Sure, I will probably still travel in the future, but what I did up until now can barely be surpassed. Over the course of my life in total, and these last few months in particular, I have travelled all over the world, and visited all permanently settled continents of this my home planet. By now, I am aged 32, and have already been all over the world, and made some fantastic memories along the way.
And yet with all the travelling I've done, there are naturally still places I've been nowhere near, even counting all the flight routes. Interestingly, the most remote spot on earth for me is, however, not in Antarctica, as one might assume, but in fact right in the middle of the southern pacific ocean, in the middle of a 73 million km² big triangle, the corners of which are formed by Knox (Indiana, USA), Waipaoa (Gisborne, New Zealand) and Foz do Iguaçu (Paraná, Brazil), roughly 6,700 km away from each corner. That place is about as remote as it gets. Located approximately at 13°S 120°W, the closest piece of dry land – the uninhabited Henderson Island – is still about 1,400 km away, and the nearest settlement is Adamstown on Pitcairn Island, 1,600 km away. Or put in other terms, if I wanted to hide the legendary sunken continent of Mu, this is where I'd put it.
As for the as of yet most remote place on the settled continents (and major islands), there are multiple candidates, depending on whether you count flight paths and stopovers towards presence. If you do count both, the most remote place would probably be Tierra del Fuego at about 3,400km. Counting only stopovers but not flight paths, Marienberg (East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea) is 4,500 km away from the nearest land I've set foot on. And without stopovers, Galle (Southern Province, Sri Lanka) would be located about 5,500 away from the nearest place I've spend any amount of time at.
My travels around the world can be summed up into a total of four parts, three of which I covered in the books of the Travelling Fox Blog. The remaining part contains my travel in the Before-Time, which most notably include my semester at an American high school in Knox, Indiana in the USA. But let's go over them one by one.
The Before-Time1987 – 2006
During my childhood, my family and I often visited Bibione in northern Italy, as well as Austria and Switzerland. We also went on vacations in France, Portugal, the Baleares, as well as the Canaries. One time, we went to visit my godmother in Austin, Texas, USA, and on another occasion we went swimming with dolphins in the Red Sea near Eilat, Israel.
My biggest adventure during this time, however, was the half year I spent studying at a high school in Knox, Indiana, USA. I did a lot of growing during that time alone, and my prime learning was how lucky I was to live in a family that did not routinely beat up their children.
Book I ~ Aotearoan Adventures6-Sep-2016 – 14-Aug-2017
After my childhood, I ended up not leaving Germany for almost a decade due to university and work taking up my time. After a horrible start into my work career that ended up with me being hospitalized for several weeks, I used the remuneration to make a dream come true and travel New Zealand for a year.
That time was when I learned to fly. I learned how to truly stand on my own feet, and I met so many new people, most of whom were amazing. Sure, I also got exploited once or twice, but overall, it definitely was an amazing time, and even now, I miss the amazing New Zealand Furry Community. Thanks to all that, I managed to gather up the courage for my next big adventure:
Book II ~ The Japanese Journey7-Feb-2018 – 6-Feb-2019
Going to Japan had been a dream for me ever since my time in Knox, where I first started dabbling in Japanese. The mythical land of foxes, so far away. How much is truth, and how much is fiction? I absolutely had to know. One attempt to go there during college failed, but I eventually managed to make my way there after all, and after some initial bloopers managed to travel all over the place once more.
In Japan, I saw so many foxes, both alive and in the form of statues. Japan as the land of foxes did not disappoint, but the interpersonal distance was rather big, and the language barrier somewhat high. If I learned to fly in New Zealand, I learned to soar in Japan. Thanks to my amazing Job at Netfira, I was able to run from one exploitative place, and then continued travelling around the country on my own terms, being and doing it all my way. It was an amazing experience, that much is for sure.
Book III ~ Wrapping up the World6-Feb-2019 – 29-Mar-2019
Emboldened by my experiences in Japan, and with my financial independence guaranteed by my job with Netfira, I decided to finish up my travels around the world by hitting the last two remaining continents on my way home. Little did I know that things should end up going not quite according to plan.
Distance-wise, this last journey should cover approximately 40,000 km, surpassing even my journey to and from New Zealand by about 10%, thus making it the longest journey of all of my travels, and roughly calculated about a quarter of all plane journeys in my life summed up. And even all of this together amounts for only about 160,000 km, which is not even halfway to the moon.
Anyway, despite being by far the longest stretch of my world-tour, this part should have only two major stops:
Chapters 1, 2 & 3 ~ Brazil
6-Feb-2019 – 17-Mar-2019
Total Stray Distance: 61.6 km
Total Stray Ascents: 605 m
Total Stray Duration: 19.5 h
Despite being 2,500 km south of the Amazonas, the climate here was surprisingly raineforest-y. The natural sights at the Iguazu Falls and the technical achievements of the Itaipu Dam were both impressive. However, despite having many blessings of the modern world, Brazil still feels much more like a developing country than I would have expected. Coming from the super-civilized and polite Japan, coming here was quite a culture shock for me, and I was happy when I finally got to leave it behind. The pizza here was good though.
Chapters 4, 5 & 6 ~ South Africa
18-Feb-2019 – 28-Mar-2019
Total Stray Distance: 42.3 km
Total Stray Ascents: 1,961 m
Total Stray Duration: 16.5 h
Coming from Brazil, South Africa seemed like a civilized high-tech first world nation, though in the long run problems became apparent. Nonetheless, I felt much more at home here between the mountains and the ocean than in the endless expanse of green that is South America. The natural marvel of Table Mountain is a sight to behold, and in going to pet cheetahs, I made another lifelong dream a reality.
Since I've effectively only been to two places on this last leg, comparing them does not make all that much sense, so let's go straight ahead to my time distribution for these last legs.
As usual, sleeping is the biggest part of my day, though compared with New Zealand and Japan, I didn't get as much sleep. That, however, is also owed to the fact that my time sleeping on planes was booked under travelling. I got significantly more projecttime in than in the other two books, which was largely due to me being stuck in Brazil for another 10 days with little more to do. Working hours were the shortest due to me only having to work 3 days a week for Netfira, which paid well enough to finance it all. Since I was staying in Airbnbs all the time, however, I had to take care of all the housework myself. I appear to have spent somewhat longer getting ready for bed in the evenings and getting up in the mornings too. The narrow eating record was mostly owed to the Brazilian Churrascarias. Interestingly, despite Book III containing all my longest journeys, it ranks only second after Japan in times of travel time ¬– I reckon the long ship cruises I did in Japan might have factored into that. I still kept up my Japanese studies throughout and since then, so naturally, learning time ranks second after Japan. Play time is also at an acceptable average. Outside time, meanwhile, took a major dump. This was surely owed to the acute lack of Shrines and Temples in Book III, as well as only few Geocaches around, but also due to the fact that especially in Brazil, after having seen all the major sights, going outside had only a very low reward/risk factor. I spent the most time dealing with miscellaneous stuff and also waiting, yet since neither of the two places had a bathtub (and people are actually called on to preserve water in Cape Town), the showering time was at a clear minimum. I also barely got any chance to socialize. As for the rest that is not easily categorized, that actually managed to add up to quite something, but was still only second to New Zealand.
And now, the financial result of all my travels. Altogether, this world tour cost me over 10,000 €, most of which was sunk in program costs and flights. Make no mistake, it was totally worth it, but the cost pretty likely makes it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In fact, Book III was easily the most expensive part of it all, costing a grand total of almost 6,800 €, of which 70% were owed to flights (offset by about 1,500 € of income I had during that month). The other expenses were comparatively tame. Whereas accommodation was the main point of cost for Japan by a broad margin, here it ranks a very distant second after flights. Shopping is still the same on place three, while I apparently spent a much large fraction on sightseeing. I also had to invest more in clothes, seeing how my luggage got temporarily lost and how I lost my only remaining long pants in Cape Town. Catering was surprisingly cheap, to the point where I was wondering: "Uh, guys, do you actually want money for this amazing food?". I had to extend my travel insurance for two months though, so that was a bit more expensive. Also, the one parcel I sent home from Brazil after the "almost lost luggage"-scare cost me more than all parcels and letters I sent from Japan combined, and my (futile) attempts to get the airplane companies to return the money for the flights they would not let me take was considerable too. Short Distance Travel (aka, by bus and/or taxi) was about the same, and without fox-stores to buy empty, the cost of souvenirs remained at an acceptable level. The fact that miscellaneous stuff is nine ranks up, meanwhile, is mostly due to the fact that a number of other categories that used to play a major role in Japan zeroed out, such as Long Distance Travel, Car Rental, Games, Gifts, Furry Events, Program Costs, Memberships or Bicycle Rental. Finally, I only had one chance to make a donation at the Buddhist temple in Brazil, and in retrospective, I probably should have given more, but after Japan I was so used to dropping coins into the donation boxes that I simply donated the largest coin I had, not doing the moth about how little that actually was.
Since I did not manage to land at a HelpX place in either country, splitting up my worktime does not really make any sense since it's just 100% programming for Netfira. Instead, let us continue with something more delectable, namely…
Fantastic Foreign Food
While it certainly won't get close to Japan, the foreign food I sampled in Brazil and South Africa easily exceeds the variety of New Zealand.
It might seem strange for someone from Germany to write about bread as foreign food, and yet… The bread of Brazil is distinctly different. They have their own baking culture here, and you can taste it in the bread. Hence, I definitely recommend sampling the various types of bread when you come to Brazil. Even if you come from Germany. Especially if you come from Germany.
Whether in the form of juice or chilled cream that is somewhat like ice cream, this purple tropical berry is something that really defines Brazil, and one should definitely try it. There's actually entire bars that revolve all around Acaí, which I suppose makes it just a bit like Coffee.
Chilled pizza, again, is nothing exotic for Germany. However, there is one type that is native to South America alone, and that is pizza with Catupiry. This local specialty of a creamed cheese just goes so amazingly well with pizza, and it is absolutely impossible to get her in Europe. Believe me, I've tried.
Pão de Queijo
This, meanwhile, is something I was able to take home. Literally translating into "Bread of Cheese", this simple yet delightful food can be prepared at home with relative ease. Ready-made baking mixtures are available around the world, and so after returning home, I should routinely whip some of these tasty baked goods up for my friends. Just… make sure you stay away of the frozen variants… they are no good. You can cut them open and treat them like sandwiches, but personally, I think they already taste awesome enough on their own. However, if you want an extra kick out of them, I recommend mixing additional cheese and/or spices right into the dough.
Not a dish on its own, but rather a condiment that goes great with meat and/or pasta. Made from "seasoned breadcrumbs", Farofa is not only tasty and filling, but also works great as an emergency dampener for particularly spicy dishes.
Or as I like to call them: Battening Stations. These typically Brazilian restaurants are pretty much the indoor-equivalent of a nonstop grilling party with service, and while there is a salad buffet, the main nutritional values clearly come from the Gauchos who walk around the tables, offering the latest slice of meat fresh from the grill. Maybe the most interesting thing I've eaten in there were chicken hearts, which have an unusual, but not unpleasant texture.
Coxinha & Co
Back to baked treats, Coxinha are a sort of fried, baked dumpling made out of dough and containing chicken, cheese, and other tasty ingredients, depending on the bakery that prepared them. There's actually quite a lot of variations of the theme "baked goods filled with stuff" and sampling them sure is a delectable way to pass one's time.
Not a food but a drink, Guaraná is what you have when you want to stay awake. It's like the illegitimate child between coke and coffee, disowned, grown up, and come back for cold revenge. The taste is quite nice and fizzy, too. Like Acaí, Guaraná is a type of tropical berry, only this one is loaded with caffeine.
Agua de Coco
And finally, another drink. Agua de Coco ("Water of Coconut") is a 100% organic solution to OH DRAGON IT'S HOT I'M GOING TO DIE!!! The silky coconut juice just goes down even the most parched of throats, and vendors usually keep the coconuts refrigerated, so it's nice and cool as well.
Moving on to South Africa, where I did not taste quite as many original meals, but still at least a few. For one, there was the Zimbabwean Dovi that I ate at the mama Africa restaurant. It had an exotic touch to it, but somehow, it was not quite what I expected.
A tasty meat dish with soft bread and various condiments that may have Indian roots. South Africa in general and Cape Town in particular is something of a melting pot for different cultures, so sometimes it's hard to tell what came from where. Anyway, regardless of where it came from, this is tasty, and its foreign, so it fits all the criteria to be mentioned here.
A snack that I miss dearly. Specifically, I miss two flavours, the likes of which I have not encountered anywhere else in the world. The first is the All Gold Tomato Sauce flavour, and the second and my personal favourite is the Mrs H. S. Ball's Chutney flavour.
This, meanwhile, is very definitely a local specialty, though I only got to taste it in refrigerated form. It consists of minced meat that is "baked over" with egg. It's a typical South African dish, and there's dozens of regional variations of it.
That probably sums up the genuinely foreign food I sampled in these final two months of my journey, and while I should be able to procure some of it at home, I would miss some forever. Oh well, one way or another, it is no time to talk about some…
Since I've seen quite a bunch of animals in Brazil and South Africa, I'll only stick to my absolute highlights here.
Nature's practical demonstration that cuteness is a valid survival strategy. These adorable creatures live in the rainforests of Brazil, and are related to a bunch of other critters that you've probably never heard about, as well as raccoons. In the Iguazu Falls Jungle Park, they were, like, all over the park, displaying their ability to survive on cuteness alone thanks to the tourists feeding them all over the place, despite it being explicitly forbidden. The Coatis sure didn't mind though.
Hummingbirds always had a somewhat mythical feel to me, and I don't think I had ever seen one before in real life prior to coming to the Parque das Aves (Park of Birds) in Brazil. And Dragon, let me tell you are these little flyers ever-fast. They do literally move faster than the eye can follow. I was watching one of these really tiny birds sitting on a branch, and zip! In the blink of an eye, it was gone!
Literally "Fox-lets". Cute and adorable, these false foxes are also known as Crab-Eating Foxes are actually quite widespread all over the "temperate" rainforests and highlands of Brazil. Like true foxes, they feed on small mammals, insects, fruits and berries, but notably also crustaceans which they hunt on the floodplains of rivers, thus giving them their name. They are also absolutely adorable.
Definitely the highlight of Book III, and the very reason why I went to Cape Town of all the places. I always had a deep connection with these big kitties, and getting the opportunity to actually pet one was truly amazing, and not something I will ever again forget.
Unfortunately, due to the foxes having young right now, I was not able to get up and close to these cute false foxes, though the option theoretically exists. Even though these small canines are only a "side attraction" of the Cheetah Outreach, they made an already unforgettable experience even greater. It's like having some of your favourite foods for dinner, and then finding out you get your favourite dessert as well.
Yes, for all of this, this expensive Bonus Round was definitely worth it. I'll cherish the memories I made here forever. And now, it's time for a…
[To be continued…]