Tag Archives: Travel

I won’t take the high road, but I’ll take the low – and I’ll be in Zagreb on Wednesday

For me and my true love, shall one day meet again!
I am off to Zagreb, Croatia in a few days. Purpose of this adventure, again, is my Uni, who kindly asks me to write a Bachelor-Thesis. Me, for I really really want to learn Croatian and explore the country and culture to its fullest found a superb placement, called “Expat Adria”, for whom I will conduct a communication needs assessment. I shall be looking forward to it. And, of course, I am very much looking forward to exploring a culture that means the world to me. I have this decent camera of mine that takes pictures (you don’t say!) and thus I expect the most of you here again, for images and stories! Stay tuned!

zbogom! 🙂


many more roads to follow…

With having returned to my safe harbour of The Netherlands, the core purpose of this blog (reporting about my time in Estonia and Cameroon) now has become obsolete. I have travelled 6 countries, 3 time zones and 2 continents. I wore shorts at -28°C and long sleeves at +32°C, I ate amazingly fresh fruits and disgustingly old bread. I drank the nicest juices and liquors next to the grossest dairies and beers and I have met people from more than 40 countries and every single continent, with meaningful and authentic discussion to pure pisstakes over drinks at 5am. Now I am back in the Netherlands with a more down-to-earth approach to life, but I don’t consider this blog to be over, it much rather just began. See, now that I am more and more reaching for the end of my Bachelor studies I need to find out what it is that I want in and from life. Clearly it involves travelling above all! Therefore I will keep this blog running, one post at a time. And maybe, if I am in the mood, I might change the core idea behind this blog being a travelling diary and use it for different causes. So stay alert for updates and please please please continue being active on the SOCIALVIBE, as any cause presented is a cause worth spending some minutes on! It has been a pleasure to blog and I appreciate all the comments and feedback you guys have given me over the time.

Till soon I hope!


Anno 2011: Do’s and Don’ts in Cameroon

Much like its Estonian brethren back in 2010, I decided to provide you with some essential information about what and what not to do, eat, see in the rare case you ever make it to Cameroon, or more specifically to Buea and the South West region. Since I have only spent three weeks here, of course the facts mentioned will be rather superficial, but I am very unhappy to inform that due to severe health issues, I have decided to end my stay here immediately. I’d really love to stay, but with all the nightmares and panic attacks I have had during the past days and weeks, I cannot picture myself living here for another 4 months, so I will return to the Netherlands for now and will try to work out things to get a new placement as quickly as possible.

Anyways, as usual, don’t take my words below too serious and bear in mind that I tend to make false assumptions, unsophisticated conclusions and hasty decisions:

Do try the local cuisine. Especially Fufu and Eru are dishes you will never find in Europe. While I couldn’t find out the exact content of Eru, Fufu is made from Yams or Plantains, this banana alike vegetable.

Don’t ever again dare to try Fufu nor Eru! While it is really interesting to have one bite from each, that is as far as one should go with it. Even the locals don’t really eat Fufu or Eru. When it comes to using plantain, the much rather boil and fry it, to make local fries. Those are quite nice to be honest.

Do expect to taste the freshest and juiciest fruits in your entire life! Pineapples, Papaya, Coconuts have never tasted so good in my life and contribute a large part to my daily diet, also because you can purchase them at a really low prices, such as 45 cent for half a pineapple.

Don’t expect to find your “normal” food in any kind of store. In fact, “stores” might not even be applicable, rather they are “Provision stores”, where you can get the basics, such as bread, vegetables or beer. I haven’t had any cheese or milk here so far (as they are priced at a premium, since imported, level).

Do expect to spend a good amount of time leaning over the toilet, especially after having tried some homemade food. It tastes really nice for the most part, but the last few days I was troubled with stomach issues at a constant base.

Don’t underestimate the moderate weather climate. It may look like it’s gonna rain soon, but really it is burning your skin. I have used my sunlotion for most of the time, but those rare occasions where I didn’t I had some rough skin pieces the following day, not to mention the millions of bits I get every day, regardless of having used mosquito spray.

Do open your doors to all sorts of animals, such as snails, geckos, mice, cockroaches and spiders. Well, they find their way in anyways… 🙂

Don’t expect to be handled as a “normal” person here. After all, we are the “white people”, therefore we have money, lots of money to just give without asking. That is why I have been ripped off quite frequently by people in “shops”, bars or taxis. I try to take it as a rather normal experience, but you might wanna be cautious about how to position yourself.

Do get used to share a cab with 6 other people + the occasional driver. For the striking amount of 15-25 cent you get to be squeezed in your seat with no possibilities to buckle up or even hold on to something. You will experience detours all the time and the universal sign to get people’s attention as potential customers is the ever-lasting horn, which serves as pretty much any mean of communication on the street.

And now, since you probably only show interest in the pictures, here they are…

The best restaurant in town...

At a fancy hotel, nearby the Botanic Garden in Limbe - really beautiful, really expensive...

On the beach in Limbe, the Mt. Cameroon in its back...

Yet another stunning view at Mt. Cameroon, taken from my house's porch...

My favorite taxi slogan of all times...


7 days in Cameroon

It has been some days since my last post, I admit that. But the truth is, once you actually start living here in Cameroon, you tend to become really slow, primarily taking the actual walking/working. With my rather long legs I overtake everyone on the streets just to find myself completely exhausted at the bottom of the road. You don’t run here, as long as you are not working out. Walk slowly and eventually you will get to where you want to be. It is due to the extreme heat and high humidity that putting your body under extreme conditions seems rather useless. The blood remains warm no matter what, so walking slowly really helps!

Life here in Buea couldn’t possibly go any slower, or we’d start moving backwards. My working day (if that definition is really accurate) starts somewhat around 9ish and ends when…sort of when I feel like it has to end for me. We are 4 people sitting at a big table, all more or less desperate for the Internet to facilitate our work, but since we got a decent connection installed in our house last week, my normal working day became a 24/7 issue, with being online as much a possible (that is, if the frequent power cuts wouldn’t hamper the process). The power cuts occur around once a day, and normally wont last much longer than a few minutes. Last weekend, however, a heavy (heavy for me as a German) storm made its appearance right on top of our small house and caused a widely spread power cut for more than 10 hours, leaving us in the dark with no coffee…  🙂 On Friday evening I went out with Tom, Captain (the producer of the music Tom is using for the HIV/Aids project) and Abigail, one of the artists for the same project to see a concert up in Buea Town. The music was really nice and even though I mysteriously lost 30,000 franc (about 45€) while attending the concert, I will keep that night in good memory.

We spent my first Sunday in Cameroon visiting the market of Buea, buying amazingly fresh veggies and fruits (half a pineapple of about 30 euro cent!)  and witnessed the most disgusting sort of meat and met storage I ever came across.  Let us play a game: who can guess what part of the body do you see on the picture below?

At the local market - kinda wanna make u become a Veg straightaway, he!

The overall experience was breath-taking and I am sure we will make it a weekly tradition to go to the market, while the rest of the country is spending literally 8h in church! Going to the church will also be part of my agenda at some point, but for now I don’t see myself spending hours dancing and singing… The same night, we were having a nice barbecue outside with a self-made grill, using the nearby banana leafs to make the fire. We had grilled and roasted vegetables and potatoes and even though the others liked the meat, I am sure we’ll mostly have vegetarian food in the future, woohoo! I am having a day off today (and maybe also tomorrow, as it will be Woman’s Day which is being celebrated here to a much wider extent than in Germany).

One thing that is quite annoying is the way my mind is responding to the anti malaria pills I have to take once a week. I am having severe nightmares every other night, something I haven’t experienced yet. I will quit the writing for now but publish some images I managed to capture during the last few days.

This is the patch I have to slowly walk down and up every day to take a taxi to work

A tiny baby sleeping at a sun-covered stand at the market. An image I just HAD to take...

At the local market with the spectacular view at Mt. Cameroon in the far distance

Someone seems to be working on a career after politics..


New Destination, new haircut, new layout…

After my time in Tartu, Estonia is finally over and my internship is about to begin, I decided to change the layout of this blog. All old entries will remain, just the appearance will alter. In addition to that, I have changed my own appearance: “All gone”! My hair disgusted me in the end and taking into consideration the extreme heat I will have to face once in Cameroon, it has been a reasonable decision. But my hair will grow back and eventually I shall look the same…

Currently, I am busy with collecting everything I want to take along on the trip. Since I have booked 46kg of luggage for both flights (Hamburg-Paris-Douala and return) I can take plenty of stuff. However, with an average degree of 35°C each day, my wardrobe won’t be too heavy. That is why I will bring a bunch of books to read, as well as my Russian papers to continue learning that wonderful language. Since I will be living somewhat close to the only English-taught university of Cameroon, hopefully I could explore their library as well.

In addition to clothing, books and the obvious laptop, a lot of money has to be invested in having all sorts of medical precautions, such as sunlotion (level 50!!), spray against mosquito bits or disposable gloves, not to mention the 150,00€ to be spent on malaria pills. Furthermore, I am doing my own fundraising right now, trying to get friends from my local community to collect some minor gifts, such as writing paper, pencils or toys for kids. Hopefully, I will receive plenty! Also, I have changed the SOCIALVIBE activity on this blog. Now you and me are supporting CAMFED, an agency that is aiming at empowering girls and women in rural areas in Africa to overcome poverty. So in a way, this is what I will be doing soon! Please take some minutes to help me raise a few bucks!

This will be my last post on European soil. Next time you’ll read something about my being, it shall come from the brand new location of Buea in…wait for it…Cameroon!!! 🙂


Termination of ERASMUS: The Payback…

Now, as I pack my stuff in my dorm in Tartu, aiming to spend some days in Lithuania before finally going back home, I promised myself to have 1 final post about my time in Estonia. However, this time, I won’t be talking about the snow, the trips or the various drinks you should try while being here. No, this time, I’ll pay back! I will mention most if not all of the things I witnessed here during the last 5 months that i consider worth mentioning and will share them with you. If I am offending someone who reads this: It was not my intention 🙂 Let the show begin…

Spanish people: Absolutely fantastic people. As individuals. In a group, a bunch of impervious folks with no intention to harmonize with anyone else but Portuguese. I tried at several occasions to enter the group, but, with 9 out of 10 conversations in Spanish, sort of impossible for me. Knowing about Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions I should not be surprised, but I haven’t seen that intense behaviour in action so far.

Russian people: I have written so much about them during my time here that I cannot really add anything new. They are still the most unpleasant people I have met during ERASMUS and I have not yet seen any solution for this. It is not just me who is saying that. They were actually the reason we had the door locked at almost all times. I do not want to sound disrespectful to Russians in general and those I know better are perfectly nice people, but I hope I’ll never meet any of them again…

My mates from the apartment: No, nothing negative to mention about them, leaving aside several late night Skype calls in the kitchen or early Sunday morning uses of the mixer that woke me up. But they were among the best people I have met in my life and I am really glad we lived together. I am not speaking for my liver, which honestly is happy that ERASMUS is over, but I had a fantastic time with you guys! You are all aces in my book and I am looking forward to meeting you again, eventually in 2016 here in Tartu for a great revival 😀 Over the last months, we have collected money from plastic bottles. Now, at the end I am very glad to mention that we managed to gather 27,80€ in total!! This money will shortly be donated to good causes in Nepal and Bangladesh. I am happy that we accomplished that, thanks again guys 🙂

The University: Beautiful from the inside, catastrophic from the inside. Weak organization, teacher without much knowledge in teaching, unequal treatment of students. I am glad to have studied at a Research University for once, but I thought it would be set up much more Ivy league-alike.

Sharing a 16m2 bedroom with another guy: Very interesting for a couple of weeks, very exhausting for 5 months. Although he is a really great guy, I am so looking forward to having my own room again with a little more privacy.

Estonia: Great country to live in…for a few months. Not a place I could spend the rest of my life. Many aspects of the daily life are tempting for a longer stay, such as the Wi/Fi everywhere, the strong infrastructure and of course (for one that comes from a rich country) the very moderate prices for pretty much everything. But still, it was only a step on my path to yet again somewhere else…

Tartu: If I was to life in Estonia, Tartu would be the only choice. It is the best town in the country, with the best varieties to have a decent life. Nonetheless, the city is marked as my ERASMUS-place so living here will never be the same again.

The Germans: We are everywhere! Everywhere! You cannot stop us. We take your city on a horseback and stick in big, German-speaking groups. And we love potatoes, litres of beer and watching football. In a way, we are like the Spanish. But we speak English much better… 🙂

What I learned: Talking in terms of studying, I have learned various things, which may or may not help me for my future professional life. I am sure that knowing about Lithuania in the 15th century and the Sumerian cosmogony will barely benefit me in pursuing a career in the non-profit sector, but I am nonetheless glad I got the opportunity to get familiar with it. Having learned Russian and having gotten an insight into Public sector marketing, however, are really beneficial for me! Speaking life, I have learned a lot more. Living with strangers, adapting to different habits, different styles of speaking English, learning. I have met people here that really helped me gaining new insights into the world (mostly while having a beer somewhere) and I have seen things and places I probably would never have seen in my life if it wasn’t for people and situations here!! I am so glad I decided to have come here…

What I will miss: Living in a dorm (even though right now I am happy it’s over), the city and its amazing bars, pubs, shops, streetlights, pretty much everything. The guys from the apartment (a lot!) and the very international atmosphere ERASMUS was providing us with throughout the entire 5 months. In addition, I will also miss the monthly rent, which in total (more than 5 months) added up to a little over 520€!!

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Thank your for following my blog! I hope, you had a good time reading my stories from Estonia, Sweden and Russia. I hope y’all will stay tuned and check out this blog again, because soon my stories will cover my life in Buea, Cameroon! Thank you!! 🙂


SeaBattle: a boat full of Spanish people, a stomach full of acid liquid

Three days ago, I packed my suitcase, I packed my flatmate, I packed a bottle of pepper vodka and off I went to Tallinn. Why? Because we went to do SeaBattle! SeaBattle is an organized 3-day trip from ESN groups all across the Baltic Sea Region (thus Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Denmark). Only students studying in these countries were granted permission to participate and among those few tickets which were issued (only 50 for Tartu students, 90€ each) at the beginning of September, I can call myself lucky to have gotten a one. Leaving for Tallinn on Monday noon, it did not take long till we had finished our first pint of beer in the bus. Yet I was very tired from lack of sleep in the previous nights, so I decided to take it easy for the moment. It proofed to be a wise decision on my side. Once in Tallinn, we had about 1 hour to spare before being allowed to enter the boat – named Queen Baltic. We used that time to buy cheap smokes and drinks in nearby shops – again a very wise decision, taking into consideration that we were about to ship for one of the most expensive countries in Europe – we were heading for Stockholm, Sweden! 17 hours of pure fun, drinks and waves lied in front of us, just waiting to be used.

Well, technically that could have been true. However, after 3 hours of sleep in the previous night, 5 cans of beer, about 3 sips from my pepper vodka, disgusting food (included in the price) and a really rough sea caused my stomach to scream for salvation, a favour I happily granted it by lying down most of the time. So I went to bed at midnight and would eventually get up at 2am to walk around and explore the events of SeaBattle. Honestly, I was barely interested in that, since I realized that most people on the boat were either drunk, on the best way to get drunk or already too drunk from the reasons which caused my stomach to rebel as mentioned above…

The next morning, unlike most (and especially my boat roommate) I was completely sober, had a shower and ambitions to take the bus trip we have paid for the evening before. But hold on… There were no busses. The guided bus trip, as we believed would follow was more a guided walking trip in a feelingly cold Stockholm by some Swedish students, who managed to read out loud from Wikipedia-articles without knowing any real inside into the city, expect for naming the place where “Lady Gaga played last month…”. 🙂 That is what I call money spent wisely… Stockholm is a great city, but spending 6 hours in the shivering cold with prices for coffee around 3,50€, it sorts of loses its magic.

After having spent the ridiculous amount of 9,80€ for a small Falafel and a black coffee, we headed back to the boat. A small nap in the bed later (2 hours) I was ready to rock the boat. By that time, all the students from Sweden and Norway have entered as well and got prepared for a night of pure insanity. A much more relaxing sea helped a lot to enjoy the evening, but still I was not fully satisfied with the decision of actually having participated in the entire trip. I mean, electronic music, simple-minded security forces and clearly overcharged beer are not what I call a great evening out. Yet I enjoyed it very much to be on the open water, having one or two good conversations with people and the experience of getting sea-sick 🙂

Before I finish this post, one remark about the Spanish: They are everywhere. They come to get to know more Spanish people. They stand in circles of approximately 50 people and scream “España España” for hours and hours, causing my weak stomach to further deteriorate… Surely wonderful people when individual or in small groups, but in large groups really obnoxious to get along with…

In conclusion: It maybe was not the best idea to purchase a ticket for the trip, but in the end I am glad to have done this, so I know what not to do in future times 🙂