Dedicated to Mara's travel and hiking adventure journals as well as her words of wisdom and suggested resources for hikers and travelers.
Easter Island, more than just Moai - May/June, 2009From 2008 to 2009, I spent over nine months traveling in Central America and South America with side trips to Antarctica and Easter island. What follows are my journal entries from Easter Island. Central America, South America, and Antarctica are listed separately. The comments in square brackets were comments from my emails rather than entries in my journal.
Iorana (Hello in Rapa Nui),
In 2009, as part of a 9.5 month trip, I spent one week on Easter Island, Chile. I planned to go there to see the large stone moai or statues that are carved out of stone and moved kilometers to the coast of the island hundreds of years ago. Why they were carved and how they were moved remains a mystery to this day. There are quite a few theories as to how they were moved and some of these theories have been tested with varying degrees of success.
By the time I got to Rapa Nui as the islanders call it, I knew there was much more to be seen than moai. There were lava tubes to explore, pictographs adorning caves, and petroglyphs to find. There were hills to climb and beaches to swim. Within days, I knew the one week I had scheduled there wouldn't be enough time so I would just have to make do.
I did a lot of walking, rented a 4WD Suzuki Samurai one day with two other travelers, and did some easy hitchhiking. Even though I stuck out my thumb, I didn't have to as it's customary for cars to stop and offer rides to anyone they see walking down the longer roads that go from one end of the island to the other. Many other travelers rent bicycles, scooters, or ATVs.
I learned that there are about 2000 Rapa Nui and like other small remote communities, they are having problems maintaining their community in the face of the younger generations that want to leave the island to explore other parts of the world. There are also 2000-2500 others living on the island. In addition to Rapa Nui, Spanish, and English, French is also widely spoken.
There are also between 3000 and 4000 horses on the island which is too many. It's a problem. As are the cattle that roam freely on the island. The Chilean government is having to step in to help manage the herds but it's still unclear what the best way to manage the overpopulation will be.
Back to the statues...
The moai are fantastic! The tallest erected one was almost 10 meters high but most are a bit shorter than that. They weigh as much as 80+ tonnes. Their heads are overly large and though the details are hard to see in the pictures, they often have quite intricately carved elements. Their ears, nostrils, and hands are also carved into the statues. Their backs also often have detailed carvings on them. Plus, the ahus or platforms on which they stand often have rocks carved with petroglyphs. It was only thirty years ago that it was finally determined that the moai originally did have eyes. The coral and obsidian eyes have mostly been lost but fragments for one were found and pieced together. The moai all appear to be unique. They are different heights, have different features, and are grouped with a variety of shapes and sizes together.
Most were toppled during clan wars in the 1700s or by tsunami but some of the sites have since been restored, either partially or fully. The hats or topknots that were placed on top of the moai are also a mystery. There's no consensus for how the hats were placed on the top of the moai. Were the moai erected with their topknots in place or were the hats placed on top after the moai were in place? The do know where the material for the hats were quarried, at a different place than the body.
After the age of the moai which ended by the early 1600s, the age of the birdman started. It somehow became tradition for men of certain clans to climb down a treacherous cliff into the water, swim out to a nearby small island, and wait for the manutara (sooty tern) to lay the first egg of the season. The first one to retrieve an egg and return to the main island was birdman for the year and allowed his clan king to be honored as the leader of the island for a year. There are many petroglyphs in honor of the birdman and the god-like being Make-make in the ancient town of Orongo on the edge of the Rano Kao caldera. We walked there to see the view of the fresh water lake inside, visit the old stone houses built into the hillside, and to see the petroglyphs and islands. Along the way, we realized how much obsidian we were walking on, some of which was huge pieces. But since taking rock off the island is illegal, we just marveled at the sheer volume of obsidian and left it where it lay.
There are so many petroglyphs on the island that I was finding many that weren't even marked on a detailed map I had bought including one very large site with a great many wonderful turtle petroglyphs and others including more of Make-make. Someone I was walking with that day couldn't figure out how I found them and yet I thought that looking at a large flat rock for scratches would be an obvious place to look for them. I had to ask him not to walk on the rock as he was stepping on the petroglyphs. Perhaps years of visiting petroglyph and pictograph sites has made me a bit more open to looking in places others haven't pointed out to me. Similarly, I was finding a lot of unmarked caves while wandering the island, too.
The birdman cave has pictographs in it, the paintings of birds on the ceiling have mostly fallen but one large patch remains to give a good impression of the paintings. This cave is also spectacular for the view out the opening of the surf coming in.
One last element of island culture I wanted to experience was the music and dance. I had heard a bit of music over the course of the week I was there and while much of the music sounded distinctly Polynesian, I was surprised to hear some that sounded more like Cajun. Perhaps there's some French influence there, too. It was only my last night when I finally took in one of the very touristy music and dance shows put on by three different troupes on the island. I went to the Matatoa show which was a true stage show. It was a great show and not just because of the scantily clad men. There were scantily clad women, too. But the dance, the stories depicted by the dance, and and the athleticism of the dancers was all worth seeing. It was a great way to spend my last night on the island. I never did have a chance to see the Kevin Costner produced movie, Rapa Nui. I understand it's not particularly true to history. It's shown three times a week in English and once in French.
What follows is my day to day journal of my time on the island with more specifics about each of the sites I visited.
May and June
Friday, May 29: Santiago to Hango Roa, Isla de Pascua (aka Easter Island, aka Rapa Nui, aka Te Pito Te Henua or Belly Button of the World)
I slept well for half the night and then tossed and turned with noise and light coming in from the neighboring room. This hostel, Casa Roja, is literally a beautiful old mansion, painted red. It's got parquetry flooring, high ceilings with wonderful detailing, and all of the original doors and windows. It's surprising however, that the walls seem paper thin.
I got up before 5am, had breakfast, packed the rest of my food from the fridge, and hit the road by 5:45. I had to walk to my bus to the airport which left at 6am. I had been told it would be 3000 pesos but it was only 1400 pesos to get to the airport. I'm almost glad there weren't any other people going to the airport with whom I could have shared a more expensive taxi. At that early hour, it only took 30 minutes though 45 minutes is supposed to be the norm.
My flight was uneventful. I watched Defiance about Jewish Belorussian brothers who fought back during WWII. Then I watched most of Last Chance Harvey but missed the ending when the plane started its descent.
Coming into Easter Island, I could see the coast. It looked black and was ringed with white surf.
Once in town, I went to the local campground but was put off by their apparent bait-and-switch tactics. So, I left my pack there and went to town to get information at the tourist office. Along the way, I had walked along the coastal road and just marveled at the power of the surf. The volcanic rocks formed a dangerous barrier to getting into the water and the surf ensured that anyone who ventured near the island would be painfully dashed against those rocks. That said, the white surf against the black rocks was absolutely beautiful.
In town, the Tourist information center gave me some great information. Then I stopped at the local hot dog stand where for 1200 pesos, more than double the mainland, I had a completo. I sat with a man also eating a completo and when I heard some music that seemed vaguely familiar, I struck up a conversation with him. He spoke great English, so I asked about the music. To me, it sounded Cajun. But it was Rapa Nui. I hadn't realized that there would be a large French influence here but there apparently is. That may explain part of the similarity. Turns out, many Rapa Nui speak French as well as Rapa Nui, Spanish, and English. This guy shared some great information about the Island. Turns out he was a guide so I got his contact information in case I could make use of his services for a tour during the week.
I then stopped at a couple of other hostels and then went back to the campground to check into the much less expensive hostel there regardless of their business practices there.
I got back just in time. Just minutes after checking in, a torrential downpour hit. May is the rainiest month on Rapa Nui so I knew to expect some rain but I hope it's not going to be like this too much. Even the locals marveled at this particular rainstorm. For me, it was a perfect time to take a nap. So I went to sleep for a couple of hours of much needed shut-eye.
Later I cooked dinner in the dorm kitchen but hung out in the campground dining room. Everyone else in the dorm is Chilean and speaks no English. All the campers speak English - even the Chilean - so it's a more social environment in which I could hang out.
Saturday, May 30: Hanga Roa
I spent the morning at the Sebastian Englebert Museum of Anthropology. The signs are all in Spanish there but they give you a notebook in your language of choice when you walk in with pages corresponding to direct translations for all of each panel on the walls. It was a great museum and I learned a lot about the history of the island that will be very useful when I tour the island.
I walked back along the coast, visiting the many moai in that part of the island, near the town. There were individual moai and one ahu (platform) with five moai. I realized that would be a nice place to spend sunset sometime.
Back in town, I grabbed an empanada for lunch and then I stopped at one of the supermarkets knowing that most were likely to close that afternoon and not reopen until Monday. Back at the hostel, I took a much needed nap after a night of somewhat disrupted sleep.
After my nap, I went looking for someone who might have wanted to take a tour with the guide I had met yesterday but to no avail. I then went to visit the birdman (Tangata manu) cave, with it's beautiful bird paintings. Even more amazing was the view of the surf pounding the shore in front of the cave. It's a place I could spend hours just watching the surf.
On the way back to the hostel, I stopped at a single moai in front of a protected harbor. There were sailboats there including one Hunter 356 which reminded me of a friend's boat at home. All these sailboats had to cross a great deal of open ocean to get to Easter Island. Also at this harbor, I saw some people practicing paddling outrigger canoes. These aren't the traditional canoes, but modern racing versions. The big trick is learning how to deal with them in the surf.
Back at the hostel, I cooked dinner and then hung out with the campers.
The Dog of the Day tradition has continued here on the island. This morning, Udi, the campground dog accompanied me to town and picked up a friend along the way. Then in town, he left me (or did I leave him?) and I soon picked up another dog who followed very closely and quietly at my heels. I had to turn around every now and then to see if she was still there. She too was joined by a friend. We walked to the museum together and then hours later, when I emerged, I could see the dogs far below, looking like they were about to follow someone else. Then, the second dog spotted me and ran straight for me. The first dog, seeing the second dog running, also came right up to me and jumped on me. She was so quiet when she was following me the first time, I was surprised she was so exuberant to see me. Even on the way back to town, when I stopped, she would lie down right in front of me so I had to be careful not to trip over her when I started walking again.
On my way back to town, it started raining so I put on my rain gear only to have it stop raining again.
Sunday, May 31: Hanga Roa
I spent the morning with Jo and Michael, an Aussie couple, climbing Rano Kau, an inactive volcano with a perfectly round sweet water lake in the caldera. The lake surface looked like a map with all the reeds growing in it. We also explored Orongo, a grouping of dwellings built into the hillside with flagstone walls and ceilings that now have grass growing on top. These buildings are very low, and have very tiny opening in the sides through which to access the interior. There are no smoke holes so I'm sure all cooking must have been done outside and the interior must have been used solely for sleeping, storage, and shelter. There are petroglyphs here of both the birdman and Make-Make, the god of the birdman cult. It was from here that one chosen man from each tribe would descend the cliffs into the pounding surf and swim to the nearby tiny island of Moto Nui. There they would wait for the first Sooty Terns (manutara) of the season to lay their eggs. The first one to retrieve and egg and return to Orongo with it was honored as Birdman of the year and his tribe's chief would gain control over the island for a year.
Looking at the surf they had to brave, especially while returning with a bird egg, I think they must have been crazy.
On the trail and road going to and from the caldera, we marveled at the amount of obsidian that seemed to litter the pathways as broken glass would near party shelters along overused sections of the Appalachian Trail. But some of these pieces of obsidian were bigger than my foot and for those that don't already know me, that's huge! But since it's illegal to remove any stones or other natural resources from the island, we marveled at it and left it where it lay.
We stopped at the birdman cave on the way back to the hostel and I was glad to see it again.
After lunch at the hostel, we walked to town. When they stopped to get internet access, I kept going and hung out at the moai for sunset. I walked a little further than the museum to view the one I had missed yesterday and then went back to the five moai to wait for sunset. The sun was nice about half and hour before the actual sunset but then clouds moved in and the actual sunset was a bust.
Dinner of churasco, or roast beef sandwich back at the hot dog stand. This time, I joined Eugene, a native of Valparaiso now living and working for the Agriculture department of Chile in Rapa Nui. Once again, I found someone interesting to eat with at this little stand. He was able to share with me some of the methods they are using to try to deal with the horse and cattle situation on the island. He previously worked as a food inspector in the Netherlands. He ended up walking me back to the campground.
Monday, June 1: Hanga Roa
I wandered town and eventually found a reasonably good deal on a rental car. Then, I found the two girls I had run into at the airport in Santiago on the way to the island. turns out, they want to join me on my adventure with the rental. So, we did the paperwork and arranged to pick up the Suzuki Samurai later that evening. Today, I was a consumer. I bought sunglasses, a map, and spent a chunk of change on the car.
I had lunch back at the hostel and then got a ride partway to the trailhead. From where I got dropped off on the main road, I had a 5km walk to Ahu Akivi, where seven moai have been restored. There, I ran into a couple who weren't planning on climbing the high point of the island but then they tried to drive a bit higher and I joined them only to realize the better part of an hour later that it had all been a wild goose chase and we had to go back to Ahu Akivi and start walking from there. They joined me for my hike and even though we got caught in a rainstorm, we reached the top in an hour and 15 minutes. The others we had passed on the way up had turned around in the rain because we never saw them even after we started down. The high point, Maunga Terevaka is supposed to have a great 360 degree view of the island with water all around but with the rain, we got scattered views and I didn't take my camera out until the rain passed when we were on the way down the mountain.
My new friends drove me back to town. I dropped off my stuff at the hostel, got an empanda at the stand across from the hot dog stand and when I was done, I met Eugene again who had just eaten across the street. We talked while it rained until I needed to go meet my friends and pick up the car. Verena and Melanie agreed to meet at 6:30 in the morning.
Tuesday, June 2: Hanga Roa
Up at 6am and met Verena and Melanie at 6:30 at the car rental place. It was closed but was a convenient place to meet. We immediately started off for Tongariki. It wasn't that far away and the road was mostly pretty good, but we still had to go slow because it was still dark and we wanted to avoid hitting the errant horses and cows that wander the road.We got to Tongariki by 7:15 or so. Tongariki is a moai site with 15 moai on a large ahu that was restored in 1996 by a Japanese group. We got lucky with the weather and though there were clouds in the sky, they merely added tothe backdrop as the morning colors invaded the sky. Our first pictures, long before sunrise at 8am, were the best. I've also realized that the seasons mean a lot when it comes to what you see on the island. I've seen pictures of Tongariki with the sun rising over the water in the background. Today, in early June, the sun rose over the mountain, not behind the moai. It was still a beautiful morning to be out there though and we were glad to have gotten up early to see the moai in the early light. Other visitor's got there in time for the actual sunrise but by then the colors had faded and the silhouettes weren't nearly as picturesque.
We then stopped at the nearby Ranu Raraku, the moai "nursery," only to be stymied by signs that implied not to pass without a guide when we tried to visit the interior of the caldera. We had gotten there much earlier than the official opening hour of the site. So we went back to visit the primary site and though we could marvel at the moai there, the sun was right in back of them and it was impossible to get good pictures. So we decided to go back later. When we were leaving, the staff showed up and told us that regardless of the sign, guides weren't necessary and we could go take the hike to the interior of the caldera. So back we went. Oh well... It felt like wasted time but it was still only 10:00 or so when we finally left the area.
Continuing north, we stopped at Papa Vaka, a petroglyph site. The largest petroglyph on the island is here, a 12m long double canoe. There are also petroglyphs of fish, sharks, turtles, and other images at the site.
Our next stop had us marveling at the size of the Te Pito Kura site, the largest moai ever moved but now lying face down. At nearly 10 meters and 75 tonnes, it dwarfed Verena and Melanie who stood between it and its hat. While most moai weren't moved nearly as far, when it comes to comparing the moai to the stone jars on the Plain of Jars in Phonsavan, Laos, the moai are an order of magnitude more massive.
We stopped at Ovahe Beach, a secluded beach under a cliff with a small cavern in its face. There, we could pick up pumice, throw it into the water, and watch it bounce and then float. Even though I knew that it could float, it's the first time I've had the opportunity to actually see pumice floating on water. Cool!
We stopped at Anakena Beach for lunch. Ahu Nau Nau with its seven restored moai, and four hats made for yet another picturesque setting. I also found petroglyphs of a lizard and one of birds on the back of the ahu.
Ana Te Pahu, or a lave tube cave system was next on our agenda. By then though, Melanie had a splitting headache that she had been fighting since morning. Had I known, I would have given her some Excedrin right away and maybe she could have enjoyed the day more. Now, she was lying in the back seat of the car, unable to revisit this cave that she had seen the previous day. I made a quick trip of the cave visit. In one direction, there were stone platforms or houses nside the cave. There were multiple openings in the roof of the cave that made me realize how dangerous it could be to wander the fields above. In the other direction, there was too much water to wade through on short notice. In between, there were banana trees planted in the bottom of the cave to take advantage of the natural windbreak the two cave entrances would provide.
From there, we went to Cuevos de la Dos Ventanas but by then, Melanie just wanted to go back to her hostel and go to sleep. So I made note of some of the landmarks for the parking lot (it's not a marked site) and drove back to town. After dropping both Melanie and Verena off, I went back to Ranu Raraku. The light in the late afternoon was much better than in the morning and the site was beautiful.
I went back to Tongariki for sunset, hoping clouds would clear off so I could get the moai faces bathed in late afternoon sun. Unfortunately, while there was sun in plenty of other places, the one cloud that blocked the sun from Tongariki stuck around until the sun had gone down behind Ranu Raraku. But, I was still glad to have gone back. The cows wandering the site made for some interesting laughs.
I dropped my stuff off back at the hostel, returned the jeep, and bought one roll and two eggs for 600 pesos - more than a dollar. Yikes! These prices are pretty typical for the island. That's why I brought some groceries and almost wish I had brought more. Lodging is also more expensive here though I probably found the cheapest place on the island (7000/night with a three night minimum for a dorm with no breakfast) and am staying there though I don't like their bait-and-switch business practices. The car rental places have mostly standard rates though the one place I found not only offered 8 and 24 hour rentals, but 12 hour rentals as well. They also had the cheapest vehicle at only 28000/24 hours. Granted, you have to be a contortionist to get in and out of the back seat, but even the next size up vehicle had the same issues to get in and out. With all the driving around we did today, including a good deal on dirt roads, we used ~10 liters of gas that cost an additional 5000 pesos.
I had dinner back at the hostel and then used Bernd's computer to copy one of my one gigabyte cards to my hard drive.
Wednesday, June 3: Hanga Roa
I woke up at 6:30 to the sound of pouring rain and was very glad I had toured the island yesterday. I went back to sleep and finally got up after 8am. By the time I was eating breakfast, I could feel a migraine coming on. Are they contagious? After Melanie had hers yesterday, I wonder. I took Excedrin and the headache went away within an hour but sometimes migraines leave me feeling a bit logey so I ended up spending the morning at the hostel, finishing a novel I had found there and started a couple of days earlier. It was Elisabeth Robinson's "The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters", c. 2004. Ironically, I was reading this book to take a break from reading Don Quixote and the narrator of this book ends up being a movie producer working on none other than a movie version of Don Quixote. I had to laugh however, when I realized I recognized every reference made to Don Quixote in the novel. I'm less than halfway through Don Quixote. Perhaps Robinson never made it through Don Quixote.
I finally left the hostel around lunchtime, stopped at the LAN office to confirm my flight for Friday, and bought a mushroom and cheese empanada.
I then walked to the cave of the two windows, meeting Patrick along the way. He was also looking for the cave but hadn't realized how far they were. Both of us were quite certain he would never have found them if I hadn't been there the previous day. Even after we got there, it took a few minutes of looking around to find the actual cave entrance which was mostly just a non-descript hole in the ground. Patrick didn't have a light so we carefully made our way in through the tight entrance using my one light. There were other people in one of the windows so we started in the other. This cave splits into two and exits over the shore high up on a cliff. It was a rather spectacular sight. The others left as we dawdled on one side so we then went to visit the other side and found it rather larger. While there, it started to rain and then pour outside. So, we settled in for a while to let the rain pass. This was not a cave where flooding during rain would be an issue. I decided I would give it about an hour before giving up and starting back to town. During that time, a family of three came down with their guide. They looked around and we chatted a bit. As they were leaving, I asked if perhaps they had more room in their vehicle and if we could perhaps get a lift back to town. The guide was amenable so we were able to get back to town without getting soaked. Of course, by the time we got back to town, the rain had stopped. But the cessation was merely temporary and had we started back during the lull, we would have gotten soaked when the second storm came through. We got lucky.
In town, after stopping for eggs and bread, it started raining so I sat down to wait it out and managed to break one of the eggs I had just bought. Argh! When the rain quite, Patrick and I checked out the venue for the one song and dance show that happens on Wednesdays but neither of us liked the venue and Patrick didn't like the attitude of the lady who worked there. Sometimes ignorance of language can be bliss.
Back at the hostel, I had quesadillas with one egg for dinner and a cup of bouillon.
I also had an interesting discussion about the name of the island. The island was "discovered" on Easter Sunday. It turns out that Isla de Pascua is the direct Spanish translation for Easter Island. In French, it's Paques, in Italian, Pasqua, and in Dutch, Pasen. All of these seem very similar to Pesach which is the name of the Jewish holiday I know as Passover. It's a Passover seder that's depicted in the Last Supper which is related to Easter. If Pascua is related to Pesach, where did Easter come from? (Now that I'm online, the relationship between the Latin versions and Pesach is confirmed by Wikipedia, but it's still clear as mud how the holiday came to be called Easter. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter#Origins_and_etymology)) It's raining cats and dogs tonight. I'm glad I'm inside.
Thursday, June 4: Hanga Roa
Figured out that there is a separatist movement here on Rapa Nui but it doesn't appear to be widespread or at least, nobody ever mentions it to the tourists. There's one building with placards and signs mentioning that Chile never ratified the 1888 treaty with Rapa Nui and that there's a UN protocol that should seemingly allow Rapa Nui to regain its independence. (There's lots of information online. Find it with Google.)
I hitched to the turnoff for Puna Pao and climbed Maunga O tu'u (name needs to be verified), the hill there with the three crosses on top, not realizing it wasn't Puna Pao which I only realized after I walked back to the main road. But at this point, I just wanted to continue. So, I hitched two rides to get to Anakena beach. I tried to go swimming there but both the air temperature and the water temperature were too cold for me to get in the water above me knees. After I dried off, I quickly changed back into my clothes and bundled up a bit. I ate lunch while sitting on the beach but had to protect my food from the blowing sand. Not much of a beach person, especially when just sitting on a cold windy beach, I moved to the grassy area under the palm trees and communed with the horses wandering the area.
I finally started hitching back towards town, intending to stop and go see Puna Pao this time. My ride, themselves tourists, decided to go with me so I didn't have to walk. We drove up and saw the quarry where the hats for the moai were carved. I knew the moai with four hands was supposed to be nearby but it wasn't right there so the people I was with called a friend and got directions. Nobody knows for sure why this one has four hands but it's the only one that does. Then I got a ride back to town with the same folks.
They dropped me off and at a seaside food stand, I got a marisco (shellfish) empanada. When I decided to eat it there rather than walk with it, it was served with a delicious sauce. I splurged and also got some fries to go with it. My lunch on the beach of some bread and butter just hadn't cut it for the day and it was still pretty early.
I tried to get a reservation for the matatoa song and dance show but the restaurant was closed for teh afternoon. The information booth said reservations weren't necessary for just the show though so I planned on going later. I watched the surfers off the tiny beach in town for a while and then went back to the hostel to take a nap. While there, I met Paul who had just arrived from Tahiti. He only spent 5 hours there after arriving on a sailboat from Galapagos. He had sailed on a whim when some people he had been scuba diving with offered to have him come along on their 40 foot racing sailboat. It took 18 days to do the crossing and he had never sailed before. Apparently most other crossings take 23 days. Gotta wonder how I can make such good luck for myself.
I ate the last of my Santiago food for dinner, a packet of pasta and sauce.
When I set out to walk to the show, I ran into Eugene for only the fourth or fifth time this week. So we walked together until he split off to go home and I continued to the show. I was early so my dog of the day for the fifth time over and I went to find a place to sit along the coast.
The show was very well done but obviously made for tourists. I haven't seen such scantily clad men on stage, umm, ever. There were also scantily clad women, but I think the men had to shave a bit more than the women. LOL. They were however, wearing body paint or a sort and the show opened with one of them applying rust colored designs to the white paint on his legs, arms, and torso.
That said, the music and the dance were all great. More Polynesian than the Cajun style I had heard on the street a few times. Lots of athleticism and hip isolation movement - think hula.
Friday, June 5: Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, to Santiago
Went to town this morning but had to turn back when my stomach seemed uncertain about being away from a bathroom. On the way back to the hostel, I found roads blocked off for a triathlon that was about to take place. 750m swim, 25km bike, and a 5km run. But, I wouldn't be around to see it. I had to get back to my hostel to get my ride to the airport.
On the way back to the hostel yesterday, I had seen a truck unloading large bales of recyclable plastic bottles and cans. Today, I saw why. They were part of some sort of garbage/recycling awareness program that was happening at a local school. It looked like middle school kids were taking part in the program. Once again, I had no time to stick around.
Back at the hostel, I finished packing. We got to the airport in plenty of time for me to get an exit row seat. On the plane I was seated next to a tall guy who also seeks out the extra leg room. But we didn't talk much. I watched Gran Torino and Bee Season. This time, I managed to squeak both in without missing the ending to either.
In Santiago, I took the bus to what seemed like my old neighborhood as I knew my way around without having to look at the map or guidebook.
I returned to my favorite empanda stand for mushroom and cheese empanadas for dinner.
Last updated, October, 14, 2009.
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