Santiago de Cuba
I arrived in Santiago de Cuba five days before the Carnival in Santiago De Cuba. My Casa particular (Cuban bed and breakfast) was on Calle Heredia about five minutes walking down to Parque Céspedes. Santiago de Cuba was dressing up for the carnival. Hugo Chavez was coming to visit Raul Castro so it was necessary to paint the front side on all houses along the way the carnival cortège would follow from the start to the finish at Parque Céspedes. All over the city people were training dance steps, preparing dresses for the carnival. One could hear music in each street corner, actually the same music everywhere, Santiago de Cuba was like a gigantic orchestra playing these rhythms. I was a vibration as special feeling one ca only feel in eastern Cuba on the Caribbean side.
Landmannalaugar about 30 km east of Hekla in the inner of Iceland is probably one Europe’s most extraordinary places. One can reach this wilderness area with a bus from Reykjavík. The journey takes five and a half hour and the bus ride starts at 8:30 in the morning. Buy the South Circle pass at Trex in the bus station in Reykjavík and include Vik in your schedule. There is a possibility to extend the journey to Skaftafjell as well. If you go see to what you have best possible tent, sleeping bag, backpack and walking boots. You will need a tent that can withstand a storm in the open landscape without any wind protections. One can expect surprisingly cold weather even in the middle of summer with snow and temperatures below zero degrees celsius. Bring a warm sleeping bag with you! Stock up on food in Reykjavík harbor area, if you decide to break the journey into Landmannalaugar, Sellfors is another good are to stock up on food. If you are unsure about the standard of your equipment rent a hut but book as far in advance as possible. Landmannalaugar is a fantastic walking country with several possibilities for a day walk. If you are self-sufficient and can carry all your gears, there is the extraordinary fifty-five kilometer walk down to Pórsmörk.
The robes of the buddhist monks
A monk who had studied Buddhism for at least thirty years receives a robe as a gift from the local spinning-mill at Inle lake. Normally, the monk begins his studies at age of twenty, but he must start before he is twenty-seven years old. The process of manufacturing the robe follows the cycle of the moon. One cut the Lotus lowers stems at the full moon. Each process in the spinning-mill is according to the phases of the moon so the monks’ robes are ready for the next full moon. The owner said in the end of July, I will give six monks their robes during their initiating process, since they have completed their thirty year studies. According to the owner Burma had two monks on the highest level belonging to two different paths. The government pays all their expenditures.
The wilderness peninsula of Hornstrandir was my next goal after Látraberg. This is a real wilderness area only open in the summer months. If you really would like to fight with the elements go early in the season when it´s rains a lot. In the end of the season in the middle of August it can be sunny and nice weather if you are lucky. One more bonus going late in the season is all the blueberries one can eat everywhere on the green hills.
I stayed at hotel Wutma in the Piazza area in Addis Ababa for 60 Birr / night about 8 US dollars. This is a small nice budget hotel with a clean room and hot shower. It was in the end of my traveling around Ethiopia and had five more days before flying home. I was at the Piazza then a young man said, do you know me? My answer was no! He said, I am working at hotel Wutma there you are staying. I had not seen the man before. He said, what are you going to do in Addis Ababa? Well, I don´t know? He said, why not rent a car and drive down to the Rift crater lakes?
One of best places on earth for Puffin photography is Látraberg on the west coats of Iceland and Europe’s most western point. It´s possible to reach Látraberg with a two days bus ride from Reykjavík. If you arrive in the morning with a flight at Keflavik airport you can reach Stykkishólmur in western Iceland in the evening, continue next morning with ferry to Brjánslaekur there a bus picks you for a two hours drive to Látraberg. I don´t recommend such a high-speed to Látraberg, there are many more nice places to see on the way.