Virtual travel to the Savannah of Moxos in Bolivia

If you cannot afford a real trip to the place you would like to visit, YouTube is an easy way to reach it virtually. Today my destination are the lowlands of Bolivia, specifically the region of Beni (one of the 9 departments of Bolivia), internationally known by its touristic town of Rurrenabaque. Rurrenabaque became famous among backpackers after a book was written about the journey of an Israeli guy who got lost in the middle of the jungle. In this region more than 350 artificial lagoons with interconnecting channels can be found, testimony of a hydraulic culture from thousands of years ago. This culture lived in the savannah and developed a sophisticated way to overcome the drastic weather conditions, with strong seasons of drought and flood each year. It is estimated that more than 3 million hectares of causeways that worked as high crop fields can be found in the Savannah of Moxos, together with 20.000 artificial mounds. These mounds are sometimes surrounded by circular rings creating interesting figures that can only be seen from above. There is still a long way to learn more about this culture and many different theories are emerging, but for me is an interesting mystery that could change our believes about the history of the Amazon cultures in South America.

Further information and pictures can be found under these links:

Ancient cultures of the Beni and Moxos

Earthmovers of the Amazon


What about Gran Canaria?

I was recently on holidays with my husband in Gran Canaria, one of the seven islands of the Canary Islands and the second most populous one. The island is beautiful and the local people are very friendly. They remind me so much to the people from Central America and the Caribbean. For this reason I will consider Gran Canaria like the European Caribbean. During my stay I got to know that the unemployment rates in the island are the highest in Spain and probably one of the highest in Europe. 30% of the local people have no job and this goes up to 50% between youth. I find this totally amazing and besides the general financial crisis I think the main reason for this is the tourism model that the island, as well as all the other coast areas in Spain, has adopted: a massive sun and beach tourism with high dependency on tour operators and cheap prices. Although Gran Canaria received more than 3 million tourists last year the impact on the economy was apparently not enough to improve the local working opportunities.

Denied Boarding, three stories to learn the lesson

Sometimes travelling by plane can be a quite expensive adventure, either because you forgot your passport, or didn’t want to do some silly procedure, or the airline staff just wanted to be mean to you.

It is amazing how many problems you can encounter when willing to take off. Until now I have been denied boarding a flight in three different times.

The first time was on my way back from Barcelona to Alicante (where I was studying). Because I took the train to get to Barcelona I didn’t realize I did not have my passport with me. Of course they would not let me take the plane by just showing my university card! 🙁 and I lost the plane.

The second time I was flying from Girona to Santiago de Compostela with Ryanair (the Irish low cost company). Because there was no direct flight I had to do a stop-off in Madrid departing just one hour after arrival. According to the company’s policy I had to do a ‘visa checking’ (for non EU Citizens) at my departure point and on my stopover too. Unluckily for me I found this policy a little bit illogical, considering that it is the same company and I am the same passenger. Consequence: I had to take the train to reach Galicia.

The third time – and with any luck the last one – I was visiting my family in Israel and booked my round trip journey with an intermediate stop in Greece, where I had a fantastic Greek wedding. My European residence document was at that moment from Spain – and I must say it didn’t look like an official European Union document at all. The airline thought I might be entering illegally into Europe and didn’t want to acknowledge my Spanish resident document, equivalent to a Schengen visa for tourists. This was an expensive one and I had to book another flight to get back to Spain for € 500.

Until now I am not sure how does exactly the Schengen agreement works on, but apparently you can only flight outside the Schengen area from and to the country where you have your resident permit.