Alexander von Humboldt …

… landed in Cartagena 1801 on his journey coming from Cuba.

Alexander and his friend or better co-worker Aimé Bonpland, a French physician and botanist, undertook a research travel to study geography , geology , flora and fauna of South America. This was at that time a real adventure and nobody believed that they would ever return from their first exploration of the Orinoco river in what is today Venezuela.

Alexander had a huge inheritance from his mothers side and was willing to spend all of his money for this research. This granted also his independence . Nevertheless he needs some support that is generously provided by the Spanish King Carlos IV. who provides Baron Alejandro Federico de Humboldt in terms of a extensive authorization to get every possible support in the Spanish colonies.

This was an adventurous trip at that time and is probably still today. They almost got killed in several dangerous situations but returned successfully after proof of the existence of a connection between the river systems of the Orinoco and the Amazonas.

They continued their journey to Lima so I was following their route more or less. What is relatively easy today must have been really difficult and exhausting at that time. So for example it took them 4 months to travel from Bogota to Quito.

None of the mountains we look at today was measured. They climb several volcanoes, measure altitudes , study the flora and volcanic geology. They also attempt to climb the Cotopaxi (picture above as I could see it from my camp these days). I cannot imagine how this looked like as I compare what modern equipment we would all carry making this still a strenuous and adventurous attempt. They make it to about 4400 meters but not further up. Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world . I was lucky after driving all day along the „avenue of volcanoes“ all day with all the mountains in clouds to get a peak in the late afternoon at sunset. Amazing picture.

They continue their journey further south and finally reach Lima from where they will travel to Acapulco, Mexico and further on to the USA.

It is impossible to report the whole trip of Alexander here. I can highly recommend the book I read („Der Traum meines ganzen Lebens“ von Werner Biermann,Rowohlt, Berlin 2010) or another biography on Alexander . He is a very interesting character: he has always on his journey and later back in Europe critically written about and actively denunciated slavery, the role of the Catholic Church in the Conquista and the destruction of the Inca culture and others in South Amercia by the Conquistadors.

It is amazing to see how people have adopted for example the religion here as it was brought to them by pure violence. A lot of „Spanish“ buildings we see today were built on the ruins and from the remains of Inca temples destroyed on purpose so that it is a wonder that we can still see some of these achievements of the original people all over Central- and South America today.

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