Category Archives: Travel

Miscellaneous travel articles

Happy New Year

In Chile there is only one place to be on New Year’s Eve if you like fuego artificiales (fireworks) and that place is Viña del Mar which just happens to be where we live.  Last night we were fortunate to be invited by friends to their apartment which has a great view of the bay.  From our vantage point we could see fireworks from six of the nine barges set up in the bay.  Thank you Marilynn and Leonard we were able to avoid having to mingle with over a half a million people lining the beaches from Valparaiso to Con Con.

Enjoy the show.

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Happy New Year’s Eve

Our wish is for everyone to have a safe and happy evening tonight.  While most of our readers are enjoying winter in the northern hemisphere we want to bless you with us basking in the warmth of a summer day on the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia.

Wooly and Raeski on a blustery summer day at the Beagle Channel.
e Wooly and Raeski on a blustery summer day at the Beagle Channel.

Peru – The road to Chivay

Many of you may have noticed I haven’t been entering photo contests recently.  Not to worry, after I catch up with processing photos from our previous trips I will start submitting to the challenges again.  I have over 1,000 photos from our trips to sort and process so for now I’m concentrating on documenting our trips.

You may recall that earlier this year we went to Peru.  After staying in Arequipa we went to Chivay.  It was a long day on the road but there was plenty to see.

We spotted lots of wildlife along the way through what is a seemingly desolate landscape dotted with volcanoes – some smoking, most not.

And we ran across a “must see/do” bucket list item.  The highest outhouses in the world located at Mirador los Andes.  Raeski gave one a try.  At 16,109 feet (4910 meters) you even huff and puff to do that.  🙂

Last but not least is the view of Chivay taken from the rim of Colca Canyon.  This is one of the deepest canyons in the world, even deeper than the Grand Canyon.

The town of Chivay from the top of Colca Canyon.
The town of Chivay from the top of Colca Canyon.

A Formal Party

There must be a party close by.  Everyone looks like they are dressed for a black tie event.  You know, a formal affair with the printed invitations and all.  But we crashed the party and had a lot of fun even if we weren’t dressed to the nines.  And with that, we checked off another item on the bucket list.  We traveled to the end of the world and watched penguins in their natural habitat.

If you’ve seen them on television or in a movie – know this – they are even more adorable and mesmerizing in person.  Athletes in the water and not so much on land which may be why we love them so much.  Their awkwardness on land completely belies the power and grace they possess in the water.

We feel fortunate to have seen them in person.  Sadly, as with many animals, the penguins are suffering from global warming.  Of the 18 species of penguins, 11 are declining in population and considered an extinction risk, two are considered stable and we don’t have enough data on the other five.  Magellanic are at risk because they breed in warmer areas and are susceptible to sunburn.

My hide gets chaffed when I see these magnificent creatures threatened by something we can do something about.  When 97% of scientists believe global warming is caused by man, you just have to wonder about the 3% who aren’t.  Back in the days of tobacco, 5% of scientists – funded by the tobacco industry – didn’t believe smoking was bad for you.  I have ceased calling these people climate change deniers or skeptics.  I believe the proper term for them should be CLIMATE DISINFORMATION PROPOGANDISTS (CDP).

Back in the 1980’s we did something about the hole in the ozone layer over the objections of industries that profited from manufacturing and using fluorocarbons.  Do we miss the jobs that were lost back then?  Or were those jobs really replaced with others that were more environmentally sound?

Anyway, the results are in.  We have succeeded and the ozone layer is rebuilding and the hole is shrinking.  If we choose to listen to reason and science and then act, we may be able to turn back the tide.  Hopefully the human race will wake up and see through the lies of the CDP’s and demand we take action.

And the penguins?  We could watch them for hours.  Waddling about on land, swimming, wading (yes, they do that) and greeting each other as they stroll by each other.  Most of the penguins we saw were Magellanic with the exception of one Gentoo penguin.  He is the handsome fellow with the bright orange beak.  Enjoy the photos.

 

El Fin del Mundo

Living in Chile this last year has enabled us to check off some of the places we have on our ever expanding bucket list.  For the last two weeks we’ve been traveling around the southern tip of South America and got to experience a few more things on the list.

Visiting Torres del Paine and seeing penguins in their natural habitat were on the list.  Seeing a glacier calve an iceberg is another truly worthy item on the list along with seeing really massive icebergs are a spectacle we wish everyone could experience in their life.

But today is all about the southernmost city in the world.  Ushuaia is affectionately known as the city “el fin del mundo” or “the end of the world”.  Chileans will say Puerto Williams is further south but it is a town built around a naval outpost, not a city.  So until Puerto Williams grows a lot more, Ushuaia has the honors of southernmost city in the world.

At the end of the world - iPhones work here too!
At the end of the world – iPhones work here too!

The setting is magnificent.  Bordered by the Beagle Channel and surrounded by snow capped mountains, Ushuaia is postcard perfect.  If you’re lucky the sun may come out allowing you to fully appreciate the splendor of the place.  We were fortunate to have a rare day coupled with mild breezes and relative warmth.   Well, at least for an afternoon.

For those who can afford the luxury; Ushuaia has a five star hotel.  Nope, we didn’t stay there.  However we did stay at a hotel with some great views of the Beagle Channel and surrounding mountains.

We walk a lot when on vacation and often stumble across things a bit off the beaten path.  Here are a couple of things we saw while walking plus a picture of Raeski all decked out in her finest summer clothes trudging up the wooden walkway to our hotel.

Checking off the bucket list

There haven’t been many updates recently and that’s because Wooly has been lazy.  However we have been wrapping up the school year and have completed our contract.

While we’ve been here we have checked off a couple of bucket list destinations – Easter Island and Machu Picchu.  Tomorrow we are traveling to another bucket list destination.  We are headed to Torres del Paine.

Along the way we will also tour Terra del Fuego, visit the southern most city in the world and the southern most continental city in the world.  Hopefully the penguins will cooperate and we’ll see a lot them while we’re down south.

We will be back in home just before Christmas.  Then we hope to get in a trip to the Lakes District of Chile before returning to the U.S. in January.  Happly holidays and safe travels everyone.

 

Zapallar Sunset

A while back Raeski and I went with some friends to Zapallar.  (Pronounced Sap -pie-yar)  Being a little over an hour’s drive from our home it’s a great day trip.  Zapallar is a small town of around 2,000 people.  Since it was winter it wasn’t crowded.

While we were there, we were treated to a colorful sunset.  Looking at the photos certainly brings back memories of a great day.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

La Campana Hike

A little over an hour inland from Viña del Mar is La Campana Nacional Parque.  La Mina, an old quartz mine is one of the attractions in the park and was what drew us and a few of our fellow teaching comrades to tackle the five kilometer hike.

When you don’t own a car in Chile the adventure before the adventure begins with transportation.  As you know from a previous post, when you step on a bus you hope the driver isn’t the ‘wild-eyed‘ variety.  (woolyandraeski.com/2014/06/01/a-long-humorous-lesson-about-public-transportation-in-chile/).  Today we were spared that indignity but the transportation adventure has a second part.

After escaping the bus with our lives our destination was still several kilometers away.  In Chile the next phase of the adventure is surviving a ‘colectivo’ taking you to your destination.  A colectivo is a sort of taxi that whisks you to your destination at a dangerously high rate of speed.  A colectivo gets its name from the way they ‘collect’ their victims.  The driver keeps stopping and picking up new victims until his colectivo is full.  Then the driver is happy and continues the adventure at a breakneck pace to your destination.  In our case we filled two colectivos and the happy drivers raced each other up the mountain to La Campana.

Having safely arrived at the park we were ready to stretch our legs and enjoy our hike.  It was a gorgeous 70°F/25°C degree mid-winter day.  So up the hill we went.  And up, and up, and up…  Soon we were thinking “Where’s the down or level where you get to rest a bit while walking?”  The trail ended up being almost all uphill to the destination.

After several hours of ascent and a few breathing breaks we reached the mine and stopped for lunch.  While eating lunch we enjoyed a peek-a-boo view of the snow covered Cordillera de Los Andes.  (Andes Mountains)  Having learned our lesson about overdoing it (woolyandraeski.com/2014/03/30/pass-the-salt/) we chose to relax while our much younger comrades pushed on to climb the rest of the 1.8 kilometer hike which was steeper, rockier and more exhausting.

We started our descent at a more leisurely pace and were delighted to share our path with a fox along the way.  And down we went.  And down, and down, and down…  Remember wanting that rest on the way up?  Now those little used downhill muscles were starting to protest their overuse.  I guess even leisurely can be overdone when you are tired.

After our exhausting day we all wanted to sleep on the metro (train) ride home.  From the next day’s perspective we can assure you we made the right decision to take time to relax and not push beyond our limits.  And we think we gave our younger teaching comrades something to aspire to in 30 years.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Shoes

Wooly isn’t in the habit of taking photos of shoes since he isn’t much of a fashionista (just ask Raeski).  However it does occasionally happen and I found a good one for a fun topic.  The photo is taken at Canyon de Chelly overlooking Spider Rock.

There is also a Navajo legend that accompanies this photo.  Spider Woman, one of the most important deities in Navajo lore, chose to live at the top of this rock.  She had supernatural power at the time of creation.  At that time monsters roamed the land and killed the Dine (the people).  Because Spider Woman loved the people she found a way to destroy the monsters.  She also taught the Navajo the art of weaving.  Children are taught the white at the top of the rock are the bones of children who misbehaved.  Maybe we should send our politicians there and let the Spider Woman take care of them.

In our shoes overlooking Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly.
In our shoes overlooking Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly.

 

 

Subduction Causes Orogeny

Subduction Causes Orogeny or the Volcanoes of Arequipa.  The first title is more of an attention grabber isn’t it?  Now get your mind out of the gutter because this isn’t that type of blog.  Orogeny is simply mountain building that’s caused by subduction.  And that’s something that happens at a very high rate on the western side of South America where the Nazca Plate dives under the South America Plate.  It’s the reason for the many active volcanoes and very large earthquakes.

Arequipa lies in the shadow of three volcanoes, El Misti (active), Chachani (dormant), and Pichu Pichu (extinct).  Andean legend says when the earth was created that Chachani, a women, loved El Misti and chose to live with him.  Pichu Pichu also loved Chachani and cried a lot when Chachani chose El Misti which accounts for the lagoons at the top of Pichu Pichu.

Legends aside, Arequipa, a city of a million people, precariously sits in a beautiful and dangerous location – squarely in the path of ancient lava and ash flows.  Many of its building are built from sillar, a white volcanic stone, which turns a spectacular rosy pink in the evening sun.  Evening in the city’s main square is a must see.

Like many main squares in South America, a fountain is in the center and a large cathedral borders it.  One of the major activities in Arequipa’s main square is feeding the pigeons.  Don’t bother with the restaurants on the square.  There are better options a few blocks away.  We highly recommend Zig Zag Restaurant a few blocks away from the square.

Raeski and I did a lot of walking while in Arequipa.  Some of the streets are quite beautiful and don’t be afraid to walk the streets at night.  Arequipa is fairly safe.  Be sure to take something warm to wear after the sun goes down.  Arequipa’s elevation is 7,300 feet (2,225 meters) and the temperatures drop rapidly at that altitude.

There are many lovely photogenic architectural elements in the city.  The monastery (see post) is a photographer’s dream.  Arequipa is a photo-op waiting to happen at seemingly every street you venture down.

Dominating the central square is the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa.  Like all churches built in this era it’s the largest building in the city.  Regardless of your thoughts about religions, these old churches are worth a look inside.  Artwork, arches and stained glass await those who enter.

While many forego the trip to Arequipa when visiting Peru, we’re glad we didn’t.  Otherwise Wooly wouldn’t have captured this butterfly shot.

Arequipa Butterfly
Arequipa Butterfly