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Chile

Easter Island: free day with a walk to the museum

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

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View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We left the alarm off this morning and don’t actually get up until 08:50. We are the last for breakfast, which is a cakey-thing and bananas, ham and cheese. The rolls are much fresher this morning than they have been.

Today is the other free day on our trip, and we have planned our little walking tour. We start along the coast, past the kiddies’ playground (better than any in Nailsea) and some strange porous sculptures with petroglyphs on.

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It’s a nice walk, along a good path, the terrain is rocky but flat and the sun is out. There are lots of beautiful wild horses around; the island is full of them. They are not really wild; they do belong to somebody, but are free to wander around as they please. We see one other tourist on our walk, a weird man carrying lots of gear. For the most part we have the whole place to ourselves. It is Sunday morning, so the locals are in Church.

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Along the coast is a row of five restored moai on a ceremonial platform, and one solitary statue with its basalt eyes in place. This is how they would have all looked at one time. I try to picture in my mind how the island would have looked in its heyday with all the moai upright and painted. It is hard to imagine. The overwhelming amount of history and culture found on Easter Island far belies its size.

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We turn off inland and follow a track until we reach the small museum. Victor warned us that although it is fairly interesting, there really isn’t all that much on display. He is right. We are given a booklet in English to follow the exhibits, and for me the most noteworthy item is the only female moai on the island – its torso had been taken by Thor Heyerdahl, but was returned from Norway in the 1970s.

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In the small shop we look for souvenirs for my mum, but at US$45 for a thimble, I’m afraid she goes without. The temperature inside the museum is far too hot with no movement of air. I am glad to get outside. We return to town along the little gravel road, passing many urban houses along the way. It is interesting to see how the locals live.

For lunch we revisit the seafront restaurant from last night. Yesterday I noticed somebody eating a chicken soup and it looked so good I wanted to try one today. It is every bit as enjoyable as it looks; an enormous bowl piled high with vegetables, chicken and noodles. And best of all – not a chip in sight! David also enjoys his spaghetti Bolognese. We watch the surfers in the harbour, and it starts to rain heavily. Again. All the locals are out on the town’s only football pitch for a derby. We have seen at least five different games so far. We were hoping to be able to use the internet in the reception for a short while this afternoon, but it is unattended, they are probably watching the football. Just as well we took our key with us when we went out. After a long siesta we enjoy a drink in the room before going down to Pea Restaurant for dinner. Reported to be the best restaurant in town, we have saved it for the last dinner. I immediately like it when I see that there are several items on the menu that don’t include chips. My chicken comes with rice and pineapple while David’s steak is accompanied by mashed potato. Back at the hotel the reception is again manned and we send a quick message to Pauline to wish her happy birthday. More drinks in the room before it’s time for bed.

Posted by Grete Howard 08:22 Archived in Chile Tagged walking travel chile rtw easter_island moai hanga_roa thor_heyerdahl Comments (0)

Easter Island: quarry, Aku Akivi, lava tubes and dances

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

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View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Today is Saturday and the Post Office should have been open, but it’s not. I am not worried about the last four stamps we need, we should have time before we leave on Monday, if not we can always leave the post cards with reception. The e-mail cafés are still both closed. There is internet access in the hotel, but it’s their working PC and they charge £20 an hour to discourage surfers. Today is sunny and we put the washing on the balcony before walking around town killing time before lunch. We revisit our gay friend’s place, and his service is even slower today than it was last time. I can’t understand how 2 sandwiches can take 45 minutes to prepare, especially as we are the only customers in the café. It isn’t even a ploy to make us drink more, as we can never find him when we want to order another beer. We succumb and use the internet at the hotel. Wonder how much he will charge us for 23 minutes?

This afternoon Victor takes us to the quarry where they made the topknots for the moai. The rock is red, there are a few remaining topknots in place, but there really isn’t much to look at there. When you see the size of the top knot and you realise that this would have had to be raised to be fitted on top of the moai, it makes you appreciate what an enormous undertaking each and every one of the moai were. In all, there are 1015 moai dotted around the island, many of which of course are still unfinished.

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At Aku Akivi, we see a further 7 restored moai, the unusual feature about these is that they are the only ones on the island which face out to sea. They are said to symbolise the seven original inhabitants of the island. We meet two other people here, they have walked from town, not a mean feat, and it must have taken them at least 1½ hours. It looks like rain again – I hope the washing on the balcony dries. The tracks here are very muddy with deep puddles; just as well Victor is such a good driver.

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One of the more interesting places on today’s agenda is the lava tube cave. During long-lived volcanic eruptions, lava flows tend to become "channelled" into a few main streams. Overflows of lava from these streams solidify quickly and plaster on to the channel walls, building natural ramparts that allow the level of the lava to be raised. Lava streams that flow steadily in a confined channel for many hours to days may develop a solid crust or roof and thus change gradually into streams within lava tubes. If liquid lava stops rising from its source deep within the earth, the still-molten lava moving beneath the crusted-over top of a lava flow will continue to drain downhill and may ultimately leave an open lava-tube cave. Parts of the roof have since collapsed, showing where people lived inside, their brick walls and the gardens they created where there was no roof on the cave. Bananas are growing inside, also tobacco, and you can see traces wood where trees became petrified during the lava flow. These tubes run for 2km across the landscape. It is my first experience of a lava tube and I find it absolutely fascinating.

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We return to town via some beautiful coastal views, and it doesn’t rain, but the washing is still not dry, despite having been out on the balcony all afternoon.

I feel very unwell: sick, windy and a runny nose. I drink lots of coke, water and Dioralyte, and feel well enough to pop next door for dinner. It is Saturday night and the restaurant is closed. The only people eating in the hotel restaurant are the resident archaeologists, and I don’t feel inclined to join them. We would have had to pre-order our food early in the day anyway. The restaurant further down the road is also closed, but fortunately the one around the corner on the sea front is open. I have a pizza which is disappointing, but at least it isn’t served with chips. David has Lomo de Pobre (steak and chips with onions and fried egg). We share a bottle of wine and even have a dessert of bananas in rum. Still the bill only comes to £20 including a tip. When the guy on the next table gets up to photograph the (disappointing) sunset, we continue chatting to his friend with the opening line: “which part of England do you come from?” On finding that he derives from Germany, David exclaims in true Fawlty Towers style: “Oh, you’re German….” I resist the temptation to finish the quote ….”I thought there was something wrong with you”. We giggle about this for ages after they’ve gone.

Marcia orders a taxi to take us to Hanga Roa Hotel for the traditional dance display. We notice on the way that the e-mail café is now open for the first time since we got here, at 22:30 on a Saturday night. Nothing makes sense in this far flung place, but I love it!

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Hanga Roa Hotel is full of fat, rich Americans, I am glad we’re not staying here! We have front row seats for the performance with a great view of all the dancers. The sound of the drums goes right through me; there is a primitive urgency about tribal drums. The dances are very Polynesian in tradition with grass skirts and coconut shells covering the girls’ breasts. The movements are energetic and sensual, with lots of hip shaking. The men are covered in tattoos and the girls are pretty. During the audience participation, David is chosen by the prettiest of them all.

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The same taxi is waiting to take us back to our hotel. I feel sick again and go straight to bed.

Posted by Grete Howard 07:21 Archived in Chile Tagged rtw south_america easter_island moai polynesia traditional_dancing lava_tubes Comments (0)

Easter Island: Rano Kau, Orongo Ceremonial Village and rain

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

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View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

It rained all through the night and this morning there is a terrible smell in our room. It smells like raw sewage and we report it to the reception on the way out hoping they’ll do something about it while we’re out.

At the first site we can still see the red paint on the fallen moai. It is thought that they were all painted at one stage. Wind and rain has damaged so much of these statues and if nothing is done to preserve them, they’ll be completely eroded away in another 500 years. What a terrible thought.

We stop at an extinct volcanic crater to look down at the lake 253m below. It is green and repulsive on the surface but the slopes are wooded and apparently quite popular with walkers. Many have got lost where they didn’t realise quite how far it is.

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The Orongo Ceremonial Village is larger than I imagined. There are 48 restored houses in total, each with stone walls, grass roof and low doors. There are many theories about the usage of the buildings; my book says that the contestants for the Birdman title would stay here for a time before the competition. Victor reckons they housed virgins for up to four months at a time before the ceremonies. I do not fully comprehend what they did with the virgins afterwards. It is a very impressive site, of a later date than the moai.

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Right out on the thin ledge between the ocean and the crater lake, you can appreciate the bravery of the men who risked life and limb to jump off the cliff, swim to the outlying rocky islands, collect the first frigate bird egg of the season and return as hero and gain the title of Birdman for the following year. The ledge is very precarious in the wind and I don’t linger to peruse at the petroglyphs on the rocks.

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It rains buckets all the time we are here, and stops just as we get back to the car. In fact the weather is so bad and the conditions so wet and muddy that we totally miss out the visit to a quarry, and go back via the deep harbour and the petrol tanks. Most items have to be imported to Easter Island, including cars, fuel, clothes, electronic items and many foods. There are no mobile phones on the island as there is no signal.

The blocked drains in the hotel have not been fixed, so we end up moving to another room. This one is nearer the swimming pool, has its own balcony, a telephone and a fan! We put the fan on to dry David’s clothes which are still rather wet from washing them 2 days ago. I am waiting for David’s to dry before I do mine as we have nowhere to dry any more clothes.

Lunch at a little café in the high street is slow but good. I order the local speciality of empanada (a sort of pasty) with beef and cheese, David tries the pizza and we share some chips. More chips. Please give me some boiled or mashed potatoes, pasta or rice. The waiter/cook/owner of the café is tall, painfully thin and has long flowing hair. Initially we can’t work out whether it is a man or a woman, but we decide it is a he and that he is gay. We really don't care about his (or her) sexual preferences, and at £12 for the lot including a couple of beers each, we're not unhappy . There are two internet cafés in town, but they are both closed and no opening times displayed outside. It is still raining. The only thing we can do is to adopt the Latino way of life with an afternoon siesta. The runs are back, I don’t want to block up these toilets too.

For our evening meal we try another restaurant in the high street, and although it appears to be very popular, the menu is rather limited. Apart from chicken and chips, there is fish and chips and also lobster at a hefty price. We choose chicken and chips. I still don’t feel too well, so I eat some of the chicken but leave most of the chips. I hope we soon get something different.

Who’d have believed that we’d get such a spectacular sunset after all the rain we’ve had today. Several tourists congregate at the harbour to watch the sun go down behind the restored moai in the main street.

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Posted by Grete Howard 08:07 Archived in Chile Tagged rain travel chile rtw easter_island Comments (1)

Easter Island: Ahi Vaihu, Rano Raraku, Akanena Beach

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.


View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We are woken by the sound of cockerels this morning; we had left the window open during the night. There is a net covering it, otherwise we would not have risked the open window – before we left the UK we were warned about a Dengue Fever outbreak here in Easter Island. We have no electric this morning, but as we are off on a sightseeing tour, it doesn’t really matter. We find the laundry list this morning though, much to David’s dismay.

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Everything looks better this morning. The hotel’s staff are super, it has a lovely swimming pool and it is right in the centre of town. ‘Town’ is a great overstatement for the little settlement of Hanga Roa, the capital of Easter Island. A handful of restaurants and cafés, a smattering of shops, a few guest houses, a bank, a vegetable market and a post office, all joined together with a couple of roads, make this metropolis. There are just as many gauchos on horseback as there are cars here. With their dark complexion, bandanas, combat gear and long hair blowing in the wind as they gallop down the main street, they look rather menacing. Do not worry; it’s only a fashion thing.

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The strap on my bumbag brakes this morning on the way to the bank. I never seem to have much luck with these things. We have been having long discussions with Marcia the receptionist about how much money to change. She warns us that the prices are much dearer here than in mainland Chile. The set menu dinner at the hotel is US$20, but we will be eating out anyway. It will be cheaper outside of course and although you can pay with US$ in most restaurants, the exchange rate will be bad. Today is Thursday; the bank is closed now until Monday as tomorrow is Day of the Dead and a Bank Holiday. We leave on Monday. We finally agree on an amount to change and also call in the post office for postage stamps and a couple of pretty stamps in our passports.

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Victor arrives with a Rav4 to take us on our first taste of Easter Island. Easter Island is very remote and desolate, as all its inhabitants live in Hanga Roa, there is nothing outside the city except barren isolation and hundreds of Moai. At our first stop we see archaeologists working on the restoration of a kayak slide. Victor knows them all and they tell us all about their finds. At Akahanga the craggy volcanic coast is impressive, with waves crashing in over the boulders.

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Akahanga

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Former cave dwellings

There are caves which were occupied by ordinary people surrounded by the remains of their gardens. The royals lived in stone houses shaped like upturned boats, and we see such remnants too. Victor finds an obsidian axe tool which he quickly hides under a stone. Again at the second stop there are more fallen moai and lots of village gardens, houses and kitchens.

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Topknot, showing carving

It wasn’t until I started reading about the history of Easter Island before we left the UK that I realised two things about the place. 1. The sheer number of statues and 2. That they have all been toppled since. However, several moai have been restored and driving along the road we suddenly spot a row of 15 of them. Victor has timed the visit so that we should have the place to ourselves; we are being followed by two largish groups of tourists. I can’t believe we are really here, this is another ambition fulfilled.

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If the restored moai are fantastic, the quarry at Rano Raraku is mind-blowing. 400 moai line its slopes in various stages of completion.

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The only kneeling moai on the island

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We climb higher to see where the builders removed them from the rock.

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Victor assures me that the climb to the top in order to see the volcano is the most strenuous part of the entire visit on Easter Island, but I wish I had worn my walking boots.

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No-one knows what inspired the islanders to build these colossal effigies, how they were transported from quarry to site and why the production suddenly ceased with hundreds of unfinished sculptures in the quarry. Perhaps it was down to clan warfare, which is generally attributed to the fact that all the moai were toppled again. The sheer enormity of the effort involved in their creation and the great concentration of ruins indicate a much larger population in the past than its current 3000 inhabitants.

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Victor is a local man with a passionate interest in the history of the island and its people. He tells us that for him, seeing the moai, ‘every time is like the first time’. The fact that he gets so excited about the relics makes it all the more interesting for us. The one thing that strikes me about the islanders is their pride: everyone we meet takes such delight in their heritage and treasures and show an immense respect for the future of their heirlooms. There is a great community spirit and they all pull together: during the building of the highway last year, the entire population turned out for its construction and surfacing. Their philosophy in life appeals to me. I commented to Victor that I had seen no beggars around, and his reply was: “If people beg, we give them work and pay them”. Most people have several professions: Victor is an electrician by trade, tour guide, taxi driver and he dances in a local troupe.

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At the bottom of the slope of the quarry there are picnic tables and Victor serves a delicious lunch of hot chicken stroganoff prepared by his wife. His wife is Brazilian; they met in Italy and have two children. She has also made a couple of cakes, I thoroughly enjoy the banana cake but the other one which is made from manioc and coconut does not suit my taste. I only try a small piece and even that I cannot finish, but discreetly drop on to the ground and kick it about a bit until it is covered in mud and is indistinguishable as a cake. Victor loves it and finishes it all. The drink is a fruit and vegetable juice mainly from carrot and is very tasty.

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Everywhere we go, we see falcons soaring above, not just one or two, but dozens and dozens of them. There aren’t many other birds around, so the falcons are even more noticeable. Victor is very blasé about their presence, but we get quite excited. The island is also home to a number of free-range horses.

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Pito te Kuno was considered to be the Navel of the World by the early settlers, and is marked by a magnetic stone. It is a totally spherical stone of rock not found on the island. How did it get here?

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Easter Island only has one proper sandy beach, and we stop for a quick dip and a look at its seven restored moai. We borrowed some towels from the hotel this morning, but there are no changing rooms on the beach so we ‘hide’ behind a tree to take our clothes off. The water is cold and we don’t stay in for very long, but at least we can say that we swam in the Pacific. Despite being very careful when we change back, sand gets everywhere.

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Ahu Nau Nau

We stop to take a picture overlooking the capital before returning to Hanga Roa.

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Overlooking Hanga Roa, the capital of Easter Island

When we get back to the hotel, the electric has returned and we sit on the balcony watching the video of Canada (we can boast that we have seen polar bears on Easter Island) and drinking Bacardi & Coke. I can’t believe that Canada was only really last week. We’ve only been away for 1½ weeks. Absolutely amazing. My face, arms and feet are sunburnt from walking around today, even though the weather wasn’t actually that bright.

We have dinner next door where we sit outside as the only customers. We order Lomo de la Pobre and a bottle of wine. The bill comes to £18 with tip and the food is good.

I have grown to love this small island. The atmosphere is laid back and relaxed and it’s a great place to chill out. The pace is slow, shops and restaurants appear to open as and when they feel like it and everyone is friendly. The ‘town’ has got a nostalgic hippy feel, with no luxury hotels, restaurants or shops. There are talks at the moment with an international chain to build a five star hotel and a golf course on the island. The general opinion of the local people is that this would completely ruin the ambience of the place and attract the ‘wrong’ sort of tourist. The increase in visitors would not benefit the locals to any great degree; most of the profits would line the pockets of international magnates. Although it may bring more jobs, at present there is no problem with unemployment on the island. Neither would it benefit the tourist: with more people sharing each archaeological site, official paths would have to be created, the statues would need to be fenced in and the enjoyment of ‘having the place to ourselves’ would be gone forever.

The island is shrouded in mysteries, and there are more questions than answers. Many theories abound as to who the original inhabitants were, where they came from and how they arrived at such a remote spot in the first place. Being 3700km from the South American coast and 4100km from Tahiti, Easter Island is one of the remotest places on earth. From looking at the current inhabitants, you can detect mainly Polynesian traditions, but also some South American heritage.

Posted by Grete Howard 03:56 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Santiago - Concha y Toro Vinyard - Easter Island

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.


View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I feel unwell this morning, without doubt dehydration, and after a couple of bottles of water I begin to feel back to normal. We have some free time before pick-up today and visit the local San Francisco Church. Service is about to start, so we make a hasty retreat and return through the back streets. I like Santiago; it has a nice, friendly, safe feel to it. We will have to come back and spend a little more time here at some stage in the future.

Marcos drives through many satellite cities on his way out of town. A subway is in its last stages of completion, although most of it is actually elevated above the ground. Why can’t Bristol do something sensible like that?

Concha Y Toro Winery is set in beautiful grounds. Originally started by Don Melchor, his mansion is still there. It is a beautiful building, but unfortunately it is not open to the public.

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The weather is being kind to us today, which is just as well, as most of the tour and wine tasting takes place outdoors. We meet Dennis, our guide for the visit, on a bench under some trees in the grounds. There is a barrel with an umbrella over it, and here the wine bottles are placed. We are treated to a tasting of the Trio series today and the first wine is a fruity white.

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Wine glass in hand we are taken on a guided walk through the grounds, past the manor house and around the lake to meet up with another umbrella-covered barrel with more wine. The gardens really are lovely and peaceful with fine-looking trees, pretty roses, water lilies on the pond and many delightful birds including egrets, ducks and geese with cute little babies. In the deep blue sky above, an eagle circles gracefully.

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With a smooth and light red Merlot wine in my glass, the sun beaming down from above and good company around, what more could I want? We move on to the vineyards. In England Chilean wine is known to be the purest and cleanest and the one least likely to produce a hangover. One of the main reasons for this is that there are no diseases here, hence they need no chemicals. The insects which plague European, Californian and Australian vineyards have not reached Chile. The Maipo Valley is protected to the east by the Andes and the west by the Pacific, so hopefully they will manage to keep the infection at bay. Row upon row of vines reach far into the distance; this is the Don Melchor variety – top quality wine. At the end of each row, a rose bush acts as an early warning sign: roses show an indication of disease much sooner than vines.

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The cellars are dark and dingy; they are real working storage crypts of hundreds of barrels of wine. The area is huge, damp and cold. We are told how only new barrels are used for the Don Melchor range and that French oak is better than American oak. In one corner is the notorious Castillera Del Diablo – the Devil’s Cellar. Legend has it that Don Melchor was tired of his bottles going missing during the night and in order to keep thieves out, he invented a tale about the devil himself taking refuge in the vault. It worked and the myth stuck. Now a wine has been named after the story, and very nice it is too. We don’t buy any wine as it is too difficult for us to transport and we give the free glasses to Ervand and Marcos.

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At a rustic restaurant in the village of Pirque, we try a local dish – Lomo a la Pobre. This is a tender steak with a couple of fried eggs, onions and fries. It is served with a spicy little condiment called Pebre, rather like the Mexican salsa. To accompany the food, we order a bottle of Castillera Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich but mellow. We’re quickly becoming experts at this wine-tasting lark. Much as the food is delicious I am getting a little bored with chips. All through North and South America we have been served with fries at almost every meal. I would love some rice, mash or new potatoes.

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Marcos takes a different route back to Santiago and the airport, through lots of interesting little villages. In the distance are the ever-present Andes with their beautiful snow-capped peaks.

The domestic terminal at Santiago airport is interesting. It is a modern airport, but they sell no post cards or thimbles. My mum will have to go without. We are departing from gate 20. Gate 20A also goes to Easter Island, but those are the people who are continuing on to Tahiti and thence are international passengers. A glass wall separates the two lounges. They have a café and we don’t, and a number of people try the locked door in vain to reach some food. The officials try to board us by Zones in the American style, but it proves too confusing. We all board anyway in one delightful chaotic mass. What pandemonium on the plane, with passengers sitting down and getting up, putting luggage into and taking it out of the lockers and sitting down in the wrong seat. Many seats are double booked and several people are up-graded. Unfortunately we are not amongst them. The whole scene is rather amusing. The flight is full and the guy next to David has a bad cold. Just as David has managed to get rid of his. I sleep through the third viewing of the film ‘Death of Smoochy’.

After a long and uncomfortable flight, my first impressions of Easter Island are rather disappointing. The airport is basic and not very welcoming. There is great competition between reps from the various hostels who are the only non-passengers allowed into the arrivals hall. From their little booths along the wall, they all vie for our attention, each trying to shout louder than the others. As we already have reservations for a hotel, we try to ignore them and concentrate on ensuring our suitcases make it off the plane. With only a couple of flights a week to Easter Island, it could be a long time before we see our underwear again! Complete with luggage, we meet up with Connie, our driver outside for the journey to the hotel. It is only 10pm, but the Hotel O’tai is in complete darkness – I can’t believe we are spending five nights in a hotel without a bar! As I hear the plane taking off again from the runway (built for emergency landing of the space shuttle by the Americans) I realise that I have to like it or lump it here. We can’t find a laundry list, so they obviously don’t provide that service in this hotel. David therefore rinses out a few clothes before settling in to bed. As there is no aircon, we ask the receptionist who is also the bar man (with no bar) and the porter, if we can have a fan in the room, but apparently there aren’t any. The web site advertised mini bar and TV, but they are conspicuous by their absence. Not that I wanted a TV, but a mini bar would be good even if it is only for the fridge to put the Coke in.

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Welcome to Easter Island!

Posted by Grete Howard 06:19 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Lima - Santiago

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.


View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Without the remains of the salad, my stomach is better again this morning. Continental breakfast is rather uninteresting if you don’t like jam or marmalade, so I always bring my Marmite. A typical Englishman abroad. I am glad of it this morning. With some free time before the flight we seek out the Internet Café we spotted last night. At 30p an hour, we spend nearly two hours chatting to friends back home. David’s throat is still very sore, so we visit the local pharmacy. With a combination of phrase-book Spanish, English and sign language, we manage to buy some strong throat pastilles.

Marcello takes a different route to the airport this morning, through the wealthy Jewish back streets. There are some wonderful houses and it is interesting to see a different aspect of this city. We are first to check in and go straight through to the departure lounge. There are no cafés here, only a posh restaurant. It’s a modern airport but the prices aren’t too bad. We stock up on Bacardi in the Duty Free at US$11.50 each for the Reserva. The plane is half empty, the seats are wide and there is plenty of leg room. It’s our first experience of Lan Chile, and it is good. At Santiago airport we have to have our suitcases X-rayed on the way in to the country. It is unusual, but not a bad idea. Ervand the guide is a little too full of himself, but otherwise a nice guy. The driver, Marcos, doesn’t say much.

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The hotel is a large, modern four-star complex. I say complex, because it is over two blocks with a bridge between the two. To get to our room we have to take the lift to the fourth floor, walk across the bridge, then enter another lift (only accessible by our room card) to get to the sixth floor. What a palaver. We are given vouchers for a free Pisco Sour in the small and boring bar on the ground floor, but it is certainly not worth the effort of reaching it. I have never been keen on Pisco Sours anyway, and much prefer the Bacardi & Coke in the room afterwards.

Posted by Grete Howard 06:06 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

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