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Published: November 20th 2007
Museo Bellas Artes
Santiago - very vibrant and lovely and safe feeling city. Makes me feel not so bad about missing Sao Paulo, even though I have time here again anyway. First trip was to see Brazilian Embassy, got there after ½ hour walk and was hidden behind gates - guard checked for me and man inside gave me note with Brazilian Consulate address - about 2min walk from my hotel. Oh oh oh, there was a protest right across from Brazilian embassy, with all my knowledge of Spanish, looked like schoolkids and something about education. Anyway, guard held Embassy car for a while because kids just started blocking the street. Walked off and then police came, and big army trucks and a water sprayer obviously built to disperse crowds with a bucket like a loader to push people, and a troop of soldier like men dressed up like a swat team (turtles ring a bell) with shoulder pads and chest pads etc etc. Anyway, I don’t think anything came of it but I can understand why people get attracted to things like that, locals thought it was quite funny though. Also, a dog crossed the street and went around the 3 pedestrian
crossings with lights instead of across the one street without - that was cute. Got to consulate and did paperwork and got copies and photos and paid bill which took over an hour and just made it back in time. I am pretty proud of my directional abilities but I couldn’t find my hotel, about 5 checks of the map, 3 or 4 double backs and a street was missing. Asked about 3 people and then finally found it, and realised the reason was the hotelier put an ‘x’ on my map in the wrong spot… Beautiful city to walk around though, spent a day just meandering and taking photos of the parks, churches and old and new architecture and climbing St Lucia hill with nice lookout. Caught funicular up to San Cristobal which was nice view over Santiago. Then had to use another day rushing around changing flights because my original Antarctic cruise was cancelled but they got me on one a day earlier, ended up having to fly 2 days earlier. Had to run around town making flight changes and arrange everything and pack and shower in under 2 hours. So basically only ended up with 1 day
in Santiago, the other two were chasing visa and replacement tickets. Nice enough to come back to if I ever get time.
Easter Island - just landed at 9pm in daylight. Got my first lay on island in 2 mins, oh lei that is. Felt like we landed on water and nearly ran off other end of island. Strip is 3.5km long and was extended by Nasa in case of emergency space landing. Hasn’t been used for that yet but locals are happy with bigger tourist planes anyway. People here seem to look like either Maoris, Polynesians, Asians or South American Indians.
Had issues with no passport at checkin, at immigration where I didn’t need to be, at boarding - got through them all after 5-10 min each and finally catching on locals don’t know about Easter Island and Isle de Pascua convinces them it is ok to go without passport. Weather here is like Melbourne, sunny, raining, windy, hot and cold all in an hour or two.
The Island is made up of 3 main volcanic craters and 100’s of smaller ones, all inactive. Visited Rano Kau, largest crater 200m deep, with rainwater 11m deep and reeds same
as Lake Titicaca and more than 1km across. Is 2nd oldest 2 million years old 1 million younger than Rano Raraku. I was nearly blown off cliff about 20 times with huge winds. This is where Tangata Manu (Bird Man) race was held up until 1846. A man from each clan used to race to get the first egg of the Tern each season. They would climb down 300m cliff, swim 1km of sea, climb onto Motu Nui and survive until they got an egg. They yelled out clan and chief and then had to swim/climb back without breaking the egg. This would provide fertility and power and his chief would be birdman for 12 months. His clan would have power over produce for 12 months. He might have died to get this, found out winner got the royal girl though. I kept thinking, Who Dares Wins, Survivor and the old egg and spoon race.
Orongo village is also at the top of the crater and was only used for race. Each underground house has small square doors you had to crawl into which allowed spirits to be wiped off your back as you crawled in. Only item ever claimed
2nd largest crater on island.
from pillages houses was small carved Moai with petroglyphs about the birdman race and fertility signs. Saw Ahu Vinapu which is basis of theory that South Americans were first to inhabit Easter Island because of similarity between this Ahu and incas but disproved by carbon dating recently. Then dropped into town for lunch, luckily bought some bread and ham and then looked at some shops before they all closed for siesta from about 1pm to 5pm.
Visited Ahu Akivi, the site of 7 restored Moai believed to be first 7 men on island from western King who sent men as per a dream to the place the sun rises. These are only ones facing to sea but because they are in middle of island, they overlook villages as belief is they overlook and help those still living. Last stop was Ane Te Pahu, an underground lava tube where locals used to live. Celebration at dusk at cemetery for All Souls Day but will miss because I am knackered and not overly keen on hanging about cemeteries after dark. I wasn’t aware there are so many Moai’s around, on nearly every beach.
Went to Rano Raraku where quarry was with around
300 moai in progress. Biggest one was 21.6m tall, 180 tonne. Then to Te pito Kura and saw the navel of the earth. A stone that maybe came from centre of Easter Island or bought in by first king but throws compasses out. Is basalt with iron in which is apparently rare. Then to Anakena, nice sandy beach with imported palms and Royal Moai. Went to church service in Rapa Nui which was okay but packed so waited outside and watched the dogs playing.
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