNGLE which was at the arrival point at 700 meters! Really unbelievable to see so many different landscapes in one day! I had left a bit late so I had to drive a bit through the dark. The insects flew up against my bumper like rain! I had arrived in the jungle…
I arrived at a beautiful place with very nice people! “Why don’t you stay here for a few years” they advised me almost immediately. I soon discovered that I was in the presence of two activists who had been fighting hard to keep the rainforest alive! So we had a lot of conversations and I learned a lot about their environment and the struggles they are fighting here. Since I started making podcasts I wanted to interview them as well. I think it would be interesting to bring out the stories that the people who cross my path tell me, through a podcast. The interview I did with these two activists is in Spanish so it can only be listened to if you speak Spanish you can find the introduccion here and the interview with Mario and Washington here. The idea is to do Dutch and English interviews as well. That way there is something for everyone.
After a few days of beautiful walks in the jungle, good conversations, delicious food and seeing interesting animals and birds, I left for Puerto Maldonado. Where I could go to friends of them who had a hostel where I could park my van. The route from Quicemil to Puerto Maldonado was sad. Ten years ago this road was still very difficult to pass and there was rainforest. Now, instead, you see whole swathes of rainforest that have been cut down, burned and replaced with grassland. You see lorries with wood everywhere. I literally had to cry when I saw an almost Dutch landscape in an area where tropical rainforest was supposed to stand. Another major environmental problem here is gold mining. Whole areas of land have been turned into dunes as a because of this.
In Puerto Maldonado, as in any other place, I stayed longer than planned… It was again a place with very nice people. Halloween fell exactly in that week, which is always celebrated quite well here and also in the hostel. It was as if Corona didn’t exist. I had some very interesting conversations with a Dutch girl and a Canadian girl who live there and I decided to record a podcast with them as well. So Dutch speakers you can find the introduccion here and the interview here. English speakers, don’t worry because there will soon be a podcast online for you as well!
The next day I left for the border town of Iñapari, with the idea of crossing the border the same day, but it wasn’t that easy. Again I had gotten a contact through the people of Puerto Maldonado. This time it was the mayor’s contact. Not bad in itself if you try to cross the border. When I arrived, lunch was ready and it was clear that I would not cross the border that day because I could stay on the mayor’s property, a beautiful place in the jungle where you immediately wish to stay longer. And that is what happened. Partly because the process of crossing the border goes through the Dutch embassy, so I had to wait for action on their part. The mayor promised to help me with the process and that was very much needed.
I also received a message from some friends from the valley that they followed my example and would arrive here in Iñapari the next day to also cross the border into Brazil. So now we are parked with two Volkswagen vans on the mayor’s property in the middle of the rainforest. Today I received an e-mail from the embassy which means that I will most probably be able to cross the border at the end of this week. We will see! Until then I am still enjoying the place where I am now in the middle of the jungle among the monkeys, tarantulas and snakes… Very cozy!
On my social media you will soon see if I have crossed the border!
And then this,
One of the many hidden Corona facts in Peru.
For every patient who dies of Corona, a nurse & doctor in Peru is paid. This is what they call risk reimbursement. As a result, a whole lot of people who die of something else get Corona written on the death certificate. There have been a few of these cases in my circle in the valley. One that I would like to share with you. A woman died of cancer. Doctors have indicated corona as the cause of death. Because of this the family was not allowed to say goodbye to her. This is terrible. This is one case but there are a lot of crazy cases like this one. The fact that Peru has such a high number of Corona deaths does not really mean much. Just to give you a slightly broader view on how a crisis like this is misused in countries like this.
I ended up spending the lockdown on a campsite in Cusco from March 5 to July 4. At the beginning of the Quarantine, we were camping with 19 campers! As the months flew by, more and more people left the campsite to take a repatriation flight back to their country. After 4 months we were still with 4 campers left.
The first few days that I heard about the Quarantine I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to do much with my project for the time being, but I soon realized that it is extremely selfish to be disappointed because everyone had to adjust their plans. Not only me and my project were victims of the virus and when I realized this I could quickly see that in reality I had been so lucky that I had just bought my van and had a nice place to sleep during the quarantine. I was also extremely lucky that I had arrived in Cusco just in time at a campsite where the owners cared very much about us and did everything to help us with anything and everything!
It was interesting to spend these months at the campsite! It really felt a bit like a community. And we spent different phases together! I could tell so much about this beautiful time, but I keep it short. It was inspiring to live together with so many different people on 1 campsite, to hear their stories, to see how contacts get deeper over time and what happens in 4 months at a campsite. From a cat who gets pregnant and got little kittens, to celebrating many birthdays. But also sad moments, such as the death of the father of the camping owner.
We shared a lot of moments with each other and I also spent a lot of time working on my van with the materials that were available. In short, I haven’t been bored for one moment and even though I could not do much with my project, I gave a presentation and a workshop at the campsite and that turned out to have great results on the plastic use on the camping and it made people think about alternatives. I also screened the documentary ‘ The story of plastic’ that was a big eye-opener for lots of them!
Of course it was not free to be on a campsite and because I had no income, I wanted to try volunteering somewhere nearby to save the money for Eco Bus America. I posted on my Facebook and there were a lot of reactions from people! One of those people is the family I live with now. I already knew them more or less because at some point I almost bought their van, which at the end didn’t worked out. They told me that they are working on a lot of fun projects and that I was more than welcome in their family. When I told this to the people at the campsite, there was one family who reacted sad rather than happy and decided to sponsor my camping and living expenses so that I would stay at the campsite until the end of the quarantine! Incredibly sweet of them and of course I accepted their offer!
When the Quarantine was almost over on July 1, I went to the family in Pisa, where I am now. It is a German family with 3 tvery sweet children and as they told me they have great projects. The first project is a sustainable clothing brand that they have recently started. They make sweaters / hats and scarves with naturally dyed Alpaca wool. The brand is called “Pacabamba” and they asked me to make the stories on Instagram, among other things. It is very interesting to visit all the people they work with. The idea behind this brand is to make 100% naturally dyed wool and to provide the local people with work and use their age-old knowledge about weaving and of course dyeing wool in a natural way.
A second project they are working on is the realization of a campsite with Tipis and Yurts where tourists can stay as a kind of “Glamping”. They want to make the campsite as sustainable and zero waste as possible and that is why my help comes in handy! My role is to think about zero waste solutions! Very nice! They do this project together with a Dutch / Peruvian couple who also have a super interesting project called Pachachaca. They adopted 11 children and luckily despite the lockdown I was allowed to give a presentation for them!
A final project that the family I am staying with has is 5 horses, 1 of which is a just born foal! Me and Tina, the mother of the family, go to the horses every morning at 6:30 AM and every afternoon to feed them and walk around with them. Tina has a heart for animals and all the animals she has are rescued animals that would not have made it otherwise. Slowly the horses are feeling more and more comfortable and they have improved a lot since they came here at the end of June. Recently several children from the neighbourhood have riding lessons and this week I will also be riding for the first time!
And then they have 3 children who get online lessons every morning and I also help them with that. At the school of these children they learn to knit, but also the native language Quechua so enough for me to learn too!
I see this time as a pause in my project, because I can’t do much right now. An occasional presentation and maybe I want to start a podcast. Driving around in my van is also not easy and the borders and schools are all closed and that will continue until the end of the year anyway. I am now oke with it, because as long as I can fill the time with very interesting volunteering work from which I can learn a lot and which also has to do with my interest, I think it is okay to be patient. I also started with some translation work online so that I am not completely without income and can save some for when I can get back on the road. I think it is important that the people who sponsored my project know that the money for ‘Eco Bus America’ has all been saved and will remain for the moment I can actually get back to work with my project again.
For now I wish everyone, despite the crazy times, a lot of inspiration and creativity because that is what we all need in this time when plans sometimes do not go as we planned ..
Lots of love!
ps: If you would like to follow a bit about what the clothing brand Pacabamba contains of, you can follow them on instagram where I recently made the stories for them.
I concluded the last newsletter by telling you that I would take it easy in the weeks that would follow, because the schools would not start until March 15. I wouldn’t have thought this period to take much longer than this because of a virus that has turned the whole world upside down.
With the idea in mind that the schools would start again on March 15 and with the message from two friends that told me they would be in Cusco for a few days from March 5, I had planned to drive slowly towards Cusco. And not a little slowly, very slowly! I drove 535 km in 16 days. Yes that can only mean that I encountered great places and people along the way! I’ll pick out a few that I’ll tell you more about.
Visit of the Granny
The first morning I saw several “campesinos” (these are people working on the land) passing by my van. After all, I was standing in the middle of the fields in front of a beautiful rock that, as I heard later, from the locals, had spiritual powers. A small typical Peruvian cute granny knocked on my van. I opened the door. She looked at me wide-eyed and babbled a few Spanish words. “Estas Solita?” that means “are you alone?” I answered that that was correct and she looked at me very surprised. She kept asking me if I was really alone. When she understood, she invited me to get potatoes from her field. Her piece of land turned out to be exactly the piece in front of my camper. We pulled the potatoes together while the granny kept talking to me in her native Quechua language (which I unfortunately cannot understand). What she could explain in poor Spanish is that she wanted to wash the potatoes. We walked towards a very small water source. She took off her (typical) hat that now served as a bucket with which she rinsed the potatoes! Multifunctional those hats! We said goodbye and the lady walked to the place where she sells her cheese to people passing by. What a nice meeting! The granny came back the next morning and greeted me kindly! As a thank you I sang a song for her and her fellow villagers and played on my ukulele the morning I left.
Carnaval in Lampa
A few days and a few villages later I arrived in Lampa. A beautiful village, where I could park my van on the main square of the village. That was a nice experience because it showed you how the village started in the morning! I tried to arrange a presentation in the municipality and it worked! I happened to run into the mayor who was very enthusiastic about my project and wanted to invite me to speak at an event that week. That’s why I stayed a few days longer and discovered that the carnival was coming. The same day the carnival started, a man with a guitar in his hand came and knocked on my van. “Where are you from?” he asked. I told him about my project and that I also make music. He invited me to participate in the carnival parade that would start in fifteen minutes. And there we went with his friends. Before I knew it, I attended the annual carnival parade of the village of Lampa with the mayor swaying cheerfully from the stage where he assessed the dance groups with some other important people from the village (Each district does a different dance and at the end of the day it will be announced which group has won)
It was a lot of fun and I got talking to one of the band members who is a teacher at one of the elementary schools of Lampa. He said that his daughter is very concerned with climate and the environment and that his family also lives quite zero waste. He invited me to come with his family to the countryside the next day where they celebrate carnival with the whole family. That is a tradition. On that day, each family will thank the “pachamama” which means mother earth and make an offering to the earth. Of course I immediately accepted the invitation and it also turned out that his family was the family who lived exactly in the house where my van was parked in front! That morning his wife immediately invited me to come and eat soup. A little difficult in the early morning but well tradition is tradition. Then we drove with my van to the cottage.
All food was brought and the whole family was present. Every year it is the turn of two different grandchildren to organize this day. This time it was the teacher’s son and daughter who invited me. They cooked and provided everyone with food and drinks. The moment of the offering to “La Pachamama” had arrived. Everyone had to clamp 10 sets of 3 coca leaves between their fingers. Then you could make a wish for each set of leaves and then the whole trade was set on fire. As a offering to the earth. A beautiful ritual! Then the party started. Dancing and singing, wonderfull! I love this kind of music! In the evening the party went on in the family house and I was able to go to my bed when I was tired because my motorhome was parked… yes, in front of their house!
A few days later I left Lampa and arrived at a cheese farmer. I was allowed to park my van there for free and made a beautiful walk! The next day I felt a little sick so I decided to stay another night. I decided to pick-up waste on every place I park my van. This time I did this with the two granddaughters of the cheese farmer. The family invited me into their house in the evening and asked me everything about the sailing trip I had done and the plastic problem.
In many villages I passed I went to the municipality that is usually located on the village square, to talk about a possible visit of my project when the schools would open. I wanted to plan my route so that I already had some appointments for the way back from Cusco to Chile.
I noticed something was wrong with my clutch and stopped by a mechanic. He said he could help me after the weekend, which is why I stayed at a campsite for two nights. When I came back after the weekend he told me I could better go somewhere else. Hmm two days ago he was already quite concerned that I came from the Netherlands in combination with all the news about Corona. I don’t think he wanted to believe that I had been on his continent for several months and therefore could not have been infected with the virus from Europe. Fortunately, the mechanic at the other side of the road helped me very well and I was able to continue with a good working clutch towards the provisional final destination Cusco!
It was clear that I wanted to stay in Cusco for a while for my project, but that this would take several months I would have never predicted. Read more in the next newsletter coming out soon: no. 15.
The great ocean crossing has finished! I have arrived on the other side of the ocean! Not at the place where we initially hoped to arrive, but I think that is also the biggest lesson we have learned while crossing the ocean. Nothing is certain! We have had to adapt to a new plan so many times, because during the 80 days that we were busy with the crossing, a huge number of plans have changed and I think we have become experts in adjusting the schedule.
It is hard to explain how the ocean crossing has been for me. So far I have made two videos of week 1 and week 2 & 3 of the crossing. These videos give a little impression of how life on board of the Regina Maris was. Even if you spend time on a small area with the same people for 80 days, every week is really different. I hope to put the rest of the sea-life videos online soon. For the first two you can click here. Week 1 and week 2 & 3.
As many of you know and what becomes clear in the rest of the videos that I will post online, is that we were told in the middle of the ocean that the climate conference that we were preparing so hard for, was canceled in Chile and was moved to Spain. Since we were already so far on our way and because the wind did not allow us to sail back to Europe, we sailed on to South America. You can imagine that, of course, I was very happy about that decision because, in addition to making my voice heard at the climate conference, another major goal for me was to arrive in South-America CO2-neutral to continue my project. The destination did change though. Chile seemed too dangerous and that’s why we sailed to Cartagena in Colombia.
Of course we wanted to make our voice heard at the climate conference! It was not without a reason that we had worked so hard to come up with solutions with the aim of influencing people at the climate conference. That is why we have found 20 representatives who wanted to represent the “Sail to the COP” project at COP25 in Madrid! It is so incredibly special that we succeeded this! You can imagine that we were not very confident that this would work out when we were asked if we knew people who were willing to go to Madrid for at least 3 weeks at their own expense and voluntarily to represent our project at the COP (an event that is generally perceived as very intense and stressful). But to our surprise there were a lot of people willing to help with that and it was even necessary to choose out of all the applications, who these representatives were going to be!
Climate conference COP25
In the meantime we sailed further to Martinique. We have been there for nearly two weeks while COP25 took place and every day we have worked hard to help the representatives and to influence from a distance for example via social media. Most of us, including me, had a buddy in Madrid. That way we could still experience the COP a bit. Our working days started very early in the morning because in Europe it was a few hours later. This meant that we already started at 3 o’clock in the morning and often only finished around 5 o’clock in the evening. The report that we all worked hard on during the crossing can be found HERE and the vision video of which I was a major part can be viewed HERE. I am not going to tell you a lot about what the COP was like, because I hope that this will also become clearer in future videos. But for the Dutch people among us I strongly recommend reading THIS article that Rosa has written for “Tegenlicht”. It gives a very clear picture of how we have dealt with the entire change of plans, but it also explains why we wanted to capture the attention for this problem.
Once arrived in Cartagena I was welcomed by a very helpful family who could store my stuff and give me a place to sleep for the first 2 days. After that we had arranged to come together with the sailing group on a “Finca”, a sort of farm. It was a beautiful Christmas with the ship family and a great end to our adventure. A very important result of our work is THIS report. We are all very proud of it and very happy to see that ministries in Holland have taken it serious and take parts of our solutions into account.
The few days that followed I spent in a beautiful place in the neighborhood where a hippie lived who was a filmmaker and also very spiritual. Together with Eline, a girl from the ship, we had a great few days and we helped this hippie making his tree house and apart from that we act for a piece of his film. I also spent New Year’s Eve there because I felt I needed a quiet New Year’s Eve rather than a noisy one in the city. I was very happy with the choice and there was actually a very nice couple who, just like me, had decided on the same day to celebrate New Year’s Eve at that same place. We spent it around the campfire while we had good conversations about life!
Visits with my project in Colombia
The following month I spent in Cartagena, where I had rent a room and lived together with 2 cats, two dogs and a very friendly couple. It was in the center of Cartagena which worked out really well. During this month I have had six visits with “Eco Bus America”. I will briefly tell something about each visit:
The owner of café Beiyú is very aware and tries to pay attention to everything that has to do with the environment. All the food in the cafe comes from local farmers and is organic. He also uses glass straws for example, and does not sell water because he believes that this should be available to everyone free of charge. He therefore has a water tap next to the bar where you can fill your bottle. The presentation that I gave here went very well. About 18 people approached the talk. Exactly enough to fill the space!
Café stepping stone
When I asked the owners if I could give a presentation here, they were immediately enthusiastic. They suggested giving a presentation and a workshop to the 18 employees they have. The café is a social enterprise which means that there are people working who are less likely to find a job and who get the opportunity to participate in society by working for them. The presentation and workshop went very well! I also gave them the assignment to write a message to the visitors of the cafe. In the message they were allowed to write something about plastic pollution. Something that they wanted to share with their customers. They could then give this message to their customers along with the receipt. They were very enthusiastic and I look forward to hearing from them what the reactions of the customers are like!
Biblioteca manzanilla del mar
During my stay in Cartagena I met Eileen from the foundation “Sentidos de la Tierra”. She suggested to visit a number of places together with my project in combination with her project. Our first visit was to the Manzanilla del Mar library. I gave my presentation for a group of children from 6 to 12 years old and Eileen started by thinking together with the children what exactly the problems are in their living environment. Then we went to investigate in the neighborhood and we could clearly see that plastic pollution is a very big one. The children live next to the beach and a river flows into the sea. It was sad to see how much pollution there was in their living environment. The children then wrote a message to the world and posted it in the library so that the entire village could read the messages.
Fundación “Amigos del Mar”
At Tierra Bomba, an island next to Cartagena, I was welcome to come and give a presentation and workshop. It is an island with few facilities and the people are poor. This foundation is very important for the people on the island because children can go there and get lessons in anything and everything. During the workshop I asked the children to pick up 3 pieces of plastic around the building where I teached them. Then they were allowed to choose 1 of the 3 pieces of litter and write a letter to the manufacturers of that product. Beautiful letters came out. Children wrote, among other things, that their island was full of packaging of that product and that not only should they themselves handle plastic better, but also the manufacturers by changing their packaging. After this visit I sent the letters to the post.
After having been in the car for a few hours together with Eileen, we arrived at this community of women. Eileen was the first to give the workshop in which together with the women we started thinking about the nature around them. For example about which plants, trees, birds etc … there where. Then we started to talk about the problems in their living environment. Plastic was one of them, although the women themselves did not immediately experience that as a problem. They burn it or they bury it, they told us, because nobody comes to collect garbage. I gave my presentation in which I also explained that the burning of plastic can have serious consequences for our health. Then, together with these women, I started to think about solutions in their environment. “Which plastic items do you buy the most?” I asked. The answer was soda and plastic bags. “How can we solve that?” We sat under a giant mango tree. I asked the women. “Do you have many fruit trees?” The answer was “yes a lot”. “Do you ever make fruit juice?” The answer was “no”. And there was 1 of the solutions! “Why don’t you make fruit juice more often instead of buying soda?” We have no blender, answered one of the women. Then someone else from the group suggested sharing a recipe for making fruit juice for which you don’t need a blender. “After all, it is also much healthier for your children and for yourself”, she said, the other women nodded.
The second plastic product that they used a lot is the plastic bag. My question was, “Can you also buy items such as rice and vegetables in bulk?” The answer was “yes”. “Can you sew?” A number of women raised their hand. Is it an idea that you make bags of cotton together so that you can bring your own bags next time? The answer was “yes!” “The only problem is that they are going to make fun of us”, one of the women said. I explained that that is normal in the beginning but if you explain why you come with your own bags and then continue to do this, it also becomes normal for the seller. This is how habits arise just as happened with the plastic bag 50 years ago. The women agreed to schedule a date on which they would all take old sheets and sew cotton bags together. Solution two!
Café stepping stone – “Sail for climate action”
Another project has emerged from the ‘Sail to the COP’ project: “sail for climate action”. One of the participants of “Sail to the COP” wanted to make the voices of Latin American youth heard in Europe during the “climate summit” in Bonn this year. She then started a new project and recently they left for Europe with the same sailing ship that I came with. During the preparations of ‘Sail for climate action’, Clara and Tori, two of the organizers noticed that there were many good projects in and around Cartagena but that they did not know much about each other, she wanted to organize an evening where different projects could introduce themselves. And that way I also got a place to present my project.
Journey towards the VAN
During this period in Cartagena I went looking for a van. After a long search and much doubts, I opted for a van that is very similar to the one I used for the Eco Bus Europe tour. It would be available in La Paz Bolivia in mid-February. This meant that I had to go through half of the continent by bus with all my stuff, including a bicycle, and also had to travel through a ‘red’ area, designated by the central government. After considering all kinds of options, I chose to do this and not choose the easy way, namely the plane. I have chosen to avoid aviation if there is no emergency. This was not an emergency and in a way it felt hypocritical to be so afraid of a red marked area while there are so many people who just hope they will be able to cross the border. I decided to make this crazy journey towards the van!
A little side note. This VAN is not yet environmentally friendly. This makes me feel very sad but I am still struggling to find the good way to make a VAN sustainable. This will definitely be a goal for the future but as many people told me. Just start, and try to improve on the way, so that is what I am going to do.
I started the journey on the 4th of February. I was brought to the bus station by Eileen and there the journey began. The first bus was from Cartagena to Medellin 14 hours. Then I had to wait half a day in Medellin until the next bus. That was not a problem because thanks to some tips I ended up at a great vegan restaurant where they also had a zero waste store so that I could stock up on some plastic-free snacks for the next bus. The next bus was from Medellin to Ipeales 10 hours. In Ipeales I had to go to the border by taxi. There I took my things to a primitive storage room with the hope that it was all safe. Then I did the migration from Colombia to Ecuador. Then it was time to find a taxi / bus that could take me to Tulcan. That was a bit of a hassle but in the end it worked! Once in Tulcan I could jump on a bus almost immediately to Quito. Once in Quito after 5 hours I was picked up by friends of my sister and there I could sleep a night very nice and really necessary because I started to get pretty stiff.
From Quito I was taken by taxi to the bus station and I got on the bus to Guayaquil. After being on the bus for 8 hours I had to wait half a day in Guayaquil at the bus terminal until the next bus to Lima. Once I arrived in Lima after 30 hours, I took a taxi to a family who welcomed me with open arms. I once talked about my project during a radio interview in Madrid and met a girl who also explained about her project and that girl has a friend living in Lima and that girl wanted to take care of me in her family! Without knowing them, I arrived at the birthday of that same girl who had invited me. I was immediately offered a drink in a disposable plastic cup, but luckily I was prepared for this and offered my own reusable cup. I was not prepared for the fact that I would end up on a birthday, so I thought I’d sing a song as a gift. And that was the start of an evening full of music!
This was such a great evening! When I went to sleep and my window stood open, I smelled a dirty smell of burning plastic. I looked out the window and saw that they had set all the cups and plates of the party on fire. I quickly closed my window and thanks to the fact that this family was so interested in my project, I was able to tell them about the fact that plastic burning is not a good solution for the problem. They indicated that they did not know this and were really sorry to hear that this is also bad for our health. I explained that they could also use reusable plastic plates and cups, because they were afraid that if they used their crockery, it would break. The next day the father called me to say that he had written a Huayno (typical music from Peru) for my project because he was so inspired. We practiced the song together and THIS is the result!
The next bus was from Lima to Desaguadero from 24 hours. In Desaguadero I had to cross the border with a crunchy cart where my things just fit into. Fortunately a cart went together with a man. We first walked 15 minutes to the border, then searched for a van to La Paz. The bike and all the stuff on the roof … luckily this went well. Once we arrived in la Paz after 2.5 hours we were dropped off somewhere in the middle of the street in the rain, not the most ideal way to arrive in a city of millions in the dark. There were a number of taxis around me who wanted to take me but I did not trust them. For a moment I was a bit scared, but as a miracle a taxi appeared that I actually did trust and who brought me safely to the hostel. The next day I had to recover a lot because from the last few hours on the bus to La Paz I had a bursting headache. La Paz is at 3640 meters hight and you can feel that. So the next day i took it easy and the day after that day was the big day.
The big day
Fortunately I was completely fit again! There he was, the van! I was picked up by the sellers and we drove on to the airbnb that we had reserved for the coming days. During the days together we had things done on the bus such as changing tires and replacing oil and we also explored la Paz together. It was really a nice way to buy a van because I could ask them anything and they also gave me a lot of recommendations.
The day after was the real big day! The border crossing. It was exciting and worked out well and from than on I am officially the owner of the van called “La Gordita”.
I spent my first night in a beautiful place. I’m going to take it easy these first weeks because the schools don’t start until mid March. I will be heading to Cuszo and on the way I will make already some contacts for school visits for the way back in May, when I will be heading to Chile. I have already been in contact with the Dutch embassy in Lima and they will help me with some contacts so hopefully I will be able to visit many places to give talks! In Cuszo I will also paint the VAN and try to make it more my own home inside even though it already feels very cosy and nice!
The big crossing is about to start! A year ago I decided that if I wanted to continue my project in South America, I didn’t want to fly to South America. That is why I started looking for a boat that could take me that way so that I could cross the ocean in an environmentally friendly way. Now, a year later, that boat or rather that ship has been found and I am about to board the ‘Regina Maris’ for 7 weeks, a wonderful ship on which we and a special group of people will start thinking about solutions about how we can make traveling more sustainable.
A few weeks ago we had a training weekend where I met a large number of participants. You can imagine that it was quite an organization because there are also quite a number of participants from abroad and since we are all not flying, some people had to leave two days in advance to arrive at the weekend on time.
It was a special weekend with a busy schedule. We learned from Lucy Gilliam from “Transport & environment” about the ins and outs of aviation. From a few of the participants who know everything about climate conferences, we were given a detailed explanation of how climate conferences work and how we can exert our influence there. We have also shared our fears & expectations with each other and two of the organizers have told us their “ocean crossing experience”.
In addition, we have discussed all organizational matters with each other, this time in real live! We were already working together before the weekend, but then online and via video calls. It is so nice to finally see everyone in real life! I could hardly realize that I had become part of this great initiative! It was also a special feeling to suddenly be surrounded by people who are all very active in the field of climate. It is suddenly like you’re in a soap bubble. I look forward to learning a lot from this bubble and then stepping out of the bubble again to bring this knowledge to the people outside of that bubble!
Today, a few weeks, a lot of cooperation, and further preparation, it’s almost time to leave. We finally leave with 36 participants, a captain, a cook and 5 crew members who can actually sail! We held the farewell party at ‘De Ceuvel’ in Amsterdam last Saturday! It was a great evening and also a funny feeling! You know that you will get to know the participants very well, but that you actually now know so little about each other.
Tomorrow on October 2, 2019 I will really leave! We leave from Amsterdam. This departure place changed yesterday due to weather conditions. We will all go on board tonight to prepare the ship for sailing! The ship only arrived this night at the port! We will all be sleeping on it tonight and tomorrow will be a big goodbye! There is a whole program and everyone is welcome to come, so you too! You can even take a look on board! The program starts at 11 am and we sail away at 2 pm! Keep an eye on the “NOS news” because there is a chance that you will see us pass by!
How does that feel?
I get that question quite often and I don’t know how to answer it that well. The stress that I sometimes feel is mainly because I find it difficult to fill one backpack for a period of a few years! But the excitement prevails over the feeling of stress because how can you not feel excitement if you step on a ship tomorrow for 7 weeks to cross the ocean!
Training day in Amsterdam
We also had a training day in Amsterdam yesterday where we saw a large part of the group again and that was very nice just before leaving! We have met all partners of the “Sail to the COP” project including “University of Wageningen”, “Prorail”, “Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management”, “better places”, “EIT Climate KIC” & “Environmental Defense”. During the day we received presentations from these partners and they gave us a number of questions that we will start thinking about during the think tank. In addition, we have had media training to get our message out as well as possible.
During those 7 weeks we also have some (very short) stops. The first 10 days we sail along the coast of Europe and Morocco, to make our first stop in Casablanca around October 12. From Casablanca it is 6 days sailing to Tenerife, where we arrive around October 18. Then on to Cape Verde. We will arrive in Cape Verde around October 26. We then sail west to cross the Atlantic! We are planning to arrive in Recife (Brazil) around 7 November. We then travel south to our final sailing destination Rio de Janeiro, with the aim of being there by November 20! We leave Rio de Janeiro on November 23 by bus and will probably drive a route through Curitiba, Santa Fe, Mendoza and Valparaiso, our final destination. We are planning to arrive there on November 27. We are of course continuously dependent on the weather so it is not a definite schedule because it can always vary a few days.
If you want to view the ship you can click on this link.
Youth conference – Valparaiso. https://www.coy15.org/ Between November 28 and 30 we will attend the Conference of Youth in Valparaiso. From the 27th to the 30th we stay with the whole group in a hostel in Valparaiso. From Valparaiso we travel to Santiago by public transport.
In Santiago, from December 2 to 13, we will be present at COP25 https://www.cop25.cl/en/ and at many events related to COP. Our entire group will be staying in an accommodation in Santiago from December 30 to at least December 13. After the COP, the “Sail to the COP project” ended. All participants will then find their own way to travel back to Europe or further into South America. Nobody will fly back. A number stay in South America for a while and then sail back, some go back with a container ship.
Eco Bus America
I will first start my project in Santiago. I stay with a friend for a while to arrange a van from there and make it electric (I write that as if it is nothing but actually that is still quite a challenge) I have some contacts in Santiago that can help me with that and I intend that if I believe in it, it will work just like finding the boat! Fortunately there are enough schools in Santiago to be able to move forward a while and thanks to a beautiful bicycle sponsored by Roetz (a bicycle brand that makes bikes from old discarded bicycles) that will go on board, I can easily move around in Santiago! As a thank you for their sponsorship, I visited the Roetz Factory in Amsterdam with “Eco Bus America”!
I hope to see you in Amsterdam tomorrow at the “Sail out”! The address where this will take place is the NDSM wharf. You can’t really ignore it because you can see the ship from far away! If you can’t find it or you want some more information, keep an eye on the @sailtothecop social media!
I want to start this newsletter with great news! The 2nd of October, I will depart from Scheveningen to South America with a sailing ship! It worked out! I found the way to cross the ocean CO2 neutral.
Sail to the COP
The ship I sail with is not “just a ship” and the people I sail with are not “just people”. “Eco Bus America” will sail as a participant with, and partner from, the project “Sail to the COP”. An amazing project where 26 to 36 young professionals, experts, activists and partners will sail to the UN climate conference (COP25) in Chile because we are all concerned about the increasing emissions from aviation and the lack of international measures regarding the environmental impact of this sector.
At the conference and throughout our trip, we want to raise our concerns about the negative impact of air travel on our planet. The sail trip is part of a yearlong (media) campaign for policy change at a national and international level. The aim is to make the transport playing field more equal. We want to make it easier, more affordable and more attractive to choose sustainable travel options like going by train, bus and bike. Together with partners we want to show that the concerns about aviation are widespread and to pressure international decision-makers to discuss this topic. We also wish to work together with travel and mobility organizations to showcase sustainable alternatives or work on challenges in their organization.
This sailing trip proves once again that traveling in a sustainable way is still very expensive. For 7500 euros I will cross the ocean. So far, I have not yet completed all the finances, but I have decided to take this risk and to trust that companies who find it interesting to be represented on board will appear during the coming weeks. By sposoring ‘Sail to the COP’ as a company you will be part of this project and thus raise your voice for behavior and policy change at a national and international level to make transport more equitable and sustainable. For more info about ‘Sail to the COP’ you can have a look at this link: Sail to the COP Infographic. If you company is interested in sponsoring my place on board and be represented by me, please let me know!
Apart from searching a sailing ship to cross the ocean CO2 neutral, I have been busy with the search for a VAN with which I will continue my project in South America. The VAN from the picture above is the VAN that I used in Europe and will not be taken to South America. Until recently there was a chance that I could take over a VAN located in Peru. It is a VAN from a German family that I met when I traveled around Argentina a few years ago. I had a wonderful and spontaneous encounter with them, we found out, we both have a similar goal and because of the fact that I was looking for a VAN, I wrote them 8 months ago to ask if they accidentially wanted to sell their VAN to me. They told me that they were just about to settle down with their 3 children in Peru and indeed didn’t really needed the VAN anymore and therefore they decided to sell it to me. The following months were all about negotiation. It seemed too good to be true and that was true … In the end it did not work out due to a problem with the papers. It was an exciting time in which I was flung back and forth a few times from “excitement,” “disappointment,” “excitement,” and in the end with “disappointment.” This does not mean that their project is incredibly beautiful and that it is certainly worthwhile to take a look at their page: https://www.facebook.com/Pacabamba
Despite the disappointment I felt, I have taken this story as a sign that I should not start with a diesel VAN but that I should immediately start looking for the most environmentally-friendly way of driving a VAN. I started to contact the people again that I already knew in the field of electric driving and started looking for new contacts that could help me with that. For example, I came into contact with Carel Kuijper, who made the first electric moving van in the Netherlands. He currently lives in Chile and together with his wife they are very enthusiastic to help me find ways to convert a VAN in Chile into an electrically powered one. Electric driving is on average 30% more environmentally friendly than driving with a diesel or gasoline Vehicle. If you convert an old one into an electric one, it is even a bit more environmentally friendly. You remove an old polluting VAN from the road and replace it with a second-hand, more environmental friendly VAN. I know that this is still not 100% environmentally friendly and I still think that is a shame, but we are not yet living in a time in which that is possible and because after seriously cosidering the options horseriding, bicycle, walk, public transport. , etc. I still come to the conclusion that I want to carry out my project with a VAN, but then an electrically powered one! At the time of arrival in Chile I will first use the bicycle and public transport in and around Santiago. During that time I hope to be able to start the conversion of the VAN and then continue the project through South-America with it. All contacts that you have in this area are very welcome!
Part of the money needed to buy the VAN can be paid out of the donations of my crowdfuning campaign from about two years ago. Apart from that I have worked very hard during the last year to save money for the project, but converting a VAN into an electrical one requires just a little more money than that. I think the fact that this VAN will be driving around in Latin America for many years, might be very interesting for companies that have something to do with green energy. The VAN will be a mobile advertisement for ‘Sustainable travel’.
I would like to thank all sponsors who have helped me so far!
Rotary Amsterdam + anonymous sponsor: 1000 Euros for the crossing
Common Affairs: 5000 Euro for carrying out the project in South America.
In addition, there are two people who donate a fixed amount of money to me every month.
During my crowdfunding campaign and also during the realization of my project in Europe, a large part of you readers sponsored me in different ways. The amount that has been received is still on the bank account of “Eco Bus America” and will be used for the implementation of the project in South America.
In addition, this project is sponsored by a number of brands that I also want to thank very much for supporting my project! To name: Waka waka, Mud jeans, Natural World Eco, Organic Cotton Colors, The circular proyect, Sepiia, Sprout, Ecostoof, Hemper, Suntribe, Meluna, Monomer, Pidzh
And finally special thanks to all the support that I get from my dear friends and family and special thanks to my parents and Guillermo who have believed in this project from the first day I started and have helped me so much!
During these months that I have spent in Holland I was working as an intercultural family coach, to earn money to be able to continue this project. During this period I also visited places with the project. I want to show you one of those visits by sharing the video underneath. I was a guest speaker at the mid-summer party on the “Remeker” farm, a very nice experience with inspiring people!
Thank you very much for reading my newspaper and your interest in my project!
Lots of love, Jorien!
PS: Would you like to subscribe to my newsletter please fill in the form at the page ‘news’
There he finally is, the new website of ”Eco Bus America”! With the great help of Vincent Berger from Mono Codes, we finally succeeded in creating this website. Just a bit of promotion for Vincent because he deserves it so much!
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Some of you may be surprised with this mail in his or her mailbox because they have never signed up for this newsletter. Those who don’t like receiving these emails can immediately unsubscribe to no longer automatically receive future emails from ‘Eco Bus America’, but of course I hope that many of you responded enthusiastically by seeing this email in the mailbox! I can tell those who do like these emails, that from now on you will automatically receive all new posts in your own language. The site is translated into 3 languages and therefore also the newsletter.
First, I want to tell you that I have been nominated for the Sustainable Young 100 of 2019! I would like to invite you to vote for me. Voting is still possible until this coming Wednesday until 00:00 (Dutch time) so be quick! I am now number 19 out of 200 so that is a nice place but you can help me to get higher in that list! Thank you very much in advance! You can vote on: https://dj100.nl/jorien-timmers/ You can then click on the Dutch word ’stem’ and that’s it!
As most of you know, I have been working in the Netherlands since November last year to collect money and prepare myself for the trip to Latin America, where I will officially start my project “Eco Bus America”.
Because I set the bar higher every day for my project, which is a result of my own growing awareness about the current way we treat this planet, I have decided not to fly to South-America but to sail there by stepping up at a sailing boat and sail there all the way crossing the Atlantic ocean. Everything I cán do environmental friendly in this project, I want to dó environmental friendly. Making my van 100% environmental friendly is now (still) beyond my reach. To reach South America in an environmental friendly way seemed to me something I cán actually do and isn’t blond my reach.
Finding a boat / ship is a long path of excitement and disappointment and so far I haven’t find a boat yet, but there are some options, one of them is ’Sail to the COP’, a very great project you can search up on the internet. Another option is to sail with a private boat to Suriname (but that is not ideal in terms of location) Even though nothing is sure, I dó believe in the fact that I will arrive on time with a sailing boat! The uncertainty is part of it and it makes it fun as well, because imagine the power you would feel, arriving in South-America in a sailing boat that you have all found by yourself and that you wasn’t sure about until you found it versus, taking a plane and knowing exactly what time you arrive and where…. During this period of searching and preparations I have learned a lot about sailing, simply by throwing myself into the world of sailing and I discovered it’s a very interesting world!
The book by Suzanne van der Veeken that I am currently reading helps me to get ready to start the boat-hitchhike adventure. If I haven’t found a boat before August, the journey will start by taking boat lifts from certain ports that are commonly used for that, such as a certain port in the south of Portugal (Lagos or Portimão) from which many boats sail towards the Canary Islands or the Cape Verde Islands around August. From the Cape Verde or Canary Islands I will then continue to hitchhike (on a boat) towards South America (Uruguay, Argentina or Brazil) but of course I prefer to find someone in advance.
Another part of the preparations is the van. It has been a big roller coaster until now. I will keep you informed, but until I have no clarity, I will leave not tell the whole story to you … The little info I can give you is that the VAN is in Peru and if it all goes well, which I believe it will, I can pick it up before the end of January from great people with a great project too! More about that later!
Thanks for reading the whole post! Have a look at my new website and don’t forget to vote! Thank you very much!
Lots of love!
ps: This is a video I made for a Dutch sailing event in Amsterdam, named HISWA. If you click on subtitels you will find the English subtitles as well!
First of all I want to wish all of you happy 2019! I write you all to update you about the developments of my project ‘Eco Bus America’
As I indicated in the previous newsletter, the try-out tour I did in September and October was a great success! I have reached a lot of people and I could inspire many people! If you have not watched the videos of the try-out tour (yet), then I invite you to click on this link that leads to all the videos that I put on youtube during the tour. There is a video of every week. Eight videos in total.
From the moment I am back in the Netherlands, many positive developments have taken place. I would like to share two of them with you.
When I traveled around Argentina a year ago and walked around one day close to the Iguazú waterfalls, A parked VAN suddenly captured my attencion. When I got closer, I saw the text on the bus and I watched through the windows, I felt that I wanted to know more about this bus and the people who were traveling in it. I wrote the name that was written on the van and in the evening I started googling. It turned out to be a family that was traveling with three children in the most environmentally friendly way possible. I immediately wrote them a message and the next day we were having lunch together in front of their VAN. We found out that we actually had a lot of shared values and dreams. They gave me a lot of recommendation about how to convert a VAN and how to search for sponsors. It was a beautiful afternoon in which I started to believe even stronger that ‘coincidence’ does not exist.
After my try-out tour in Europe, the initial plan was to buy a van in the Netherlands and, together with that van, to sail across the Atlantic ocean to South America. While searching for VAN’s on the internet suddenly I thought about the family that I had met. I decided to write them, to ask how their journey was going. They sent back a message that they just happened to be looking for a permanent place to live because the eldest daughter needed it. After a little back and forth messaging, I asked them if they already knew what they were going to do with the van while they live on a permanent place. There was not a clear answer to that question yet, but as you probably already feel… This story has a great end because after a lot of sleepless nights, so was the message that I got a few weeks later from them, we decided to sell ‘BOB’, which is the name of the bus! You can imagine how I felt at that moment! There is currently good contact with this family and they are willing to wait until I have enough money to buy BOB because he is not for free of course ..
The second ‘coincidence’ that happend is that, three days after I came back from the Europe tour there had been a six-month contract offered to me as a family coach in Amsterdam and they even wanted to pay my travel expenses. I live now until the moment I go to South America in Lunteren with my parents (to be able to save more quickly) and I work in Amsterdam.
As I said, the ‘VAN’ is not free, so at the moment I am busy and working hard to find larger organizations to request financial support.
The bus is there! That is a great step and he is already in Peru! There is only one big thing still to be arranged which is finding a sailing boat that brings me from Europe to Peru sailing across the ocean. Not on my own, of course, but I want to find a boat that can take me. Ideally all the way to Peru and otherwise first to the Caribbean and then a transfer to another boat that can take me to Peru. I have registered myself on some websites where people with a boat are looking for other crew members, but there are also boats that transport goods from South America to Europe and vice versa. I think this is even more interesting because they purposefully transport goods in an environmentally friendly way. It is still a big job to find this boat but I have confidence that I will find it. I want to start sailing at the beginning of August this year.
The last week of the Eco Bus America try out tour in Europe. Click here to open the video on youtube. This week we arrived in Brussels where we gave some talks and visited a school. We even managed to make a music band for one night with some friends! Enjoy the last video of the Try out tour there will follow more video’s soon! There is subtitles available and make sure you watch in the HD quality.
Week 7 of the Eco Bus America try-out tour in Europe. Arriving in Monaco was an enormous contrast because two days before, we where visiting a school in the middle of the mountains. Both of them where such great experiences! Click here to open the video on our youtube Channel.
This is week 6 of the Try-out tour in Europe. We realize the project is actually working. Schools are calling us to visit them. We are so happy to see that people want their children to know about these problems! Click here to open the video on our youtube channel. (There is English subtitles available and make sure you watch in HD)
This week we arrived in Murcia. Click here to see the video on our youtube channel. We met a lot of great people in Murcia that helped us with the project. We hope you like the video’s and please let us know what we can improve because we just started filming and we still have a lot to learn!
This week the festival at Formentera took place! A great succes! Click here to see the video on the youtube channel or click below on the video. It was amazing to see how much people helped to make from this festival a big success!
Week 3 of the Eco Bus America tryout tour in Europe! Follow us on our youtube channel facebook and Instagram. Click here to see the video We have arrived at Formentera. A beautiful Island where we visited the schools and we helped preparing the Festival for next week. (subtitles available)
Week 2 of the ‘Eco Bus America’ tryout tour in Europe Click on this link to open it on our youtube canal. This week we arrived in France where we visited among others a little school in Pesmes. A great adventure!
Click here to see the video. This week we started our adventure in Europe. This is the video of our first week of the ‘Eco Bus America’ tryout tour in Europe. This week we have been to a lot of places in Holland and at the end you see the goodbye party at Impact hub Amsterdam. Next week… France!