A Travellerspoint blog

Things I want to Remember: Chile

RTW 2019

Santiago, Chile 6/23-6/24/19

On my way to the first stop of my trip, lessons begin immediately as I go through security at the Ontario Airport, calling back to the TSA officer who was checking and rechecking my combination flashlight-external battery pack that had an area for a knife blade, which I had removed the night before. “It’s a flashlight!!! . . . its a FLASHLIGHT sir . . . no, it did have a blade. Used to. No blade. No, I took it off. . . . . it’s a FLASHLIGHT!” Finally making it through, TSA guy then casually asking me about my husband motioning to my man-deflector ring. Security boys laughed at me as I walked away, saying “You made it!!” I laughed back, said “Yeah, AND I got to keep my flashlight!!!” They started joking, telling me “Run, run!! Quick before he calls you back!”

Realization that new planes have adjusted for new technology. First plane having USB ports near the screen instead of on an armrest or under the seat, a combination holder/stand for your cellphone to mount in front of you should you want to stream a movie from their smart phone app. Second plane having a interactive touch screen next to their USB charging port. Watching so many movies en route and excited to let my movie list grow.

Arrival in Santiago, quick find for the ATM and the Centropuerto bus, understanding the Metro quickly, and thinking as I jumble along on the bus and then the metro that most of the excitement and “travel jitters” are gone. Still there but lessened when coming to a new area where I must decipher transport. I’m still not sure how I feel about this.

Top of San Cristobal, muggy air and tourists abound along with locals to and from prayer areas and city overlook areas. The pino empenada I ordered, unsure of what was within. Munching on olives, beef, and boiled eggs as I walked around the old church, music piping through my earphones. Pleasantly surprised by the flavors and later finding out it was a traditional Chilean dish.

My first funicular ride in Santiago, directed to purchase tickets “through the castle”. Walking past the llama (or possibly an alpaca) and ignoring the men on the side trying to upsell tour tickets. About to board, stepping up creaky wooden stairs, then seeing the pink of the sky through bare trees as the funicular ascended.

Random discovery of the bridge with the locks. An exhale while standing on the bridge, seeing the smog clear slightly in front of the Andes mountain.

Leonardo, my Santiago AirBNB host, excited to teach me of Chilean culture and writers and poets, sharing their political past and social past, explaining the disparity between “the wealthy side” and “the poor side” of town, how the two do not cross lines. Nighttime, taking me to the top of a nearby apartment building and our own so I could see the beautiful lights and he could motion, explain the neighborhoods and the history of Santiago. Seeing him get more excited as he realized what a receptive audience he had. Sending me a PDF book to read to by a Chilean author so that I may understand the voice of the country.

Easter Island 6/25 - 6/28/19

Coming across the first moai. Excitement rising in my chest. The moai simple and stationary, no fanfare. Realizing how accessible the statues are, how they may be taken for granted. Learning through the museum there are nearly a thousand of them and not about 10 are female. Seeing one of the rare female moais in the museum, wondering whoo she was and struck by the sculpted shape of her face.

Being instructed on how to peel fish skin and scales of a cooked fish in one motion, success debatable. Receiving many disproving looks from the family in my Easter Island stay as I said I was finished, unsure if it was because I did not eat the head of the fish. The pain of a single fish scale becoming stubbornly lodged in the back of my throat. Trying to cough it up and wash it down for some time. Fish bones gathered from each person at the table to be given to the cats outside. In my room some time later, finally successfully gargling the fish scale off the back of my throat.

The Rapa Nui quarry with the red rock and bits of unfinished work. Deep green grass, intense blue sky, wind chill with a bright sun. Sound of ocean waves in the distance. As I walked the path, looking back behind me and curious how the landscape would have looked with more trees, how it would have looked before the unintentional deforestation.

Driving to a remote area for stargazing, finding a high elevation with strong wind and clear sky. Hesitant to step outside oof the car because of spray dogs and wild horses wandering the island, aware of how much I would startle in the dark night if a creature randomly approached in the dark, no matter how tame they were. So many stars in the sky, s vibrant, slowly dissipating away before I realized a thin cloud was rolling in. Moving on as rain began, sitting on the edge of the island later with waves crashing on the volcanic rock, working on my travel journal as the local radio station played quiet Spanish songs. No cars coming or going, darkness, and vibrant stars slowly reappearing as the cloud moved on.

The larger Rapa Nui quarry where bodies oof the moai were formed, the land littered with both completed and incomplete sculpted heads and bodies, some standing, some flattened. The area almost empty, wandering alone for the most part, very grateful for arriving in the “off season”. Wonderful breeze, still hot in the sun, perfection in the shade from the mountain. Seeing the Giant, wondering if they knew how much he would weight and so he was abandoned or was he a show piece? The kneeling moai, wondering if the tales about him are true, a man who fell to his death with legs buckled beneath him, appearing to be kneeling as opposed to being crushed. Aware of the amount oof questions historians must have for this place, these ancient people.

Aka Kakenga and another lava tube exploration, sitting by the larger “window” overlooking the ocean and crashing waves, seeing the mist rain coming down despite the sun shining back towards me in the distance, wishing that Heather was with me because I know how much she’d love crawling on the rocks and exploring the edge of this little island with me.

Making poorly formed shadow puppets with my hand and head lamp in the lava tube.

Walking back from the lava tube, stuck in the rain, wet clothing and accepting it. Coming across multiple destroyed bits of lava rock, aware that they were broken down bits of moairs and past bits of history but not being able to recognize any bits. Suddenly coming across a face, a nose, eyes. Inhaling sharply, asking out loud “Are you a moai?” A face either way. Someone. A bit of soul someone attempted to capture in stone, a person to remember. No fence, no blockage, no signs showing me that I could not step closer. So I stepped closer. I may have dared a small touch on the nose. I appreciated this creation, this person, took a moment to wonder about who they were, and then moved on in the rain to find my car down the muddy, rocky slope.

A cappachino in a coffee shop with a thatched roof, a treat from my parents who knew I was sick with a sore throat, feeling tired, them wishing me well and wanting me to have a good start to my day. The gesture worked, a delicious foam, a small cafe with questionable free WiFi, a smiling lady who asked me to sit in Spanish, her look of satisfaction seeing I had eaten all of my breakfast, indicating that she wanted me to return again, assuring me that she opens at 7 AM sharp every day.

White sand of Anakena Beach, rare palm trees, moai on the shore. Bare toes in the cold water of the ocean, appreciating the feel of the sand. Seeing tourists with green gas hats, bathing suits, and others with multiple sweaters and fleece jackets. Remembering it was 70 degrees, confused on how some could walk around in the sun with so many layers.

Receiving pictures of sunflowers from my baby who is thinking of me and knows how much brightness sunflowers bring to me.

Simple food including papaya juice and slices of avocado filling me up, making me happy.

Sitting at the table under the awning, outside of the kitchen. Vinyl tablecloth and roosters crowing, concrete beneath me and brick beside me. A baby gecko climbing along the brick wall, underneath the open window where my host of limited English sat inside having a cup of coffee. “Ah!” I exclaim, excited to see the baby gecko. She looks at me and I motion, indicating what was bringing me such delight. “Ah” she responds in turn, cranking her neck out of the open window, leaning down and blowing forcefully the way one might for a small spider or a fly. Blown off the wall, my friend scurried away. Host gave me a reassuring look and sad something in Spanish that I took to be “There you go, you’re ok now. I took care of it.”

Cesar the prisoner and his generous offer to give me a tour of the island.

Sunrise on the eastern shore on my last morning on the island, a slow pace while the sky was still dark and dotted with stars. A slow swerving drive as I followed the curves of the road and avoided the wild horses and dogs in the street. Inadvertently at the same bit of shore where I had stargazed previously. Watching the sky slowly lighten, turn pink through the clouds. Rapa Nui radio again, alternating seamlessly between modern music, 80’s, traditional Rapa Nui songs with recognizable words like Hanga Roa, Make-Make, and Rapa Nui. Soft static but I didn’t mind. Finishing my postcards to family and friends by the sea, licking the large stamps and arranging them on the postcards, feeling tired but happy.

Valparaiso 6/28 - 7/1/19

First night with Rocio and Jorge, a full conversation with Google Translate where we discussed so many topics, drank tea, and pinched of a chunk of hardened brown sugar to sweeten the drink. Discussions of California and the US and healthcare policies.

My rooom, mustard yellow and bright and cheery, thick wooden frames on the windows, tidbits from all over the world decorating the space. An Ecuador Mitad de Mundo woven adornment hanging near the bathroom. The multiple thick blankets on the bed giving so much warmth and a feeling of home. Feeling comfortable and happy in this room where the heater falls from the wall and the ceiling leaks when it rains, loving waking up to the morning light.

Sitting at the table with the three roommates, looking through Tinder photos and laughing as one considers her upcoming date, using Google Translate again to discuss kids and childbirth, the Hungarian roommate’s intense fear of pregnant women and wanting too not be in close proximity, her blunt style of communication. I appreciated her and the flow of the conversation.

The city streets with layered murals, so many hills and colorful buildings, dotted with windows all over, appreciating the views and the unique homes with slants that appear unnatural and one has a hard time understanding how the structure does not slide down the hill.

The night of the Hungarian meal with everyone using our forks to jump in on the food in the center of the table. Jorge wanting another cup of tea but no more tea bags, everyone laughing and handing over the Indiana Chair tea bags from our mugs so that he may have the most flavor. The chocolate tart with the thick crust, the orange “salsa”, more conversation about life and adventures, Catterina showing me her family photos, the look on her face eager to communicate and to share, her wanting to know about me and my family, wanting to know who I am as a person. Still eternally grateful for Google Translate.

My mocha with chunk chocolate in the bottom of the glass, my limon tart with chocolate dribble on the plate, a kitty mural outside of the cafe, a strong WiFi connection allowing me to message friends and upload images of me trip, feeling excited to “be connected” as the barista with a thick dreadlock rat tail alternated between asking me about my travels and light strumming the ukulele, singing softly from behind the counter as he waited for more customers.

La Serena 7/1 - 7/3/19

Marisol and Patricio, in love, him motioning to her with a booming heart, telling me that having children has rejuvenated her, referring to her as his beautiful wife. Feeling welcomed in like family, him referring to me like a daughter, can feel how excited they are to show caring and love.

The walk to La Recova, the marketplace with delicious little bits all over made of papaya and mango and local honey, homemade artwork and woooden pieces with bits of seed pods or painted metal, small tote bags imprinted with commemorations of the Eclipse Chile 2019 event. Live music and activity around me, wishing I had more time, understanding some visitors were from a cruise stop off, thinking about how previously I had never heard of La Serena. Grateful to be there.

The travel to La Higuera in the north the day of the eclipse, my nervousness that we might be going too far, Patricio and Marisol putting my mind at ease with an eclipse map and showing me that they were taking me near the exact center so that we could have the maximum time, realizing that we were driving an extra hour for an extra ten seconds but knowing it was worth it.

The eclipse. The excitement, the celebration. Feeling of unity. Cheering, both me and the people around me. A universal awe. Patricio describing his heart racing, indicating goosebumps on his arm. Saying he wants to cry. He is amazed. He is moved. Running and laughing to the car as we pack quickly and jump in, headed towards the highway before the onslaught of vehicles behind me plug up the road. We all leave with smiles.

Drive home from the eclipse, all in awe, me driving and Patricio uses translation on his phone to say “It is an amazing thing we have experienced here today Sarah”. Them both giving me hugs and kisses on the cheek when I left in the morning, telling me to be careful, giving me directions again, telling me they love me, giving a goodbye gift to remember my time in La Serena.

The pisco sours offered by Patricio: blueberry, lemon, and mango. A toast along with his Jack Daniels whiskey which he said he chose to warm him after the cold from the eclipse.

Posted by WanderingWorld 00:39 Archived in Chile Tagged chile santiago rtw valparaiso solar_eclipse airbnb la_serena things_i_want_to_remember santiago_chile rtw_2019 Comments (0)

RTW 2019: Valparaíso and La Serena

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6/29/19 at 1640

So yesterday was quite the adventure . . . I landed in Santiago, grabbed my bag from baggage claim and FaceTimed my lady love via the free airport WiFi before going to grab my rental car. Everything was going smoothly and even the connection was clear on the WiFi. I was feeling good! I went to pick up my rental car from Avis with printed out confirmation in hand . . . only to learn they had cancelled my reservation back in May and the third party site I went through didn’t notify me. I’m the nerd who even goes through her junk mail folder. I was shocked. The Avis guy had struggled to find my reservation. He spoke broken English so then he reached out to the other employee who did a couple searches and then said “A-ha” with a very flat affect. Second Avis guy then explained to me in perfect English that my reservation was cancelled because they had “no cars”. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it in the moment. No cars? You have nothing? There were only about 5 other counters. I went to each, a look of panic that I’m sure they’re kind of familiar with at this point. “No”, “None”, “No”.

I had room reservations for Valparaiso (about an hour and a half away) where I was supposed to explore for a few days before then driving 4 and a half hours north to La Serena for the eclipse. Chile is a very expensive country to visit and I couldn’t even fathom the taxi cab fare. I had looked into buses before and they would work for going up to La Serena but I wouldn’t be able to return in time prior to my flight. My mind was reeling in the moment: what to do, what to do?

Then one of the rental guys motions over to a dude with a notebook, suggesting I try him. I walked up, saw images of cars on his notebook. I asked him for any automatic. “No.” Damn, I really need to learn manual . . . then he motions over to another gentleman with a notebook covered in pictures oof cars. There is a lot of discussion in Spanish, some phone calls being made, then a third guy walks up who speaks English saying they are working on it. Several phone calls later, they said they had a car, we settled on a price, and I had their word they weren’t going to kidnap me in the parking lot, hold me up for money, or try to steal my identity. I guess there’s still time but these seemed like good guys. A receipt and a WhatsApp phone number for my good friend Johan help a girl feel comfortable so there’s that.

Anyhow, I had my access to Chile. An hour and a half later I was night-time squinting through the windy and complex streets of Valaparaiso. Streets here would be classified as small alleys back home. The diffferentiation between one way and two way streets is unclear and parking is more of an art, sometimes half on the sidewalk, sometimes completely on the sidewalk, sometimes up against the curb with the mirrors tucked in as precaution. It’s really “to each his own”.

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Stairs leading to my AirBNB

Despite warnings that most struggle to find the location, I ended up finding my AirBNB on the first try and my sweet host Rocio was there waiting for me. Rocio and her friend Jorge invited me in, showed me my cozy yellow rooom, gave me tea. We spoke for a few hours, all three of us utilizing Google Translate to talk about California, Santa Monica, Jorge’s art show, hospital policies for marijuana and abortion in the United States, the weather, futbol . . . all kinds of topics. It was a fun, engaging conversation with people who were well traveled and had questions about my culture. They seemed to appreciate that Chile was my first stop on a large trip around the world.

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My cozy room in Valparaiso

When it came time for bed, the wall heater fell off the wall to the ground with a frightening thud and as the rain slammed down outside, I noticed a patch of wetness on the bedspread. There was a slow persistent leak from the ceiling. Nothing too worry about. Rocio jumped on the bed and worked the heater back on the wall . . . OK, maybe it was upside down but it was holding fine and still worked. When I moved the bed to avoid the leak, it was actually quite convenient as I could easily hang my head ooff the side of the bed and use my flashlight to find the right heater setting when I wanted to turn the heater on/off. A phone call to the parentals and a FaceTime with Heather, I was ready to bundle up under the covers and I quickly fell asleep listening to the rain.

I slept in, woke up slowly to the sound oof a forceful downpour of rain. I got dressed and ready for the day and once there was a break in the water, I headed to the local market. I picked up groceries for the next few days, hoping for a better balance in my intake. I came back, struggled with the stovetop until I had to message my host who helped me to turn on the gas supply. An omelette and toast with blackcurrant jam, rinsed down with peach juice and I was feeling good. I made a sandwich to munch on during my day and headed out again to explore Valparaiso.

Today I wandered around impressive and layered street art and took the oldest funicular in the city, the Ascensor Concepcion which was built in the 1800’s. Only 300 pesos up or down, which is roughly about 50 cents. Continually snapping photos of the street arm, I came upon a beer “museum” that was more of a restaurant. I saw old bottles and photos detailing the evolution of the beer industry in Chile. At the waterfront, mobs of tourists waited to board a ship out into the harbor with local fishermen and a confusing elaborate celebration was taking place in the area. Costumes, repetitive dance moves, mock fighting, and a young girl in a rather large bear costume weaved in and out of the crowds. I remembered my previous host Sandra had said something about Saturday having a large celebration but she didn’t know how to translate the occasion into English. I’m not quite sure what was happening there.

Catching a ride with a local fisherman had sounded fun but apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. I decided to move away from the crowds and just enjoy the view on its own merit. Maybe if there’s less people I’ll check out a boat ride tomorrow.

I went into a handful of artisan shops where I appreciated handmade, unique goods for sale. A relief after struggling to find such items on Easter Island. One shop had dried out local blueberries from a nearby area. They were exceptionally small. When I asked what they were used for, the merchant told me he adds them to his milk and cereal but some may add to yogurt and such. They are a specialty fruit that people enjoy for its locality. After a little chit chat he offered me a Chai tea, which I greatly appreciated on the chilly day.

After a mere 3 hours or so of walking up and down I was ready for a little break. I slowly made my way back to the AirBNB. I gathered some things and decided to find a cafe for a coffee and a sit, perhaps a little people watching. I found a coffee shop with a ukulele playing barista rocking a dreadlock rat tail. A fancy mocha with chunk chocolate in the bottom of the cup, a lemon tart and amazing WiFi. My dream . . . I have been messaging family and friends, checking in, and enjoying the view of artwork as the sun goes down.

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My little treat as provided by my ukulele playing barista

Tomorrow, more wanderings before leaving Valparaiso and heading towards La Serena, the land of the Chilean solar eclipse. I’ve touched base with my AirBNB hosts. The son Daniel will be in New Zealand and so I will be watching the eclipse with his parents. I have spoken with his brother Felipe and his mother Marisol. I’m glad that I have two pairs of eclipse glasses in case someone needs one!

7/1/19 at 2214

I am all settled in La Serena! Yesterday while still in Valparaiso, I had started feeling under the weather a bit so had made sure to stay in a bit more, relax and recuperate. I have always had the goal of learning to relax and not be at such a “go go” pace but it is certainly a struggle. I honestly think my last around the world trip helped me to see the worth in stopping for a breath. No matter what I am sacrificing in experience, I am gaining in a sense of calm and balance. Well, the Disney Cruises with Clare helped as well. That was perhaps the most effective. Go-go on an excursion and then nap poolside, picking up a book now and then and enjoying just being.

A highlight yesterday was FaceTiming with my friend Jen who made her way out to Valparaiso, Indiana. Two curly haired girls facetiming one another from sister cities on two different continents. How fun is that?!

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Watching the sunset from Wulff Castle

In the evening I explored Avenida del Mar, city next to Valparaiso. I guess its more of the “upscale” city along the beach. Of course I preferred the crazy artwork vibe to Valparaiso but I still enjoyed myself. I walked around Wulff Castle with what I think are recreations of Van Gogh’s work. I saw the setting sun from a turret against the rocky coast, and took some video of a glass floor where you could see the ocean waves and volcanic rock beneath. I have decided I want such a glass floor in any future beach home. Who would not want to watch the tide flow in?

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The flower clock of Avenida del Mar

I had heard the flower clock at the entrance to the city is famous so of course I stopped for a quick photo. I guess it chimes on the hour, every hour but I didn’t have much interest in waiting twenty minutes for a chime. Funny to see characters dress in homemade costumes, acting as Pikachu or Chewbacca to take some photos with tourists. A lot of security present gave me the sense that perhaps late at night or in the past this place was not so safe . . . or maybe they want to ensure a continued safety. Either way, it was appreciated as I wandered.

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I had learned that there was a moai at the Francisco Fonck museum in Avenida del Mar. The museum was closed by then but luckily he was out front. Of course I had to stop, talk to him for a minute, let him know I had seen his home base and his people were doing all right. As always, wandering who he was, how long ago he lived, what would he think about where he is now? Google taught me that there are about ten different moai around the world that were removed from Easter Island. Heather and I were talking about seeking them out. And guess what? I found out there’s another one in La Serena! I’m hoping to see him tomorrow.

After that exploration, it was getting dark and I was ready to come back to my home base anyhow. I had been invited to a traditional Hungarian dinner cooked by one of the roommates, to which I had answered “Yes, of course!”. It was a pasta and potato dish, served with appetizers of vinegar soaked vegetables. Mayo made it to the table and yes, after much encouragement that “mayo goes with everything” I did try it with the food. I was told that traditionally the dish is served with sour cream, but sour cream is not to be found within Chile.

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Dessert was a chocolate tart with a chutney referred to as “salsa”. It was made of oranges, lemons, honey, and another ingredient which I did not catch. The salsa was truly an amazing compliment to the chocolate tart! All that with some Chai tea and it was the perfect meal for my last night in Valparaiso. I met another friend and the table was lively with conversation via Google Translate flying around, some translated by our Hungarian counterpart who is fluent in English, French, Spanish, and (of course) Hungarian. I really felt a sense of belonging, a welcome atmosphere into the group. I did not want to leave, to be honest. I felt very at home.

But moving on was inevitable. An early morning raise where I gathered my laundry from the rack, although still slightly damp. I layered out the clothing in the back seat of the car so the sun would warm and dry them through the windshield. And yes, chonies were included. Hey, a traveling girl does what a traveling girl has to do! With my rental car loaded up, I made my way down the windy, tiny streets of Valparaiso for the last time.

Driving to La Serena felt very familiar. Dessert, ocean, windmills. The feel was very California but with a heavy layer of smog. Perhaps it was fog but it was hot and the sun was shining bright and a thick yellow haze hung over the freeway and near the coast. I did not quite understand how this haze was hanging out right near the coast. I passed through toll after toll station, adding up and up. I believe it was about $25 USD in total to make a few hour drive. I pulled over near the sea, lowered the windows to hear the waves and ate my simple lunch in a calm peace.

Tomorrow is the eclipse . . . I am extremely excited. I know perhaps nothing will compare to my first total solar eclipse but I feel tingles of what is to come.

Before settling in completely I did make my way to the local market. I wanted to get my bearings of the city. About a 45 minute walk in and it was a lovely small market with many local jams and honeys, souvenirs and things both mass produced and handmade. Many bits of jewelry from shells and rock and woven reeds. I passed near the museum that has the La Serena moai. I am looking forward to saying hello.

My AirBNB hosts shared a pisco sour with me made from the traditional small blueberries of southern Chile. The taste was sweet but full. I cooked myself a simple scramble for dinner with fried potatoes, ground beef, eggs, tomato slices, bell pepper slices, and gouda cheese. There are their guests in the home; two girls who are French and a couple who seem to be Chilean. I am not clear on who all is going together for eclipse about an hour north.

It’s chilly and I’m tired and these blankets feel oh so good . . . I’m off to sleep. Tomorrow . . . eclipse. =)

7/2/19 At 1252

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Watching the news before heading out

We are sitting, waiting for the eclipse. My hosts Marisol and Patricio have brought me to La Higuera, close to the mid observation point for the eclipse. it is just the three of us and we have a fun dynamic, communicating via translation apps, their broken English and my broken Spanish. There was hardly any traffic until we got to the marked observation points. We pulled off by a dusty little road with orange traffic cones, manned by a policeman. We are now in a desert landscape with rocky terrain and large brown mountains in the distance that remind me quite a bit of the inland parts of California. There are so many cars scrambling for a parking spot, many people walking, tents set up, umbrellas, camping chairs. I can smell some people are cooking, others are relaxing with coolers. Tourist coaches go by occasionally, trucks that appear to be business trucks are going by full of families. Traffic back will be a nightmare but luckily we have a spot near the entrance/exit point. Overhead there are electrical lines with a light buzz. I’m not sure exactly where the sun will be in the sky when the eclipse begins but there is a large area around us where we can move wherever we want to. With the eclipse being over two minutes long we should have plenty of freedom to roam for a better view if need be.

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In the sectioned off viewing area
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Waiting and excited!

I can’t recall the length of the eclipse we saw in America. Camping with Goldberg and his family was amazing. To see the eclipse in a wooded clearing next to a stream . . . I remember the nighttime insects coming out, nocturnal birds beginning to call out, the chill drop in the air. It was magical. I am curious for this eclipse, what will the changes be? I’m sitting in a dry open dessert. No birds. Maybe some nighttime insects? The drop in temperature for sure . . .

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For lunch Marisol and Patricio brought simple sandwiches of bread and beef, hard boiled eggs, water, tea, and sugar free Coke. We will begin our lunch soon and just relax, watching more and more cars pile in.

I gave Heather a pair of glasses. She said she’ll try to look at the sun the same time as I am. We already look at the moon when we are apart and now we have the opportunity to look at the sun in significance. I told her I’m pulling double duty because I’ll be looking at the sun and the moon at the same time. ;)

7/3/19 at 1959

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The experience of the total solar eclipse yesterday was amazing. At the moment of totality, the crowds cheered, people were honking, I was jumping up and down, Patricio was jumping up and down. The orb in the sky once again looked more tangible than the standard moon view we have each night. The depth that comes from it’s black shadowy presence looks thick, like you can pluck it directly out of the sky. Absolutely breathtaking. Then to have two and half minutes of totality was a special treat. I don’t remember how long the totality was for the eclipse I saw with Goldberg’s family and Frank in Tennessee. I think maybe about a minute? But this was significantly longer. I regret not thinking to bring my actual camera to get better pictures of the eclipse itself but I was more than happy to stand and enjoy the moment. I did try a few captures on my phone but the quality just does not do the moment justice.

A long drive in traffic with Google Translate conversation along the way and we returned to our AirBNB. I was impressed with how well the Chilean police attempted to control the traffic. There’s only so much they can do on a two lane highway with minimal off and on ramps. But we inched along and made it back where Patricio ran to the banyo as the poor man hadn’t been able to find a suitable cactus free of children’s eyes while we were in the desert. (Marisol and I had found a circular grouping of cactuses and took turns standing watch.)

I had a simple sandwich for dinner and Patricio poured me a Limon Pisco Sour (his favorite) followed by a Mango Pisco Sour (Marisol’s favorite). Both were delicious and it was hard too choose a favorite though Patricio wanted me to. During this time she was behind him, pointing to the mango battle mouthing what I’m sure was something along the lines of “This one’s better.”

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Our two French counterparts were making dinner at that time and so joined in on the conversation. We all made our way via Spanish, French, English, and of course, Google Translate. We talked about the eclipse, our previous experiences with eclipses, our ages, children, relationships. I was able to hear Marisol and Patricio’s story. Apparently he had been working a government job and the political climate was tense as Chile was nearly at war with Bolivia. If a government employee wanted too get married, the engaged partner had to be investigated by the government in a process that took approximately one year. The government was attempting to ensure that this person was not a spy or a threat to the government. He said he had been a wild boy and described his wifey as his chain who grounded him. He pulled from his wallet a thin paper reinforced with tape that was in Marisol’s writing. It was from over 30 years prior where she had written him, saying it was OK to start the investigation. Essentially, she was saying “I want to marry you.”

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Marisol’s note

The way he speaks about his lady love is inspiring and beautiful. They really are a beautiful couple . . . Patricio was so happy, talking about how he always wanted daughters and referred to his three AirBNB guests, three young women. He said now he feels like he has three ninas in the house and he feels so happy. I gather from previous communication the guests are usually managed more by their son Daniel, especially those who do not speak Spanish. This interaction seemed especially touching for his parents and I appreciated it as well.

They asked me to wake them up in the morning before I left and if they were sleeping to knock on the door. I felt hesitant, reiterating that I would be leaving early and did they really want me to wake them up at 6? (“At seis . . . seis? OK . . . “) They wanted to hug me goodbye and wish me well. Patricio advised me to eat a good breakfast for my long drive and to sleep well, just like a good papa would say.

In the morning, a chilly shower, a breakfast scramble in which I FINALLY found a pepper shaker in Chile (wooohooo!!) and a bit of my peach juice. Patricio and Marisol had woken up on their own and so I approached to say goodbye. In morning robes and with sleepy, smiling faces they gave me a small parting gift to remember them, our experience, to remember the area. I was so touched. Like so many times in Chile, I could feel the familial love emanating from them. I gave them each a hug and thanked them for a lovely stay.

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The drive was long with many stops along the way but I luckily made it near the agreed upon drop off time with my rental gentlemen and then headed for check-in for my flight to London. I ended up with only about $15 leftover in Chilean pesos, which I’ll throw in my travel drawer until maybe a Tierra del Fuego trip in the future. A stop for a Starbucks treat in the terminal and then I boarded, happy to have been able to swap to an aisle seat for the long journey. I closed my eyes and mentally said goodbye to Chile and the wonderful people I met there. I’m now probably over the ocean somewhere. I’m a few movies in and adjusting my watch to London time . . . not too much longer now and I’ll be at my next destination!

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Posted by WanderingWorld 16:13 Archived in Chile Tagged eclipse chile rtw valparaiso easter_island solar_eclipse airbnb la_serena rtw_2019 valparaiso_chile la_serena_chile Comments (1)

RTW 2019: Rapa Nui

AKA Isle de Pasquale or Easter Island

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6/25/19 at 2101
Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile

Fun fact: day old lengua sandwich tastes much better than it sounds. It was quite the hearty breakfast before another day of traveling, especially when my flight got delayed for 3 hours.

I started off this AM with a 4:30 AM cab ride to the airport. With the cabbie right on time, I thought I was in good shape. Checking in and dropping off my bag seemed pretty straightforward. Then I went to security. I was told that Rapa Nui trips specifically were on a different floor. I was directed to an elevator, which then took me to a hallway with empty offices. I looked around, no other souls in site. I contemplated going back up, thinking that clearly they must have directed me the wrong way. Then I ran into a young boy delivering local papers from a cart. In broken English he told me “we go to the same place”. I followed him through the office hallways, telling him I was a little worried. “No personas?” He motioned as we made a turn, said “Public area.” I saw a few people ahead of me with suitcases and a sign for the security checkpoint. Faith restored!

I found the security checkpoint, went through immigration and passed a tower of confiscated sharps (including way too many tools and pairs of scissors), and then was told again to go down a long & empty hallway. All signs said “Salida” (exit) and my faith that I was going in the right direction again started to wain. A European boy who spoke no English became uncomfortable, started heading back. I was next to a local Rapa Nui girl who thankfully was bilingual. She told me the fact that we were uncomfortable together offered some comfort. She said “I always get lost in here. There are never any signs.” We came across janitorial staff who were able to confirm we were headed the ride way. We went through two more deserted hallways before coming in to a crowded terminal with a Dunkin Donuts nearby. My new Rapa Nui friend told me “There’s ALWAYS a Dunkin’ Donuts by the terminal. Rapa Nui people LOVE Dunkin’ Donuts.” She wasn’t kidding. I saw several people with multiple boxes of Dunkin’ Donuts, which I later saw being stashed into overhead bins for travel to the island. I looked at the long line and thought, “When was the last time I had a Dunkin’ Donut?? Am I missing out . . . how well would a Dunkin’ Donut mix with the cold lengua sandwich in my belly?” I decided it was a culinary concoction I wasn’t ready to explore before a flight.

So then the boarding, not boarding, boarding, not boarding dance began. We were officially delayed. After a few hours and some mediocre sleep on the floor with my inflatable travel pillow and bags wrapped around my arms, we were officially boarding. Disembarking on to the tarmac, you could see the ocean and feel the breeze. Which of course, was lovely for the hair . . . in addition to the terminal floor nap. Walking out of the airport, you’re greeted by a large crowd of local peeps yelling, waving necklaces, holding signs, offering taxicab rides, car rentals, whatever you need!! I made my way through and followed my Google maps to my AirBNB. I dropped off my bags in the kitchen, took my valuables and headed out to put some more miles on my feet.

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Hello Hanga Roa!

Walking down the main street I passed by artesian shops and souvenir shops with the same mass produced souvenirs over and over. Almost all were figurines of the moai, earrings of the moai, magnets of the moai, shirts of the moai. I was looking, curious to find some original design or craftsmanship but I was disappointed at each shop I came to. I started thinking of the irony that I was finally to Easter Island and seeing numerous moai but it was all in design before seeing an actual statue. I wanted to see something real.

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My first Moai sighting
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Right as I was mumbling to myself about the irony of no moai while being surrounded by thousands of moais, I walked up to Ahu Riata in the harbor. He was singular, starting straight ahead, back to the water. Stray dogs walked around, sleeping on the grass in front of the ahu. A soccer field was nearby with some young men laughing, running, kicking the ball around. Battered old cars drove by, rolling through the stop signs. In front of me was a moai, carved maybe 500 years ago, maybe a thousand years ago, representing a person and meant to capture a soul so that this person may live on. In that moment I reflected on how easy it is for us to take our surroundings for granted. I thought about this little island, described as “the most isolated but inhabited island” in the world, and here I am standing before this mysterious statue that represents someone who lived and walked on this land . . . the construction still a mystery, the rituals not completely revealed, a written language never decoded. I didn’t want to take the moment for granted. Even with the stray dogs walking by.

I wandered a bit more, wishing I could get closer but extremely aware of the multitude oof signs warning “NO”, “NO STEP AHU”, and circles with lines through the center. In my wanderings up and down the coast I found more carvings, more moai, and more ahus, many without their person. I took a decent walk up and through the curvy streets to the free Museo de Rapa Nui, also known as the Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum. Their exhibits were more signs but I appreciated being able to see the rare female moai. I would have loved to known more about her. Who was she, why was she significant enough for a statue, what was she like? The museum also had recreations of the tablets which display the Rapa Nui written language that has never been deciphered. An English documentary played in the background and I learned that evidence has been found to show that the Rapa Nui people realized their deforestation effect and began planting trees. An archaeologist was showing evidence of an irrigation system and tree seed planting. Though the island is pretty desolate now, I still appreciated this tidbit.

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The Father Sebastián Englert Anthropological Museum
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A very rare female moai
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Known as an avanga, this is a funerary cist where
bones of ancestors were buried within the ahus

After the museum, I followed pathways to the coast where more moai and ahus were, all with the same DO NOT TOUCH THIS signage. I found a local cemetery and wandered around, looking at all of the memorials loved ones set up. In a land of forgotten history and unknown ancestors, it appears that the local people have a strong focus on remembering those who have passed. The graves were extremely lively with bits of artwork, painted stones, built structures, a guitar, sculptured aces, plants both real and silk. There was such vibrancy left in remembrance of each person. I was able to get a minute sense of each person who was buried there.

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I took the day slow, walking and wandering around. I had originally planned on renting a car today but I’m going to try tomorrow. With the delay and everything, I wasn’t feeling particularly gung ho. I did end up going out for a nice dinner though. I ate at Koloa Restaurant at the Hangaroa Eco Lodge and VIllage. A cocktail of unclear ingredients and a perfectly seared bit of tuna . . . there was supposed to be a beautiful ocean view but many protest signs and stakes obscured that part. I have to do some research on what’s going on there. I could still see some ocean through the stakes and I could hear the waves so tried to rest, relax my mind a bit. I watched the sunset go down as I munched down on dinner and marveled at the stars. I do wish I had a car to travel to the more remote parts of the island to do some stargazing. But I am probably honestly too tired for it anyhow. After dinner I went to the market, picked up a local Rapa Nui beer to try at some time before I go. I also grabbed a large container of water to refill my Rapa Nui rainwater bottle I picked up earlier. I think I’ve decided this will be my travel bottle this trip. I considered possibly picking up food to cook for breakfast but I think I want to find a local place and maybe do coffee and pan in the morning. Tomorrow will be more exploring, more Moai . . . and I hope to find more quiet moments.

6/26/19 at 1054

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I’m sitting at a small cafe with a thatched roof and free WiFi that doesn’t work, waiting on my cappuccino doble with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, and toast. Knowing I was feeling under the weather, the parentals offered to treat me to a morning coffee which is greatly appreciated. A little pick me up feels necessary. One thing I have noticed in Chile is that fresh vegetables seem hard to come by here. For how lush looking the greenery is in Rapa Nui, it surprises me to see that vegetables are also rare here. No tomatoes, no greens. The salads I’ve seen brought out are also onion heavy, such as on the mainland. In Santiago, food seemed meat and carbs, meat and carbs. My body is craving more!

Before this I was able to find a rental car after trying four different rental car agencies. $90,000 Chilean pesos a day, or roughly $130 USD a day. I have been saying how I need to learn manual but at the current prices, it looks as though a manual car would have been about $100 a day so not much more of a deal. I asked about a discount paying cash to which the gentleman quickly replied “No because automatic is so rare.” I guess there would have been a chance to try to talk him down there butt either way, I’m glad to have a car and a bit of freedom. I slept in today and continually am feeling better. Tomorrow I think I’ll get up early to try to see the sunrise near Ahu Tongariki where fifteen moai stand strong.

Today I will be heading to see Orongo and probably drive the roads. I don’t have a particular destination in mind so we’ll see what happens. First thing is first . . . food . . . and then finding where to buy my park pass!

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Found it . . . and so did this stray dog

6/26/19 At 1107

The food has come out with the scramble in a small cast iron pan. I was given a salt container filled with rice to absorb the moisture, a thin pepper mix and hardened sugar crystals for my coffee. Large perfectly square pieces of toast there to spread the scramble on. A very filling beginning to my day . . . thanks again to the parentals.

6/26/19 at 2009

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My noble steed

Ah, a successful day! As soon as I sat in my little gray Suzuki I felt at home. I’m a total California girl at heart, happy to have my vroom vroom to go around in. And you know it’s going to be good when your rental car comes with advice: “Watch out for the wild horses.” In my mind I was thinking “and the stray dogs . . . and the cows . . . and the chickens . . . “ Not to mention the pedestrians, other drivers who are comfortable with the roads and the tourists who are uncomfortable with the roads. And the scooters, the motorcycles, the ATVs . . . we’re not even going to think about how “no insurance” exists on the island. But moving on. I was freeeee! Also the sickness seems to be at bay, which is great.

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I started off with Orongo, the dwellings near Rano Kau Crater where the Birdman Ceremony took place. I stopped at the crater’s edge on the way in and enjoyed the crazy wind up so high. The crater is indescribable in person. I absolutely loved being at the edge. Orongo itself has dwellings that were reconstructed in the 70’s so visitors could appreciate what it once looked like. My biggest joy perhaps was coming across the site where Hoa Hakananai’a was found. He is the moai that is now in London, apparently taken away in 1868. I was already very excited to see him and say hello but now there is an even stronger connection because off seeing where his home was.

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The dwelling where Hoa Hakananai’a Moai was removed from.

After I got my fill of the crater and the Orongo dwellings, I made my way back down the extinct volcano towards the famous cave Ana Kai Tangata. Here you can see ancient red, white, and black paintings of birds, presumably depicting important aspects of the Birdman ceremony. Apparently human bones have been found here with evidence to support the claims that the ancient peoples were cannibalistic in nature.

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Cave paintings of birds
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I also made my way to the north, stopping at several ahus, moais, and petroglyph spots along the way. On the famous Te Moai road there were too many toppled and fractured sculptures to count. I passed the famous Ahu Tongariki and but honestly got distracted by wild horses on the opposite side of the road taking a bath in a small pool of groundwater. I visited Puna a Pau, the quarry where red volcanic rock was used to carve the “hats”, known as pukao. There are still several unfinished pukao in the quarry site. On some of them you can see petroglyphs with canoes and other images. I really enjoyed he quarry and am excited to see the main quarry tomorrow where the bodies of the moai were carved.

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The Puna a Pau red rock quarry
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I saw so many moai today and still feel like I can’t get my fill. I look at their different facial structures, their different heights. I know they say they were meant to capture souls and essences, to keep them for generations to come, and so I wonder about them. Who were and what were they like? I also have these thoughts strongly for the toppled moai lying facedown on the side of the road. As the stories go, the sculpture were toppled during unrest in the 17th and 18th centuries. The government later lifted some back up, put them on display for people to see. I wonder how these ancestors would feel knowing they’re facedown in the dirt. Or would they prefer that to having thousands of tourists gawking and taking pictures, threatening to cut off an ear? (Bad idea guy, really bad idea.) I wonder how some were chosen to be re-erected while others were allowed to stay in the ground. Another random interesting point is that many of the ahus have astronomical significance which I am not surprised about but I did not know. They said that several are facing the area of sunrise during the equinox and things such as that. I find it all fascinating.

After that bit of exploration, I headed back to the AirBNB for a rest. A party was under way for my host to welcome her brother to the island. Several friends and family were laughing, talking, singing and playing guitar, eating. I was made up a plate by Carlos, my hosts’ nephew, with a grilled whole fish and rice. He motioned to show me how to peel the fish skin off in one peel. I didn’t do the best on the top side but I was better the opposite side. They didn’t know the name of the fish but I was assured it was a Rapa Nui delicacy. I was given a container of salt where we all pinched a bit, spread it on the grilled fish and then I was given half of a small green lemon to squeeze over the fish. It was honestly one of the best fish I’ve had. I pulled out my Rapa Nui brewery APA to wash the fish down. The beer was decently tasty and my bottle seemed to make a mild buzz at the table. In a sea of Budweiser, the Rapa Nui brewery bottle stuck out a bit. I was surprised they seemed so unfamiliar with it. I’m sure it’s more pricey than the average pack of beer but I hope they try it. I wish I had taken a picture of dinner, of the table, but surrounded with casual family and the lack of communication I felt it would be ill-fitting.

Fun tidbit: after this meal I had the particular joy of trying to get a scratchy fish scale off the back of my throat. Coughs and clearing the throat proved ineffective. I decided to try some gargling. A few gargles with water later and the irritating scale was off. I don’t recall the last time I had such a sense of relief.

Later I went out, walked around the main street again to enjoy the atmosphere a bit. I treated myself to a guava ice cream and picked up some groceries including unknown white cheese, sliced meat, avocado, and fresh bread. I also picked up some papaya juice, pan dulce, and a handful of eggs to make myself a breakfast. Tomorrow I have decided I am going to get up early to see the sunset from Ahu Tongariki. With sunrise past 8 AM I feel I have no excuse not to go . . . its about 30 min away. Tonight, a little more stargazing before I head home to try to call my baby.

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My guava ice cream with maybe a tad too many seeds

628/19 at 1137

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A simple breakfast to start the day
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Ahu Tongariki

Yesterday was a full and amazing day. I’m now in the plane, heading out from Hanga Roa, feeling happy and settling in, about to start watching the Greatest Showman on Earth. Yesterday, I got up early as planned and made a simple breakfast. Man, I love that papaya juice. There were many people at Ahu Tongariki for the sunrise. The sun raised up a little farther north but it was still a beautiful sight to see. After the sun was up, many of the people headed out which somewhat surprised me. I walked around the fifteen moai, including taking the pathway behind them where you can see the carving and detail on their backs. I only saw one other person taking a look at the back of the sculptures. I loved the feeling of seclusion and the ahu is right up to the water’s edge. I took a few minutes to wander out on the rocks, to listen the ocean, watch the waves. The quiet and peace was very soothing. I knew there was more I wanted to do in the area but after such a morning, I was a little tired. I decided to take a short nap in my rental car. Some of the stray dogs softly followed beside me, laid down when I laid down in the car. I woke up to a few dogs napping outside of the car and a handful of wild ponies grazing a handful of yards away.

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Can you see the Giant on the righthand side?
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Tukuturi, the only kneeling moai
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The Rano Raraku quarry where the body of the moais were carved is right near Ahu Tongariki so it was the obvious next stop. The area was nearly empty and the sun was peaking enough to make it warm but not enough to make it hot. I put my headphones in and walked around the curving pathways. I saw the famous Giant who is more than 72 feet long and would have weighed more than 200 tons had he been removed from the quarry. I passed by Tukuturi, the kneeling moai who is coincidentally also the only known moai to have a booty. Local legend tells of a man who fell to his death and upon landing, his legs were buckled beneath him as if he was kneeling before the volcanic mountain. There were different styles and sizes, various facial features accentuated while others were more muted. I found it fascinating and wished there was more information provided on the moai but I suppose the lack of information is one of the tragedies of this island, yes?

After the quarry, I made my way to Anakena Beach, past the awkward carved statue of a woman giving birth with a rope for an umbilical cord. An uninterested employee stamped my ticket and told me to remain on the pathways, to not go off the pathways, to not touch the moai, to not touch the ahu, do not go off the pathways and towards the moai. Got it? Got it.

The beach was beautiful with fine sand that lifted up what felt like mini-sand dunes, but the scene appeared to be manufactured with palm trees that were aligned in rows. I believe this was the first area I had seen with palm trees and I’m not sure if they were planted to replace natural ones or specifically meant to be in an arrangement. Little fine bits of plastic shined in the sand as I got near the water, a little painful ping of reality. Tourists posed with bathing suits, greenery in their hair as the waves crashed around them. Other tourists walked up to the water in heavy fleece jackets and scarves. The weather was warm in the sun but somewhat chilly in a shadow. I had put on my flip flops, so stayed in the sun, pulled up my pants and stepped into the ocean waves. I enjoyed the feeling of the sand between my toes, let the cool water soothe my wandering feet.

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This canoe petroglyph is the largest on the island

I was at the beach a short time before brushing off the sand and moving on. A quick stop off at the Papa Vaka petroglyphs where I was again the sole tourist waking around. Then a market run where I was pleasantly surprised to find a Brazilian drink marked “ANTARCTICA” and very sad to find out that Doritos Sabor is not the same as Doritos Nacho Cheese back home. I stopped by my AirBNB for a simple sandwich lunch with more papaya juice, a refill of my water, and then back out for more.

I was very excited to explore the Ana Kakena lava tube and looked at the map, feeling there was a good amount of time to make the drive. Of course, the road marked turned to a dirt road and then a rough road with large rocks, and then mud and lava rocks. I wasn’t so confident that my rental car could handle it without me having to utilize the spare tire in the back so I abandoned my car to the side of the road and took off on foot as ATVs passed me be. I came to a small parking lot where there was a few cars who had braved the trek and then I saw a ticket window. I realized this was part of the official National Park and received a stamp on my ticket for going further. In a heavy accent, the old man with leather skin and long hair, missing teeth and blackened teeth said “About twenty-five minutos.” He wasn’t kidding and it was a slightly exhausting twenty-five minutos on top of the already thirty or so minutos I had spent trudging through rocks and mud. There was a small rain cloud that came in, giving a light spray but I thought “I’m too far in, can’t turn back now!”

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Almost there
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Entrance to lava tube

I accidentally missed the entrance to the lava tube on the first pass. Chile is a place of “You’ll figure it out” . . . and I did. Eventually. When I reached the cliff edge before the ocean I figured perhaps I had gone too far. I turned back and found it promptly. Headlamp on, ready to go, I crawled in. It’s a small cave, wet and dripping but the two windows to the ocean are breathtaking. One window had what appeared to be a mild mudslide in its recent pass so I admired from afar. The second larger window was dry and clear, opening to a sheer drop off and overlooking crashing waves against protrusions of rock. I sat alone in the lava tube for a short time, looking out on to the water and the setting sun. The small rain cloud made its way over and a fine mist of rain came down through the sun rays. I truly didn’t want to leave, sitting on the edge of that lava tube, overlooking the ocean.

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The view from one of the lava tube windows, leading out to the cliff

After packing and preparing for the flight the next day, I headed to bed. I set my alarm early because I knew I wanted to see the sun rise again. I didn’t feel I needed to watch it above the moai but I definitely wanted the experience of watching the sky change color before leaving the island. I headed out, drove about a half away and pulled up to the waters edge where I could see the waves jumping up the black rocks. I cuddled up in my car to stay warm with my slightly cracked windows . . . I wanted to hear the ocean waves crashing between songs on the Rapa Nui radio. As the sun came out, I realized I was on the exact same bit of shore that I had stargazed at the previous night. I guess that was meant to be my spot. When it was time to head back, I avoided the wild horses that like to wander on the roads, saw no other tourists, reached my AirBNB, gathered my things, and headed out for the airport.

So . . . now on to watch the Greatest Showman on Earth because I did promise my lady love that I would watch this at some point. Goodbye my moai friends. I do not know if and when I shall ever be back.

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At the top of the Rano Kau volcanic crater

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The Polynesian Triangle, made up of Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand

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Bridge of a nose I came across on my treks

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Posted by WanderingWorld 20:01 Archived in Chile Tagged cave chile rtw easter_island rapa_nui airbnb foot_shot hanga_roa rtw_2019 lava_tube Comments (2)

RTW 2019: Santiago, Chile

6/23/19 - 6/24/19

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6/23/19 at 2052
Santiago, Chile

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Ready to go and rocking my Eagle Creek luggage I got my first RTW trip 5 years back

I made it to Chile . . . the “Round the World” trip has begun and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. Mainly because I’m sick, possibly also because I had a hard time sleeping on the red-eye from Dallas to Santiago. My left ear still hasn’t popped, I have a mild case of tinnitus, and I’m realizing more and more that I really need to see an ENT about my ruptured ear drums all those years ago. But I’m here . . . I left yesterday afternoon, dropped off at Ontario Airport by my baby. A Subway sandwich and some Sea Salt & Vinegar chips in my bag, I felt ready to go but barely made it through security as they moved my stuff through three times. The TSA agent eventually accepted my USB brick charger/flashlight combo wasn’t a weapon and he eventually decided my make-up was an acceptable liquid. Through to Dallas and immediately loaded on to my plane for Santiago. I watched “A Star is Born” (finally!) and “The Favorite” . . . note to self: must talk to Frank about this movie. After landing, a little miming helped me to follow the customs process, locate an ATM, and then I easily found the Centropuerto bus based on the on-line guidance I had read beforehand. I picked up a BIP card in the metro and a few stops later, I made my way to my AirBNB. I met two eager young girls and a cute kitty named Lulu. I don’t normally mind children in my AirBNB but after the oldest wandered in to my room, started touching my stuff, inquired what my shower poof was for, and then hid in my closet until I told her Dad so he could escort her out . . . well, now I’m questioning if I should pay more attention to the “lock on the door” preference so many travelers seem to have. ;)

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A nap for a few hours helped me to shake off the overnight flight and I headed out. I went to the Plaza de Armas where some soil art was being made. I’m not sure I understand what its commemorating or the purpose, especially considering it will rain tomorrow but I was intrigued. I wandered around the free history museum in the Plaza, lamenting that there were no signs in English and that I forgot to download a language pack for Google translate. I still enjoyed looking around but I knew I was missing the impact of the history.

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Museo Historico Nacional is in the Plaza de Armas and free to enter

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Definitely winning as one of the most interesting shoes I have ever seen

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A window in the San Francisco Iglesia

Based on the suggestion of my host, I visited San Francisco Church, which evidentially is over 400 years old. It was very special to go in during mass. Several people were like me, walking through the two lines of homeless men flanking the entrance, shaking change in cups, telling us we were “Bonita!” and asking for money in between laughs. Parts of the floor were sunk in, the walls were smooth and rounded. I dared to touch one wall, knowing no one would care but feeling aware of the American way of treating treasured relics of the past . . . “Do not touch!”. I appreciate these barriers are there for so many countries. I remembered Goreme in Turkey and how special it was to wander the homes alone, crawling through doorways, jumping from house to house, touching the walls. I left my brother a voicemail from there, wanting to reach out and share the moment with someone.

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Santa Lucia

I next wandered around Santa Lucia Hill, appreciating the Neptune fountain. The weather was beautiful and I was starting to feel the exhaustion. I did not make it to the top where the beautiful brick fort was. It was a long winding road and I started to feel the exhaustion and my cough was getting a little worse. I found a small bench where I sat for a minute under trees covered with ivy, appreciating the cobblestones in front of me. I watched people walk by, several with small dogs happily trotting next to them. I am realizing that most people with dogs here have small dogs. Most dogs wandering the streets tend to be large dogs. Except the large German Shepards I’ve seen military have. I wonder if people get large dogs and realize the commitment to their energy expenditure and they become street dogs? Or possibly it goes a long way back and the dogs just breed on the street? I don’t know . . . but small dogs. I am definitely seeing a lot of cute little small pups.

I cam across an artist market. A saxophone made from bambooo, large soft earrings that were hand sewn with tiny thread, jewelry made from thin metal meant too look like leaves . . . there was so much I appreciated but none that I saw where I knew “I must have it!” I’m excited too keep looking.

I made my way to Cerro San Cristobal through the Bellavista neighborhood. The tagging and street art intensified in that area. I had realized I hadn’t eaten yet and my stomach was starting to eat its own lining. Being Sunday, so much was closed. I refused to eat at the KFCs, Subways, Starbucks, and McDonals I was passing by. I wanted to eat at a little place that would maybe offer something a little more authentic, a little more local. I asked a few for suggestions but after deciding I didn’t want Italian pizza or a hipster burger joint, I found a little cafe that seemed to offer promise. They had a simplified menu written out in chalk, a tiny kitchen, and outdoor seating with tables made from imperfect cuts of a tree. While sitting, I noticed stick figure art on their awning showing various couples: two men, two women, a man and a women. A saying in Spanish that seemed to say respect all people, respect all animals, everyone is welcome, everyone is loved. I feel like if I had seen that, it would have sealed the deal for sure. Unfortunately, miscommunication abounded and after a salty soup, an overcooked piece of steak, and French fries were taken in, I was ready to move on. Quickly.

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The line to get tickets and enter for the funicular.
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I found the funicular, past the man with the llama, the women selling sweaters that say C-H-I-L-E, and the cart with fresh roasted nuts. I went to the Info stand and asked where to buy a ticket. In a heavy accent and with a smile: “In the castle.” Beautiful. A long line, promised to take about 20-40 minutes. Apparently it was built in the 1930’s. I got a good spot in the front for the way up, enjoying the view along the way. At the top, more vendors with keychains, candy, and instant coffee. I found a stand with fresh empanadas. I recognized all except for “Pino”. I decided to go for it and was given a fresh hot one. I sat and looked for the Andes Mountains through the smog, watched the sunset through the clouds, and made my way through this empenada with boiled eggs, beef, olives, and other small tidbits I didn’t recognize. The heartiness made up for my lack-luster meal in the Bellavista neighborhood. I did the small hike to the Statue of the Virgin Mary, visited the old church atop the hill, and relaxed on a bench for a bit before making my way back down.

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My pino empenada

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The stray dogs are so docile in Santiago, often sleeping on the streets. This one on San Cristobal we had to literally step over to get into the queue line for our downwards trip.

Upon return to my AirBNB, I was pretty shot but my eager host Leo offered to show me the city view from the top floor of a neighboring building once the girls were done with their homework. I couldn’t pass up such an offer. A short walk and an elevator ride later, we were overlooking the city and Leo pointed out the mountains, the rich areas, the poor areas, the middle class. He recounted history of Chile, shared the story of his wife who taught English in Chile and taught Spanish in Maine. He told me that Santiago has homes more expensive than in Beverly Hills and that when adjusting for income, Santiago is more expensive than in Japan or in New York. He gave examples of income. I asked if they would ever move but he said no. They like this area for their girls and for their education. They are happy with what Chile is able to offer for their girls and their family is here.

After returning to the apartment, Leo made me a medicinal tea to sooth my throat and we discussed Chilean authors, musicians, and poets. He sent me a PDF book s that I made enhance my Chilean education. And now . . . I am dead tired. Nose stuffed. Ear still plugged. Ready for sleep. Tomorrow will be a full day in Santiago if I can manage it. And then Tuesday morning will be a 4:30 AM cab ride to the airport for my Easter Island stop experience.

6/24/19 at 1802
Santiago, Chile

Sitting in Cafe San Isidro, sipping on a cappuccino Italiano and munching on a flakey, creamy dessert flanked with raspberry gel and chocolate drizzle. It’s raining and I’m a premium seat facing the street, watching people walk by with their umbrellas, seeing the street vendor cover his papers and magazines with an oversized plastic bag. Today I slept in, kept hydrated, and took a few doses of phenylephrine. An afternoon nap may have helped as well as I’m feeling much better. I still didn’t have the energy to do a lot of walking and hiking today so I kept most of my exploration on the Metro lines. Knowing I’m waking up early tomorrow for Easter Island has definitely kept me a little more conservative with my energy . . . not to mention the 40 degree weather or the 100% chance of rain.

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A simple breakfast to start the day

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Mercado Central de Santiago

Today was a good day. I started off with a walk up to the Mercado Central de Santiago, which opened in 1872. I stopped along the way for a coffee and a pastry that I thought may be guava. Munching on my simple breakfast, my throat was soothed and I passed through the Plaza de Armas again. I came to the Mercado Central de Santiago and found most vendors closed, possibly due to the weather or possibly due it being Monday, I’m not sure. I saw fresh fish, sea urchin, eels for sale. A handful of souvenir stands open, all with the same products available at similar stands. The building was beautiful and ornate though dark and empty within. As with all locations in Santiago, a security force was present but relaxed, leaning and chatting near their horses. I moved on to Las Dominicas via the metro, at the end of the Red Line. The Centropuerto Artesanal Los Dominicos was marked on some sites as being open on Mondays, other sites marked it as being closed. I figured why not gamble it?

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Entrance to the artist village
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Squished in the metro I realized exactly how long the ride would be until the end of the line and so as grateful I brought my earbuds. I grabbed a seat when one opened and relaxed, listening to music until the metro came to its last stop. It turns out the artist enclave was indeed open, though hit and miss based on the individual artists. A sign near the entrance educated me that the land had been gifted to the local people over a hundred years ago but the artist village was constructed in the 80’s using traditional techniques. Everything I came across was handmade, unique, and beautiful. I came across a small shop with woven animals and jewelry, the door open ajar. A small woman sat hunched over with a small desk lamp on over her work space. I opened the creaky door a smidge, asked if I may come in. A huge smile flashed and she welcomed me in. Through her broken English and my Google Translate (which I did remember to download language packs for!) I learned that the woven material was horsehair, hand dyed different colors. She asked me where I was from, tried to share more about her hometown though I am not sure we were able to communicate everything back and forth. I purchased a vibrantly colored butterfly for my walls, told her the work was beautiful. I wandered, took photos, went in and out of other shops and enjoyed all the unique goods my eyes could feast upon. Feral cats wander around, including a Chilean fake-Steve.

Ready for lunch, I took the Metro towards Santiago’s central station so I could make my way to El Hoyo restaurant. Apparently the restaurant originally opened in 1912 and is now well known due to Anthony Bourdain’s televised visit. I walked through a bustling market with vendors shouting around me, selling all kinds out of bags and boxes. Baby wipes, scissors, ear buds, umbrellas . . . everything. Vendors also were selling churros, chocolate dipped strawberries, empenadas, hot dogs, fresh pressed pomegranate juice. My mind went back to Turkey again, the only other place I’ve seen fresh and pure pomegranate juice. I had seen pomegranate juice in Thailand but the vendors diluted the juice with water and so it didn’t carry the same bite.

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The entrance to El Hoyo
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My simple but delicious lengua sandwich

Once in El Hoyo, I settled in with my Google Translate app and took my time to decipher the menu. I went for a lengua sandwich with avocado mash and tomato, a fresh cheese plate, and asked for fresh juice though deferred to my waiter for whatever type he recommended. I believe he brought me strawberry juice. It was a delicious and hearty meal, filling me up. A gentlemen was in the restaurant singing, playing his guitar and competing with the televised soccer game for attention. Once done, I headed back to my AirBNB for a late afternoon nap. Upon waking up, I decided to head out for a coffee and some cafe time to work on this entry . . . after this, I’ll pack and get ready for Easter Island tomorrow. Moai . . . here I come!

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I saw many rainbows around Santiago, which I appreciated. My host told me there had been a LGBT parade the day before I arrived.

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My first meal in Santiago

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The famous statue of the Virgin Mary atop San Cristobal
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The statue underneath the statue.
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Near the church there was a prayer wall filled with personal belongings and photographs of loved ones left by visitors to the Virgin Mary.
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The view from the top of San Cristobal

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The most vibrant sunset I have ever witnessed. I don’t believe this image captures the intensity of the color.

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A fun way to recycle

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A library within the metro!

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Posted by WanderingWorld 21:42 Archived in Chile Tagged chile santiago easter_island airbnb santiago_chile rtw_2019 Comments (8)

Things I Want to Remember: Mexico, Cayman Islands, Jamaica

- the AirBNB home in Orlando, a teal wall filled with exotic masks, a crackling stone fireplace, three sweet cats, doors that stay cracked ajar for freedom in and out, an outdoor garden vibrant with various colored flowers and ferns, a clear pool with rolled towels in a metal bin ready for use, morning coffee and separated trash for recycling, good conversation on travel, art, and film, feeling like once again I wanted to stay longer

- Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, discovering Knockturn Alley in the Diagon Allery area, appreciating the darkness and hidden aspect of it, appreciating the vanishing cabinet with the chirping bird from within, wishing David was there to see the skulls and the special effects spiders, seeing the young children with their wands activating the magic areas around the park

- Single Rider Line for the win!

- relaxing on the outside of Deck 4 of the Disney Fantasy, a recliner chair with my Castaway Club tote on my lap to catch my dress from picking up on the ocean wind, sipping on the 'Drink of the Day' that was strong on acidic pineapple flavor, maneuvering the straw around the maraschino cherry and bit of greenery on a plastic sword, falling asleep with my sunglasses on and feeling so relaxed with the sounds of the water, the light afternoon sun illuminating the sea in front of us, the occasional quiet sound of a family or a jogger going by on the adjoining deck

- enjoying Palo for lunch, champagne jelly cubes, chocolate covered strawberries, and oysters that made me squint my face, delicate fresh baked mini-muffins, and various breads with bleu cheese or onion & cheese bread, feeling stuffed on our way out the door

- first swim in the pool in Quiet Cove, learning how to use my underwater camera, test photos with bubbles and eyes squeezed tightly shut, Clare's foot as a test subject for 'flash on' and 'flash off', feeling excitement as we realized the quality of images that we'll pick up when swimming underwater in port, the guitarist in the background playing 'Landslides', orange setting sun and the pool water that slowly took on the cold water from the edges until we knew we had to get out of the pool and brave the ocean wind

- Cozumel and the local ruins, walking alone down the dirt path to the unknown, looking up at the trees with their curling branches above me providing much-appreciated shade, stopping for a moment to take a picture, close my eyes, breath in the smell of earth and fresh air, hearing the sound of far off voices as many others explore the ruins, our host Ivan showing the group the Mayan calendar at the entry way arch, explaining the symbolism of the stones and pointing to the shadows and their alignments

- the beach in Cozumel where Clare and I jumped into the water without hesitation, floating and allowing the waves to carry us, botched attempts at anti-fog spray on our snorkel masks, heading out for our free strawberry daiquiris, then returning to the ocean waves and swimming once more before heading to the showers and changing area to return to our ship

- the Mexican merchants all calling out the same lines: "For you? Or for your boyfriend? No? Ah, for your ex-boyfriend?"

- the man painted gold standing on the box, touching my arm for each pass I made by him, then on the third pass I in turn reached out and touched his arm, winning a startled look

- finding the art store in Cozumel with handmade goods including the beautiful designs by an artist from Puebla, Mexico made from tree bark twisted and contorted, stained to look like leather, seeing various spiral designs and choosing one for my home to mount on a white canvas

- talking with our cruise neighbors the Finks in front of us, answering the parents' questions on how to order breakfast room service so that it arrives in the AM at a time of their choosing, discussing the magnets on our door, slowly donating more to their door as we developed a rapport with the kids and the family, including a donated pair of Captain Mickey Mouse ears to place around their room number, Ariel and Aladdin magnets, and a dry erase board with a very slow game of hangman, receiving a Valentine's Day card and a handmade mask, the parents telling us that the kids ran out to see our Mickey Mouse ears and how they changed each day

- Dylan Fink on the bus with me in Grand Cayman, introducing himself and when I said my name was Sarah, he said, "Whoa", took off his glasses and asked "As in Sarah and Clare?" then his father told him yes, the kid acting like we were celebrity, talked during the trip from Spot's Bay to Georgetown, falling in love with the family and deciding to give them more items on their door

- our elaborate magnet decorations on door 2519, with rotating Mickey Mouse/Minnie Mouse/Maleficent ears around the circular room number, the printed nametags for Clare and Sarah, the various cutouts from Clare's auction book including several Peter Pan magnets arranged around Clare's nametag, the pirate map logo with the Disney characters and the tropical Mickey flower magnet created by my parents, Clare's magnetic Princess frame with our photo from the previous cruise that fell almost every time we shut to the door until we finally brought it inside to prop on the desk, the dangling photo holder from my brother Greg and sister in law Jalaine that held some of my favorite photos from our previous cruise, and the cherished hand stitched Jack Skellingtoon and Baloo made by my mother and father

- our lively guide Che at the Green Grotto Caves in Jamaica, taking on Steve Irwin's accent and making the crowd laugh, making a wish into the wishing pool with a small shell in place of a coin, seeing large porous formations that I assumed to be volcanic only to learn that they were large bits of coral from the time when Jamaica was underwater, walking through the caves and seeing the small furry fruitbats and hearing their squeaks as we wandered through the tunnels, seeing formations of illuminated stalagmites and stalactites in the distance aligning symmetrically with their reflections on the pitch black water

- the man in the Falmouth shopping center who asked how I was doing and then responded 'irie', when I asked what it meant he said, 'the world is good, it's all right mon, it's all right'

- the first off the boat in Falmouth, out to explore and shop before our excursion that would begin an hour and fifteen minutes later, laughing and joking with the locals, getting promised "first customer of the day" prices, and bringing Clare back around in the afternoon, being remembered as the first of the day by many and Clare being given the same haggled down prices as we laughed our way around the center

- my "future husbands" in the handcarved wood area who engraved Jamaica onto my blue pineapple and pink flamingo

- the sea-turbulance of the Disney Magic, causing sliding and adjustments while walking, creating a bit of disorientation when we came back to solid land, leading us to ask naively, "Wait, are we moving?"

- sitting with Clare on Deck 9 at night, bundled, sipping hot cocoa and watching bits of "The Little Mermaid" on the Funnel Vision, stars in the background and the funnels illuminated against the night sky

- sitting with my drink in the shaded portion of Deck 9, clear view of the Funnel Vision trivia slide rotation while service men in bright yellow suits worked on the refrigerator door to the soft serve area behind me, guessing the trivia answers and learning a few things I did not know

- visiting the Tortuga rum cake site in Cayman Islands although "not officially on the tour", sampling unique flavors like key lime, hurrying in my shopping, picking up beanies and bits of memorabilia for my family, laughing as more of my tour mates came in to sample a little rum cake

- the Aqua Dunk of terror, seeing a sign for 40 minute wait and realizing it was a walk-on moment, feeling severe anxiety right before Clare climbs in, not sure how to prepare myself or maintain a calm nature, stepping in, feeling the humidity of the tube, crossing my arms over my chest and hoping for the best before the floor opened beneath me

- the turtle farm, holding a baby turtle in the small tanks available for tourists to step inside, appreciating hearing how they release the turtles into the wild

- making friends with the mother and daughter whose names we never learned while on our Jamaican excursion, the approximately 13 year old girl complimenting my teal nail polish and showing me her glittery pink pedicure with white hearts on the big toes, telling me pink was her favorite color and how she got her first pedicure done for the cruise and for Valentine's Day, the mother asking me to take photos of them at the caves, later at the beach Clare telling me she overheard the girl tell her mother that she wanted to stop and wait for her friend, being near them in line for food and the girl asking her mother, "Can we sit with them? Please?" Clare and I laughed, saved them a beach recliners by us and directed them to the seats with backpacks and a pink flamingo boca clip

Posted by WanderingWorld 00:05 Archived in Jamaica Tagged mexico jamaica cayman_islands cozumel grand_cayman things_i_want_to_remember disney_cruise Comments (2)

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