Why “The tales of a girl…”

My bright red backpack with all its badges - packed and ready to head to the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile

In most people’s lives something happens that influences them profoundly and sets them on a certain path…For me, this was the first time I went overseas when I was 16 to visit my grandmother, aunts and cousins in the land of leprechauns, Guinness and shamrocks – Ireland.

Eleven years later I still remember my sheer excitement of exploring a new and totally different country and culture and my unbelievable fear of having to navigate the labyrinth of Heathrow airport on my own. The month consisted of getting to know my wonderful family who until then I mainly knew through letters (still before emails were commonplace) and photos, visiting the wonderful sites of this country from Dublin in the east to the towering Cliffs of Moher in the west, the northern most tip of the country – Malin Head in Donegal where my grandmother grew up to the southern quaint fishing village of Kinsale where I lay on the grass stargazing with my cousin. I tried different food and drink (I wasn’t the greatest fan of Guinness much to my cousin’s disgust), listened to traditional Irish music and watched the accompanying dances and even had a night out on the town with my two older cousins, despite still being two years underage (but we won’t elaborate on that story…).

I think the moment I stepped off the plane back in Johannesburg, one of the first things I said to my parents was that I was taking a year off after finishing school the next year to travel before heading to university and figuring out my future. And so my path was set…

For my 18th birthday my parents bought me a bright red backpack which has been my trusted companion on all subsequent travels. I have carried it on my back through 19 countries to date (actually 20 if you include Vietnam where it accompanied one of my best friends on her three week adventure) and it is now totally full of badges collected along the way. There are amazing memories and stories in each and every one of those badges. So this blog, which is the story of my latest adventure, is aptly called…Tales of a girl and her bright red backpack.


20 Responses to Why “The tales of a girl…”

  1. linda says:

    Hi my darling, just the first page of this blog brings back so many memories for me too, I remember buying the “red backpack” with you way back then and remember when you left for Ireland on your very first adventure and am looking forward to welcoming you back from this latest one next year. Remember how difficult it was to sow the badges onto that thick canvas. Am looking forward to sharing in the happy and sad times on these adventures – so keep on writing! I know I will certainly enjoy it. Love you lots. Mum

    • ingridckoch says:

      Mom, thanks for all your support and encouragement on this journey as well as all previous ones. Without you I would never had had the courage to fly!!! Te quiero muchisimo!

  2. Helen Duigan says:


    I’ve been following your travel tales with great interest (you’re a damn good writer too). Latin America never featured in my thinking about travel, until we had to go through it to get visas for Guatemala for Francois and Cynthia’s wedding. Now I can’t wait to get back there – just loved every bit of it. I was very impressed with their public transport – those stocky little buses in Santiago – cheap and frequent, the bus service between cities – I always wonder why we can’t get it right here, being very similar to Chile in “development”. We couldn’t believe how much lovely oregon pine is used in building, and came back laden with wooden things – including a stern-looking Mapuche which stands in the corner of the sittingroom. The nightlife on the streets was another marvel – compared with our silent-at-night cities here in SA. Maybe not Soweto, though…
    Groete van Waaigras, Hills and Dales and Rhenosterspruit! (Our hippo is still around – just likes a change of view – goes from dam to dam.)

    • ingridckoch says:

      Hi Helen
      Thanks so much for the comment and I am so glad you enjoy my writing. One is never to sure if the waffling is actually interesting to other people. You are so right about he public transport and nightlife and the differences to SA despite similar development. I have been so impressed with South America so far, although I do know that I have only visited two of the more developed countries. But I can’t wait to head north and experience Peru and Bolivia etc… I am so excited for the next few months, so keep reading.

  3. Tricia says:

    Hello my travelling niece. I love getting all your letters via your Mum sometimes. I well remember your trip to Jordan to see us and how you got just a tad overheated down at the Dead Sea. I do hope India is on your list before we leave even though you have been here before.
    Looking forward to reading about all the rest of your travels, love u lots ,Tricia.

    • ingridckoch says:

      Hola my dear aunt! I remember the overheating episode very well 🙂 I truly am privileged to have visited some amazing places in my life so far and the bonus is that I have often got to see them with great friends and family. India is definitely on the cards before you leave as I love travelling with you. I will just have to get back to reality next year and earn some more money first… so hopefully you don’t go anywhere for a while!
      Much love

  4. STUART LYALL says:

    hola ingrid your stories are great just love reading your explorings i find it fasinating
    and intrigueing. we have just arrived back from thailand we been for 2 weeks. love from all the lyalls speek to u soon and take care

    • ingridckoch says:

      Hey Stuart
      What a lovely surprise to hear from you and I am so glad that you enjoy my blog. Keep reading as I have lots of adventures planned for the coming month. Please give all my love to your parents and sister. It sounds like you are all great, especially after two weeks in Thailand. I have never been there before, but it is a place I would love to visit one day…but first I have so much more to see in South America 🙂

  5. Eva Jansen says:

    Hi Ingrid
    What a wonderful young woman you are and how proud of you your parents must be!
    Your lovely stories about your travels, makes me wish I was young enough to traverse the globe the way you have done – but as they say “you are never to old” – so perhaps we may yet cross paths in some foreign place!
    Thank you for being my “inspiration”. Your Blog is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoy hearing about your adventures! Keep at it!
    Much love

  6. Jared Stokes says:

    Hey darlin!
    Just went through this awesome summation of a trip that clearly is doing great and wonderful things for you. Saw your mom in gym this morning, had a great chat about you and your bro! Will send a long email soon – just wanted to wish you well and hope you are enjoying it as much as we are following it!

  7. Helen Duigan says:


    You must have been living throught the miners’ rescue, blow by blow. Dramatic stuff, even here. People were glued to their TVs.
    The court case (Wraypex/Blair Atholl) against us starts on 1 November. Their original summons of R210 million has dropped to R170m, because they withdrew the case agaisnt one of the five “summonsees”and had to pay her costs.
    This is the fourth stab at getting the issue sorted out – got postponed time and again.
    Your mom will let you know the outcome!

    • ingridckoch says:

      Hi Helen
      I think the whole world was watching Chile last week and it was wonderful to see a happy ending to the story. The media attention has been intense though and I hope the miners and their families are able to return to some sense of a normal life. Who knows…
      Good luck with the court case. I really hope it is not postponed and you can finish it once and for all. Keep me posted, as I am sure my mom will do as well.

  8. Helen Duigan says:

    I’ve just read your piece on the trip to Chiloé – lovely memories for me and Anthony! We got soaked to the bone in Puerto Montt, in spite of some rain “tents” we bought in Ancud, and managed to get on the wrong bus when we wanted to go up Lago Llanquihue to the volcano – forget the name. We disovered our mistake just in time to jump off (lack of Spanish) but had to buy new tickets. Anthony had the most memorable meal in that town where the houses and restaurants are on stilts (Castro?) – I can’t remember what the dish was called – just remember it had about 10 types of meat and seafood in it – enough for a small army and quite delicious.
    By the way, we won the court case and got extraordinary media coverage – newspapers, radio, mags etc. Plus masses of messages from other parts of the country – seems bullying developers aren’t only found in Gauteng!

    • ingridckoch says:

      Hi Helen. I can relate to pretty much all the experiences you mention in Chiloé – getting soaked, language problems, eating wonderful, but huge dishes (the dish Anthony had in Castro was probably Curanto)…all such wonderful memories! I really hope to get back to Chiloé in the next few months as there is just so much to explore there…but it all depends on money and weather as the summer is so short…too many places to visit and never enough opportunities…I could stay in Chile for years and still not do everything I want to…
      P.S. I sent you an email after the court case. So happy for you all and so proud. Keep up the good fight!!!

  9. Robert says:

    Hi You.

    Interesting stuff!


  10. Esme says:

    Dear Ingrid, Have been following your continuing adventures, and know the knee has been holding you up somewhat. Glad to hear that you are having such excellent medical care, and hope your movements will soon be hampered no longer by physical restraints. All best wishes, and love, Esme

    • ingridckoch says:

      Hi Esme, thank you so much for your message and support. It is always lovely to hear from you. Yes, thankfully the knee is improving bit by bit every day and with some patience and commitment to exercising it properly, I should be back climbing mountains and having awesome outdoor adventures before too long…just no horses for me again!!!

  11. The Rider says:

    Lekker gelees! I am glad I found your blog, living the adventure that you do… nice title for the blog as well…

  12. ¡Hola! Nos gusta tu blog y te hemos concedido el Liebster Award.


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