By Heidi Trautmann
The world has become small; all the blank spaces on the world map have been uncovered, the unknown is known, there are no more secrets and treasures to hunt for. Today, those willing to travel just have to open the internet and will be advised within no time where to go, at what price, and what to find there.
Since the Middle Ages travelling was regarded as part of education: for noble or wealthy young people to learn about other cultures, for artists, writers and poets to experience a new light and its colours and gain new impressions, meet with their likes, for young artisans of trade guilds and handicraft corporations to gain practical experience abroad.
In the middle of last century the planning of a journey to far away countries was an undertaking of some time, first reading about the places to visit, applying for all the visas, looking for the proper travel means, corresponding with all kind of eventually helpful organizations in those places, getting the bank drafts, insurances, time tables of transport, etc. My first travel to Angola in Africa in 1962 took me three days on a twin motor Superconstellation with three stops on the way. Today you make it in eight hours.
In the 1970s travel organizations began to offer group travels, a very successful idea as it reached the shy, elderly and inexperienced tourist making his/her wanderlust safe and uncomplicated. Also single women began to take part in group arrangements and they had the time of their life. For four years I did tour guiding on such group travels around the world, especially in the Americas, Africa and Asia.
On these tours I started to collect local legends, poetry and recipes, because it came closest to the country’s soul, and…. it was easier to carry home than other art objects. The cuisine that you get offered in chosen restaurants does not really represent the national character of a country, it usually is a mixed taste cuisine as soon as tourists are involved. If you really want to know it you must make an effort and go looking for it. Go where the locals are going, try food on the open markets and speak to locals. Communication is your best travel guide.
Today there are no limits set to choose your own personal preference of travelling; ship cruising is at the moment the hit, tours to the poles of our globe to see the ice cracking and melting, luxury maxi yacht holidays to enchanting places; private yachting and sailing around the world has become the dream of so many, or living on a yacht as we did; camper travels in the remotest places for many months as we did in Baja California; or biking group tours around the world in one year as our American friend Randal did; motorcycling is quite the thing today from one continent to the other; I have met so many young people with all their belongings on their machines, I met them in the Copper Canyon in Mexico on 3000 m and in camping places of a fisher camp in Baja; tours on horseback or on your own feet across the Alps and on the famous Camino de Santiago trail.
On your ways through the world there will be so many moments when you stand still and say: AHHH, be it the Himalayan mountains or the wide cacti fields in Mexico, be it the high planes around the Titicaca Lake or the lush green exciting hell of the Amazonas, or you watch the parasailing chaps on the wide white beaches of South Carolina, these moments will become the jewels in the treasury chest of your life.
The other treasures you may collect on your journeys are the encounters with people and sharing their culture and their cuisine which I did with great passion. On my tours as tour guide I used to arrange with the hotel managers that we would have only local dishes with samples of vegetables and fruit that were grown in the area and I would explain them to my group. I would also have a special gourmet group, usually about ten people to go to simple local places to try the local dishes such as guinea pigs on the spit or iguana on your sandwich eaten with your fingers on some maize bread; or be part of a Feijoada Party in Brazil, or go on a boat trip to stay overnight in a jungle camp because the hotel was not available for us and eat crocodile steak.
I want to finish this first part with recipes for two aperitifs I used to like very much in South America, that is the Caipirinha from Brazil and Pisco Sour from Peru where I tasted it for the first time.
Caipirinha: 1 lime per glass, wash the fruit and cut it into small pieces, add sugar and punch it with a mortar. Dip the rim of your glass into the lime first then into sugar; fill your glass with crushed ice, add the lime mixture and on top of that add Cachaça, a sugar cane liquor.
Pisco Sour: Pisco is a liquor based on grape; in a shaker first shake three parts of Pisco and 1 part of lime syrup – the bar mixer suggested to add a dash of Whisky for rounding off – then shake the white of an egg with crushed ice and pour the foam on top of the drink.
You better have just one of these drinks, they are very strong but they are most delicious.
In the next part I will tell you about our adventurous bus travel to the old silver town Batopilas in the Copper Canyon in Mexico.