Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Easter Island: Wonder and Mystery, and ‘Dudes’


Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is one of the most isolated and undeveloped places earth, sitting alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  It’s a five-hour flight from Santiago, and there’s nowhere closer.  The next nearest gateway is Tahiti, which is six hours away by air.  It’s a place of the same kind of wonder and mystery as Machu Picchu and Stonehenge.  There are all kinds of theories, but no one can fully explain what man did in these places before recorded history. 

The island is claimed by Chile, but the culture is Polynesian.  And the superstars here are the Moai, giant sculptures carved of stone that number more than 800.  They’re believed to have been created in honor of ancestors, and seem to have stood sentinel.  I want to call them ‘The Dudes’.  Don’t they look like ‘dudes’ to you?  Some even sport a ‘man bun’ (topknot). They’ve been restored and re-erected in locations all around the island.

I’m staying at Explora Rapa Nui, an all-inclusive lodge with a full menu of morning and afternoon ‘explorations’.  You can check it out at explora.com/hotels-and-travesias/easter-island-chile/.  We walk, hike and bike to visit the Moai, and see pieces of them amongst the wild horses and cattle.  We explore sites of ancient houses and petroglyphs, and there are panoramic views from the rims of the island’s volcanic craters and trails above the rugged coastline. I had hoped to go SCUBA diving, and to see ‘dudes’ underwater, but big waves are keeping boats in the harbor. I did get to do a little snorkeling.  All of the activities are led by local guides, who tell stories passed down by their grandparents.


Isolated, yes, but this is also definitely one of the most interesting places on earth! 















Saturday, November 4, 2017

Santiago, Chile: Back to the Future


A two-and-a-half hour flight from La Paz, Bolivia, to Santiago, Chile, and I’m seemingly 50 years or more ‘back to the future’.  Santiago has modern vehicles and roadways; tree-lined boulevards with broad sidewalks, and dramatic, tall glass-and-steel skyscrapers, as well as buildings and monuments from its colonial past.  I took a day trip to the very colorful port town of Valparaiso.  And I saw a big guy there who reminded me a little of home!











Thursday, November 2, 2017