Author: Silke Gondolf

2015 Moldova

Chisinau, Dorotcaia, Crocmaz
Moldova’s simplicity is comforting. Spending a couple of days in a public school, at the border of Transnistria, was inspiring. Moldovans have solutions for almost everything.

Myanmar

Travel Notes: Steaming hot streets, everything pushes its way through the old narrow streets of Yangon’s Chinatown. There is no escape from the intensity of people and their creations. Walking past some cycle rickshaws that carry their human load one forward and the other backward facing. Chinese style rickshaws: narrow, efficient and the perfect vehicle for the old roads, lined with parked trucks and garbage deposits. The houses are decorated with mold. The sewers are open. There are streets dedicated to local professions and some just for tourists. Small and big temples everywhere, people carrying their offerings to them day and night.   In the morning, the smog – mostly created by burned garbage -is lifting slowly, dissolved by the morning breeze and the sun. The curtain opens for another day in this new melting pot of foreign interests and opportunity. Meanwhile the other side of the Hlaing River is pure countryside: ox carts and small little shacks, village life all slow paced just a mile away. The small town of Dalah is the entry …

2014 Myanmar

Yangon, Bagu, Bagan, Mandalay, Myitikyna, Wai Maw, Kyaing Tong, Inle Lake
A gold mine for foreign investments. The Burmese government is selling the land and their people. Myanmar has a Chinese touch already.

2014 Cambodia

Siem Reap, Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Northern Thai Border Area
Khmer people are energetic, alert and they havea sense of humor. Cambodia is still recovering from the tragic loss and harm during the Khmer Rouge regime.

2013 Vietnam

Hanoi, Ha Giang, Yen Minh, Pho Cao, Dong Van Province, White Hmong
Pho Cao, this is one of the remotest places I have been. The Hmong believe that people have seven souls and they prepare for their deaths as early as puberty starts.

2013 USA

New York, Brooklyn
I often go back to the former home to get inspired. Breathing in the different speed and the energy of NYC. I am glad I have moved away. I am able to come back and be a guest.

2012 Kenya

Nairobi, Dandora, Nakuru, Great Rift Valley, Central Province, Nyeri
I experienced Kenyans as especially sceptical human beings. When you have fair skin and are a journalist – everyone is expecting the worst from you.

Civil War End – Sri Lanka

  The situation: The final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War created 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were transferred to camps in Vavuniya District and detained there against their will. This process, together with conditions inside the camps and the slow progress of resettlement attracted much concern and criticism from inside and outside Sri Lanka. Although camps have been removed as of April 2015 as many as 13,459 families, accounting for 44,934 persons, were yet to be resettled and houses for them are still under construction.   The Omadiyamadu villagers have been relocated many times during the civil war and live again in temporary shelters in 2011. The villagers have limited access to electricity. Some have solar energy panels that were provided to them mounted on their roofs. They also have limited access to fresh water during the dry season. Some of the people have lived in their temporary homes for as long as 10 years -simple structures made of wood and metal sheets. Their huts are 6 to 12 square meters; they sleep …

2010 Argentina

Bariloche, Esquel, Tierra de Fuego, Ushaia, Isla Martillo, El Calafate, Strait of Magellan, Bajo Caracoles, Nahuel Huapi Lake, Ruta 40, Ushuaia
Gaucho country, endless fields, endless lakes and skies. This country invites you to breathe and open your view. Best steaks ever.

2010 Chile

Santiago de Chile, Osorno, Chanaral, Pan de Azucar, ESO Paranal Observatory, Torres del Paine, Porvenir, Iquique, Humbertstone Salpeter Mine
ESO, the biggest observatory in the world, is in Chile. Seeing the full length of the Milky Way with my bare eyes was a very touching moment.

2010 Peru

Atacama, Lima, Cusco, Tacna Sibayo, Chimbote, Chiclayo, Sipan, Piura, Lambayeque, Arequipa, Nazca Lines, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Tacna
The Atacama is endless. I swore I will hug the first tree I see, after days of driving through nothing. But then I visited a guinea pig restaurant in Lima.

2010 Ecuador

Quito, Guayacil, Sigsig, Macará, Cuenca, Catamayo, Cajas National Park
Caja National Park has an average of 4,000 meters of altitude – it’s a Tundra. The air is so clear, that you can’t judge distances.

2010 Panama

Panama City, Colon, Pacific & Atlantic coast, Darién Gap, Yaviza
The little villages along the Panama Canal are completely untouched, people from those villages work all for the Canal. The Darien Gap, a muddy Isthmus between Panama and Colombia, is called one of the most dangerous places on earth. It is a drug and people smuggling highway, commuting through the dense, uninhabited jungle.

2010 Costa Rica

Golfito, San José, Piedras Blancas, Canoasv, Monteverde National Park, Gulf of Nicoya, Tamarindo, Langosta Bay
Living in a treehouse. Sleeping at eye level with toucans and listening to the night sounds of the jungle. Zoom on long steel zip lines through the jungle of Costa Rica, to the next tree house.

2010 Nicaragua

Border El Espino, Somoto
I got in contact with the wrong sort of Sandinistas, the ones that were, after elections, no longer supported by the newly-appointed government – and since then I am an enemy of the state and I am not allowed to ever travel in this country again.

2010 El Salvador

Sunzal, San Salvador, Tazumal, La Libertad, El Amatillo
I had armed guards with me at all times, even when buying an ice cream. The guards didn’t want to be treated for an ice cream, because when they share an ice cream with you – they cannot fight off attacks.

2010 Guatemala

Guatemala City, La Mesilla, Huehuetenango, Panajachel, Reserva Los Tarrales, Quetzaltenango, Atitlan, Antigua, Volcano Pacaya, Las Chinamas, Finca Santa Isabel
The sound of liquid lava is like that of breaking glass. On May 27, 2010 – 3 month later – the Pacaya volcano erupted, followed in several tremors.

2009 Mexico

Mexico City, Nogales, Hermosillo, Copper Canyon, Creel, Cerocahui, Mazatlan, Jalisco, Guadalajara, Tequila, Mexiko City, Teotihuacan, Puebla, Popocatepetl, Oaxaca, Juchitan de Zaragoza, Huatulco, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Palenque, Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas de Corzo, La Mesilla
Mexico being in the news for no good things is actually a very interesting, cultural rich and welcoming country. They are the nicest people!

West Bengal – Sikkim

Travel Notes from West Bengal to Sikkim 2006 India – full speed through West Bengal, the 91 million populous state borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. West Bengal includes the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, the Ganges delta. It’s the country of evil tigers and Rhinoceros unicornis – with wart-like bumps on the hind legs. The British took control of the region from the late 18th century. Among other things, they left their bicycles behind. Still some of the oldest ones are found here, still being part of daily traffic. The colonial plunder of Bengal made direct significant contributions to the Industrial Revolution in Britain and greatly increased British wealth, while at the same time leading to de-industrialization in Bengal. A hotbed of the Indian independence movement through the early 20th century, Bengal was divided during India’s independence in 1947 along religious lines into two separate entities: West Bengal—a state of India—and East Bengal—a part of the newly created Dominion of Pakistan that later became the independent nation of Bangladesh …

2009 Ladakh

Ladakh liegt mit seiner einzigartigen Natur und seinen wunderbaren Menschen zwischen dem Karakorum und dem Himalaya. Ladakh war einst ein unabhängiges, buddhistisches Königreich. Unter dem Flugzeug hat sich eine kristallweiße Spitzendecke ausgebreitet. Berge rechts, links,vorne, hinten -soweit das Auge reicht. Der Flieger umschifft die Bergspitzen wie ein Ruderboot die Klippen. Die „Götter“ sind zum Greifen nah:Sichtflug und dann Vollgas auf die Landebahn Lehs. So landet man auf 3600 Metern. Als das erste Flugzeug in Leh landete, vor vielen Jahren, kamen die Ladakhis mit jeder Menge Futter zum Landeplatz –sie dachten, dass so ein großes Tier, was so viele Sachen tragen kann, och unheimlichen Hunger haben müsste. Leh: ein grünes Pappeltal mit türkisfarbenen Flussadern und jeder Menge indischem Militär. Bewaffnet stehen sie an der Landebahn Spalier. Die Sonne scheint, wolkenfreies Glück. Doch erst mal Ausnahmezustand für Herz und Kreislauf. Schleppend langsam geht alles, das Blut kämpft sich durch die Adern. Die indischen Royal Enfield Motorräder knattern auf der Straße, es sind wenig Touristen in Ladakh –aber anscheinend sind alle die da sind, zweiräderig motorisiert. Leh mutiert …

2009 Kenya

Nairobi, German Embassy, Mathara Slum, Kibera Slum, Slum Hospital Kibera
Meeting the street photographers of Nairobi. Samson, one of them, showing his work, his collection kept inside a shoe box.

2007 Mali

Bamako, Segou, San, Mopti, Niger, San, Timbuktu, Essakane, Djenne, Dogon Country, Douentza, Festival au desert
Mali looks like a dry loaf of bread. People have cold hands and sweat at the same time.

Mali

Eine Reise im Jahr 2007 durch Bamako, Dogonland, Essakana, Timbuktu, Segou und Mopti. Staubig und trocken wie ein altes Brot, ein von allen Elementen vergessenes Land. Die Bozo Fischer mit ihren Kanus und von Hand geflochtenen Netzen auf dem gigantisch weitem Niger, ihnen ist kein Fisch zu klein. Die Rotznasen der Kinder mischen sich mit Staub und die eingetrockneten Gesichter der Alten, sehen aus wie Greise in einem biblischen Alter.   Hände, die allesamt kalt sind – trotz der sengenden Hitze, werden weich zum Händeschütteln entgegengestreckt, man hält sich sanft fest. Bamako, die Hauptstadt Malis hat 1.5 Millionen Menschen und einen G-Punkt. Ahnungslos betitelter Mittelpunkt im Zentrum der Staubmetropole. Die Straßen gefüllt mit Esel-Ochsen-Pferdekarren, gemischt mit den neusten SUVs und knallvollen City Taxis, die erst dann losfahren, wenn keine Huhn mehr reinpasst. Märkte, randvoll mit Kuriositäten und wilden, aufbrausenden Händlern, die alle auf den Moment warten, zu explodieren. Malis Foto Allergie ist anstrengend.Europäer haben Psychotherapeuten, die Malier haben Marabus. Die Marabus sind der heiße Draht zur Malischen Welt der Geister und Ahnen. Denn die bestimmen das Leben, nicht die weltlichen Dinge. Die Marabus geben den Ratsuchenden Aufträge, ihr Wunsch wird erst nach Ausführung der Aufträge bei …