Archive for the ‘Chile’ Category

Partaking in a Polynesian party

December 17, 2009

“Where they Went,” published in the Boston Globe on Aug. 9, 2009

Girls on a parade float during the annual Tapati Rapa Nui festival on Easter Island

WHO: Vicki Maxant, 67, and her husband, Stanley Murphy 62, of Harvard, Mass., with Elenita Brodie, 66, of Casselberry, Fla., and Paula Laholt, 66, of Schwenksville, Pa.

WHERE: Easter Island and Santiago, Chile.

WHEN: Two weeks in February.

WHY: “Elenita has traveled with Buz a number of times and she told me we had to do Easter Island,” Maxant said, referring to Buz Donahoo, owner of Condor Adventures, the tour operator.

While Vicki Maxant and her husband, Stanley Murphy, had their faces painted, they chose not to don the local dress

PERFECT TIMING: The foursome went on city and vineyard tours in and around Santiago before and after Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui. But the trip to the island, five hours by plane, was the highlight. The 14-member Condor tour coincided with the annual Tapati Rapa Nui festival, a two-week celebration of Rapa Nuian culture and history. About 4,000 people live on the Polynesian island.

REAL DEAL: “What impressed us most was the festival’s totally native character,” Maxant said. “The people there were perfectly happy to share it with tourists, but it is their festival. It could easily become commercialized, but it’s not. I’m sure there were other tourists there, but it didn’t feel that way.” The group stayed at Hotel Manavai in the island’s one village, Hanga Roa.

Paula Laholt (left), Elenita Brodie, and Vicki display their Easter Island colors

TURNING RED: Every day they watched a different festival activity, which the entire community usually participated in. One day locals “bathed” in vats of a red clay-like substance that covered their bodies. The men wore slight coverings over their painted bodies, and the women donned skirts of flowers. “Some people in our group did the bath,” Maxant said. “I only got my face painted.” Later, islanders gathered for a parade. “We went to the hotel and drank pisco sours and watched the floats go by.”

FISH FOR ALL: “There was music and dancing every night, with an outdoor stage by the water,” Maxant said. “One night all the men in the village went out fishing and had a huge fish fry. Anyone who showed up with a plate or a banana leaf could have a piece.”

Moai, the island's famed statues

MAGICAL MOAI: Guided tours took them around the island, including the quarry where the famed moai, monolithic human figures, were carved from rock. “Standing in front of the moai was just awesome,” Maxant said. They picnicked on various beaches, and boated to uninhabited islands. “The water was the bluest I’ve seen, like melted sapphires.”

LASTING IMPRESSION: Maxant passed on the group’s top choice of a souvenir – tattoos. “Buz had told us, by the time the week ends, you’ll want to get a tattoo. Many of us did, including Stan and Elenita. He got a very stylized turtle on his shoulder and she got a seahorse on her ankle. They’re very, very artistic.”


Over the hills of Santiago, and beyond

May 20, 2008

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published  April 20, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

From Di’s eyes: I was at a conference in Santiago a year earlier, so it was fun to relive a bit of my time there. “The Chrises”  packed in more than I could. I was impressed! 

WHO: Chris Santos, 55, her husband, Chris Dippel, 54, of Brookline, Mass., and their daughter, Calli Cenizal, 20, of Claremont, Calif.

WHERE: Chile.

WHEN: One week in December.

WHY: Santos and Dippel went to visit and travel with Cenizal, who was in Santiago for five months through an exchange program at Pomona College, where she majors in Latin American studies.

Calli Cenizal (left) and Chris Dippel in Universidad Católica courtyardFAMILY AFFAIRS: They picked a mix of urban and rural spots, starting in the capital city. “Calli met us at the airport and took us to the hotel and just launched right into her Spanish and took charge,” Santos said. The parents stayed at Chilhotel in the Providencia downtown neighborhood. They had lunch with their daughter’s host family after first toasting with pisco sours. Later they presented the mother, a professional cook, with a bilingual Betty Crocker cookbook and the father with a Red Sox cap.

DOING DOWNTOWN: Santos and Dippel wore out their walking shoes around town. “There were many preserved buildings, streets turned into pedestrian ways, and vendors and artists in the Plaza de Armas.” During the week, they visited three houses of Pablo Neruda, Chile’s Nobel Prize poet and diplomat, the first being La Chascona, in town. “It was on a hillside right in the middle of the city and on a lot of levels,” Santos said.

Chris Santos atop Cerro Santa Lucia overlooking SantiagoHILL THRILLS: During one walk they climbed the stairs to Cerro Santa Lucía, a popular downtown overlook. On another they took a funicular ride to Cerro San Cristóbal, a large park topped by a huge statue of the Virgin Mary. When Santos decided to try a glass of wheat tea, she struck up a conversation with an American in front of her in line who later introduced himself as Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods.” She was interviewed for the show.

TO THE COUNTRY: For a change of scenery, Dippel and Santos took a bus out of the city about an hour eastward to Cajón del Maipo, or Canyon of the Maipo River. “You could look up and see the foothills of the Andes,” Santos said. They stayed at Cascada de las Ánimas in a B&B with a view of the mountains on all sides. “We took a hike to a waterfall and another four-hour walk up a steep trail to a mesa above the river. It was beautiful.”

View from La Sebastiana (Pablo Neruda\'s House) in ValparaisoTO THE SEA: Cenizal accompanied her parents to Valparaíso, a seaport and fishing town about an hour northwest of Santiago. “We stayed in The Yellow House in an older part of town with cobblestone streets,” Dippel said. “It was literally perched on the hillside, with three narrow stories that have doors for each floor on each successively higher street.” “It’s a sort of gritty town but they’re creating a walkway along the ocean to make it attractive to tourists. And the seafood was really, really good.”

STOP, THIEF: The family had one unpleasant incident on a bus there, when two men grabbed Santos’s camera as they were exiting. Luckily she was holding on to the strap, and after Dippel gave them a few “wimpy” whacks, they let go. “Everyone around us was very apologetic, but we blamed ourselves, too,” he said. “We shouldn’t have been so close to the door.”