Matthew Henningsen


Matthew Henningsen

The best places aren't on any maps.
- Herman Melville

At the end of all of our exploration we will arrive back at the beginning and know that place for the very first time.
- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not truly lived.
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Lima June 21st 2014

There I was, back at my favorite coffee shop, after having spent a final day walking up the coast from Hanga Roa and seeing a couple more moai. I usually try to be here around 7ish or so, and for the past couple of nights blanco would see me coming and jump up, wag his tail, and grab a rock in his mouth. I'd sit down, and he'd drop the rock at my feet and back away, getting ready for my toss. Timo, the owner of the shop, would bring me my americano without me even needing to ask. I happily tossed the rock with blanco for an hour or so... and if I ever ignored him, he'd bark, or push my chair with his paw. Then the second dog came up, the one that I ... read more
Another Horse!
Ahu Tahai

South America » Chile » Easter Island » Hanga Roa June 19th 2014

Easter Island, if you look at it on a map, is shaped just like a triangle. Over the last couple of days, I've mainly explored to 2 tips of the triangle; today I set out for the point. This section of the island is dominated by Mt. Terevaka, which is the highest point, but really is still basically just a big hill. Also in this area are a few more moai, especially the great group at Ahu Akivi. Before getting to Akivi, though, I went by Puna Pao, which is where the topknots for the moai came from, or those red looking rocks that stand in for moai hair. This was an interesting sight, and there were some great views across the island and back down into Hanga Roa, but I especially enjoyed it because of ... read more
Pano Pao
View North
Another of Pano

South America » Chile » Easter Island » Hanga Roa June 18th 2014

There are a few things that I really like about Easter Island. One of these things is the fact that, since you're in such a small place, even tourists become locals. I mean when there's only like 4 places to eat, you're bound to get to know some people. That happened today during breakfast when I went into the same place as yesterday and the same lady brought me the same food. I wished her the first hasta manana of the day, or see you tomorrow. It also happened tonight, when I went back to my favorite little coffee shop, the one with the retriever, who's name I learned is blanco. Had the same thing: an Americano, or straight black coffee, and told the guy I'll see him tomorrow night. Hasta Manana. The other thing about ... read more
Rano Rau
Another of Rano Rau
First Cow Herd

South America » Chile » Easter Island » Hanga Roa June 17th 2014

Today was one of those travel days that I like to call Holy Shit days. Meaning that I catch myself saying Holy Shit, I'm actually here. It's that moment when all of those photos you've looked at suddenly come to life, and the real thing is right there in front of you. Alive. Real. Holy Shit. Today was that type of day pretty much from the get go. Antoine knocked on my door early in the morning with the news that he had my car ready for me. What made this so funny was how serious he was about it. I renting the car directly from him, and I get the feeling it's his prized possession. He wants me to take very good care of it. I think he even has a name for it. He ... read more
Getting Closer
There They Are!
Moai Close-Up

South America » Chile » Easter Island » Hanga Roa June 17th 2014

What a day today... a day where I feel like I've entered a whole new world - meaning that I left Santiago bright and early for a flight to Easter Island. This flight was hilarious for many reasons. First of all, it was a giant plane that was only half full. I think I had an entire row to myself. Then, when you look at the flight map, you basically fly for 5 hours to a tiny speck of a dot in the middle of the South Pacific. It's funny, too - I'm now back in Denver time - flew across 2 time zones. The approach to the Island was quite the event as well. Kind of like Machu Picchu, the Island just emerged from the clouds as we descended, and the little strip of a ... read more
Starting to Descend

South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago June 15th 2014

I've lost track of time. When was the last time I blogged? I don't know. But, tracing it back from Peru, I left Cusco bright and early a couple of days past for the flight back to Lima. I remember at the Lima Airport the masses of people following the World Cup. Soccer (football... hah-hah) is basically the official religion in this part of the world, and people take their watching of the event very seriously. One guy I saw blocked the view of another, and they almost started throwing punches. A cop at the airport literally had to intervene! I then took a 5 or so hour flight South the Santiago, the capital of Chile. This big city, for me at least, is only a break to catch my breath, meaning that Santiago doesn't really ... read more
More Santiago
The Andes
My Apartment

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco » Cusco June 13th 2014

My last day in Peru started with a morning hike outside of Cusco for the Incan fortress of Sacsayhauman. This hike was wonderful. You climb out of Cusco for maybe 20 minutes, and for the last half follow a stream that falls down from the steep terrain. It was also a beautiful day. The main reason for this hike is to see the absolutely massive rocks at Sacsayhauman. The Inca's were somehow able to move massive boulders and place them perfectly together. I know this might not sound impressive, but you have to realize that the Inca didn't have a lot of technology. They basically had to use sheer muscle power and grit. And I always find it crazy that when the Spanish invaded, the Inca mainly threw giant rocks at them. Just think about that ... read more
View Over Cusco
Nice Countryside
Near the Top

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco June 12th 2014

A nice easy day today, meaning that I didn't have to rely on any form of transportation except for my own two feet. Just walked all day between most of the main sights in Cusco. I started at Cusco's version of an Incan Sun Temple, the Coricancha. This place was honestly just a sad sight. It was a great Incan Sun Temple, but because it was covered in gold, the whole place was stripped by the Spanish. As if to make their dominance obvious, they then literally built a church right on top of the ruins. So it's the shell of a once remarkable Incan temple covered by a pretty mediocre Spanish church. This actually reminded me a lot of the Mezquita I saw last summer in Cordoba... where a mosque is merged with a church. ... read more
Coricancha Courtyard
Garden at Coricancha
Right on Top

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco » Cusco June 11th 2014

Left Aguas Calientes on the morning train back to Ollantaytambo. A nice easy ride, but, since there's only one track, there was a lot of sitting and waiting for trains to go by before you could continue down. In Ollantaytambo, I grabbed my big bag from my hotel, and Cesar was actually waiting right outside. He drove me back to Cusco in like an hour and a half. One nice, brief stop along the way was an animal preserve just over the pass from Pisac. This awesome little place had native Andean animals, but the coolest I thought (mainly because they're the rarest) were the Andean Puma and the Andean Condor. The pumas lurk in the mountains of the Sacred Valley - but in their enclosure they looked just like big cats, and were gladly sleeping ... read more
On the Road
Close to Cusco
Macaws at Preserve

South America » Peru » Cusco » Aguas Calientes June 10th 2014

Rolled out of bed at 4:30, had a quick breakfast, and walked through dark Aguas to the shuttle that takes you 30 minutes up a giant mountain to the actual entrance to Machu Picchu. Since it was still dark when I arrived, I actually hiked about an hour to the actual mountain pass that once protected the ancient city. The gate at this pass is called Inti Punko, or the Sun Gate, and is the technical end to the Inca Trail that runs throughout the Sacred Valley. It's a wonderful spot, and sitting there in the dark, perched on a rock, smelling the cool jungle air, and watching the clouds slowly break as the sun came up was definitely the most awe-inspiring way to see Machu Picchu for the first time. The sun broke through and ... read more
Waiting for the Sun
There It Is!
Better View

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