Sunday, 30 April 2017

A stroll around an Artisan market and a visit to the oldest church in Santiago

ALLIE: DAY 74: Saturday, 28th of April

Relaxed day in Santiago, an arts market, stroll around and early doors
local girls in Scottish kilts
Another lovely crisp morning, bright sunshine, fresh air. One mystery of the family relations is solved by Fernandez – the missing husband of Carolina - arriving back home after his business trip to Barcelona. 

The kids are happy to see their daddy back but even happier to receive some presents: the boy gets a big box of ‘Starwars’ lego, the girl a pink little i-pod! I think this is very sad. War games and ear-bashing music. 

La Iglesia de los Dominicos
It’s time to kiss fare-well to the family, they are off for a short holiday to the coast. Fernando drops us at a apartment hotel in the Providencia area.

It was a lovely experience to spend those days with the family and everybody was so welcoming and friendly, but it’s also great to be on our own again. We take a cab up to Iglesia de los Dominicos (the eldest church in Santiago) and stroll around the interesting handicraft market of El Pueblo de Artesanos. 

It’s a wonderful place to buy gifts and souvenirs. Nobody bugs you and the shops display a great variety of weaving, wood work, jewelry, pottery, copper and bronze.

in the artisan quarter
Later we take the metro and stroll around the Bellavista area. This is ‘the’ place to be for young Chileans. Wonderfully restored old houses in the brightest colours mix with trendy bars, restaurants and street bazaars.

 For our dinner we return to Providencia only to find that nearly all the shops here are closed! What’s the matter? It’s Saturday night in Santiago and how can it be that there is only one bar open in a range of twenty in the area? We ask the barkeeper of the ‘Louisiana River Bar’ (the only bar that is indeed open).

He smiles and says: “The others don’t open before 8pm”. Ah, got the idea! We are much to early trying to eat at 6.30. The real nightlife though doesn’t start until 1am as we can hear from the disco sound around our hotel. The trouble is, we have to get up at 3.30 in the morning.  

in the oldest church of Santiago
PHIL: Day 74/28 April

We have to move to an ‘apart-otel’ in the business district of Providencia as our hosts are away for the May holiday weekend and our flight to La Paz leaves at some uncivilised hour on Sunday morning. 

Outside as we check in is a large group of men and girls dressed in full Scottish Highland outfits complete with bagpipes. They are Argentinians here for a ceremony which celebrates the foundation of the Chilean Navy in the 19th century by…..a Scotsman. 

There is no mention of the Malvinas conflict where only a quarter century ago Scots Guards were in action against Argentina. A good thing for humanity that memories are short.

A rip-off taxi-driver charges $12 for the short trip to Los Domenicos, location of the city’s oldest mission church and an artisan community in the old ‘graneros’ grain stores selling a very wide range of mostly tasteful handicrafts. 

Allie buys an intricately carved matchstick depicting a musical conductor with waving baton and flying coat-tails in preparation for her father’s retirement from his local orchestra in Stuttgart

The church itself is a model of Catholic simplicity in contrast to the baroque shrines of a similar period we are used to in Bavaria. A metered taxi on the return is half the price.

quirky wall paintings in the artisan quarter
The Santiago Metro is clean, cheap and totally unthreatening. Bellavista, which attracts us both with its Bohemian sidewalk cafes and pastel house-fronts, is Saturday-full of small children with cat-painted faces and candy-floss. We pop our heads into the original ‘Otro Sitio’ but are discouraged from further inspection by a rather predatory waiter.

Anticipating an early start for the flight to La Paz we eat and retire early only to have our plans disrupted by a nasty accident involving my genitalia and resulting in a scene like something from a Hitchcock movie.

A day around Santiago de Chile

ALLIE: DAY 73: Friday, 27th of April

Lots of organisation, a battle with Lan Chile and strolling around Santiago
enjoying the views across the city
What a terrible night. This time it wasn’t the dogs, nor the disco, but I just could not fall asleep. 

Feel absolutely trashed in the morning but manage to do a little jog up the hill. The views are spectacular. The city is surrounded by the snow-white mountain tops and the morning sun is bright and warm.

After breakfast Carolina takes us into town and we briefly stop at their office to meet Paulina and make a call to Bolivia. 

Then it’s a battle with Lan Chile to arrange our further tickets. Even though the staff is very helpful the whole arrangement is very complicated and it takes nearly two hours to get it all sorted. I am in bad shape. 
Phil enjoying his shoe clean
Try to keep awake and absorb a bit of the street life whilst Phil patiently waits at the counter.

The downtown area is lively, full with street musicians, bars, cafes and very green with all the trees and little parks. The atmosphere is certainly a very relaxed one and reminds me more of cities in Spain then of South America.

I am told to be careful with my handbag but in general I don’t feel threatened or unsafe. Phil enjoys a good shoe clean for only 300 pesos. He claims that his shoes have never been so shiny.
beautiful architecture

Most of the downtown buildings date back to 19th century and are well preserved some even dating back to 1543 when Santiago was founded. We climb up a little hill in Cerro (Park) Santa Lucia and enjoy a good circular view around the town.

It’s now a sprawling city with at least 6 million people in the city centre and another 6 million in the surrounding areas. Even Charles Darwin has come up here and left an inscription of praise.

Phil at the funicular
Across the river Mapocho we enter the quarter of Barrio Bellavista. This lovely area is full of colourful houses, bars and trendy restaurants. 

The similarity to Montmartre in Paris is striking. We are too tired to climb up San Cristobal hill and decide to take the old funicular tram way. 

In only 8 minutes it brings us to the top of the 859 meter high mountain and to the ‘Santuario de la Immaculation Conception’. 

A beautiful white standing virgin Mary extends her arms in blessing to the city and every visitor. No wonder that anno 1987 Pope John Paul II was here and held a sermon.   

We take the ‘teleferico’ (a small cable car) back to the bottom of the hill and catch a taxi. Just as well I went jogging in the morning and got some orientation – the taxi driver got somehow lost!

dinner with the family

A little rest at home and then we were invited by the family to ‘A l’otro sitio‘, a peruvian restaurant that Phil used to enjoy with Victor on his last visits to Santiago.

But this is a brand new restaurant and even though the food is good, it lacks somewhat the atmosphere. We start with pisco sour and have some wonderful fresh ceviche - fresh raw seafood with a delicate spicy dressing.

PHIL:     Day 73/27 April

Driving downtown the sky is uninterrupted cerulean blue, the tinted leaves showing no sign of any wind. Traffic has been eased by serious attention to a new motorway network, extensions to the subway, and the resultant reduction in air pollution for which Santiago was once infamous.
Downtown Santiago
We have to make phone contact with our Bolivian ballooning friends who speak no English by using the Silva family as intermediaries. 

After a lot of mis-connections Lourdes, the girl in charge in La Paz, confirms we will be met on arrival and a balloon flight near Lake Titicaca looks on the cards. 

Two hours in LAN Chile’s city-centre office finally provide linking flights to La Paz via Iquique and Arica, then subsequently on to Cuzco via Lima. Re-writing our fat round-the-world ticket seems to be the challenge of the day for the office staff who finally succeed in saving us significant sums by their efforts.
Santuario de la Immaculation Concepti
This must be one of the few cities remaining where there is a shoeshine ’boy’ on every corner and I take advantage to restore my by now very scruffy leather shoes. 

We collapse in a sunlit café on the Plaza de Armas with its imposing Spanish colonial and neo-classical public buildings, before climbing Sta. Lucia hill from where Darwin had surveyed Santiago. Walking across the parks lining the Rio Mapucho the streets lead you past multi-hued buildings to the tramway up Cerro San Cristobal.

A plaque announces that ours is the same tram-car once apparently occupied by Pope John-Paul II on his pastoral visit in 1987, and then descend via the cable car line on the eastern flank of the 600m hill.

dinner party
A farewell to our hosts takes the form of dinner in Il Otro Sitio, a Peruvian restaurant whose original downtown Bellavista branch had become my favourite after five visits to Chile.

This new outlet is still stylish but lacks the quirky architecture of the original, but any lack of atmosphere is compensated, for Allie at least, by superb prawns from the Humboldt Current and ceviche, sea bass marinated in lemon juice.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Arrival in Chile and dinner in Santiago with friends

PHIL: Day 72/26 April

This time the LAN Boeing from Tahiti is precisely on schedule, though as before they have run out of champagne. We substitute a good Argentinian pinot noir which seems to ease the disappointment. 

leaving Easter Island
After a fascinating short piece on the Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, the controversial movie ‘The Queen’, screened in UK last year whilst I was in Myanmar, keeps me entertained. 

Allie, who saw it on some earlier flight, asks for my reaction and I tell her that I can quite see it being a reasonable interpretation of events ten years ago. 

Fabulous views over the Andes
By curious coincidence it was from Santiago in 1997 that my long-standing Chilean friend Victor Mardones called me in Bristol to commiserate at Diana’s death which he had picked up on CNN whilst the UK slept. 

The approach to Santiago four hours later is a classic skirting of the Andes in excellent visibility, Mt. Aconcagua’s 21,000+ft. peak standing above the snow-covered sierras.

dinner with the family
Out host in Santiago is Victor’s step-daughter , but we spend some time unravelling relationships with the man who meets us. Fernando Silva is the girl’s natural father whose place was usurped by Victor some 20 years previously. 

Sensitivities are evident which restrict our range of conversation to oblique references to Victor and emphasis on Ximena, the shared object of the two men’s affection. 

Fernando, a customs agent, has a magnificent silver Dodge 4WD which he drives with singular lack of finesse resulting in our getting lost several times on the way to his daughter’s house in Alto las Condes.

Santiago is just as beautiful as on my last visit a decade previously. Delicate acer and maple trees line the streets are rich with autumn colours.
on approach to Chile

Farewell to Easter island, a flight to Santiago and an evening with Carolina

It’s raining. How lucky we were! The 4 ½ hours flight to Santiago is spent with computer stuff and laughing my socks off reading Bill Brysons book on American habits.

The approach is spectacular: snow-white mountains of the Andes stretch right in front of us. And even the peak of Mt. Anconcagua with it’s 6929 meters the highest mountain in South America is perfectly visible in the evening light.
stunning mountain scenery

On arrival we are greeted by Fernando. Neither Phil nor I do know him, but he gives us a warm welcome and embraces me like an old friend. 

The story here is quite complicated and Phil and I have difficulties in getting the family constellations right: it seems that Fernando is the father of Carolina, the girl we are staying with and the ex-husband of      , who is married now for 20 years to Victor – the Chilean friend of Phil! All clear?
bird eyes view of Santiago de Chile
Carolina lives in the district of Los Condes on the eastern side of Santiago in a nice new house. The interior is very tastefully decorated, the house has a small garden and even a pool. Carolina is my age and has two children, Francesca (4) and Francisco (7). Dinner is ready and we spend a nice evening sipping away delicious Chilean red wine.

But even at the end of this long evening we are still not sure to understand all the family relations. Carolina has a sister called Paulina and they both work for their father Fernando. But where is Carolina’s husband? No sign of him. So is she divorced as is Paulina and their father?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Exciting horse-ride across the Island and climbing the volcano crater

ALLIE: DAY 71: Wednesday, 25th of April

A horse riding tour around the island and a walk up the volcano of Rano Kau

me on Api
Another dire night fighting the dogs, discos and cocks. But a lovely morning and I am looking forward to my horse riding experience this morning. 

At 10.30 I bid good-bye to my husband who isn’t all that keen on wrecking his thigh muscles and drive off with Lionel and the other French couple to a barn. A dark grim looking man with a black scarf around his head greets us ‘Alo!’. 

His name is Peti (not Peeti which obviously means something naughty in local Napa Rui) and he owns 200 horses. 

Peti my guide
Within minutes he saddles the horses and the others all mount their horses leaving me on the ground. I am told that I shall go on my own with Piti on a ‘fast’ riding tour, they would be on a slow tour. 

Moments later I find myself on a little horse called Ape riding up the valley with my gaucho on his stallion behind me. 

He cracks his lariat and chases a few wild running horses around. We jump into immediate gallop and don’t ever seem to go much slower for the rest of our 3 hours tour.

The horses are great! They run without much pressure and their gallop is as smooth as warm margarine. And those primitive looking Rapa Nui saddles turn out to be very comfortable. So there we go, galloping our way along the green hills and into the vast empty countryside of the Island. Piti certainly has taken an eye on me and he thinks I or my riding is great. 
Easter Island has the perfect horse-riding countryside

So he starts telling me that he is looking for a new wife having divorced his Chilean wife. He explains to me all his problems in Spanish (I hardly speak a word but I do understand bits and pieces) and laments that Napa Rui men and Chilean women can’t get along with each other because of  many ‘problema di cultura’.

stopping briefly for fabulous views across the vast ocean
He thinks Europeans are much better! This all makes me slightly suspicious of his intentions. So when we finally reach the steep coast and he invites me to take a look at a cave, my inner warning system runs on full power. 

We climb down to the cave. A few jar bones of whatever animal lay around and I secretly joke to myself that those are the remains of his last horse riding guests. I firmly recline an invitation to take a swim in one of the little water pools and am glad to sit on my friendly horse again. 

a view into the cave - but not more...
We ride back along the coast and through some eucalyptus forest. It’s beautiful. Pite points out a few remains of houses and fallen moais and continues his Spanish conversation about women with me. 

Time passes far too quickly and we realize we have to race back to be there in time to catch the others. The horses are still in very good form and we gallop back all the way. What an adventure!

Finally back at our pension I am so glad to be married to my wonderful English man Phil and not gaucho Mr. Piti! We immediately set off to use the rest of the day to explore the biggest volcano of the island, Rano Kau.
at the Crater

The crater is indeed very impressive. It’s a 200m deep perfectly round shaped whole in the middle of the sharp rim with pools of water in it. 

The views across the rest of the island from here are very impressive. We walk to the rim and catch a view of the two islands that are closely linked to the famous ‘birdman cult’ that was practiced here 400 years ago. 

After the megalith culture of the moais declined at the end of 14th century a new cult was born. 

downtown Easter Island: reminder of the Old Wild West!
Various tribes of the island used to choose their new leader by exercising a special competition: the men had to race down the cliffs, swim out to these tiny islands and try to catch the first eggs laid by the sooty terns that would arrive in early spring. 

The winner was the ‘birdman’ and new chief of the island for a whole year.

On our last evening we return to the German restaurant and have some simple spaghetti Bolognese. It turns out that Hermann even does tours for Studiosus, my travel agency, when groups come to visit the island. 

The food is good, the wine wonderful and we are hoping for a good nights sleep. But alas it’s the same old story: the disco, the dogs and the mosquitoes all start their wild night at exactly 1am! Bon nuit!

 PHIL: Day 71/25 April
Phil at the crossroads
There are five types of sound during the night, two soothing and three disturbing. The cicadas and the sound of the ocean are perfect for inducing sleep, but the cockerels, dogs and distant bass of the Hanga Roa disco scene drown them out. 

Why do people in the Pacific islands keep dogs? It cannot be for security, nor is it evidently for love and companionship. 

Why do all the most disturbing sounds happen at night? I guess the cockerels have a job to do, even if some of them seem to have their watches set to mainland time, but the dogs and the disco…..

Allie's wild gaucho at the cave
This morning there is yet another French couple staying at the pension – where does Lionel put them all? 

Allie goes off for her horse-riding session, but still bemoans the unlikely windless atmosphere enshrouding the island which gives her the urge to go ballooning instead.

She returns after a wild ride across the remote west coast with a Rapa Nui gaucho who, amongst other things, apparently talked about his need for a woman and suggested a naked swim in a cave. As far as I can tell she resisted his blandishments but was clearly flattered by the horseman’s attempts at seduction.
Enjoying some fabulous views across the crater
The last afternoon is spent climbing (mostly by car) to the ancient settlement of Orongo where a bird-man cult developed in the 16th century.

horses are an essential part of Easter Island
I have visions of some kind of primordial Lillienthal with feathered wings strapped to his body, but alas, it appears the ‘bird-man’ merely (well, rather more than merely) swam the 2km to a nearby islet to be the first to collect a tern’s egg each spring. 

This feat apparently entitled the winner to his choice of virgins from a nearby cave. Maybe that’s where Allie’s horseman got his ideas. 

As if to re-inforce the Rapa Nui legend an equally wild-looking guide emerges from a nearby crater lake after a swim with his young Australian girl protégée.

Exploring Easter Island with its hundreds of Moai statues

ALLIE: DAY  70: Tuesday, 24th of April

Exploring the island, hiking up a volcanic hill, amazing maois and a magic sunset

Phil at the controls
A pretty good nights’ sleep (except for the dogs!) and a leisurely breakfast with the other French guests makes us feel so much better. 

We set out around 10 am to drive around the island. The distances are not far. It’s only 30km to the farthest end of it. We set out to drive around the eastern coast line.

The countryside reminds of Ireland or Scotland: barren but green hills, pastures with free grazing horses, lines of dry-stone walls and the wild blue sea bashing against the steep cliffs. 

Even the weather could be Irish except maybe for the temperature. We have sun, we have some little showers (but mainly beautiful sun I must say).
horses are the main means of transport

The first settlers to these islands had come from other Polynesian islands around 8000 years ago. At the height of their culture there were about 4000 Rapa Nui living here in ‘Te Pito o te Henua’ meaning ‘the navel of the world'.
one of many moais

After the arrival of the first Europeans the numbers rapidly declined because of disease and lack of resources. 

The name ‘Easter Islands’ derives from the Dutch admiral Jacob Roggeven who first arrived here on Easter Sunday in 1722, shortly to be followed by – guess whom? – Mr. James Cook of course and then by the French lieutenant Le Perouse. 

Chile finally annexed the islands in 1888 and that’s how it is still up today.

Moai quarry
And there is our first Moai standing near the coast facing inland. 

Nobody really knows the answer to all the questions of these huge carved stone blocks, but scientists believe that most of them date back to the 14th century and we used in clan rites. 

As there were quite a few different clans living on the island they started to compete with each other creating bigger and bigger statues as the rivalry went on. 

These blocks were carved from a quarry near the extinct volcano Rano Raraku. Here we find most of the standing Moais.

Phil enjoys the fabulous views and a rest
Some look so tired from standing upright they started to lean forward. Their noses and mouths remind me of the German comedian Loriot. But these statues are 20meters tall and around 200kg heavy. 

People used to move them by using wooden blocks – no wonder that trees are rare now on this island. We climb up the steep sides of the volcano. 

A fantastic view is the reward. Right in the middle of the crater there is a little lake surrounded by reed but from the top of the volcano we enjoy views to nearly all around the island. Stunning!

We are nearly ‘maoied out’ but there is the impressive row of 15 Maoi at the site Ahu Tongariki that we can’t miss. And again we are so lucky. 

With the weather and with the other tourists. When we arrive to the site it’s still lovely sunny and there isn’t a soul about. But minutes later a big cloud explodes and some busloads of tourists arrive. Let’s get on. 

We come to the secluded beach of Anakena. I manage to talk my husband into a swim. The water is lovely and warm. Only a handful of tourists and locals are here to enjoy that peaceful spot. Eventually we drive back through the middle of the island which is covered by some remaining eucalyptus forest.
a lonely beach and a refreshing swim

We are soo lucky! We may enjoy the perfect Easter Island sunset. Sipping a beer as sun downer near the Tahai statues we wait for the right time to come. 

Nearly 6.30 pm the sun finally sets as a golden ball right between the five moai statues and disappears into the dark blue sea. It couldn’t be better! What a wonderful day. 

I feel that I could live here. It’s such peaceful place. All those horses grazing freely around the island, some gauchos riding on them even in the middle of town, the lovely temperature, the bashing sound of the sea, the open countryside… but it’s miles from anywhere and alas too expensive!
what a magic sunset!

PHIL: Day 70/24 April

the statues are everywhere on this island
Today is our chance to drive a hired 4x4 (well, a Suzuki, anyway) around the main archaeological sites on this small (24km long) island. 

There were apparently four days of torrential rain just before we arrived , evidenced by washouts of the deep red laterite soil everywhere, so we are fortunate in having a day with mostly sunny skies and only the occasional dark cloud and spots of rain. 
exhausted and nearly as stone dead as the moai

Indeed it is perfect for recording the massive brooding statues which are much more numerous than we expected. 

Although there are a few tourist minibus parties our visits are fortuitously timed such that we are almost alone everywhere. 

From Hanga Roa town we drive anti-clockwise with many stops including a climb of Rano Raraku crater lake.

the crater lake

quite a rough sea
We notice our ‘patron’, Lionel, who is taking a small group round in his Pajero which has a broken starter motor, parked off the tarmac. He can’t get started so we tow him, me driving in reverse, using a very short webbing belt, until he jump-starts the car on the main road. 

Then on to Anakena Beach where, against expectations, the water is warm enough for even me to swim in. Bracing against the waves I contemplate the horizon beyond which lies South America some 3900km away to the east.

A girl we met in the Cooks reported that each sunset on Easter Island was watched by ‘the whole population’. 

strong as a rock
Well she might more accurately have said ‘every tourist’ as we discovered when Allie’s plan to have a quiet beer at the moais on Mahanua Bay to watch the sun go down dissolved into what looked like a minor concert audience ringing the five silhouetted statues on the shore.  

A trio of thoughtless giggling girls  fail to note that the other 70+  camera-bedecked spectators want a clear shot of the moai and the sea and languidly stand blocking the view, but nevertheless the atmosphere is almost preternatural.

a gorgeous sunset

A nice day on Moorea island and a long wait for our flight to Easter Island

PHIL: Day 68/22 April

This very aeroplane had a fatal accident killing
 all on board only days later!
Baguettes and apricot jam for breakfast. Very French but missing the chocolat chaud or real coffee I remember and love. One of the Frenchmen tells me Nicholas Sarkozy polled most votes over Segolene Royale, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and some ‘green’ I’ve never heard of.

In the manner of such puzzling European contests,however, there must apparently be a re-run in two weeks because there is no overall victor. 

Air Moorea can put us on a flight just 25 minutes after we arrive unannounced at their tiny terminal.
runway on Moorea
The whole procedure is a delight by comparison with today’s general security-heavy procedures. We just walk onto the apron and climb on the venerable Twin Otter. 

No x-ray, no ‘banned liquids’, no baggage checks. Not even a safety briefing. Just aviation as it should be. Mind you I guess Tahiti doesn’t have too many tall towers to fly aeroplanes into. The flight lasts exactly 5 minutes at 500ft across the intervening azure sea. 
Allie has the chance to look over the (sole) pilot’s shoulder – another rarity these days.
welcome to paradise!
Within 20 minutes we are installed on what is probably the best beach on Moorea and Allie is off snorkelling. We spend an idyllic 4 hours or so in and out of the crystal-clear water – even better than the Cooks – before walking the 3km or so to catch the ferry for return to Papeete harbour. 

The walk is a struggle in 30+ degrees and humidity in the 80s. The ferry is a welcome relief from the airless heat of the shoreline but delivers us into Papeete’s heart which can only be described as soulless. 

Architecture and style of any sort is almost completely absent which we find surprising for a French territory.

Back at the airport following a very summary walk around the capital , a delay of nearly five hours in our LAN-Chile departure to Easter Island is announced. After hanging onto the ‘fleapit’ as long as we could without incurring further cost or the wrath of the 150kg madame we suffer the inadequacies of the Faaa Airport terminal for six or seven gruelling hours., Tahitien children, clearly not under any parental control, play Ben Hur with baggage trolleys in the airport concourse. We shall be glad to leave this scruffy, expensive and frankly uninteresting outpost of domestic France.

on board the twin otter
ALLIE: DAY 68: Sunday, 22nd of April

A trip to Moorea by plane and boat, Papeete downtown, waiting for Lan Chile

We decided to fly across with Air Moorea to the little island of Moorea. It’s just 30km from Tahiti but supposed to have lovely beaches and beautiful landscape. The flight in that little ‘Twin Otter’ is great! No security checks, just walk onto that aircraft, take a seat and off we go. The cockpit door is widely open and I can watch the pilots movements.
views to Moorea

No safety briefings, no stewardess to check the correct storage of bags – wonderful! After only a brief 7mins we land on Moorea. Steep mountains rise from the centre of the island, everything seems to be much more laid back then on Tahiti.

approach to Moorea
It’s only a short walk to the beach and that’s where we stay for the next couple of hours, swimming, snorkeling and watching the locals at their Sunday out. 

Most of them just sit in the shallow water, sip a beer and listen to their stereo recorders. To my surprise I see a wide range of brazen display of naked breasts. That would be against the law in the Cooks but here the French ‘laissez-faire’ mentality has obviously taken a firm place in society. Not that it matters to me. The sad thing is only (as in most such places) that it’s always the most wobbly and fat women that tend to show the world their bodily parts.

The snorkeling is great. Crystal blue water, some nice corals and colourful fish. Before we ourselves get roasted like barbeque chicken, we leave the beach and walk the 3 km to the port. On the way we stop at a little fruit shop and enjoy some delicious Three big boats are waiting in the harbour, we take the slow one that will take an hour to cross the straight back to Tahiti. It’s a relaxed journey on the sun-deck.

Do you want to hear two really important travel tips? If you want to safe lots of money and stay happy, don’t go to Tahiti and don’t stay at ‘Chez Fifi’!
Papeete on a Sunday surely must be the most desolate and boring capital city in the world. 

All and everything is shut and the houses don’t reflect anything of the traditional charm that some of the other French colonial towns do have like for example Luang Prabang in Lao. 

Even the catholic cathedral is a disappointment. At least the tourist brochure has the guts to admit the fact that this city is not worth more then a quick drive past it to the airport. We do exactly that.

heading back to Tahiti on the ferry 

Back at Mrs grumpy Fifi we refresh ourselves with a shower and a little doze before we go down to the airport at 8pm only to find that our flight to Easter Island is delayed by three hours and not due before 4 am! 

Spend the last 2000 doncs on two beers and a horrible tasting pizza whilst waiting 2 ½ hrs for our check in. 
The airport is a scandal. Except for this cafeteria there is no proper bar, the internet café is shut and the toilets look like they haven’t been cleaned since Captains Cooks first arrival.
Finally check in with Lan Chile and a long wait.