Archive for the ‘South America’ 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.”


Have ticket, will travel the world

March 3, 2008

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published March 2, 2008, in the Boston Globe) 

From Di’s eyes: A round-the-world trip is just the thing to kick off a law career and is much more interesting and educational than the typical week in the Caribbean. Here’s to great jobs and a wonderful life for these two young adventurers!

WHO: Andrew Hass, 26, of Acton, Mass. and Lauren Hager, 25, of Sacramento, Calif.

WHERE: Around the world.

WHEN: Nine weeks from August to October.

Andrew Hass and Lauren Hager; CLICK TO ENLARGEWHY: The friends, fellow law students at the University of Miami, decided to reward themselves for finishing school and the bar exam by taking a trip. “Most students do, but not like this,” said Hass, who attended Boston University for undergraduate studies.

WITH A MAP AND A WISH LIST: “We basically sat down with a map and alternated places we wanted to go,” Hass said of their planning. They booked what’s called a Blue Ticket through the Student Travel Agency. “If you keep going in the same direction you can get great fares,” said Hass, who paid about $4,500 for all his flights. They visited 11 countries, starting in Peru and then going to Argentina, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel, Russia, Mauritius, India, China, and Japan, spending four days to a week in each. Their luggage was lost – and found – twice.

PLOTTING IT OUT: “We got our tickets first, and once we knew where we’d be, we scheduled budget hotels and hostels,” Hass said. In harder-to-navigate countries, such as India and China, they set up personal tours and drivers. By the end of the trip, they’d seen many of the world’s great sites, including the pyramids at Giza, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China, as well as glaciers, deserts, oceans, and mountains. “Our top three places as far as activities and overall fun were Peru, South Africa, and Japan.”

Andrew Hass at Machu Picchu, Peru; CLICK TO ENLARGEANDES FANS: “Machu Picchu is an experience in and of itself,” Hass said. “It’s in the middle of nowhere, up this winding road. It’s so magnificent and breathtaking.” Their favorite view of the ancient ruins was from Putukusi Mountain. “It was a three-hour hike to the top and you had to go up hundreds of feet of wooden ladders, straight up, without a rope or a net. It was quite a rush.”

GREAT FRIGHT: From their favorite hostel, the Ashanti Lodge in Cape Town, the adventure seekers booked a cage dive among great white sharks. “It was quite an experience,” Hass said of being surrounded by sharks. “They throw chum in the water and the sharks dive at it with their jaws open. It was scary and awe-inspiring.”

Andrew Hass at the Great Wall of China; CLICK TO ENLARGESECOND WIND: By the time they reached Japan, after fleeing a typhoon in China, they were ready to get home, but the country invigorated them. “We spent a night in Tokyo, then took the trail to Kyoto. Our hostel was typical Asian budget. You sleep on the floor, and low on amenities, but not in a bad way. It really catches the local flavor.” They spent a somber day touring Hiroshima. “Even 60 years after it happened, it really hits you.” On a lighter note, they were thrilled to attend a major league baseball game. And Hass traveled all the way to Japan to discover he actually liked sushi.

SUSPENSEFUL JOURNEY: Because they left the country a few days after taking the bar exam, they didn’t know their outcomes. “Lauren found out she passed when we were in China,” said Hass, who was in suspense until he returned home – to good news.