For the second leg of my Ultimate Bucket List For the Next Decade And Beyond (but really, I’m shooting for a decade)™, voy al sur- I’m heading to Central and South America. Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of knocking off a considerable chunk of must-sees by visiting Cozumel, Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile and Easter Island, but it’s time to branch out even further. Since I’m a bit of a completist, wanderlust is taking me beyond the confines of the Caribbean and the Western coast of South America, into parts unknown…
People watching. It’s one of my favorite things to do when I travel. It’s an up close and personal way to studying anyone but it’s particularly interesting when it’s someone in another country.
You quickly come to learn that more often than not, we have more in common than we’d realized. There may be different methods to attaining similar goals and observing those methods can be teachable moments for us. But the fact remains that we are not that dissimilar.
I saw these girls on their way to parochial school early one morning in Santiago, Chile. You could hear them a mile away chattering on about things young girls love to talk about like this guy. This could have been a scene from any-town U.S.A. It’s a slice of life of humankind and its simplicity makes me happy to have witnessed it.
There are some places where you never feel as if you are a stranger. Even though, you’ve never seen the place before, you feel some kinship….some familiarity. You can find yourself walking down avenues and boulevards that you may have once dreamt about, but it was never real until now.
Some places, instantly make you feel at home.READ MORE
When I decided to visit Easter Island, I was really trying to burn frequent flier miles since rumor had it that the upcoming British Airways program revamp would require almost double the miles it currently took to book an award trip.
Thankfully, our fears didn’t materialize but I was glad that I booked it anyway since the new program is distance based so I would have to use significantly more miles today than I did before the change took place in November 2011.
I found out that B.A. allowed stopovers which is the best friend that a traveler could have. As long as I had the time to spare, I could travel to many cities along the way to my final destination as long as the flights were in a logical (read: circular) path.
So, Lima wasn’t high on my to-do list, but why not? I’d never been and I figured it would be a great move. First impressions weren’t great because the hostel where we stayed sat on a piece of real estate that resembled times square in NYC….it was v-shaped and both sides of the street were impassable due to a water main leak. Once we navigated our way through the mounds of earth, we made our way upstairs only to be told our room was downstairs. The room was nice enough…no phone and right on the street, but we dealt with it. What happened next was not funny.READ MORE
Easter Island is known for the strange statues that dot the landscape and the vast mystery surrounding how they were made and moved and why they were toppled over.
But for the uninitiated, that’s literally the extent of the layperson’s knowledge of the land known as Rapa Nui by the residents of the most remote island in the world.
What makes this mystical island even more special is discovering it through the eyes of Rapa Nui Travel, a local tour company which was arranged by Ecotours Chile Private Tours. We hit the ground running our first day when a rep came to our hostel to give us a schedule of events for our two half day tours and one full day tour that we had booked.
Each Easter Island tour was made special by the two guides that had an obvious affection for their work. We were picked up from our hostel on time every day and never ran behind schedule. Our complete and absolute comfort took precedence and their thorough knowledge of the island’s history was evident.
Both of our guides (Frieder, a German native and Tongariki (sp) a 6th generation Rapa Nui) were kind, affable, intelligent and took the greatest pleasure in sharing their vast knowledge with us. There was no question too silly to ask because you always felt that they eagerly anticipated each one of them. With few exceptions, we pretty much covered the entire Island. Just driving through the various sectors was an exercise in tranquility.READ MORE
With exception of a few port stops on a cruise that I took, I had never been anywhere south of St. Augustine, Florida for any length of time. That is, until earlier this month. I didn’t have any expectations for South America. I knew it would be a different experience; that I would have to struggle to recall my high school level Spanish so that I would be able to converse with anyone that I had to interact with. Luckily, I managed enough broken Spanish coherently enough to make it through my visit. Along the way, I learned some interesting things that will leave a lasting impression upon me about the time that I spent in the beautiful cities of Lima, Peru, Santiago, Chile and the beautiful Easter Island.
- We took a day trip to Valparaiso, Chile a beautiful port city just an hour and a half outside of Santiago. We were pleasantly surprised to witness a blast from the past. fully operational post WWII streetcars! Built by the Pullman Standard Company of Massachusetts between 1946 and 1952, these streetcars have the distinction of being the oldest running cars in the world.
- Bottled water comes either with or without gas; meaning you can buy either the mountain spring version or sparkling, seltzer water. Personally, I hate drinking anything that bubbles or make me belch. Be sure to check the label because they were all stored in the same case on the same shelf.
We decided to take a day trip to Valparaiso a couple of days after our arrival in Santiago, Chile two weeks ago. We took the Tur Bus (which is located adjacent to the Universidad de Santiago metro station) to Valparaiso which took a little over an hour to get there and cost less than 10.00 USD.
Valparaiso is a port city that is built on a hill. It reminds me a lot of San Francisco with its winding, unforgivably hilly terrain. In order to navigate the city, a series of sharply inclined cable cars, also known as Funiculars, were built to move people and parcels between the port and the highest peak.READ MORE
They started marching past us at approximately 4 pm. I thought that my movements were quick and not easily detected, but I had been found out. She spun on her heels and walked toward us as we attempted to look less conspicuous and started mindlessly snapping pictures feigning ignorance to the fact that she was about to approach us.
“Are you American?” she asked in broken english. “Why……um…… yes, we are?” I sputtered; somewhat embarrassed, somewhat intrigued. Her face slowly began to prepare for one of the biggest smiles I’d ever seen. “I LOVE Americans!!”, she exclaimed. “Do you know Justin Bieber?” , she asked excitedly. I smiled instantly knowing that teenage girls were simply teenage girls whether they lived in the states or in metropolitan areas like the city of Santiago, Chile, where we presently stood.READ MORE