top of page


10 WEEKS IN SOUTH AMERICA - A travel diary

Brazil, 11 January 2020, 31°

 São paolo - 31 degrees. It’s summer in Brasssiiiuuuu! And what a shock it was going from the depths of winter in Switzerland to the equivalent of July in São Paulo. But we’re not complaining! (Although our off-white skin tones might have been quite disturbing for the sun-kissed Brasileiros we encountered. São Paulo. What an unreal, incomparable city. Quite often when we were waking around the city, it was almost difficult to remember where we were, as so many different influences come together here. The people: a mish-mash of so many cultures that came together to create “the modern Brazilian”, from the Indigenous tribes, to Portuguese Colonists, the African slaves they brought with them, and Italian and Japanese immigrants who joined the population later on. Apart from culture, São Paulo is also diverse in many other ways.

The city (which in my opinion, cannot be called a city anymore, as it is as big as 140 Zurichs) ranges from densely built-up sky-scraper blocks to low-lying, lush green residential areas to super-hipster, graffiti-covered, “young” neighbourhoods. One feels more or less safe walking around the city, with some extra precautions and with an awareness of which areas are deemed safe to be frequented by tourists like ourselves. The food: the traditional food you’ll get in São Paulo is heavily Portuguese influenced, but using mostly ingredients native to Brazil. We had coxinhas, deep-fried chicken croquettes, feijoada, a bean stew, picadinho, a beef stew with deep-fried banana and açaí, which tastes nothing like the açaí you get in Europe. Due to the Japanese influence of the city, amazing Asian food was never hard to find. And not to forget the caipirinhas, of which one a day keeps the doctor away, we’ve been told. Well fed, watered and with a heavy dose of big city life, we are off to the beach before we finally disappear on  to the farm!

Brazil, 16 January 2020, 28°

Praia do Rosa - a tropical, surf-haven with some of the most beautiful white beaches in the south of Brazil (or so we were told). The mosquito population makes up for the small amount of humans that live there, going from about 3,000 in low season to 20,000 when surf’s up. We experienced the typical, chill eco-hostel life in an old, lofty beach house which we shared with a bunch of floating traveler/surf types ( and again, a LOT of mosquitos). Update: we are slightly more “colored” now, meaning we no longer 100% blend in with the white beaches we were laying on! Our last night in Praia do Rosa left us swearing to never drink again, as we officially (after a week in Brazil) have reached out Caipirinha-saturation-point or CSP ;) Off to Porto Alegre we go!

Brazil, 19 January 2020, 34°

Chacara del Sol Nascente - Our time at the Chacara del Sol Nascente (Farm of the rising sun) is slowly coming to an end. We’ve had an incredible learning journey here, ranging from learning how to plough soil, dissect banana trees, cut down trees in an agroforest, cook using a wood-fire stove and oven and using only ingredients that are around or grown on the farm, living with a bunch of different people under one roof, speaking Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and Swiss German all at once and so much more... Through this experience we have met some very hardworking and forward-thinking people. Particularly at the course, we were able to take part in about soil health diagnosis through a process called Chromatography, we were introduced to a number of farmers and their families dedicated to fixing our food system and making it better and more sustainable day by day. Until now, I had definitely underestimated what it means to be a farmer or to work on a farm. It is such a complex web of so many different kinds of organisms from soil bacteria to human beings which somehow all need to harmonize with each other and amongst themselves for it to all work, and believe me, that harmonization is not always easy. But, it has definitely been one of the most interesting learning experiences I’ve had so far. We are now getting ready for our departure and our next journey to Uruguay which we’re so looking forward to!

Brazil, 4 February 2020, 30°

Pelotas was our last stop in Brazil before crossing the border to Uruguay. We decided to stop there a) to break up the trip which otherwise would have been pretty long and impractical and b) because we had been invited to stay at Helga’s, a lady we had met the weekend before at the course we went to with the farm. Helga, whose great grandparents immigrated from Germany, is a very interesting woman, having done a whole lot for the organic movement in Brazil, and especially the involvement of women in it. She also spoke German which was definitely a breath of fresh air at the course where 99% of the participants spoke only Portuguese 😁. And soooo, we left the farm, then took a rather improvised route to Pelotas (let’s just say we missed our 2nd bus and miraculously got picked up off the side of the road by someone else we had met at the course...) and were greeted, at the bus stop by the woman herself, Helga Heck. She went above and beyond to make our stay a memorable one, touring us around the old town of Pelotas, which is actually pretty cool and very up and coming, introducing us to her whole family, taking us to an organic restaurant (similar to Tibits for those who know) which the cooperative she is part of created and runs as well as an organic shop and so on... In return we made gnocchi for her and her nieces, helped her prepare a new compost, which we finished off with some biodynamic “preparations” which had to be put on the compost at midnight and using only the moon as light. We then all sat on our brooms and flew off into the starry sky. 

Helga had A LOT of stories to tell and we listened and made notes. Below you’ll find a summary of Helga’s words of wisdom. 

- Don’t get rid of things that still work. Buy only things that last and use them to their full potential. 

- You don’t have to know what’s next. Just start doing the things you know and what’s next will follow.

- Always take small steps and break up whatever you’re doing into small bits.

- You need all the support you can get in anything you do, always look for like-minded people to do things with. Life is not meant to be lived alone.