Country number: 75
Territory number: 83
When? Christmas & New Year 2004/5 – second part of journey, Round the World In The Other Direction 2004, coming from Florida. Next stop Argentina.
How? Overland tour in bus with local flights, boats, zodiacs, walking – contact me for more details
Who? Solo to Easter Island then a Group Tour.
‘I’m not a dictator. It’s just that I have a grumpy face.’
From the tranquillity of the Everglades to the tranquillity of Easter island. The journey not so tranquil. Three flights. Rice and chicken three times. Around the World in 80 Days three times (not worth seeing the first time and, anyway, am doing it in 62!). Lose my tickets – all of them. Panic for 30 minutes and pay 50 dollars to have them reissued (it causes two minutes work).
Scramble on the plane to Easter Island to hear the captain say the journey will take five-and-a-half hours. Had not realised is the most remote land mass in world. The closest land is Pitcairn (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) and that is 2000 km away.
It’s definitely worth the journey. The hotel has great views across the ocean but, as Lonely Planet said, ‘could use some maintenance’. There are so many ants in my bathroom I have to use a glass to bail them out of the bathwater before I can get in.
The iconic Moai statues are huge and enigmatic, hillsides strewn with heads emerging from the ground like a group of fathers at the beach when the children have got bored and need entertaining.I have three days to see the various sites with statues of different shapes and sizes- mostly staring out to sea – and to sit on the palm fringed beaches. though the latter are a little too breezy for comfort.
The plane back is delayed. Normally there are three flights a week but today there is an extra flight. This is too much for Air traffic control to cope with. They make us wait three hours. We reckon they have been bribed by the owners of the airport bar.
Santiago won’t win prizes for most exciting city in the world. I meet my travel companions for the next two weeks. Ten pleasant people, except for my room mate who snores relentlessly, sets the alarm for ungodly hours, chirping “I’m an early bird,” and then ignores it when it goes off. She isn’t amused when I accidentally knock down the shower rail, gouging huge lumps from the bath enamel. Dismayed by the prospect of two plugholes in the bath, I distract her with the challenge of deciding whether the water goes down clockwise or anti-clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
Duncan, the group leader is quite cute and is eminently teasable after a few pisco sours, but then everyone looks cute after a few pisco sours. The Chileans are reserved and have impeccable manners. After a few pisco sours, they smile too.
Valparaiso and Santiago are both explored. Valparaiso has a pretty historic centre as far as i can see, pressing my nose to the bus window. the traffic is too bad to spare time to get out. There are good restaurants and vineyards in lieu of other attractions.and things get more exciting when we move on.. Volcanoes steam in blue haze, like a watercolour painting, as we fly south.
In contrast to Santiago, Patagonia is stunning. First to Torres Del Paine where it rains all day and I am frozen. Pissed on, and pissed off in Patagonia. But then the sun comes out. Several glorious days walking through fabulous valleys and along the edges of glaciers. Pin cushions of startling bright flowers, guanacos, condors, foxes, nandus. A zodiac trip through Grey Glacier, huge glistening ice bergs bobbing in the bay and mugs of pisco to keep us warm. The cute penguins lounging on the beach at Seno Otway, on our way to colourful Punta Arenas at the very tip of Chile. Wonderful.