Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Amazon

Eighteen years ago, Doug and I were looking for an exotic destination for our honeymoon, and after a lot of thought, we decided to go to South America. (This was 1995, and South America was quite a lot more exotic then than it is now.) One of the places we decided we wanted to see was the Amazon rainforest, and we chose one of the only ecotourism companies that was operating in that area at the time: Explorama. The conditions were rustic, but hey – we were in the jungle! My memory of those five days we spent with Explorama was that it was hot and humid and there were lots of mosquitos, and that we saw amazing things.

Fast forward nearly two decades. When we decided that we would spend a couple of months of this trip in South America, we immediately thought about going back to the Amazon. There are many more companies now, but we really wanted to go with Explorama again. We even decided to stay in the same lodges, just to see how much they had changed.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Easter Island to Iquitos

We're currently about an hour and a half up the Amazon River from Iquitos, Peru. Doug and I were in this area when we went on our honeymoon almost 18 years ago, and the fact that I have bars on my cellphone right now is pretty insane. I didn't even have bars on Easter Island, standing next to the tower! We're staying at a very nice lodge right now and tomorrow will head even further into the rainforest to something more rustic. This is my last chance to update until late next week.

I wanted to post a few more pictures from our last couple of days on Easter Island. We spent our last full day hanging out and relaxing. We took Carter down to a tiny local swimming spot so he could play in the sand and swim, and he had a blast. Check out the moai in the background.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Prior to this trip, I couldn't have pointed to Easter Island on the globe. I knew it was part of Chile (from a Chilean folkloric dinner show we attended on a mid-90s visit to Santiago, half of which was Polynesian dancing, to my great surprise), and I knew it was quite a ways from the coast of South America, but I didn't really know much more about it than that.

When we planned this trip, we wanted to visit favorite places as well as new ones, and Easter Island was on the list of places that sounded very interesting to see. My mental image was of a semi-barren, sort of gloomily beautiful island, not unlike the Azores, but much more sparsely populated. I knew the big thing to do was to go see the giant head statues, which I'd always heard were shrouded in mystery. We planned to spend five nights there, which I worried might be a bit much. After all, we'd go out and look at the statues in a day, probably, and then what?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Andes and Easter Island

We're now in Easter Island, and the internet connection we have is so slow that uploading pictures is not really feasible at the moment. When I have a chance, I'll edit this post and add a whole bunch of pictures, but in the meantime, I can least give an update on what we're doing.

On Thursday we hired a car and driver to take us up to Valle Nevado, one of the ski resorts in the mountains about an hour and a half drive from Santiago.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Los Domenicos and Chilean food

We've now had almost three full weeks in Santiago, and we're really taking it easy. If we go out and do one thing every day, that's totally fine. This is a city we've spent a lot of time in and we have a list of stuff we'd like to do, but we're definitely not feeling any stress about getting out and seeing the sights. The rest of the year will be spent at a much quicker pace, so these weeks have been more about getting used to being on the trip and relaxing a bit.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Still in Santiago

Per our original itinerary, we were supposed to check out of our hotel in Santiago on Friday morning, pick up our rental car, and drive down to Santa Cruz to spend a week in the wine region. Since Carter was sick for the entire first week we were in Santiago, we decided to adjust our schedule so that we could actually spend some time here. So on Friday morning, we checked out of the Ritz Carlton and headed a few blocks down the street to the W, which is our favorite hotel in Santiago.

Our room at the W has a balcony, which I am LOVING. Also, the air conditioning works, which makes Doug very happy. Our room at the Ritz was nearly 80 degrees for the entire week and a half we stayed there, and there was nothing to be done about it. Doug was miserable, and he's so much happier now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Carter!

After another rough day yesterday, most of which Carter spent lying in bed and glumly watching videos on the iPad, he nearly bounced out of bed this morning. He was ready to go and was even hungry. We were incredibly relieved, especially since today was his 5th birthday. We'd been keeping our fingers crossed that he wouldn't have to spend his birthday sick and miserable.

After breakfast (his first actual meal in a week!) we asked him what he most wanted to do on his birthday, and he said he wanted to ride the double-decker tour bus. And so we did.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

We left the hotel!

Carter is finally starting to feel better. Yesterday was his fourth straight day of vomiting, and we decided to call a doctor to make sure there wasn't something bigger going on that we'd missed. The doctor's conclusion was pretty much the same as ours, that it was either a virus he picked up on the playground or it was food poisoning. It was good to have reassurance though. She also gave us something prescription-strength pedialyte-type stuff, which I had no idea existed, and he started bouncing back very quickly after drinking that.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

First round of trouble.

We spent a lot of time planning for this trip, and one of the things we planned for was getting sick. We bought private health insurance and had to work out what we'd do if one of us needed to go to the doctor. We packed a good supply of over-the-counter medicines and got prescriptions for multiple rounds of antibiotics for each of us, should we get food poisoning.

The surprise was that we'd have to deal with it so quickly. Very early in the morning after our first full day here, Carter threw up in the middle of the night. And then he proceeded to vomit every couple of hours for the next day and a half. He's only been sick while traveling once before, and that time it ran through him fairly quickly. This doesn't seem to be as intense as before, but it still means we've spent the last two days holed up in our hotel room taking care of him. We're still not sure if it was something he ate (the last thing he had before getting sick was chicken nuggets at Ruby Tuesdays) or if he picked up a bug while playing in the park. It's starting to seem like the former, since Doug and I are totally fine.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Doug had been watching the availability of frequent flyer seats in business class from Dallas to Santiago and saw that some seats opened up on the flight on December 30.  We had originally planned to leave on the 31st, but we were packed and ready to go, and so -- why not?

The flight went smoothly and we landed in Santiago on the morning of December 31. It's summer here, and oh, this place is gorgeous in the summer! The temperatures are in the 80s and it's not humid at all, so it feels lovely outside. We checked into the hotel and changed clothes, then headed over to one of our favorite local restaurants, Tiramisu, when has fantastic pizza.

And after that we spent some time hanging out on a local playground, one Carter has played at many times before. But it's been cold every other time he's been here!

Doug and I sat on a bench in the shade and watched him and realized: Wow. We're here. We're really doing this, for a whole year. Our phones weren't working yet, so we could do nothing but sit there and watch Carter play, and it was a strange feeling to be disconnected. We've spent so much of the last six months planning and stressed out and trying to cover every detail. It was very strange to just sit there and realize that we had nowhere in particular to go, nothing in particular to do.

We thought it might be fun to spend New Year's Eve in Santiago instead of on an airplane. We thought we could go out for our traditional New Year's Eve dinner of teppan yaki, and there's even a great teppan yaki restaurant in walking distance of the hotel. But it turns out that in Santiago, they roll up the streets on New Year's Eve. Everything is closed -- every restaurant, every bar. Apparently people stay home and go to private parties! We finally found a single open restaurant, which added a 50% surcharge to the bill. It was full of Americans who were apparently just as desperate as we were. It was a good dinner, but crazy expensive.

After that we spent our evening in the hotel room. Doug had bought some wine for us earlier in the day, and we watched a movie and just hung out. Carter finally passed out around 11:00.

Everything is closed today as well, so we'll be eating room service, going to the park, and maybe swimming in the hotel's pool later. Serious sightseeing will have to wait another day, but honestly, that's okay.