Islands

Thanksgiving on Easter Island

Thanksgiving on Easter Island 

Across the Pacific, a 5 hour and 40 minute flight from South America…Rapa Nui. Easter Island is only about 9 miles wide. And thousands of miles from other land. Moai statues haunt the land in an open-air museum.

We’re Thankful to see it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007:  Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island is only 64 square miles, and is miles from everywhere. We landed on this tiny spot in the Pacific Ocean, 2,500 miles from Santiago in the late evening. We were met by Josie and Alex–our guides who both have personal connections to the island–who greeted us with pink leis and Pisco Sours. We are here on a National Geographic extension with 3 other passengers from the Endeavor-Antarctica cruise.

Our shadows go to breakfast at our hotel
Our shadows go to breakfast at our hotel, Hanga Roa
Bryan and Carol
Bryan and Carol

We saw moai, moai, moai (Pronounced “MO-eye”). Enormous carved stone statues-many restored to their Ahu platforms over the past 40 years and hundreds more abandoned before they ever made it to ahus. It’s really quite surreal to see them scattered about–some face down where they fell and others standing proud, most with backs to the ocean.

Ahu Tongariki
Ahu Tongariki

Funny how they kind of looked like penguins. Guess it’s all about perspective ?

(In all seriousness, we learned a lot about the island’s history. Our guides were phenomenal and the experience excellent.)

Moai perspective
Moai perspective
Bryan and Moai
Bryan and Moai
Moai at Rano Raraku
Moai at Rano Raraku

We celebrated Thanksgiving at Rano Raraku…a picnic BBQ after hiking through the partially carved stone statues and seeing the volcano lake at the top.

Moai - Don't walk on the Moai
Moai – Don’t walk on the Moai sign

On Friday, we turned on the TV-getting the one channel. On the news we saw photos of icebergs, Zodiacs, and heard something about a rescue and National Geographic. We couldn’t make it out. Later in the day, we heard that the Endeavor was sinking–having hit a submerged iceberg. We were devastated. I can’t describe how stunned we were thinking that our beautiful ship with all those fantastic people was in distress. For a painful 3 hours, we walked in a daze through the moai sites. And then, we drove into the Hanga Roa hotel parking lot so I could log on to CNN for any news. Turns out, the sinking ship was actually GAP Adventures’ Explorer. All passengers were rescued–safely aboard Nord Norge after a few hours in lifeboats on open water. The poor red ship went over on her side, and sank some 15 hours after the accident. All the emotions: relief for the Endeavor, thankfulness that we were safe, sadness for those travelers/crew…it was a strange, emotional day. And I’ve never felt more Thankful for our safety, warmth and luck.

Crater
Crater

So, what else can I say about Easter Island? There are more horses than people. 4,000 horses run pretty much free. There are at least as many dogs–most of german shepherd ancestry. Are they strays? Free range? I ended up carrying bits of food around to feed the skinny dogs.

Waiting
Waiting

The island smells of maple syrup and curry. The seed pods of a wild grass that grows in clumps sound like wooden chimes in the wind. Rain comes and goes–fast. Rainbows. And we ate well–the cerviche at La Taverne du Pecheur, the Chilean wines, Bryan liked the Escudo beer. Great coffee too.

2 new Moai
2 new Moai
Carol on Easter Island
Carol on Easter Island

It was a fantastic place. And now, we’re on our way home. Looking forward to fresh clothes, our own bed and-of course-hugging our pups.

See you all soon!
Love,
Carol and Bryan

Anakena
Anakena
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Love the colors…San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico! I only had 1.5 days there for a meeting (February 6-8, 2007). But no complaining about that! It was 80 degrees and sunny (vs. 10 and snowing back in Chicago!) I got about two hours to roam and take photos. Somehow, I lost the very first Blackberry I ever had. I’d had it for less than 5 weeks. Oy!

Blue Black brick roads
Blue Black brick roads

I wandered around admiring the colors, and the dark, inky-black brick streets.

Old San Juan
Old San Juan
Reflection
Reflection

I stumbled around snapping picture-after-picture of all the buildings. Like crayons in a box, so many colors–bright or faded, some roofless, some with ferns gracing the balconies, some with comforting yet exotic lights on inside. And then I saw the reflection of the church in a window.

Pigeon park
Pigeon park
Evening San Juan
Evening San Juan

Found a pigeon park…I’ve never seen so many pigeons in one place. Cooing. Walking, Watching. Waiting. They parted slightly to allow you to walk through their masses. If you bought food from the vendor, you were mobbed!

Old San Juan during the golden hour right before twilight is simply amazing. Great old buildings with fantastic colors. I was dumbstuck by the colors and the light. And it smelled like somebody was cooking something good right around the corner…

San Juan vista
San Juan vista
San Juan pastels
San Juan pastels
San Juan bright
San Juan bright
Hotel El Convento
Hotel El Convento
Hotel El Convento
Hotel El Convento
Puerto Rico map
Puerto Rico map
Puerto Rico Flag
Puerto Rico Flag
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Bermuda Haiku

Hamilton, Bermuda

We went with a group of media people and stayed at incredible Elbow Beach, Bermuda Paget.  Pink sand!

Pink Sand Beach, Bermuda
Pink Sand at Elbow Beach, Bermuda

“Gleeb gleeb” tree frogs. Birds?
“Eek-Moo-Moo!” Pink sand, Pink Bus,
Moon gates…Bermuda.

A media trip to Bermuda for Carol and Bryan
A media trip to Bermuda for Carol and Bryan
Bermuda beach
Bermuda beach
Bermuda: Pink buses & those shorts!
Bermuda: Pink buses & those shorts!

One night, we had a group dinner on the beach. They served a rich, white bean truffle soup in the tiniest little bowl. Blown away. Bryan learned to make it later. What a treat!

Bermuda map
Bermuda map
Bermuda flag
Bermuda flag
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Grenada, West Indies

St. George’s, Grenada

We picked Grenada because we wanted a beach vacation…time to lounge around, read books and enjoy fruity rum drinks. We also wanted somewhere “foreign and far” for a different experience. Grenada, West Indies…The Spice Island. They produce more spices per square mile than anywhere on earth…and it’s way down there…South of the Tropic of Cancer and really close to Trinidad and Venezuela.

Map of Grenada
Map of Grenada

On 5/24/02, we left Chicago on an American flight that we learned as we buckled up was being piloted by our good friend, Mark Bledsoe! Four and a half hours to San Juan, PR then on to another flight for two hour journey to Point Salines Airport.

We arrived after dark. Short and sweet drive to the hotel on twisty roads with people out walking on the edges, goats and cows grazing, and exotic smells. We arrived at the Coyaba Beach Resort on Grand Anse Beach around 8 p.m…a hotel with no door! Just a breezeway into the lobby-bar area. We’d walk through the garden to get to our room #226.

Grand Anse Beach, Grenada, West Indies
Grand Anse Beach, Grenada, West Indies

Things we enjoyed about Grenada:

  • Rum Punches! They consisted of rum, a little syrup, dash of bitters, lime juice and a sprinkling of nutmeg.
  • Mini-Buses! Just $1.50 got you a ride to town on a mini-bus. They operate with a driver and a conductor (who collects and ushers people in/out). You stand on the roadside and wait. A toot of the horn means the bus has room for you and will stop. Three knocks on the bus frame means you want out. Fast. Good breezes. Soundtrack of reggae. Ten minutes to town. Everyone rides–including kids going to school.
  • The Nutmeg bar/grill. great views of St. George’s and Grand Anse Beach in the distance. Carib beer and grilled cheese sandwiches. We’d watch the water taxis load up and ferry people in / out of the harbor.
St. George's Harbor
St. George’s Harbor

 

  • Grand Anse Beach. A truly grand beach. Long vistas, soft white sand, shady trees and the front yard for Grenadians. In the mornings and evenings, you could find locals out on the beach. Scrubbing themselves with sand and then drifting in the shallows of the surf.
  • Coyaba’s Pool bar. I didn’t have to swim to get out there! Stools in the water positioned your lower half below water, while your top half sat at the bar in the sun and shade enjoying rum punches. A great sensation.
Us at the Coyaba pool bar
Us at the Coyaba pool bar – Grenada

 

  • The morning walk to get cappuccinos at La Boulangerie. A French Bakery painted pink…not the best restaurant ever, but a great morning walk. Always breezy outside seating and a fine cappuccino and chocolate croissant.
Sunrise at Grand Anse Beach
Sunrise at Grand Anse Beach

 

  • Beach people. There was Mango Man–who walked all day up and down the beach selling mangoes. He carried the crate on his head with one hand balancing it. One day he frowned at us and simply said “Go. Walk.” It was good advice–we were roasting. Alvin–sold “regular and custom designs at your request”–spice necklaces and small carved tikis for earrings or necklaces. And the lady selling bathing suit wraps and hair braiding.
  • Coconut Beach French Creole restaurant up the beach! a pink and lavender beach place that served simply delicious shrimp and hearty potatoes, among old trees and delicate twinkle lights. A favorite place to walk at sunset. It made me feel at home to smell the good stuff cooking and hear the pots/pans in the kitchen, to hear the tv playing softly in the background and the waves rolling in and watch the candles flicker in the breeze. Delightful.
Coconut Beach Restaurant
Coconut Beach Restaurant

 

  • Dolphin watching boat tour. A small boat with a few tour guides that watched intently for dolphin fins or a patch of bubbling, gurgling water that means the dolphins are feeding below…when seen, they’d sharply turn the boat to follow them. The ride up the coast as far as Gouyave let us see the pastel homes with wrap around verandas embedded in the hills. Rain forest mountains in the distance.
  • Brown Sugar restaurant on the hill. Windows open and breezes on the hilltop. Grenadian foods named for local sayings/expressions… I had the “Sweet Man” (a pork dish with sweet tangy sauce).
  • Art Fabrik, Tikal and other shops. Amazing little place to find arts from the island: scary West Indies voodoo dolls, batik cloth, wooden carved angels, paintings, calabash art and all kinds of spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, saffron, cocoa, mace, etc) and spice-scented lotions, soaps, perfumes.
  • Grand old victorian homes. These old ladies were made with metal siding, metal roofs, and now sat rusting along the beach. There was one yellow and red one on the road between our hotel and the town. It looked deserted…and kind of reminded me of the ornate homes of metal that we’d seen in Iceland!
Mace drying
Mace drying
  • Rain Forest hike. We went up into the Grand Etang Forest for a few hours to hike in the cool, misty rain forest. We saw a nutmeg tree. Did you know that nutmeg fruits are yellow and round…and when ripe they split open at the bottom to reveal the red mace-covered nutmeg inside. The red strands of mace are removed and laid on trays to dry in the sun. The nutmegs are also dried and sold as whole pits to be grated over foods/drinks. We also saw cinnammon trees…the cinnamon comes from the bark. Our guide peeled back some bark and crushed some leaves so we could smell “christmas” in the forest. We saw monkeys watching us from the trees. And a mama goat tied to a tree to graze while the baby goat ran loose around her. Exotic flowers grow like weeds up here! And bamboo–the guide said it grows 6 inches every day. (!!!) As we left the rain forest, we stopped at a small house/gift shop. A soccer game was on and we sat with the guard and our guide sipping beers and a…
  • Ting…a Grenadian grapefruit soda that became my favorite drink!
  • Surf-walking at sunrise and sundown. sharing leftovers with beach dogs. Wiping the sand from their eyes and scratching their backs.
Sunset on Grand Anse Beach
Sunset on Grand Anse Beach
Carol and Bryan in GrenadaCarol and Bryan in Grenada
Carol and Bryan in Grenada
Grenada Flag
Grenada Flag
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