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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Galapagos hits the big screen

Baroness

Though Galapagos is well know by scientists and tourists for the unique wildlife and unusual scenery, the archipelago is now getting the Hollywood treatment. Spring 2014 sees the release of The Galapagos Affiar: Satan Came to Eden, by Emmy award winning film makers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, that debuted in the USA in August. The story is more Lord of the Flies than Robinson Crusoe.

The film tells the intriguing true murder mystery based around a group of European settlers on the island of Floreana in the 1930s. During the German Depression in 1929 Friedrich Ritter and his love Dora Strauch eloped to Floreana Island in search of Eden. They were joined by Heinz and Margaret Wittmer and their son, there was no love lost between the two families. The last to join in 1932 was the self-described ‘Baroness’ von Wagner Bosquet who arrived with her two lovers.  More of an exhibitionist than an escapist, she later called herself the ‘Empress of Galapagos’ and posed with a gun and whip for articles in Time magazine. Her intention of building a hotel for rich yachties was never realised. Later paradise took an ugly turn; the baroness disappeared with one of her lovers and another was found dead on an isolated beach. Later Dr Ritter died under mysterious circumstances, leaving Margaret Wittmer and family as the sole survivors. She took the story to her grave surviving until the year 2,000 and a ripe old age of 96.

Stories on the present day Galapagos pioneers as well as spectacular HD footage of Floreana’s landscape are interwoven into the film to create a visually stunning piece. To create your own tale in the Galapagos visit the islands on one of our many small-ship cruises or stay on Floreana on a land based tour.

If you would like to find out more about conservation of the islands please visit Galapagos Conservation Trust.

How to make a Pisco Sour

Chile_Pisco_Sour

At a recent Chile event held at the National Geographic shop in London’s Knightsbridge, I had the pleasure of a master-class and tasting of this iconic South American cocktail. The Pisco Sour is unusual in being the National Drink of both Peru and Chile. The origins of which are disputed by historians and a rivalry continues today. Some suggest that the cocktail was invented by Vaughn Morris, an American bartender living in Peru in the 1920s. Others attribute the invention of the cocktail to Elliot Stubb, an English steward who allegedly mixed the drink in the port city of Iquique (which was part of Peru at the time).

The main difference between the cocktails is the Pisco itself. Peruvian Pisco is made for any of 8 approved varietals and is a pure distillate of a young wine. Nothing else is added to it and it is not left to age but rests for 3 months. Chilean Pisco is made by fermenting the grape juice before it enters the distillation process. The Chileans only have 3 approved varietals of grape and it is left to age, usually in oak casks which give it a yellowish tint.

Chilean Pisco sours tend to leave out the egg white and do not use bitters as they do in the Peruvian Recipe.

Here we will show you how to make a Chilean Pisco Sour.

Ingredients:
3 ounces Chilean Pisco
1 ounce lemon juice
1 -2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup crushed ice

Directions:
1. Add crushed ice and sugar to a shaker followed by Pisco and topped with lemon juice.
2. Vigorously shake until the sugar has completely dissolved.
3. Taste, and adjust sugar to your liking.
4. Serve in chilled cocktail glass.

Food & Wine Festival Punte del Este

Punta_del_este

Punta Del Este is famous for its wide Atlantic beaches and glamorous parties, set in Uruguay’s southeast coast. Where glitterati abound you find gourmet cuisine, so some of the best chefs in the region have opened restaurants in the area, which is fast emerging as a foodie destination.

Punta Del Este Food & Wine Festival is held every year between October/November in November and in its 4th edition in 2013 it is already one of the best-known gourmet festivals of the region. It includes three days of unique gastronomic experiences in marvellous locations as Playa VIK, probably one of the best spots of Uruguay to watch the sun set, and Colinas de Garzon, which makes guests feel like being in Tuscany with its olive trees and vineyards. The festival brings together the best and most renowned chefs not only from Uruguay, but from further afield: Spain, Brazil and Argentina. Apart from celebrating food and wine with the most delicious and mouth-watering dishes and drinks, the festival also includes music concerts and other live entertainment.

The festival runs on the 12th and 13th of October. Please get in touch if you would like to visit the festival or anywhere else in Uruguay.

Beyond El Dorado: power and gold in ancient Colombia

Gold-museum

European conquistadors were seduced by the legend of a lost city of gold in South America. The truth is even more fascinating than the myth. El Dorado meaning “the golden one” –refers to a ritual that took place near modern Bogotá at Lake Guatavita. The elected leader, covered in powdered gold, dived into the lake and emerged as the new chief of the Muisca people. This stunning exhibition, will open to the public on the 17 October 2013, will display some of the fascinating objects excavated from the lake including ceramics and stone necklaces.

The exhibition will showcase over 300 spectacular objects from the Museo del Oro in Bogotá which is one of the best and most extensive collections of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world, as well as from the British Museum’s own unique collections. Some of the objects are so valuable they were flown business class from Bogotá with individual security guards. They were never out of sight during the 5,200 mile-journey.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum said “Ancient Colombia has long represented a great fascination to the outside world and yet there is very little understood about these unique and varied cultures… this exhibition will give our visitors a glimpse into these fascinating cultures of pre-hispanic South America and a chance to explore the legend of El Dorado through these stunning objects.”

After visiting the exhibition how about visiting Colombia on your own El Dorado tour?

Is Google Street View in Galapagos a Good Thing?

Floreana Punta Cormorant beach

So Google now is taking us remotely to the far flung places of the planet. The web behemoth has sent its camera crews to national parks and beauty spots such as the Galapagos Islands. Is this a good thing? Are there no places left to explore and go Into the Wild? Whilst I cannot deny there are advantages to the armchair traveller and perhaps scientists monitoring these regions, I can’t help feeling it is shame that the World has been reduced to a screen and a click of the mouse; not to mention the increase in obesity caused by humans doing everything online and forgetting the joys of actually walking around and exploring on foot. I had a look at the ‘Street View’ demo and whilst enjoyed the wide-angle shots of sea lions underwater this voyeuristic experience can’t compare with the joy of playing with these creatures in life. The ‘walk’ around North Seymour Island really is a pedestrian affair which strangely seems to have missed most of the usually abundant blue-footed boobies and red-pouched frigate birds. The Street View also omits the pungent smell of sea-lion poo and the sounds of the squawking birds – so I feel cheated and realize there is no substitute for visiting the place. Of course this opens up the Galapagos to people who would never be able to afford the opportunity of visiting the archipelago for real. Google have provided a useful tool, but let’s remember it is just that. Judge for yourself, go to Google Maps, find the Galapagos Islands and switch to Street View mode.

Flight of the Butterflies the film premier

Pete Bill David
Photo courtesy of Adrian Pope. Event by Mexico Tourist Board.

David had the great pleasure of attending the premier of The Flight of the Butterflies. This heart-warming drama-documentary is about the migration of the Monarch Butterfly which travels from Canada to Mexico over three generations. The film was shot in 3-D with amazing macro and aerial footage was shown at the London IMAX theatre, many celebrities were spotted including the ever amusing Bill Bailey, shown here with Pete Haskell of the Galapagos Conservation Trust.

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