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jon and marion’s Travel Diary

Monday, 22 Oct 2007

Location: easter island, Chile

Maphola everyone
we have just had a fantastic nite here at casa roja, wine tasting and getting to know the blow ins from all round the world. i think a nz guy is hooking up with an isralie girl and a young woman from cork just read my palm...a good nite all in all.

we head off to easter island tomoro and dont really know where we will be staying, but that is the easy bit really, everyone has good things to say about easter island in general. one of the guys sharing our table has been telling scary stories about the down side of his county columbia, and we are going there keep the good thoughts coming our way for safe and easy passage thru a somewhat volatile country...jon will let all and sundry know that it is my idea to go to the lost city somewhere outside of santa marta...indianna jones teritority, i think it sounds like rudyard kipling really, but i will let you know dont encourage him please!!!

we had a great week out in the andes, we climbed our first hill and saw our first condor and had a close call with a wolf. we had the hostel to ourselves and it was wonderful to be out of Santiago and into the hills. we went to the end of the Maipo Valley to Banos Morales. its a glacial valley that was all rock and dust and high mountains, snow and ice. we think our mountains are high, but these are really high. the public transport system is here is very efficient if somewhat over crowded. for $3 each we left santiago and got to our destination within 1 and a half hours..the only problem was we didnt know we had to take our own supplies...oh well it was just one more short crowded bus trip to get something to eat and we were fine.

the caretaker of the hostel Manuel, and the hostel dog Linda, offered to guide us up the hill to a few places. We bush based for a while and found some high spots to look out over the valley but he needed to go back to greet some new guests by about 12, so we wandered a bit further up the hill and along a ridge to take a look at the Rommels...a huge climbing wall, and had some lunch and wandered back down again and to our surprise we found him resting in the shade of a tree not far from home. he had had a fall and gotten lost. we picked him up and shook him off and wandered home together. The Dog Linda is very faithful and stayed with him instead of just heading for home...good dog!
then we did the trip in reverse to get back to santiago in time for the festivities that casa roja provides on the weekends....the pool had been filled and the bbq stoked. the wine tasting was on and all i could think of was we had to be up at 5am to get our flight to easter island. 2 hours sleep and a hangover ensured the flight was slept thru with no interuptions.

Rapa Nui air strip starts in ocean and ends in ocean. we had the brakes on well and truly...wore out a good pair of boots making sure the thing stopped!... we were greeted with lays(?) and so many hostel owners wanting our business. we took our time and in the end went with the only person left...jon was searching for the best deal...again!!! anyhow it has turned out ok and the place is pretty basic but it is close to the beach the town and the tourist operators (but then again everything is close to everything here!!) the island is only about 20kms long and probably not that wide at its widest point. we still have taken 3 days to drive all over the place. the statues are amazing. the sheer determination to carve them out of the side of the hill, get them up and over the obstacles on the way to the coast, get them erected and their topnots is just amazing. Most of the moai were knocked down by waring tribes, but some were knocked over when the locals realised that the statues let passers by know that there were people here. slavers from all over the world came and stole people and history and culture away from easter island, so much of its origins is lost.

the isand was made from 3 volcanes, the smell still lingers, somewhat sulpuric but sweeter. we have swum in the crater lake and palm tree strewn beaches. the coconut and banana trees grow amongst the lava flows. there are lots of caves and a very nasty looking coast line that has only 2 beaches that are made of pink sand. the rock is so black and dominates the is a harsh place to eek out a living. there are some areas of arable land and this is used to grow veges for the community. there are more horses than people and very little fresh water. everything get shipped in. some days there is nothing on the shelves in shops and when a shipment does arrive the people buy up big. they all have cars and good clothing and most are running business aimed at tourists but like in chile, the locals live in basic houses that look like they would blow down in a stiff breeze...luckily the weather is so gentle here.

Everyone is helpful here, but dont ask them to go fast...unless its the boys on their motor bikes! the shops are open at about 10 or 11am and shut for siesta from 2 to 5 and then open til about 9pm. Its sunday here and the most activity is from the church bells that go off every 15 mins just to remind the heathens that it is the lords day!

The pics will be uploaded when we get back to santiago, 'they' were right, we took heaps and heaps of pics and i am beginning to wonder if i will need to buy yet another memory stick to save stuff to, just to have a back up if something happens to the puter....We have a couple of days back at casa roja before we head off to patagonia in the south to do a bit of walking round glaciers and a few more hills. we have been told so many stories about how stunning this area is, we decided to go there before we head up north to the tropics and the mossies.

to all who are reading this we hope all is well with you and yours and keep the messages coming from home, we will respond when technology permits.

love and hugs
marion and jon