Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador Wednesday January 25, 2017

Today we were going to spend the day with Duncan, our guide who took us to visit the Darwin Museum and the fish cleaning on the docks. See that building in the middle of the picture? That is Picaya, a new luxury resort for those people who want to stay on land. We weren’t given the option of staying there on our trip. I wish we would have as they have their very own super deluxe yacht for their guests. I have looked up their price point since, and it is very high. Oh well. If you want a review, I suggest you head to TheGoodTheBadandtheLuxurious.com. It is a fantastic blog about luxury hotels. As we did not bring enough water with us for our walks we stopped off at the little mini mart for water. Only 60 cents for a bottle of water! Yay, my Ecuadorian grocery store! Another notch on my belt!

We drove further into the highlands to see some coffee trees.


Come along for the walk up the hill to enjoy the vista.

I forgot that I wanted a panoramic shot, but this will do.

We went back down the hill and got in the van, and saw this guy crossing the road. As he wasn’t a chicken, I didn’t bother asking him why he was crossing the road!

They were big, this one was shy.

Here is Duncan, you can compare the size of hunky man and tortoise!

This was another one down the road. He was pretty curious.

We went to see a crater, but thankfully only looked into it!

Here is a blooming prickly pear. See the yellow flowers?

These two trees are unusual to see growing near each other. The prickly pear on the left usually grows in the desert. The tree on the left generally only in the Highlands.

We went to the beach to do some sea kayaking. Let’s just say that we did it once, so I never had to do it again. It was a most unpleasant experience. My hips don’t like to be in a sea kayak. I was in a lot of pain and Steve had to paddle most of the time. We did see a few birds. From now on if sea kayaking is suggested we just say “No!”

Steve and I came back to the Royal Palm Hotel RoyalPalmGalapagos.com for lunch. Steve is trying to give me goo goo eyes because he knows I am all set to go off on a toot.

And lookie here. This is the alpha female of the foursome that hogs all the best spots. She came back from her morning’s adventures and is back, on the one table on the veranda. They sit here all breakfast, are here for lunch, and they will claim it again this afternoon to discuss the next day’s events, and then eventually order dinner. They were on the boat yesterday and one of the group gets on the boat first and nails the prime spots on the prow of the boat. Last night I asked the waiter if we could reserve the table for dinner tonight. This is why we usually don’t go on group tours. I am extremely sensitive to other people’s behaviors. My behavior of course, is exemplary. (Well, maybe not all the time!)

Steve and I only take less than an hour for dinner. What would have been nice, is if every group took turns sitting at the table. There were only six of us staying at the hotel at the time. So, it was quite annoying that they were able to sit at the table outside all the time. They could have sat at the table while planning the next day’s events, then had cocktails around the pool while we had our dinner at the table , and then they could have returned to the table for their dinner. But NO, it didn’t work out that way!

This was the lunch we had back at the hotel before our afternoon adventures. That hamburger has some seriously gloppy cheese on it!

Hmm, I wonder what foursome had their belonging strewn all over the chairs, but were no where in sight?

Lava Tunnel picture from the hotel website.

I took this picture. Our adventure of the day continued with explorations of a lava tunnel on the grounds of the Royal Palm. The former owner was said to have stored either his wine, or mozzarella cheese or both. I wasn’t sure what the real story was.

There were helmets and flashlights waiting for us in the bag.

Here we are, all helmeted up and ready to go! Steve always looks like the camera lens is off in the distance behind the camera. I, on the other hand am always ready for my close up!

This is a lava tunnel. It formed over 1 million years ago when a lava flow crusted over and hot lava continued to flow under the crust which is 2-3 feet thick. This tunnel has a nice path made by the hotel. Much easier going that’s the tunnel on Easter Island.

Here is a picture of what is called coral lava. It is not made from coral, it just looks like coral.

Here we see an upper and lower portion of the lava tunnel.

These are not stalactites, just lava that dripped and cooled as it hardened.

Here we are near the end of the lava tunnel. It was a much more pleasant trip than the Easter Island Lava Tunnel!

Up the ladder and on toward day light.

Next we are going to visit Ranch El Manzanillo, a coffee farm that has Galapagos Giant Tortoises on it! I call that a Double Play! Perhaps we might be able to make it a Triple instead! You can see the red coffee beans. They are all picked by hand. It is quite labor intensive.

We then drove off in search of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. Did you know that the word Galapagos derives from the Spanish word for Tortoise?

The back feet are more stocky, and the front feet more flexible.

This is tortoise dung. You did want to see it, didn’t you?

It’s pretty big!

Tortoises can’t swim but they can float. They love to cool off in the water.

This tortoise is not very old. You can compare his size to Duncan’s leg.

They eat a lot of grass.

They bend the front leg over when they walk.

Sneaking up on a Galapagos Tortoise. Duncan knows just the shots to take!

In captivity a full grown Galapagos Tortoise can weigh up to 900 pounds! In the wild they are 500-600 pounds. It is said that they can live up to 200 years, but some of the data is anecdotal.

This guy is walking in shallow water. You can tell the female from the male tortoise as the female’s shell is muddier and scratched from wild Tortoise sex. No, we didn’t get to see any tortoise copulating!

Here you see a little video of the Galapagos Tortoise. Enjoy!

The Dashing Duncan Devine brought us to see Sr. Guerrero and his sugar cane distillery and coffee farm.

Here is Sr. Guerrero showing us where the sugar cane is crushed to make rum.

The sugar cane goes into the machine and out comes the juice into a metal bowl. The donkey that normally turn the wheel was not available so Steve and Duncan acted as he-men to push the wooden poles around. I got to try and feed the cane while Steve and Duncan pushed. I then tried to push while Steve fed the cane into the machine but it ended up “seizing up” and nothing happen. Steve’s family has stories about machines “seizing up”, I will likely have a chapter in my book about that!

The cane juice is put through a strainer.

It’s mixed with fresh ice and is ready to drink. The juice looked clear at first, but was a cloudy green when it was mixed with the ice.

This is Sra Guerrero with Sr. Guerrero.

We also got to try the sugar cane booze straight up. It was 60% alcohol or 120 proof. Steve says it’s called rum, not sugar cane booze.

Some of the rum cut with the sugar cane juice. It was refreshing, but packed a wallop!

The juice from the sugar cane is boiled down to a molasses.

Then it goes into the silver still.

And then into the wooden barrel. Salud!

We also got to see how coffee was roasted. Enough about how adventure, let’s go back to the Royal Palm.

We had a beautiful sunset again!

The hotels signature drink, called the Bachelor’s Delight. I told them I was renaming it the “Happily Married Woman’s Delight”!

So since the ugly American table hogs went to dinner in town, we got to sit at the outside table. Yay! You can see the tables in the background where they could have sat and done their planning for the next day. I am doing the crazy happiness pose for Steve. Since our stay the hotel has added more tables for people to sit at, and comfortable chairs to hang out on. I had suggested this when we checked out of the hotel.

The snapper we had for dinner was excellent. Too bad only the vegetables look good!

On the way back to our room we looked at the stars and saw Mars, Venus and Uranus! I would call the day a home run, we saw Galapagos Giant Tortoises wandering about, visited a coffee plantation, saw how rum was made and scored the coveted outside table!

Why can’t we all be friends?

Have you ever seen Galapagos Tortoises having sex?

Do you call it rum or sugar cane booze?

Do you have a cave to store wine and cheese in your back yard?

Guayaquil, Ecuador to Galapagos, Ecuador Monday January 23, 2017

This was the breakfast buffet at the hotel. They actually had a roast turkey, if you wanted to eat something heavy in the morning. I sure didn’t!

What I did like the best was the display of breads. This hotel was the preferred hotel for one of the airlines. There was a hotel table reserved for the flight crew. When we went through the sliding doors to exit the terminal last night our guide told us to hurry to the awaiting car. It turns out there were lots of flying insects. This morning while waiting at the gate to get on our plane to the Galapagos a man next to me started to jump up and down like crazy, and look down on the floor. I asked him if he had dropped anything. “No, there was something in my pants!” I looked on the ground and saw one of these crickets on the ground. Looks like the cricket got through security! This the flight path to Baltra Island in the Galápagos Islands from Guayaquil. Baltra Island is also know as South Seymour.

This is our snack on the flight.

These appear to be dried banana chips. I didn’t have a window seat so I asked my seat mate if I could use some of her pictures from her phone. Here is another one of the islands. I don’t know the names of them.We have landed!

This is a map of the Galápagos Islands. We are doing a land based adventure as we have no desire to be trapped on a boat with people that we won’t like. Don’t try to click on any of the islands as there are no direct links. We will be staying on Santa Cruz Island and taking some day trips. We will only be able to go to few of the islands that are close to Santa Cruz. For the people that stay on catamarans or the larger boats you have a choice of which island groups you want to see. The stops on the islands are heavily regulated by the government, no spontaneous stops allowed!. Steve is off to the terminal. Here the dogs were sniffing for taboo items. Like drugs! The mad scrum for luggage after the dogs were done checking for illegal substances. Then we got ready to board the bus.After we paid our processing fee of $100 cash to enter the Galapagos, and got our luggage we boarded the bus. No, that is not El Chapo behind us! You can tell that we have real teeth and not implants as our teeth are not optic white and large. Did you know that some people do get implants that are just a wee bit irregular so that they look more natural? True!

The bus took us to a ferry that was taking us to the island that our hotel was on.

To another bus that would take us to our hotel -The Royal Palm. Steve and I both suffer from seasickness so we didn’t want to go on a cruise. Plus, I get a little claustrophobic and being trapped on a boat for a number of days was not too exciting an idea to me. I figure if I am on land, I can always walk around the property, even though I can’t leave the islands until it is time for our next flight.

Here are containers at the ferry dock watching to be brought to town. On our way to the hotel I noticed a long line of vehicles. They were a combination of busses, taxis, and delivery vehicles waiting for the next ferry from the airport to arrive.Here is the view from the back of the bus of the airport way in the distance on another island. The white speck is the airport. Where we were located on the island they get a lot of rain.There are several areas in the Galapagos where it is desert like. Our hotel was in the highland area of Santa Cruz. Most people who visit the Galapagos take cruises of the islands. Either big boats of about 90 people, or catamarans of under 20 passengers. The Royal Palm would be our stay for the next few days. It was considered a five star resort when it was first built. Would it remain so? Stick around and you can make your own judgement. A picture of the reception area from the hotel’s website. We were given glasses of refreshing juice at check in. There were bowls of sea sickness pills in quite a few areas of the resort. This is a map of the grounds. We would be staying in villa 4. The resort had a beautiful pool. There was a tennis court for those that wanted to play a few sets while on vacation. We were staying in a Highland Villa. The outside of our villa. I think our villa was the furthest from the main dining area and pool. I didn’t like the walk at all. I am indeed lazy. Let’s go in, shall we. This was the view of the room as you walked in. Living room before you, and an enclosed porch beyond that. Another view of the villa. The main entrance was the door on the left. Although there was a fireplace, I don’t know if you would ever need it. Our bedroom was through the bifold doors. The bed was very attractive. There were plenty of outlets next to the bed. One thing I noticed about Ecuador is that the beds are very hard!

This is the bathroom. The shower was the door to the back left. They had plenty of bottles of water. We could not use the tap water to drink, or brush our teeth. You needed to use bottled water. The enclosed porch was very strange. There was a deep soaking tub. The chairs encouraged a view, but it was just of the grounds. You really couldn’t see the ocean in the distance. The room was very hot, there was no air conditioning in this room at all.

We were met at 3 by a taxi to take us to the Darwin Center in Puerto Ayaro. It took us about twenty minutes to get into town. It took us about 30 minutes to take us to the ferry to the island where the airport was.

This tortoise is called Diego. He is about 130 years old! Diego is an Española tortoise. He is from the San Diego zoo. It did take me a bit to figure that out why he is called Diego. I am only smart on certain days. He has had about 1700 offspring! They are hoping to release him into the wild in the next few years. This is a land iguana. He is orange as it is breeding season.

I got pretty hot outside so we went into the visitor center. Here is Steve and our guide. This picture of Darwin was made from …Stamps!

Look at the size of this tortoise shell! These are the three types of tortoises. Saddleback, dome shaped, and intermediate. The tortoises from the Galapagos are the largest in the world. The males can weigh as much as 900 pounds. They are the longest living of all vertebrates (animals with backbones).

After we cooled off a bit our guide asked us if we would like to see the fisherman cleaning the day’s catch in town. Birds were flying all over to catch the scraps!

It was fun to watch them fight over the pieces of fish guts. Just click on the arrow!

A sea lion showed up to join the party and even an iguana!

Here is more video. It was fun to watch until a few of the pelicans got pieces of fish get caught in their throats the wrong way down their throats. Then they would hack and try to barf up the fish carcasses. Sometimes the birds die as they choke to death because the pieces of fish are too big and they get stuck.

Back to the hotel for a drink. Sunset is always a good time for a Pisco Sour! They had a fire going in the restaurant although it was really hot!

On the bus to our hotel this morning we met a lovely couple and asked if they wanted to join us for dinner. Of course, they said yes! They live in Quito Ecuador. Unfortunately Quito is at an elevation of 9450 feet and they live on the 14th floor of their building so we won’t be able to check out the views in her apartment. I don’t tolerate high altitudes at all. Although she and her dashing husband Washington have an apartment in Miami. I may have to meet her there. I will tell you tomorrow why her husband is called Washington. Good night everyone!

Are you a vertebrate?

Do you have implants? Teeth or Breast?

Do you refuse to stay in a room without air conditioning?

Easter Island, Chile Saturday, January 21, 2017

Good morning from Easter Island!

Saturday morning and the chefs are busy in the kitchen peeling potatoes.

This will be our last day on Easter Island. We will fly to Santiago tonight, go to some wineries in the morning tomorrow and then fly to Guayaquil, Ecuador in the late afternoon. Then we fly the next day to the Galapagos. But enough of the future, let’s hear about what we did today.

Instead of more hikes, we asked to go look around the main town on the island. I will show you the highlights.

This is the Catholic Church. Most of the Islanders are Catholics. There was also a small Seventh Day Adventist Church in town. That was a small dog sleeping on the steps.

I asked if we had time to look inside the grocery store.

The market was small, about the size of a convenience store. I think most of the vegetables were grown on the island. You can bet that the ice cream and Lay’s potato chips were flown in from the mainland!

This is the post office, we would go here to get our passports stamped.At the post office you could get your passport stamped. Easter Island is not a separate country, but they do have a cool stamp! Many people were selling locally grown vegetables and fruits.

Here are ads for a dance performance in town. We didn’t go. Had we gone we would have seen lots of muscular men smeared with oil. Steve could have seen women with costumes barely attached. Maybe next time!

We passed by the boat launch. We had originally hoped to go on a fishing trip to catch fish like the islanders in the traditional style, but it was too windy. Although, had we gone fishing this morning I would have missed my grocery store.

There were beautiful pineapples for sale on the street.

In the gift shop I had to prevent Steve from buying a Moai. They were very expensive, about $300-800! They were also very heavy. Not to mention that these Moai, unlike the Moai on the island had penises. No, that is not a beer keg tap on the Moai in the back of the photo!

If it weren’t too heavy to travel with, the coral eye would have been pretty cool as a paper weight.

Steve liked the duck.

In the gift shop they had the DVD from last year’s contest for sale. This was not Lilly our guide for several days, she won the contest years earlier.

These Moai carvings looked pretty interesting. I told Steve that he could display them in Lake George but not in Poughkeepsie. We didn’t buy anything. We had arranged to have massages before our next two days of airplane flights and car rides. It was pretty magical listening to the rain during the massage. Lunch was a turkey and cheese on a baguette. This was the best salad at lunch, all baby greens and no escarole. I hate escarole! Outside the airport flower leis were being sold to put on arriving guests. Good bye fake Moai! This guy was all garbed out for hiding in the gardens!

Steve is wearing the necklace that we got from Explora. It was made from shells. When we get home we will probably throw it in a junk drawer and forget it. Then we will pull it out in five years when we do a cleaning purge and wonder where we got it. Good bye Easter Island airport!

Steve had a Pisco Sour and I drank water. It’s five o’clock somewhere isn’t it? Good bye Easter Island! I called these Moai clouds! Dinner on the plane, the beef was tough and the cake overly sweet.

After we landed we were met by JP and our driver and whisked off to the Ritz Carlton in Santiago. Did you know that there was a two hour time difference between Easter Island and the mainland? That’s what happens when you are on a five hour flight!

JP told me that the shirt that I had left in the hotel in Valparaiso was found. However it would have cost us $50 US to have it sent to us. We said “No thank you.” I was hoping that JP would have been able to pick it up at the hotel and keep it for us until today as he goes to Valparaiso every day from Santiago to give tours. We were given an option of getting up an hour earlier to pick it up before our adventures tomorrow but I treasure an hour of sleep more than the shirt.

Do you prefer Lays or Wise potato chips?

Do you prefer male bodies oiled or natural?

Do you have junk in your junk drawer?

Easter Island, Chile Friday January 20, 2017

Another beautiful day begins.

Today we are going to visit Ahu Akivi.

Ahu Akivi is said to represent the seven men who first came to Rapa Nui. It is very interesting to note that the seven are all of equal size and shape. It is also a celestial observatory, that was set up in the 16th century. They exactly face the sunset during the spring equinox and their backs face the sunrise during the autumnal equinox! You can see the cement where the heads were reattached.

Here is a baby pineapple!

Our first hike of the day was to a lava tube, Anu Te Pahu. Have you ever been in a lava tube before? Well come along.

These horses along the path were quite healthy.

With all the recent rains the path was quite muddy.

The cave is hidden by the trees and the banana plants. Bananas do not grow on trees as the plant has no woody tissue!

The cave was used as a dwelling place for the early people. It was also used during the tribal wars and a hiding place during the raiding for slaves.

Down we go! This is the largest cave on the island. There are several interconnected chambers totaling a length of seven kilometers. It was damp. Water was dipping down from the ceiling. Lilli drank the water and said that we could to, as it had been purified by going through so many layers of basalt rock. I didn’t want to risk any indigestion of any kind, and passed on the opportunity. Ah, the end of the tunnel appeared. I was so happy to see the end of the tunnel. We could have gone further through the tunnel and seen the ocean through lava windows, but I knew that we had to return and would have another hike in the afternoon. Yay! Steve came out right behind me. We had to use a flash light on our walk in the cave, and the flash light app on Lilli’s phone. The sharp lava rocks made the hike very difficult. I was hot, tired and sweaty and we still had to hike a long way to get to the van. Lilli found a sweater left by a guide on a previous walk. She was bringing it back to where we had left our van. The path was really muddy and slippery. I never fell completely in the mud, nor partially, but it was tough going in a number of spots. You can see the guava fruit growing on the tree in this picture.

Lilli showed us a guava. The horses love to eat them.

They were easy for Lilli to twist open. My sneakers were a mess, along with my pants of course. Good thing there was a shoe cleaning station back at Explora!

I am wearing one of Elliott’s old fishing shirts, as I left my white one on the white bed in Valparaiso, I was happy to have this one! I felt as bedraggled as I looked!

We got back in the van and traveled to see…More Moai! You were not allowed to go past the markers as the ground is sacred. These guys might have had a story but i forgot what it was.

Here is Steve studying the two Moai. This site was restored in 1974.

This one got really eroded over time.

He is the only Moai on the island with coral eyes. The eyes are a restoration. Don’t the coral eyes make him really seem alive? He also has the top knot. He is called Ahu Ko Te Riku.

Didn’t Lilli take a great picture of us? Someone’s keeping an eye on us!

You can see the crane in the distance unloading goods to be brought to Easter Island.This picture has all the Moai in it. On our way to town we passed by a cemetery. If you didn’t have much money you could go camping. Remember me telling you about the richest man on the island? He owns this car rental agency. He also rents mopeds and motorcycles.

We drove into town and saw this Moai. I had mentioned in a previous post about the festival that was going to be held in a few weeks. Part of the preparations was erecting a painted Moai.

Lilli is explaining to Steve that it is made of concrete. Lilli said he would be painted yellow, the color that the original Moai were painted.

This shows the coloring a little bit better. It will be quite dramatic when it is finished!

I was hoping that I didn’t get the van too dirty. I really was a mess!

Soon we were back at Explora and it was time for lunch.

Minced vegetable tortellini.

Creme anglaise with caramel for our dessert! Yum, yum!

Since our next hike wasn’t until four, we decided to have massages.

Too bad you close your eyes during your massage. The view was really nice. The massage therapist played native music. It was a blissful afternoon!This is the way back to our room where we got ready to go on our afternoon hike.

Now it is time for you to learn about top knots, or pukao. What are those strange things on top of the Moai? They are pukao, the top knots. How did they get up there?

Puna Pau was the quarry where the top knots were from. The stones were cut and then rolled to the site where they were carved and then erected onto the Moai. There are several different viewpoints on how it was done.

A Chinese group joined us at the site. They do love to do the crazy photos!

Here is our guide Stephen telling Steve the story of how the top knots are created. Believe it or not, but Stephen stayed with an uncle in Saugerties for a year. Saugerties is about an hour northwest of us! More information regarding the pukao. This is how some of the archeologists believe how the top knots were placed on top of the Moai. We headed back to the van and passed by many top knots that never made it to the tops of the Moai. Our guide carried a back pack filled with emergency gear, and he always had a walkie talkie with him to contact the hotel.

Then we were off on another short hike to see some pictographs in a grotto.

Unfortunately, going down would mean going back up also!

The pictographs had been very badly damaged by the elements and natural breakage over time. The drawings were on the ceiling and just flake off over time.

My last picture of our hike for the day. I was so tired of walking around. Steve got out of the van at our next stop. 11,000 steps were enough for me! We still have a week left on our vacation in South America! Yikes!

Lovely green salad. I had the duck confit.

Steve had the seafood pasta, hold the octopus. My dessert. It had bananas in it. Steve doesn’t usually care for fruit.

Dessert number two. Which was guava cake. I asked the waitress which dessert was better. She told me to have both. I actually only ate 3 bites of each. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Do you have an uncle in Saugerties?

Have you ever been to Saugerties?

Do you know where Saugerties is?

Easter Island, Chile Thursday January 19, 2017

Good morning from Easter Island!

Before we eat anything, let’s take a look at the kitchen. Here is the display of all the fresh juices and fruits available at breakfast.

There are many seats to choose from. We will have our dinners and lunches here also.

Steve appears to look a little worried. I would be also if I was married to myself!

Ah, nothing to worry about, his beautiful omelette has arrived!

The red marker shows you where our hotel is located. Orongo is the crater and the little island south west of it is Moto Nui, where part of the Bird Man ceremony occurred. Ahu Tahai is the restored ceremonial site. The quarry or Rano Raraku is located in the eastern part of the island. Near there is Ahu Tongariki, where the 15 Moai are located.

Here is a topographic map. The green areas are all National Parks.

I have left off at the three stages of of cultural development of Easter Island. Most scientists think that the first peoples arrived in the eastern Polynesian triangle from some point west of here around 800-1100. The eastern Polynesian triangle consists of Easter Island, Hawaii and New Zealand. The first people to settle Polynesia left 3000 years ago from Taiwan, then spread to the Philippines, then Micronesia then East to Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti and other islands. Oral history tell us that a group of seven explorers were the first to arrive to Rapa Nui.

The men saw the land was a good place to live and returned with women. Great stone Moai were carved which transferred mana, the spiritual power of their ancestors. Below the Moai, the bones of revered ancestors were buried. Moai were erected facing the town, and eyes were installed last, to guide and protect the people. Only when the eyes were inserted could the Moai’s mana protect the people.

Later when the European sailors arrived they spread disease. The first European on Easter Island landed on Easter Sunday in 1722, hence the name Easter Island. Europeans all wanted to see the Moai. Then slavers from Peru carried off a large portion of the population. The Rapa Nui people felt that they were no longer being protected by the ancestors. So the Moai were destroyed.

Our first stop of the day was the Hana Roa lookout. We had a great view of town and the freighters carrying cargo that were out at sea.

Our next stop was Orongo, the ceremonial village for the Bird Man challenges.

A yearly bird migration flew to a small rocky island off the south eastern tip of Rapa Nui. During the 16th and 17th centuries the carving of the Moai was abandoned and the Bird-man competition began. Thus began the second stage of development on the Island.

A competition was held to be the first man to return with an egg from the island. The very first competition elected the king, we have heard from our different guides that there was a new king every year or that the subsequent completions were for pride. Notice on the head of the warrior an egg holder. These guys look like our modern day hipsters with man buns.

Here is a picture of the island, Moto Nui, that the participants from all over the island would swim to. It was believed that the ancestors chose who would win the contest by giving that warrior extra strength and the Manutara (Sooty Tern) would lay an egg nearest the divine choice. The participants would stay for days or weeks waiting for the first egg. The last competition was in 1867.

Here is Lilli, our guide for the morning. She was the female winner of the Koro Nui Tupena festival in 2012. This sporting and cultural event was introduced to establish a bond between the young and the ancestral traditions, It gives tourists a chance to witness what Rapa Nui rituals and competitions were like before the colonization period. We will have to comeback another year for that! We saw many young people out running in preparation for the coming festival in February.

We walked to the ceremonial village. There was a gigantic Moai here that was removed and presented to Queen Victoria and is in the British Museum.

This house is opened to show tourists what the homes looked like inside. Very dark and confined inside, but the people only slept in their houses.

Over time the petroglyphs in the homes have been damaged or removed.

Most of the stones for the walls were very thin. They were from a special kind of basalt. Other stones used in different buildings or platforms for the Moai statues are different types of rock.

This was a short walk morning.

A closeup of the islet. This is where we would have done native style rock fishing if the wind had allowed.

The island has a wet and dry season. we are at the tail end of the wet season. it rained every day, but not at every place we were on the island.

At last we arrive at the crater. The crater was 600 feet deep filled with water 30 feet deep. With a mat of reeds floating on it. In some places it was said that the mat was so thick cattle could stand on it without sinking.

It was a long way down. The crater was 1.6 Km wide.

There was an option of hiking up to the crater. Only 5.4 miles one way with an ascent of 896 feet. We opted for the van ride!

Crazy pose!

Here is Lilli, Beauty was not the only reason she won the contest in 2012. She said that she is a great dancer also.

On the road to the crater was this house with signs on it. I asked Lilli about it.

In previous years the Chilean government collected all the visitor fees. This made the Rapa Nui people very unhappy and they barricaded all the parks. This naturally was very bad for tourism.

Those hotels who had guides from Rapa Nui could enter the parks. The strike was settled and all monies collected to visit the parks now do not go to Chile, but to the Rapa Nui people. I’m sure Chile taxes the airlines and collects its money one way or another.

All our guides were of Rapa Nui ancestry.

On the way back to the hotel we see the business of the richest man on the island. He has a business of renting cars, ATV’s, motorcycles and other types of bikes!

We pass by a farmer who is selling pineapples off the back of his truck. There are no stop lights or street signs on the island. It makes it difficult for those visiting the island to know where to go or where they are!

Here we see a freighter parked at sea. There is no large wharf so smaller ships must bring back the cargo to town. It can take many days to unload a ship. Those black dots are people surfing!

There was a bit of a traffic jam in town. Streets were very narrow, and the drivers were crazy. I observed much sign language among drivers!

Here are the boats the fishermen would go out to sea and fish from. We were hoping to do some ancestral fishing but the wind was too strong. After seeing them I was happy that we couldn’t go. That would be very dangerous with any type of chop in the water. The fishing was with hooks, line and rocks. Bait was pieces of chicken. This is the same method as the drop-shot that Steve has such good luck in Lake George. However Steve uses artificial bait.

Lots of different businesses in town, these guys offered tours. There is no standard for being a guide, so if you didn’t stay at a reputable place you might end up with a guide spouting nonsense, All the guides from Explora had several months training and supervision. All our groups were to have a maximum of eight travelers. Steve and I were often the only ones on our outings.

Here is the Catholic Church. Priests who arrived from Europe were able to convert most of the people to Catholicism. Offering schools, hospitals and food, they filled the needs of the people. The population had decreased to around 110 people! Now there are about 7000 people of whom 3000 are Rapa Nui.

This is someone’s Christmas tree!

More free range or town horses.

The countryside is so green. They even grew big puddles with all the rain!

Here is one of the many cows that we saw on our travels on the island. Many were still nursing their newborn calves and often many of the teats would be engorged with milk. It looked painful.

In the afternoon we are heading in this direction to see the 15 (15 Moai on a platform) and then walk along the cliffs to a beach. I hope it stops raining by then and our walk is a stroll and not a hike!

But first, we see some kind of pit and a fire back at Explora. We heard that there was to be a special dinner tonight…

Carrot soup for lunch. Black and white sesame seeds as a garnish.

I had the lamb chops.

Steve had fish.

Who can resist chocolate guava cake? I couldn’t.

Steve’s and my leis were looking uglier and uglier as the days progressed. I threw them out after I took this picture.

In the van with us this afternoon are two new incoming guests. They are S and G from British Columbia. I take an immediate dislike to them as they look like real hikers. They have serious hiking boots on, we have just sneakers with us as we have a weight limit on our trip to the Galapagos. Yes, we could have worn hiking boots, but then where would the other shoes go?

We jump in the van and head off to see Tongariki, the collection of 15 Moai.

We pass by the house of Mr. Richest Man on the island. You will remember that I had mentioned earlier in this post that he has the largest rental car dealership on the island; 100 vehicles!

We saw lot of horses that were laying on the ground. We were told that since the horses were free to roam all over the island they frequently ate plants that would make them sick, and then die.

Our trip often took us along the coast where we had great views.

On our way we pass the quarry, Rano Raraku. I hope you remember that there were over 450 Moai in different conditions here. No where near that number were in good shape. Some were probably used for practice or experimentation.

This is a popular place!

Why don’t my pictures look like the professionals’ ?

Anu Tonariki is the platform with 15 intact moai. Behind the platform is what is called a crematorium. It is the resting place for the bones of revered ancestors. A group of German archeologists paid to have the moai erected. In 1960 a tsunami knocked the Moai 100 meters inland! They were re-erected on the platform, which the tsunami did not move.

Remember all of the erect Moai are a reconstruction. Only those at the quarry remained erect, as they held no mana in them and therefore hold no power or value.

Here is Natalie, our guide. She is telling Steve the stories. In front of us is a Moai. You can see the serious hiking boots of our fellow guest. This Moai is quite eroded.

It is all so dramatic!

The 15 are all different.

Only one had the Pukao or top knot. It was formed from a different stone than the rest of the Moai, and represented long hair dyed red and styled into a big bun. Only men with powerful mana were allowed to wear their hair this way.

The archeologists can generally tell which Moai are older by the characteristics of the Moai. The early Moai were all different. They later became more stylized with the ski jump nose exaggerated jaw and elongated ears.

Notice how they are all different. This platform was used by two neighboring tribes that got together and said let’s make something special! Now what I hadn’t realized before, was that over the years the Maoi were constantly knocked down and new ones were erected. These two tribes designed the platform to hold many moai.

Here is the back side view. The lady with the red hair was not from our group.. She was concerned about the rising of the worlds sea levels and that the Moai would be soon under water.

Some old Moai that had been destroyed.

Here you can see the cement line where the Moai on the right was put back together again after it was damaged by the Tsunami.

This guy was one of my favorites!

The closer I am, the better he looks!

Here is Sharon. She was really into the lighting and her husband had a serious camera. Most of my pictures had to be brightened as it was so difficult to see the details of the Moai.

We started our walk along the cliffs. Here is a piece of obsidian that Natalia found. It is illegal to take any rocks from the park.

Our hike begins.

Here is a sick horse. He ate lupine. He shouldn’t have. He will get sicker, drink sea water and then eventually die. We saw two recent victims on our hike.

The walk went on for a long time. I think we started just below those three hills on the left of the picture.

We gathered here to look at something, I have no idea what it was!

Natalia kept on leading us onward.

We arrived at a rock called Te Pito Kura. It is believed that the high iron content in the rock makes compasses go crazy. The four small stones mark the points of the compass. Rumors are that touching it increases fertility. I’m to old for it to do any good.

I was never so happy to see our van! Our short easy hike was actually 3.6 miles! We hopped on the van for a short drive to Anakena Beach.

At Anakena Beach were a group of seven Moai, called Ahu Nao, Nao, not to be confused with Ahu Akivi or The Seven, that we will see tomorrow! You can see that two of the Moai have deteriorated.

Those with heads have the top knots.

This is Anakena beach. It is the only beach on the island. Although we hiked all afternoon with our bathing suits under our clothes, we didn’t have time to take a dip in the ocean. We had to hurry back for the special dinner.

Steps for the day were 13367! We will now head back to the van and go back to Explora. Natalia is really cheating here. She has a flower in her right ear signifying that she is single. She has a husband, so I was teasing her that she was actually doing a “Lemme, lemme, upgrade!”

The pit where the special feast was cooked.

Dinner’s ready!

Taro, sweet potato and chicken. This taro must have been mixed with banana as it tasted like banana!

We had a dance performance. With many costume changes!

Let’s watch a video our talented dancer, shall we?

I teased Steve about what would happen if her knot got loose!

At the regular dinner which was next I had invited ourselves to dine with C, the elderly French Canadian woman and her friend F, and a couple from Georgia, that we had seen yet not met. They were very kind, and said “Please do!”.

I had the fish for our main dinner. I was so full from all the other food. Our couple from Georgia was very interesting. They have traveled all over the world.

After dinner we decided to try the hot tub, and to see if we could also see the stars. Unfortunately it was overcast. We did see lots of bugs scurrying around the towel baskets. I was freaking out, as I hate bugs! Upon getting out of the pool I made sure to shine my iPhone camera app on my robe and sandals to make sure that no bugs had crawled into my clothes during our soak!

What is your honest opinion on man buns?

Do your hips lie?

Do uninvited bugs in your clothes freak you out? Notice I said uninvited…

Valparaíso to Easter Island, Chile Wednesday January 18, 2017

We had to get up early to drive south from Valparaiso to the airport in Santiago to catch our flight to Easter Island. It wasn’t hard to wake up early as we barely slept. The gulls outside our windows drove us crazy all night long! Wake up call at 5:30 for a 6:00 car pickup.

Good bye Valparaiso graffiti!

This was a picture of a haunted street. I really didn’t understand the story but you were not supposed to linger here, but to drive by fast. So we did.

The sun began to rise on our way to Santiago.

Steve tried to sleep in the car as he had a bad night’s sleep. Between no air conditioning, the gulls, and my snoring-I mean purring, and a sore throat Steve had a very bad night. Even with the soothing sounds of a fan on the app on his iPhone, he slept very poorly. He went to bed at 9:30. I went to bed at 10:30. I woke up at 12:30, and thought great, I have five more hours to sleep. Which I told myself every hour decreasing the amount of time to sleep the rest of the night!

The pretty drive to the airport.

Steve got us some coffee so we could stay awake on our flight. As the hotel was not open for our early breakfast we were given a bag breakfast of a ham and cheese on stale bread and a nectarine. All we really wanted was coffee! The Dunkin’ Donuts had no milk and only artificial sweetener. I tried to pretend I was drinking a large espresso.

Orange juice and ibuprofen. Manna from Heaven for a sore throat.

You can see the smog hiding the mountains! The doodles represent the mountain edges!

We were flying business class to Easter Island. Did you know that it will take us 5 hours to get there?

I loved seeing our plane’s shadow as we ascended!

We leave the mainland. Next stop Easter Island! It is called Easter Island as it was discovered by Jacob Roggeveen,a Dutch Explorer, on Easter Sunday in 1722.

Plane breakfast. Easter Island is in the middle of nowhere! It is a long way from there to any other inhabited land.

You can see where Valparaiso was. On the coast and north of Santiago. Look at all the mountains!

Easter Island.

Yay! We have arrived! We have landed! Looks like I could use a brow lift and possibly an under eye tuck. Would you believe that a hair dresser I once went to suggested I get an eye lift, and Botox in my cheek folds? I always call them Fred Flintstone’s as his face had some really big ones.

Wilma doesn’t have any at all. Maybe she had Botox! Her hairdresser will never tell!

Steve looks like his hair has a lot of volume today. Do you see my grey hair? Not bad for 60, turning 61 in May. Although I am really 62 in real life as I am blogging about a trip that happened two years ago.

Just follow the signs.

We leave the airport and head to our hotel. There are many kids camping here. Not for me!

After a very bumpy ride we reach Explora Rapa Nui. https://www.explora.com/easter-island-chile/

There are other Explora hotels. One is in Antacama, the Chilean Dessert in Northern Chile. It’s elevation is very high so it is doubtful that I will ever visit there. Another location is in Torres Del Paine in the south of Chile. We hope to visit there someday. Two more are in Argentina and another in Bolivia. They are all boutique all inclusive hotels with guided group activities. There appear to be about 20 guests here now. Each day a few leave and a few arrive. The largest hotel on the island has 90 rooms (not Explora).

There is wifi service only in the main bar and lounge. Each day you can select two half day or one full day activity. The one full day activity is a strenuous 7 hour hike which includes a pack lunch. You can be assured that I will not be doing that!

Here is Steve checking us in. Everybody gets a lei!

Don’t I look lovely with my beautiful lei? At least my chin looks firm! Unfortunately the flowers looked good for only about 30 minutes!

The walkway between the buildings is thankfully covered. They get a lot of rain here. It is a good thing that I bought my Patagucci rain jacket. It is very humid here. My hair doesn’t know if it should lie flat or rebound! Oh, my rain jacket was found and it is being sent to the Ritz Carlton in Santiago where we will pick it up on our return trip from here.

Let’s see what our room looks like. We were staying in room 12.

The view out our window. Thankfully the room was air conditioned as it was quite humid here. There was a lovely chaise built into the window.

The view of the ocean and the pool out our window. Do you see the rain cloud? Rain, rain go away.

Our room with luggage all over. We had to hurry to unpack as we were going to have lunch and then go on our first hike. Were we going to wear our sneakers our Keens and socks, or Keen’s and no socks. We decided on sneakers.

We had lots of nice storage on the shelves. Behind the bamboo portions was a toilet on the left, sinks in the middle and a shower to the left.

We had iced tea, it was very lemony.

Lunch started with a lovely green salad.

Followed by ham and cheese on a baguette.

After lunch we met in the lobby with the other guests who will go on our walk in the quarry. We arrive at the park entrance where our guide Natalie produces our park passes, and we set up for what is supposed to be a short walk. This area is called Rano Raraku.

The quarry is not a big hole, but the side of a hill. All of the Moai on the island are from this quarry except for one that was made of basalt. We do not know where that one was from yet. The Moai are made of tuff, a rock made of compressed volcanic ash.

There are 840 Moai on the island. 400 are located in the quarry. We didn’t see that many, and there are bits and pieces of some that are broken. All the Moai that were finished have been toppled . The only erect finished ones that you can see have been restored.

It was very moving for me to come to Easter Island. As a young girl I read the book Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl. Steve has read it also and was quite excited to come here also.

None of these Moai have eyes as they are unfinished. They did not get eyes until they reached their final location elsewhere. If you get a chance watch the video on you tube that discusses the theories on how the Moai were moved.

Here we see half of the Brazilian couple that went on the hike with us. The lady on the left is from Quebec. We think that she was in her 80’s. She was in tremendous shape. She leaves her husband for two weeks at a time and travels the world with her girlfriend. Her husband stays home with the dogs and tells her to “hurry back home!”.

Several of the Moai were toppled over and broken into many pieces.

Down below you will see a rider on horseback. He is there to make sure that people stay on the path.

Here you can see a Moai in the process of carving. It was probably half done before it was abandoned. You can make out the face and the body.

This Moai was different than all the other Moai on the island as it was kneeling. It had been excavated. Originally only the head was visible.

I persuaded the Brazilian woman to sit sideways and to pretend to kiss the Moai. It made a great picture. I would rate this picture as adequate.

Far away you can see the 15 Moai. I hope we will learn more about them!

Moai were carved both vertically and horizontally out of the rock.

A view down the hill and toward the ocean. Somehow my walk turned into a hike!

You can see how eroded this Moai is.

You can see how big the quarry is in this picture.

There are lots of horses on Easter Island. More about them on another blog post.

We were supposed to go on a walk to a crater filled with fresh water, but due to all the recent rain it was forbidden. It was declared unsafe due to all the red clay mud.