Åsa Maria Hermansson was born 29 years ago in Skövde. From this swedish city has discovered the world, travelling in 40 countries, living in 5 of them across 3 diferent continents. Currently lives in Bogotá (Colombia) and keeps respecting the plan done together with her best friend: ‘we would try to get as far away from Skövde as possible’. Follow her adventures in Latinamerikaliv.
Are you travelling at the moment?
I am in Colombia for the moment, a country that has seen me come and leave and come again, during the last five years. The best things about Bogotá is that it’s a city still not adapted to tourism. It’s somewhat rough and ugly, but quite safe, the restaurant menus are in Spanish only, prices hold a Colombian level, it’s just… Colombian.
If I am to recommend something special about Bogotá, it would be to head over to the Chapinero district and see how people live their everyday life, have coffee, eat out – and do the same thing. Chapinero is a safe area, it hosts upper class as well as middle class and more humble areas. It’s openminded and gay friendly, a lot of small bars with cheap beer, cafés with great Colombian coffee and an intense street life with a lot of street vendors. Also, Bogotá hosts the coolest graffiti in South America. I’ll publish pictures of all the recent graffitis on my blog soon.
What´s you next destination?
Medellín, Colombia + A boat trip on the Amazon river from Leticia in the Colombian Amazon rainforest.
Please share with the readers one of your most unforgetable travel experiences.
Last year, I decided to take nearly all the money that I had saved for my grand South American voyage and instead spend it on a last minute ticket to Antarctica. We crossed the notorious Drake passage with 11 meters swells, wondering if we’d survive and terribly seasick. But when we finally got to Antarctica… There are no words for how it feels to stand on this vast snowcovered continent, bigger than Australia and still not colonised by human being. Thousands of penguins were chattering and looking curiously at us, orcas and humpback whales hunting a few meters from us, the sun never sets and the snow has so many different colours, pink, turquoise, yellow, dark blue, depending on the light.
1st picture: Javier Bahamón | 2nd picture: Gustavo Latucca
What are your suggestions to travel with a low budget?
Now that I spent 3000 out of my saved 4000 euros on a ten days trip to Antarctica, and still was very eager to see as much as possible of South America, I had to re-adjust my budget quite a lot. And yes, I travelled Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay for two months with only 1000 euros. How?
Accommodation: I always make a lot of contacts with other travellers both when I’m travelling and when I’m at home, so that there’s a couch to sleep on in most countries and often also a personal guide to show me around in his or her hometown.
Food: I let myself go crazy and eat something a fancy restaurant once in each place I visit. The rest of the time I either cook at the place where I’m staying or eat in the local market place. In Latin America, food is always cheap around the corner from the bus stations, since the bus drivers need a cheap place to eat a bit portion of good food.
Museums: I always carry an outdated student’s ID with me. It expired two years ago but at the museum entrances they rarely check the details. However, I only use this trick when I’m really short of money. In general I think it’s awesome to contribute.
Travelling: I just travel by bus and low-cost airlines. Mostly bus. I bring a blanket, nausea pills, earplugs and good music and I quite enjoy those long bus rides that take me from one country to another.
Now let´s play a bit: Imagine that tomorrow you will have the longest journey ever: a 12 hours flight + 3 hours stopover in some airport + another 10 hours flight. What do you suggest to do during this time? (you can suggest books/magazines to read, movies to watch, music to listen, any activity you usually do, etc).
Having half of my family in Colombia and half in Sweden, long flights and stopovers are quite familiar to me! I always start by exploring the website of the airport where my stopover will be. Does my frequent flyer card offer a lounge there? How much extra would I have to pay to enter a lounge? Are there some restaurants that seem particularly interesting?
Also, procrastination is my best friend when I have to pass long hours on a flight. I always bring the most boring work to do on these flights, statistical data that has to be reviewed etc. And since I’m a top procrastinator, I easily make time fly watching movies, reading good novels, chatting to other passengers, drinking a lot of free wine – anything in order to not have to do the boring work.
But really, the best way to make time go fast: make new friends. There are always some people who want to sleep and quite clearly express this by their body language. Avoid them, but there are hundreds of other fellow traveller on that flight.
Dear Maria, I was reading you adventures and feeling more and more excited about visiting South America. We will probably meet next year and drink a beer in Bogotá. Thank you for your pictures and enthusiastic answers.
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