Tag Archives: Chile

Easter Island – Part 4

Final day on the e-Bike was a bit of an easier one as I was just exploring the Rano Kau volcano and Orongo, both of which are right near Hanga Roa.

Started out early and was at 90% assistance getting up the volcano.  Everybody who comes to Easter Island visits Orongo at the top of the volcano, but Pablo had told me about a hike around to the other side of the crater to a different viewpoint that he thought was really spectacular. 

Found the Vai Atare track (no cars or bikes allowed) about ½ way up the mountain, chained the bike to itself and dumped it in some bushes on the side of the road, and started to hike.  It wasn’t difficult at all and only took about 35 minutes, passing what looked to be more ceremonial circles of stones, as well as bluffs overlooking the ocean along the way. 

Vai Atare hike - Rano Kau - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

The hike ended pretty much on other side of the gap in the crater (called Kari Kari – “the bitten part”) to where the Orongo Village is located.   And Pablo was right.  It is the most spectacular view on the island! 

Vai Atare lookout - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

On one side, you have the Rano Kau wetlands down in the crater itself.  More than a kilometre across, 200m deep and offering protection from the winds that constantly blow across the island, the crater generates its own microclimate and is able to sustain cattail plants similar to those found at Lake Titicaca in Peru (another link to South America). 

Rano Kau crater and wetlands from the Vai Atare lookout - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

On the other side, you have the ocean with the islands most important to the Birdman Cult – Motu Nui, the smaller Motu Iti, and the isolated Motu Kau Kau – framed by the gap in the crater.  

Motu Nui, Motu Iti, Motu Kau Kau - Birdman Islands - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Motu Nui, the smaller Motu Iti, and the isolated Motu Kau Kau

I ended up hanging out there by myself (the other nice thing is that few people go there) and with my falcon friend (who was swooping me like a magpie) for over an hour, eating my lunch and admiring the view.   Then it was back the way I came and onto the bike to tackle the rest of the volcano.

Stopped off at the regular viewpoint over the crater a little further up the hill – which is a wonderful view, but not as good as the one I just left.  

Rano Kau crater and wetlands from the normal lookout - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Regular lookout over the Rano Kau crater. The Vai Atare lookout is on the left hand side of the “bite” out of the crater wall. Orongo is on the right hand side of it.

And then onto Orongo – one of the two sites on the island that you can only visit once.  I asked the Guardaparque there why that was and he explained that it was because of the number of tourists that come to Easter Island these days.   If they allowed everyone to come to Orongo as often as they wanted, then there would be many more visitors each day and the site would deteriorate much faster.  Fair enough – so headed out with my interpretive map to explore the village of the Birdman Cult.  

Orongo - Rano Kau - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Stone houses at Orongo showing the layered structure and the very low stone door

The 53 “houses” are constructed of stacked slate and are oval in design with double outer walls and a very low entrance. 

Orongo construction - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

This image shows the double walls of a partially reconstructed house. The gap you see here is not the low door but rather a way to allow you to see inside the structure.

The village was used for only a few weeks per year – mostly for preparation for the Birdman competition, where the chiefs of the different tribes or their hopu (representatives) would compete to gather the first sooty tern (manu tara) egg of the year.     Participants would descend the sea cliff and swim to Motu Nui, staying there for days or weeks awaiting the arrival of the seabirds, until one of them found an egg and returned it intact to Orongo.   He (or the Chief he represented) then became tangata-manu – the sacred birdman – and lived in ceremonial reclusion for one year.   Hmmm…. not the reward I would have gone for!

There are also a lot of stone carvings in the village, it is the manner by which the Birdman cult chose to express themselves, but unfortunately the area where most of them are found was roped off to protect it (and visitors) from slippage.

Stone Carvings - Orongo - Rano Kau - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

For me, while Orongo is interesting, it is not as interesting as the rest of the island to be honest. Definitely worth a visit though, and if you don’t want to/can’t walk out to the Vai Atare lookout, it has the next best view of the Birdman islands.

Motu Nui, Motu Iti, Motu Kau Kau - Birdman Islands from Orongo - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

View of Birdman islands from Orongo

Easter Island – Part 3

Back on the e-Bike today but not as much riding 🙂  First stop – Puna Pau – where they quarried the red basalt for the topknots (pukaos).  

Puna Pau - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

It is thought that these represented hair rather than hats, and seem to be very late additions to the Moais (only a fraction of the Moais actually have them).  It’s also uncertain whether the rolled the pukaos up ramps once they Moai were in place, or whether they were attached to the Moai before raising the statue on the platform.

Puna Pau - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

The ones here are cylindrical and remain unfinished, lacking the smaller topknot and the mechanism to attach to the Moai’s head.  These would have been added once the pukao was in its final destination.

Puna Pau - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

The added bonus of this site is the fantastic view back over Hanga Roa and the western coast of Easter Island.

View of Hanga Roa from Puna Pau - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Got a bit lost on the way to Ana Te Pahu (another lava-tube cave) and ended up heading back into Hanga Roa.   Backtracked and found it eventually – thank you e-Bike for making those hills I really shouldn’t have had to ride up a breeze!

From the National Parks checkpoint, the Guardaparque told me I could ride down to the cave, so that’s what I attempted.  Yeah – or not!   Ended up walking the bike most of the way (e-Bikes are not designed for dirt roads!) and had a quick lesson on putting a chain back on the front cog when I got back to the checkpoint.   It is true, these bikes are super-heavy, and NOT fun to push.

Ana Te Pahu Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Next stop was Ahu Akivi for lunch, sitting under a eucalypt reading more Thomas Covenant 🙂   This Ahu is aligns with the point where the Sun rises on the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, and is the only ahu on the island that faces the ocean (~10km away), all the others face inland.  The linked webpage posits that this may be due to the location of the nearby village, but as with much about Easter Island, the exact explanation is unclear.

Ahu Akivi - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

From there, I headed for the Ahus closer to Hanga Roa that I had skipped on my first outing with the bike.   Vaihú / Hanga Te’e is a really cool spot near a beautiful little bay.

Vaihú / Hanga Te’e - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

The Moais are all lined up face down in the dirt where they were pushed over many centuries ago.

Vaihú / Hanga Te’e - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

And in front of the Ahu, there is a large circle of stones (called a Paina) where ceremonies were enacted.

Vaihú / Hanga Te’e - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Stopped off at another ruined ahu, Hanga Hahave, which had a line of several Moais buried facedown in the dirt leading to it.  Perhaps these were en-route to the platform when the Rapa Nui downed tools, and were left where they were, having never quite made their final destination.

Hanga Hahave -- Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Got a bit lost again (I’m actually very good with directions, but the maps of Easter Island aren’t exactly accurate it would seem) on the way to Vinapu – I seemed to be on a road that didn’t exist…   But it did have spectacular views, particularly with the stormy skies.

East coast - Hanga Hahave -- Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Arrived at Vinapu eventually, after almost having a heart-attack trying to push the bike up an impossibly steep dirt track.  This complex actually consists of 2 ahu (3 if you count the one you can’t access inside the fuel terminal), and Ahu Tahira has the most amazing example of platform stonework to be found on the island.

Ahu Tahira - Vinapu - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

If you are thinking, “Hang on.  That looks like Inca stonework!”   You would be correct!  And this is one of the key pieces of evidence that point to a possible South American origin for the inhabitants of Easter Island, rather than a Polynesian one.  Thor Heyerdahl (another of my all-time favourite writers) was the main advocate for this theory, and even sailed a raft from Peru to Easter Island to prove it could be done.   And if you are thinking that that sounds familiar – it probably is.  It is better known as the Kon-Tiki expedition.

Another theory is that the original inhabitants were Polynesian in origin, but that they visited South America at some point and brought back influences from the Inca empire.   Yet another of the mysteries of Easter Island.

Ahu Tahira - Vinapu - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

The other Ahu here – Ahu Vinapu – has a red monolithic stone standing in front of it, reminiscent of pre-inca statues in South America.  It is thought that this is a female Moai, but, like much else, that is only a theory, especially given its extremely eroded state.

Vinapu - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

 

BTW:   if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading a Thor Heyerdahl book – I highly recommend them.  He has an awesome writing style that perfectly compliments his adventures.

 

Easter Island – Part 2

Decided to give the butt a rest (yes, it was sore!) and hike the west coast north of Hanga Roa.  Started early to try to get good light on Tahai Complex – I was the only person there at 8am!

Tahai Complex - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Continued further north to Hanga Kio’e, and then sat down behind a pile of rocks watching the view and reading for an hour (Thomas Covenant of course).  Passed through a National Parks checkpoint and decided to walk to the furtherst Ahu – Ahu Tepeu, and visit the caves on the way back. 

Ahu Tepeu was a large village, and you can still see some of the stone circles in which food was cultivated (manavais) and the outlines of several elliptical houseboats.  The longest houseboat on the island (40m) is found here and it is thought that this was used to hold meetings, rather than for sleeping.   And, of course, there is the ruined Ahu.

Ahu Tepeu - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Manavai and houseboat (top left), houseboat showing elliptical structure (top right), ruined Ahu (bottom)

The caves along this western side of the island, though much touted, are nothing particularly special to be honest.   Ana Te Pora is a lava tube whose main feature is a bed of rocks.

Ana Te Pora - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Ana Te Pora entrance (top) and two views of the bed of rocks (bottom)

And you don’t want to suffer from claustrophobia if you decide to visit Ana Kakenga, “the Cave of two windows” – the entrance is a very tight squeeze before it opens out.

Ana Kakenga - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Got back to Camping Mihinoa (where I’m staying) with extremely sore feet after hiking about 16km (damn arthritis)!   I have my own little tent here with a great mattress (kinda like a gymnastics mat) and light sleeping bag, a huge communal kitchen with lockers for everyone to store their food (most people who stay here cook for themselves), hot showers with tons of pressure and a nice common area.  And its right on the ocean!

Camping Mihinoa - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

To save money (Easter Island is very expensive), I bought a box of food from Santiago and am eating exactly the same thing for each of breakfast, lunch and dinner this week.  Breakfast is granola, “Greek” yogurt (well, as Greek as it comes in Chile) and cacao nibs from Guatemala (yes I still have some!).  Lunch is a cheese, prosciutto and avocado sandwich (I buy fresh bread each day at one of the bakeries).  And dinner is a masterpiece and surprisingly tasty – a quinoa, cauliflower, carrot, asparagus, mushroom, chorizo stirfry that I take across to road to eat while watching the sunset 🙂

I had the same dinner for a week - always eaten overlooking the ocean. Sunset - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Dinner for each of 7 days – cauliflower, carrot, asparagus, mushroom, chorizo stirfry

Speaking of which … another spectacular one!

Sunset - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

 

Happy New Year! Welcome 2017

Yes, I know I’m in the middle of a series of posts about events that happened a month ago, but just needed to interrupt to say Happy New Year and all the very best for 2017!  

I actually stayed up till midnight for only about the 4th time in my life!   This was largely thanks to the 2 Aussies I got talking to up on the rooftop bar of the hostel when I took an Aussie pie and broccoli up there to eat my dinner.   Nice thing was that we had a clear view across to one of the main fireworks launchpads in Santiago – the Entel Tower.   And it didn’t disappoint!

Happy New Year 2017 from Santiago de Chile

 

And before the fireworks started, some of the Chileans who had joined us on the roof launched a lantern – seemed to be a very popular thing to do as there were heaps of them floating in the night sky above Santiago.

Happy New Year 2017 from Santiago de Chile

So goodbye 2016 – I had an incredible year.   Hello 2017 – which I’m sure will be another amazing one full of adventure.

Happy New Year / Feliz Año Nuevo!

Easter Island – Part 1

I had always had a fascination for Easter Island (Isla de Pascua / Rapa Nui) ever since I was a kid, and made my first trip to the Island back in 2003.  I stayed 5 days on that occasion and could not understand how the majority of people who were visiting said they were bored after only 3 days!

Easter Island Map

This year, Easter Island wasn’t originally part of my trip, but when I rearranged my ticket back in April (which ended up saving me some sectors on my round-the-world trip), there was something that kept calling me to go back – I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.  So I used my “saved” sectors to get a “free” flight there (otherwise the flights are usually quite expensive).

Overcoming the inertia of hanging around in Santiago doing nothing was quite difficult, but I was so glad I decided to go to Easter Island again.  I was there for 7 days this trip, had an absolutely awesome time (even better than last time) and could have easily stayed another week!

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was that I decided to hire an e-bike (i.e. a bike with a motor that can assist you when you want) from Easybici for 3 days to explore the island.   Having never experienced an e-bike before, it was a little strange at first, but I’m a total convert – especially for this type of touring!   Basically, it has 4 levels of assistance – no assistance (where it operates purely on your own leg power like a normal bike, though admittedly it is a VERY heavy bike), 30% assistance, 60% assistance or 90% assistance.   You have to be in 4th or 5th gear to get the best out of the assistance, and you have to keep pedaling all the time, but it does make a huge difference!

Easybici bike I rented

My e-bike. The motor is in that silver canister under the fork

And definitely gives you the opportunity for plenty of conversations!  Everyone you meet is interested in how it works and what it’s like, both locals and other tourists.  In fact, I think one group of Japanese tourists were more interested in me and my bike than they were with the Ahu they were visiting!

First day on the bike I decided to do the full day island loop (ie, the red loop in the map above).  I figured that I’d get that in before I got a sore butt from the bike, and it would give me an idea on where I wanted to re-visit and when for the best light for photos.

After a bit of instruction on how to use the bike, and suggestions from Pablo about where I was likely to use the assistance and how to conserve the battery power, I donned my helmet and headed out of town.  This day in particular, I was determined to use my own leg power for the majority of the ~45km, so it really did turn into a good workout – especially against the very strong headwind that blew directly against me for the first half of it.  Still, I managed to only use a little assistance for part of the ascent out of town and I benefited from a few quick jabs at 60% assistance for a couple of small hills because, well, why not 🙂

I decided to skip the Ahus closest to Hanga Roa and return to them another day, so the first “popular” Ahu I called into on the bike was Akahanga, where I met my Japanese friends who were fascinated by me and my bike.   This Ahu has not been restored, and is what the sites looked like when the European explorers arrived – Moais pushed over onto their faces and left where they fell. 

Akahanga - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Another bonus of biking Easter Island (rather than hiring a car) is that the slower movement really encourages you to stop more often and admire the views. 

views - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

There are around 11 “key” sites on Easter Island that everyone visits, but there are also a lot of other “ruined” sites that get almost no visitors.   Given I was on the bike and could see them from the road, I ended up visiting almost all of these not-so-popular sites as well.   Along the south-west coast, these included: Hanga Hua Reva, Hanga Tetenga, Hanga Maihiku, One Makihi, Hanga Tu’u Hata  (each map calls them differently it seems!)

Ruined Ahus - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

This meant it was already 1pm by the time I reached Rano Raraku – the site where they carved the Moais out of the mountainside and a place where they limit the number of tourists on any particular day by restricting you to only 1 visit.   I ascertained that the best light would be late afternoon and decided to skip until I could spend a good amount of time there on another day.   Had lunch at Tongariki (another of the most famous sites), but revisited later in the week so will write about that one then 🙂

Used 90% assistance on the bike for first time to cut across the eastern end of the island and blew away two people walking their regular bikes up the hill 🙂   Actually, in the 5 days where I was out and about on the island, I saw less than 10 people on bikes – most hire cars.

Called in at Pu o Hiro – “a carved stone which was considered a talisman for fishing.  According to certain traditions, sounds made by blowing through one of the stone’s holes attracted fish to the coast”, so said the signage.

Pu o Hiro - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

and Papa Vaka, site of stone engravings, or petroglyphs, including tuna fish, sharks, canoes, hooks and octopus (as you can imagine, the sea and fishing was quite important!).

Papa Vaka - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Petroglyphs of tuna (top image, upper left), shark (top image, lower right), canoe (bottom left image), hooks and octopus (bottom right image)

More ruined Ahus: Hanga Taharoa and Ahu Heki’l, before I arrived at Te Pito Kura, the site of the biggest Moai (10m tall, weighing 80 tons) ever placed on an Ahu.  His red headpiece is also one of the biggest ever carved, and weighs in at 12 tons.  This was one of the last Moai knocked down, sometime after 1838.  

Te Pito Kura - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

This site is also home to Te Pito Henua, or World’s Navel with its polished round stones.

Te Pito Henua - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Beyond this, I arrived at Anakena, another of the famous sites in Easter Island and the island’s main beach.   There were loads of people there when I arrived – it was Saturday – but could only stay for about an hour before I had to head back towards Hanga Roa to return the bike (so I’ll write more about it in another post).

I still had all lights showing a full battery on the bike when I left Anakena and “90%ed” it all the way to the top of the rise 4km away.  Then coasted down the other side and through all the stands of Eucalypt trees – a recent effort at reforestation.  Easter Island was essentially completely denuded of trees before 1722, this being one of the theories about why the Rapa Nui culture collapsed. 

Pablo was most surprised when I returned the bike with the battery still ¾ full.  I asked him whether it recharged while I peddled, but apparently not.  Not bad going for 45km, given I rarely ride a bike!  

It was an amazing day of exploring this incredible island, which ended in a gorgeous sunset 🙂

Hanga Roa Sunset - Easter Island | Isla de Pascua | Rapa Nui

Santiago General Cemetery – Night Tour

Having explored the Santiago General Cemetery with Tours4Tips on the Santiago Offbeat tour and returned to wander around by myself about a week later, I decided to visit a third time to join the Night Tours that run several nights per week.  

When the time finally rolled around, I have to admit I didn’t feel like getting off the couch to go (reading an awesome book!) but I’m so very glad I did 🙂

There were about 60 of us for the tour (maximum number=100; I was the only gringo), meeting at the main entrance to the cemetary on Av. La Paz.   After 45 minutes of stuffing around doing who knows what (I bought my book with me to read 🙂 ) and, I suspect, waiting for it to get darker, we met our guide for the evening – the ancient Franciscan monk.

Santiago General Cemetery - night tour

He was a very cool guide with an appropriately somber/nightmarish tone and an evil cackle 🙂   He was also surprisingly spritely and set a cracking pace as we journeyed through the mausoleums to the different points of interest.

I had actually booked the premium tour – “Cuentos Urbanos” – which was a mixture of Chilean history, architecture, sculpture, and ghost stories that were played out amongst the tombstones and mausoleums by actors from the local theatre company: Compañía de Teatro “La Recoleta”. 

One was “La Catalepsia” – the story of a woman with Catalepsy who, because her family thought she was dead, was buried alive.  But when they opened the grave some time later, she was gone…

Santiago General Cemetery - night tour

Another was “El Vampiro” – a love story … of sorts.

Santiago General Cemetery - night tour

Then we chased “La Llorona” through the exceptionally dark Capilla Verde (Green Chapel), which housed several other actors that jumped out of dark corners and made sudden noises to scare the bejeezus out of us 🙂

It was a lot of fun stumbling around the cemetery in the dark after our Franciscan monk, who was further aided by other cloaked figures standing in the shadows. And I’m sure that part of the reason it was so fun was because our monk had a truly awesome sense of humour and really got into his creepy role.

The only issue with the tour was that 60 people is a lot, and we were constantly jostling with each other to be near our monk so we could hear well and see what was going on.  I was actually a bit surprised that people didn’t trip over regularly given the uneven surfaces and obstacles that are prevalent in an old cemetery.  It would be much better if they limited the numbers (on the premium tour at least) to a maximum of 25.  They could even double the price and it would still be totally worth it.

 

Recommendation:  I had a lot of fun on this tour, though your spanish needs to be good to do it.   Fortunately the Monk didn’t speak like a Chilean so he was quite easy to understand and he had a microphone pack so you could hear him.  

You have to be over 18 years old and it is a good idea to book in advance as it seems to be a very popular outing – especially as a “date night” for Chilean couples!

Cost:  5000CLP (~AUD$10)

Time:  The tour itself went for 1.5 hours, but there was 45 minutes of waiting around at the beginning…  I suspect that was because they were waiting for it to get darker

Santiago Metro

I’ve always been a big fan of the Santiago metro.  It get you most of the places you want to go – especially if you are a tourist – it’s clean, it’s pretty cheap and efficient.   OK – it gets bloody crowded during peak hour, but then which public transport system doesn’t suffer under these circumstances.

The main problem is during summer – especially on Line 1 (the main line) – where they really struggle to keep it cool.   Love their “solution” for the platforms – spray mist over passengers 🙂

Santiago Metro

Photo clearly not taken during peak hours

Santiago General Cemetery

I’m not usually one to wander around cemeteries (despite many people loving them for photo opportunities), but I was fascinated by the Santiago General Cemetery after I was introduced to it through Tours4Tips on the Santiago Offbeat tour.  For a start, it is one of the biggest cemeteries in Latin America, covering 85 hectares and estimated to have over 2 million burials, including most of Chile’s most famous souls.   

The thing that actually brought me back was I wanted to spend more time wandering around looking at the amazing architecture and sculptures that are found within the cemetery.   I actually entered through the main entrance this time (not the entrance close to the Cementerios Metro Station), which is fronted by the Plaza de la Paz (Peace Plaza).  Quite the entrance!

Santiago General Cemetery

Main entrance – Santiago General Cemetery

Santiago General Cemetery

Amazing statues in the Plaza de la Paz

This entrance immediately puts you in the heart of the beautiful, old part of the cemetery.  The massive mausoleums here were constructed by the very rich families of the late 1800s and early 1900s, who made most of their wealth through saltpetre mining back in the day.   You can find all sorts of different architectures here, many of which were designed by a handful of masters – it really is amazing to wander around these magnificent structures.  

Santiago General Cemetery mausoleums

Incredible architecture of the mausoleums in the old part of Santiago General Cemetery

Contrast this with the “highrise” graves of more regular people, who even then consolidate multiple burials in the one place to keep costs down (and to have the family all in one place I assume).

Santiago General Cemetery

“Highrise” graves of more regular people. There are 3 floors in each tower, each of which are 4 graves high

The Capilla Verde (a public space) is a fancier looking version of this type of burial, and was built in the 1900s (the same time as the immense mausoleums) to house the remains of those that could not afford such opulence.  No, they don’t make them like they used to!

Santiago General Cemetery

There are also plenty of underground tombs – so you do really have to watch where you are walking!

Santiago General Cemetery

The Santiago General Cemetery is actually a city within a city, complete with plenty of tree-lined streets.

Santiago General Cemetery

And corner stores.

Santiago General Cemetery

Although most of Chile’s most famous historical figures are buried here, the memorial of Salvadore Allende (who was ousted as President of Chile in 1973 in the coup of Augusto Pinochet) is perhaps the most visited.  

Santiago General Cemetery

Memorial for Salvador Allende in Santiago General Cemetery

There is also a stone plaque with the following passage from Allende’s final speech (translated) to the nation over Radio Magallanes.  

“Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again where free men will walk to build a better society.”

Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to do one of the Cemetery tours that are offered during the week, but even so – it is a fascinating place to walk around.  You can also grab a couple of self-guided tours from the website (19th Century and 20th Century) to help!

And don’t worry that people will think you are disrespectful if you walk around taking photos – nobody looks at you weirdly at all, and often you find people having parties with their buried loved ones 🙂

Cuarteto Latinoamericano

I’ve always loved classical music but rarely do I find myself listening to it (though I love it when I do), and even more rarely do I go and see it performed live.   I think the last time was a few years ago when I went to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra playing their free Summer Concerts at the Myer Music Bowl.

So when I arrived in Santiago and saw that one of the most famous Latino Quartets was playing – Cuarteto Latinoamericano – I figured “why not”.  

Actually, the most concerning thing was what to wear given my extremely meager travel-clothes pickings!  Scraped together an outfit – black skirt, black top, red shawl (shoes are the hardest) and added the latest piece of jewelry that I purchased on the streets of Santiago for $4 just 2 days ago.  Quite fitting no?

Santiago Jewelry

It was a fairly short concert at the Nescafé Theatre of the Arts (yes, you read that correctly), where they played relatively contemporary compositions from Latin American composers.    My favourite was “Gavota” by Manuel M. Ponce (México)  though I was truly intrigued by some of the techniques they employed to perform one of the other pieces – including using the violin and cello essentially as drums!

Cuarteto Latinoamericano

Although more a fan of Haydn, Mozart, Bach, etc – it was very nice to hear some classical music played exceptionally well.  Need to do this more often!

Air Supply Concert – Movistar Arena – Santiago

One thing you quickly realise as you travel through Central America on public transport, is that these countries seem to have a bit of an obsession with Air Supply – an Australian band from the 1970s and 80s.   You are almost guaranteed to hear at least one of their songs on any bus you travel on, and there was this weird experience I had in Nicaragua where they were the subject of one of the questions in a Pub Quiz!  You almost never hear about them in Australia, and haven’t done so for probably 20 years, but in Latin America…

Now, I admit, I was a massive Air Supply fan when I was a kid, and I spent innumerable hours karaokeing to my “Air Supply’s Greatest Hits” cassette tape in my bedroom, way before karaoke was even a thing!   So when I saw they were playing in Santiago only a few days after I was originally going to leave town, I decided to extend my stay so I could go see them live.   Because, well, why not 🙂

Air Supply concert - Santiago, Chile

There was actually quite a decent crowd at the Movistar Arena for the concert – not quite full, but not far off it.  And they went waaaaaay crazier than I expected when Russell and Graham came onto the stage.   After all, Air Supply sing love ballads – they aren’t exactly a rock band.

Air Supply concert - Santiago, Chile

But the crowd was totally into it!  And not necessarily who you might think.  For example, of the couple on my left-hand side – the woman was clearly enjoying the concert but it was her husband that was singing his heart out at the top of his lungs 🙂

And why not – despite Russell and Graham being pretty decently old these days (it is the 41st year of Air Supply) it was a great concert!  I’d actually forgotten how many incredible songs they had – and it turned out I could still remember every single lyric even though I hadn’t really listened to them for ages.

Air Supply concert - Santiago, Chile

One of the funny things for me was to check out who was in their band.  I don’t think any of the guys could have been older than their early 30s, which means they weren’t even born when Air Supply was at its peak.   And one of them had a mohawk – not quite what you’d expect for love ballads…

There was a point about 3/4 the way into the show where they both came down into the audience while they were singing.  The crowd went crazy!  And many of the people in the expensive seats actually raced around to follow them as they moved through the crowd.

Air Supply concert - Santiago, Chile

It was also fascinating to look around and see how many people were recording bits of the concert.  I guess this is a very common sight no matter which concert you are at these days…

Air Supply concert - Santiago, Chile

Had an absolute blast re-living my childhood and singing along with the rest of the Chileans at the concert.   Absolutely worth spending the extra days in Santiago 🙂