Category Archives: Chile

Highlights of my 2015

I started 2015 with an amazing idea to travel from Antarctica to Alaska visiting most of the countries while zigzaging my way from south to north. It took me most of the year (with some breaks) to get to Bolivia and Brazil and then I decided I want to see something totally different and I flew to South Africa for New Years Eve. It wasn’t a race to get to Alaska, it was a dream, maybe a bit of a challenge, but as money were less and less I abandoned my idea and went to meet other cultures also.

Nonetheless , my 2015 was amazing and here are the highlights of it, in chronological order and described in moments:

1.Antarctica

I woke up one morning with the screeching sound of something touching  Expedition, our ship. It wasn’t morning yet but it wasn’t totally dark either, a new day was coming. I looked on the porthole window both scared and curious and what I saw is one of the most beautiful views I ever laid my eyes on. The icebergs and pieces of icebergs around us, totally different than the day before, the light before sunrise, the shapes and sounds were making everything surreal, and for me that’s how Antarctica is : surreal. He woke up, watched the magic outside, placed a kiss on my forehead and went back to sleep. It felt warm and magic. It felt like being in another world.

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2.Torres del Paine

The third day of the W trekking is mainly uphill at the beginning. And you go up and up and sometimes you look behind and you are amazed. That’s how beautiful it is. And it makes you forget the park it’s like a boulevard with way too many tourists. It was me , and music, and the guys I ignored a bit those days because of the music and the talk I had with myself, completely absorbed by the beautiful nature.

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3.Bahia Inutil

After seeing so many penguins in Antarctica and already passing Punta Arenas I decided to go back and get the chance to see the King penguins. And that day was a bit of an adventure, but a good and memorable one. We crossed the Magellan Strait but one the way back we got a bit stuck, as the waves were too big to cross it back. The view was beautiful, it was so cold and windy, and I was happy I finally saw those penguins and although people were panicking around I felt free and capable of every single thing I decide to do. I was speaking Spanish also, my broken funny Spanish people compliment all the time (except when a linguist told me I speak a medieval Spanish :)) ).

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4.Perito Moreno

Such a famous glacier and such a rainy day. I was in waterproof but 80% wet, that’s how heavy it rained. But if you just stop trying to find the perfect spot, between all the people and all the selfies, just focusing on the immensity of the glacier, on all the sounds of cracking ice and ice falling in the lake, you realize the rain plays also a part in the magic and feeling wet of rain will always remind you of something special. And I smiled . A truly genuine smile. Because the world is amazing.

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5.Fitz Roy

Still my favorite mountain, although later the Amphitheatre in South Africa amazed me a lot. I still have on my retina the image of the mountain, the lake and how we stayed there for two hours and still didn’t want to go back. How we said we will wait just a bit more for the clouds to pass. And they passed few times but it was too beautiful to leave it behind. How cold was the water and how alive I felt.

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6.Candelario Mansilla

This was definitely a challenge and an adventure, 24 km with 24 kg. Took a bus from El Chalten, a boat, got exit visa from Argentina and walked and walked (first 6km painfully uphill), met a guy from USA on the boat, we crossed many little rivers, me full of mud and with wet shoes, he clean like a spring flower because was always behind, all day us and the maps.me app to be sure we are on the track. But when we got closer we felt the trekking and the mud and dust and tiredness are completely worth it because the landscape it’s completely beautiful. Later that evening I ate one of the best dinner ever (as I trekked all day with only 2 boiled eggs and a carrot in my stomach).

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7.Easter Island

Rapa Nui. For me it’s always Rapa Nui and people don’t know what I’m speaking about. Watching sunset during my first day there with beautiful happy people around. On a very tiny beach. Dog trying to eat my camera as I was doing a time lapse. I empathised with those young guys and I felt there are no worries in the world worthy of my attention. Rapa Nui is one of the most magical places I ever saw.

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8. 5592m altitude

I ended up spending almost two weeks in Atacama, each and every day with a beautiful story. But the one I like the most is the one when after struggling to breathe and very slowly climb Lascar Volcano I’m not tired anymore, I’m just happy to be there, the highest I ever got with my own feet,the first active volcano I climb, ignoring the sulphur smell and smiling huge smiles.

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9.Salar de Uyuni

It’s cold, so crazy cold but I want to jump in this immensity of white. So I change my ski trousers and my goose feather jacket with summer colorful clothes and I jump, for this place is surreal too.

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10.Real Beni

Real Beni is the name of a natives community in the amazonian jungle north of Bolivia and although I really love the kids from that community and I fancy the idea of seeing them again, the special moment I have in mind is the one when our host, Cupertina sang to us. She’s the grandmother of all the children I met. At night, near the river, listening the wind and watching the clear skies, with a million mosquito bites, with a million thoughts, I hear she starts to sing and she gets all my attention. She sings a song about love, and choices, about nature and life. I feel nostalgic.

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11. Flying over Rio

More exactly flying over the ocean next to Rio de Janeiro. And turning, and increasing or decreasing speed as my instructor showed me. Freebird. Too short but life it’s made up of moments.

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12.Iguazu Falls

As the legend says:

“Once upon a time, a Guarani warrior named Caroba, who was in love with a pretty Indian maiden named Naipi, took her into his canoe and fled the village, paddling for all he was worth down the Iguazu River.

But Caroba was not the only one who was enamoured of the fair Naipi. She had also attracted the romantic attention of a forest god. When the forest god saw Caroba paddling downriver with Naipi, he was angry.

To try to stop Caroba, the angry forest god made the land under the river disappear. Naipi fell out of the canoe and dropped over the edge. She landed at the bottom, and turned into a rock. Caroba turned into a tree that overlooks this rock. Where the river bottom disappeared or fell away is the site of Iguazu Falls.”

Everybody it’s going back for the train but I linger there hypnotised. It’s not a cliche, it’s one of the most powerful sites I ever saw.

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The brazilian side of Iguazu Falls

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The argentinian side of the falls – Garganta del Diablo

 

 

 

Rapa Nui

I dreamed about Rapa Nui ever since I applied during faculty for a cigarettes contest to win a trip to one of eight wonderful places. I chose Easter Island because seemed so much different and mysterious from all I knew. And I haven’t won. Because I’m not a lucky person. But I’m a person who enjoys daydreaming and tries to make the dreams come true.

So here I am, traveling from Antarctica to Alaska trying to visit most of the countries. And of course I wouldn’t skip Rapa Nui. Being in Santiago is as close as you can get to the beautiful island. And cheapest. I met many people during my travels who told me I should skip it because there are many other places beautiful but less expensive. Or if I still want to go there I shouldn’t spend more than 4 days. And so I did and big mistake it was. Because Rapa Nui is one of the most beautiful places I ever saw and felt. And it has such a good energy. And although it’s part of Chile now, the island is geologically part of Oceania and the people who inhabited it first came from Polynesia, therefore the culture there is polynesian and you can feel it everywhere. And as a first advice I say people going to the island should spend at least 7-8 days, because although you can see almost everything in 4-5 days it’s also wonderful to spend some days on the beach relaxing and feeling the energy of those places. And maybe it’s rainy and grey when you plan to see the sunrise at Tongariki so it’s good to try again another day. Needless to say that the flights there are quite expensive, but if you get there at least you can spend some relaxing days without rush.

The flight to Easter Island was the first flight I took in almost 3 months and I was quite excited about it because at my last job I was flying every month and got used to it, not flying for 3 months was quite weird. And the funny thing is that they had a problem with the plane, so after sitting for more than one hour in the plane they told us we have to change it with another one. We arrived on the island 3-4 hours later than planned, at 2-3 am. Some of the hostels were offering flowers collars to the guest, my hostel didn’t but it was so nice an atmosphere around.

In the morning I ate the most delicious banana for breakfast straight from the garden on my table. I spoke a bit with the hostel owner and got amazed about how intelligent the people from the island are. This guy studied mathematics and is a teacher on the island. Also people there speak several languages, travel a lot and most of them go to Santiago to study in the University. The island in clean, nobody is begging and there are no rich or poor people, everybody has an average house and an average car. People are relaxed and happy and very friendly and caring. Also they don’t lock their cars because there’s no stealing. I felt there as safe as I could be.

At the time I was there , last week of April, the people from Rapa Nui were taking care of the Rapa Nui National Park and somehow they got rid of CONAF which is the chilean forestal corporation. The entrance was free but before my arrival it was around 50$. So this time I was lucky.

I walked up to Orongo and saw the crater of the volcano and the mash inside and also the petroglyphs there and after that I went to a moai site few km far. Went back to the town, ate and met some nice people from the island. We enjoyed together the evening and after that I went to see the sunset at another moai site. I was actually impressed about how many people came there to see the sun going to sleep.

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Next day I went to the church with some people from the hostel because they said it’s supposed to be nice and authentic to participate at the sunday mass because there was some singing involved. It sounded interesting but getting there I was amazed with all the people and the songs and mass in their language, in Rapa Nui. Women had flowers in their hair and the priest thanked for participation in at least 5 languages. After the mass finished we met outside some young people singing. The priest blessed them and they asked us to join them at the coast and we went singing in the middle of the street. At one moment I thought they might be singing for money but actually we received juice and they told us we can have lunch with them because they are organising a table with food to share and we can bring whatever we want and spend evening with them and play some instruments if we are in the mood. We listened them singing but after that we took a rented car and went to see more moai sites and then enjoy Anakena, the biggest and almost only beach they have, which is located at the other end of the island. Coming back to town we listened more Rapa Nui music and ate delicious ice cream from a guy who dreams to have a business where people can come to eat icecream and read.

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Waves

We tried to see the sunrise at Tongariki ( this is the site of 15 moai, the biggest and most famous, restored by japanese) but without much success because the morning was cloudy and grey. And the rest of the day was about making a new tattoo ( actually adding a flower to the fairy I already had). I guess the artist is very appreciated because people were queuing there. But it was rainy (may is the wettest month in the island and it was almost may) and it was a good way of spending the day. After getting the tattoo we went to watch the waves which were very impressive, high and breaking on the rocky coast.

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There are also caves you can visit, many moai sites, two quarries and a very interesting museum. I also participated at one of their shows with traditional dancing and I found it to be very nice although I’m not very sure all of it was traditional. My last day there started very early, just to check the sky is clear to decide if I should try again the sunrise at Tongariki. And the sky was so very clear. The owner of the hostel drove me there for half the price of a taxi and waited a lot for me there and also at Ranu Raraku, the quarry where the moai are coming from.

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I enjoyed everything about Rapa Nui until the very last moment, just before going to the airport I went to sent postcards and one more time to the beach, to say goodbye and promise I’ll come back.

I met in Rapa Nui the happiest and most relaxed people in my travel, interesting history and saw amazing waves and beautiful landscapes. Downside is that I spent too little time but one day I’ll go back and stay longer for sure. The thing to be aware is that all the moai standing are restored because in Rapa Nui was a civil war between the tribes and all the moai were put down. But this makes it even more interesting.