Saturday, December 13, 2008


Rapa Nui to the Natives‘, Isla de Pascua to the Chileans’ or Easter Island as we know it, is located 2,237 miles off the west coast of Chile in the Pacific Ocean. The island itself is only 63 square miles and home to the famous Moai or stone statutes. The nearly 900 statutes preside over the coasts and countryside leaving many questions as to why a civilization carved so many statues and what caused the sudden halt of their production, with numerous statues partially carved or in transit to their alter sites and final resting places. The water surrounding the island is said to be the clearest in the world with up to 200 feet of visibility. While scuba diving, we enjoyed the incredible coral, underwater Moai and marine life. We relaxed, hiked, ate amazing tuna caught by local fishermen, and took photos galore!
Felices Fiestas!

Jen, Ryan and Joe
Here are our photos:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The Inca civilization dominated South America from the 1430’s to the 1530’s. The Inca empire stretched from the present day border of Ecuador and Columbia to the deserts of northern Chile. During their 100 year rein, this society built amazing temples and citadels, including Machu Picchu. When the Spanish conquered the Incas in the 1530’s the Spanish destroyed or modified many of the Inca temples. Fortunately, Machu Picchu’s existence remained unknown (apart from indigenous people in the area) until it was re-discovered in 1911. This time the city was not destroyed, but preserved.

Lucky for us, Ryan’s Dad (Rick), Step-Mom (Cynde) and friends (Bill and Janine) let us “crash” their lodge to lodge trek to Machu Picchu on the Salkantay trail! The Salkantay Trail is an “alternative trail” to Machu Picchu that includes trekking approximately 30 miles over 6 days including ascending and descending 2,600 vertical feet on the most difficult day . We hiked between two glacier covered mountain peaks (Salkantay and Humantay), crossed a 15,300 foot mountain pass, and descended through the Elfin Forest (where everything grows smaller because of the lack of oxygen) and the Cloud Forest.

If you are ever going to hike to Machu Picchu, this is the way to do it! Muddy boots left at the door step are found clean and shiny near the fire the next morning. Chocolate truffles placed near the turned down sheets and a hot water bottle welcome you into bed each night. Views of twenty thousand foot snow covered mountain peaks that flash pink at sunset are relished from the hot tub. Greetings with hot coca tea or fresh elderberry juice in hand at the end of a long day‘s hike. Culinary delights carried on the backs of men over mountain passes to our isolated lodges with nary a person in sight. No wonder National Geographic featured the lodges and trekking company in one of their issues! This was truly luxurious (other than the hiking part)!

Amazingly, the strike we mentioned in the last blog continued and affected the train service near Machu Picchu. However, this time the strike worked in our favor and, as a result, we spent two days in Machu Picchu instead of the one day that was planned! On the first day we stayed until closing time and took pictures with no other tourists in them. On the second day we split up and hiked within Machu Picchu itself (Huayna Picchu and the Sun Gate). Machu Picchu more than lived up to our expectations and words cannot possibly describe it! Everyone should experience Machu Picchu for themselves.

We also traveled around Cusco together, visited the Sacred Valley, Saqsaywaman, and the Qorikancha (Sun Temple) and sampled various pisco (grape brandy) drinks!
Jen, Ryan and Joe
View our pictures at: