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Over the past seven weeks, I went backpacking through North and South America. This was quite an exciting adventure for me, as I had never gone backpacking before, and these continents are more challenging than the usual destinations in Asia.
I started in Mexico City, where I stayed for a week. It was quite intense to witness the lengths the local population goes to in order to make a living. For instance, it's not uncommon to be stopped by the police who ask for money. They do this because they earn only 5 euros a day. Additionally, people set up roadblocks, and you have to pay to pass through with a car.
During the first week, I visited many places in Mexico City, from the City of the Gods to the floating markets. However, the highlight was definitely the Pride Parade. It was such a surreal experience for me. I had never witnessed such a massive parade before, let alone one that celebrated pride. It was a huge celebration, everyone was joyful, and dancing was happening everywhere in the city. I think the photo speaks for itself.
Next, I continued on to Oaxaca, the city of culture! Mexico is home to 65 different cultures, and Oaxaca hosts 60 of them. This made for a very diverse city, with each neighborhood having its own unique character. You might think that this would create division within the city, but it's actually quite the opposite. The acceptance and embrace of each other's cultures create a strong sense of unity.
I ended my journey along the east coast of Mexico in Puerto Escondido, a village known for its laid-back atmosphere, great surfing, and vibrant nightlife. Everywhere you go, there's a relaxed vibe, and it's a place where you can spend your days doing absolutely nothing. I even tried my hand at surfing and captured some footage with my drone of fellow backpackers catching big waves.
Next stop, Peru! I flew from Puerto Escondido to Lima, the capital of Peru. I didn't do much there as there isn't a lot to see and do in the city. After two chilly nights, I hopped on a bus headed towards Paracas. Paracas is a coastal town where you can spot dolphins and penguins. Of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a tour and see these amazing creatures up close.
Next, I continued on to Huacachina, where I went sandboarding and climbed sand dunes. Up until this point, I had never been in a desert, so it was quite an experience. It took me a while to realize that I was actually in a desert.
From there, I took a bus to a town near Colca Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world. We hiked down into the canyon and spent the night in the valley after taking a bath in the hot springs.
Afterwards, I headed to Arequipa, where I went white-water rafting with the group of Dutch travelers I had met. On our first day there, we experienced four earthquakes! It was quite intense, as I had never experienced an earthquake before. The most intense one was at night, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale. I didn't wake up from the earthquake itself, but rather from people running out of their beds and screaming. Fortunately, nothing was damaged, and I went back to sleep.
As the final city in Peru, I went to Cusco. This city is located at a high altitude and is close to two important landmarks that I wanted to see: Rainbow Mountain and, of course, Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world. We took it easy for a few days to acclimate to the altitude, making it easier to climb Rainbow Mountain, which sits at 5,000 meters. The view from there was stunning, and the mountain itself was incredibly colorful, as the photo clearly shows.
A few days later, I went alone to Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world. This was the most breathtaking sight I have ever seen in my life. Compared to everything else I have seen in Europe, which is quite a lot, Machu Picchu is on a whole different level of beauty. The view alone and the history of the place are incredibly stunning and awe-inspiring. Next to the city, there are two mountains, and I climbed both of them. The ascent was longer and more challenging than I expected, but the views were absolutely worth it. The photos alone capture the magnificence of the experience.
Afterwards, I flew back to Mexico via Colombia.
I then stayed for a few days in Isla Mujeres, which translates to "Island of Women." It was quite touristy, and I couldn't wait to move on to Isla Holbox. It was known as the Puerto Escondido of the west coast, so there were plenty of reasons to visit. I stayed there for a few days before moving on to the next city, little did I know that it would be my last stop.
Upon arriving in Valladolid, I rented a scooter after one night and went to visit cenotes with some fellow backpackers I met at my hostel. Cenotes are underground caves filled with water, creating a beautiful swimming environment.
At the first cenote we visited called Oxman, there was a rope swing. I decided to try a backflip off it, but unfortunately, I landed on my shoulder and dislocated it underwater. Luckily, I was wearing a life vest that pulled me back up to the surface. On the way back up, my shoulder popped back into place, which was a relief. However, it was a painful and frightening experience underwater. As the pain worsened throughout the evening, I made the decision to go back home since I couldn't use my arm anymore and the pain was becoming unbearable.
Unfortunately, due to my accident, I had to end my trip 3.5 weeks earlier than planned. Thankfully, I had already spent 7 weeks traveling and had seen a lot of the other side of the world. It was an incredible journey, and I learned a great deal from it.