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Monthly Archives: April 2014

How Did Easter Island Get Named?

Copyright David Horwell

Copyright David Horwell

Easter Island was named by European Jacob Roggeveen who first saw the island on Easter Sunday, 1722 whilst leading a Dutch expedition to the South Seas. Of course the Polynesians had found it centuries before and they called it Rapanui. This small island is the most remote inhabited island in the World, being over 2,000km from Pitcairn its nearest neighbour to the north-west, Chile lies even further to the east.  This small volcanic island was annexed to Chile in 1888, and until 1965 the Chileans kept the natives as interns on their own island and used it as a big sheep farm. In 1996, Easter Island made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Archaeologists have long wondered about the construction and transport of the long-faced statues or moai that are scattered all over the island. It is thought that the statues may have ‘walked’ by rocking them from side to side vertically with teams of workers with ropes over wooden rollers. Later statues were toppled as it was thought their power no longer worked. This coincided with the arrival of the Europeans. Today the island has become a Mecca for those seeking the ultimate escape and several boutique hotels and lodges can be found, the real attraction are the wonderful people, descendents of the Polynesian seafarers who found the island against all odds over a thousand years ago. Contact us for details of how to get there.

Good Friday in Quito

Quito Good Fri

Quito Good Friday processions of Cucuruchos, the brotherhoods of penitents whose uniform dates back to the Inquisition. During  Holy Week people from all walks of life, assemble to make a public display of religious fervour. The Cucurucho dress of a conical hat and purple robes, helps anonymity, some re-enact the procession of Christ, dragging heavy wooden crosses and wearing crowns of thorns including ones made of barbed wire. Others self-flagellate, carrying heavy chains in bare feet along the steep streets of old Quito.

Mexico City’s Island of Dolls

dolls mexico
Flickr/Esparta Palma

If you are looking for something a little different on your travel’s how about a visit to the spine-chillingly creepy Island of Dolls (Isla de las Munecas) in Mexico City. This is probably the most morbid tourist attraction in Latin America. Thousands of decaying dolls of all shapes and sizes hanging from trees surround you from every angle.

So where did it all start? Legend has it back in the ‘50s the islands caretaker, Don Julian Santana, was unable to save a girl who drowned in the canal. He found a doll on the bank he assumed was hers and hung it from a tree. Later he believed that her spirit was haunting the island and began to collect more dolls to keep her at bay.  Although Santana died in 2001 his cousin now looks after the island and believes that the dolls come alive at night. To get to the Island of Dolls you need to take the metro line 2 south to Xochimilco changing at Tren Ligero.

Destination of the month – Huanchaco & Chan Chan

huanchaco
Flickr/Geraint Rowland

Just down the coast from the northern Peruvian city of Trujillo is the town of Huanchaco. Once a small fishing village, it’s now grown to accommodate the travellers that come attracted by the beaches, surf and climate. In 2012 the town was designated a World Surfing Reserve, the first in South America. Not only are the waves consistently ideal for surfing but the caballito de totora (little reed horses), a type of reed surfing boat has been used here for over 3,000 years.

City of mud

If you can drag yourself away from the beach there are plenty of archaeological ruins to see nearby. Most impressive of these is Chan Chan, the ancient capital of the Chimus and the largest pre-Columbian city in the whole of South America. If you a visiting this region of Peru, you simply can’t not stop by. Its vast walls and statues are incredibly well preserved and offer a unique look at life over 1000 years ago. Why not try our Warrier of the Clouds tour to visit the site.

29th is Gnocchi Day in Argentina!

gnocchi
Flickr/Enrico Matteucci

For many Argentines, the 29th of each month is Ñoquis (gnocchi) day. Gnocchi, for those who haven’t heard of it, are floury potato dumplings typically served in tomato sauce. On this day each month friends and family come together either at home or at a restaurant to enjoy this hearty dish.

The origins of the day are unclear. Some say it was brought by the Italian immigrants who came to the country in the 19th century. Others think it became popular as a way to eke out the last of the months budget before being paid.

Traditionally money is placed under the plate before eating and either kept for good luck or offered to charity.

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