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Change of Plans October 17, 2006

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I shall be going home from Lima, Peru and in November. It is the next country up, one on my hit list, and a much closer target. Seems I can´t get out of Santiago – 16 days here (and a few more to go), minus the four on Easter Island. But next up is La Serena, then San Pedro de Atacama, then into Peru. It is much more realistic.  Still an amazing journey. I went tandem paragliding (parapenting) with Kevin´s instructor. We flew for 40 minutes or so. Great fun, great view and in no way scary like my first time skydiving. This was no big deal and really relaxing…”Okay, I will run off a mountain with you, sure.” Wheeeeeeeeeee.   Pix soon. Tomorrow I hit the vineyards of the Casablanca Valley for a story.

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A Magical, Wonderful Place Indeed. Nope, Not Disney. October 14, 2006

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Going to Easter Island October 5, 2006

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Yes, my childhood dream is becoming a reality. The inspiring, haunting baritone voice-over of Leonard Nimoy as featured the 70’s nature/mystery television show, “In Search Of…Easter Island” has remained with me. The mysterious stone monoliths and I shall have an ecounter or two. I leave Santiago for four days beginning Saturday. A full report to follow. Pix as well…yes, I know, you have heard that a thousand times.

Next up…”In Search of…The Loch Ness Monster.”

Santiago. I like it. October 2, 2006

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Santiago is a cool city, fun, arty, smoggy, like a Paris and NY blended all together in a paella of baroque, modern and neoclassical architecture. I usaully don´t like staying in cities too long, and after a few days I am sure I will want to get back to nature. We got here two days ago and have been finding all these beautiful parks on hills (called cerros) in the city. San Cristobal is the big one, a ginormous (giant plus enormous) park with gardens, pools, a wine museum, vendors and other things (like a giant Virgin Mary) but all created magically uphill in many vast levels…we took the funicular (a train of sorts that goes up a steep hill by cable) and two different telefericos (a sky gondola)  to ride around to view the capital…it´s like the Central Park of Santiago in it´s own special way…the other, cerro Santa Lucia, we found today. The quiet, classy sister cerro of Cristobal….amazingly beautiful gardens and ornate, old architecture up along the steep inclines and paths and things…complete with a viewing castle at the very top, a private castle behind gates mid way, a magnificent fountain (and tribute to Neptune I think), sculptures, many flowers, paths and greenery. Will post pix soon.

We are here for Kevin´s parapenting classes and so I can write wine, but it is also a good place for treks. Tomorrow I go to Isla Negra and few other places for a Pablo Neruda (the poet) tour. It looks beautiful and not the sort of thing I might usually do, but one of the reasons I am going is that, sure I like Neruda´s work, but it is good way to see the coast since I have no car and no sense of direction here… the day after, I take a trek to hike in the Aconcagua Natural Reserve and the Horocones lagoon.

Oh yeah, we climbed a volcano (Villarica) on our final day in Pucon, tried to anyway, in the snow, using all mountain gear and ice axes…a riot! We didn’t finish though, as we went upward and onward the guide said conditions were too bad to keep going the other 1000 meters…which I guess made sense seeing as it was windy, blowing rain/snow and we couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us. The summit and view down the crater atop it would have been invisible (seeing as we pretty much were too)…it was cold but fun and a lot of hard work on my butt and legs…steep and snowy and thick (not my butt, the mountain).

Oh yes, I got headbutted by a drunk the other night at an outdoor cafe we were eating at, in the hip-bohemian-arty-cool-college-kid Bella Vista district…he asked rudely for a cigarette in gurgling Spanish. I had about a bottle of wine in me, so I said “por favoooooooooooor” like a smart ass back to him, you know my tone, and he took the cigarette from my hand, said “meee-ooow” and head butted me, then hissed while walking away. I let it go. Too slow for kung fu and he was like four feet tall, as Kevin happily pointed out.

This trip is so much fun but it is really easy to lose time…we get somewhere and stay a week, which is good on the one hand but on the other we aren´t making much progress upwards the continent. Know anyone who wants to rent a house for a month? My tenant is not staying past our original date as expected, but I am way, way behind schedule. I will have to skip Peru entirely I think and after the Atacama desert in Northern Chile, I´ll have to fly right to Ecuador or switch where I leave from, like maybe skip Ecuador and do Peru. Easter Island is likely not happening…have not even found a travel agent here yet. Many options to explore! But hey, I am at  least on budget. More pix to come soon.

Be sure to check Kevin´s site for more photos of nature. He updates it using the magic of wi-fi and his Mac laptop. Grrr. www.kevinfinucane.zenfolio.com

We continue to meet an array of fascinating people.