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Get married on Easter Island

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If you are looking for something unique for your wedding how about having it on the mysterious island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), part of Chile but more geographically closer to Polynesia.

In true Polynesian style you’ll be presented with flower necklaces before being whisked away to the Explore Posada de Mike Rapu. During your time on the island you’ll visit some of the most famous sites including Rano Raraku Volcano and surrounding Moai statues. Spend time on the unspoiled beaches, snorkel in clear Pacific waters and horse ride through stunning island scenery.

The ceremony will take place according to local traditions on Anakena Beach. Both the bride and groom will have the opportunity to choose their outfit and traditional body painting. The ceremonial master will ask the gods for protection of the couple and there will be much ritual dancing and singing.

To begin your dream wedding on Easter Island get in touch.

An Orchid of the Andes

I recently attended the annual World Travel Market in London and met the new Ecuadorian Tourism Minister Sandra Naranjo. She gave a press conference emphasizing the country’s ‘mega-diversity’ and the natural and cultural reasons to visit the country and not just their Galapagos Islands.

David and Sandra Naranjo (3)

I was impressed with how passionate Sandra is about her country and was pleased to hear how her government is devoting more resources to marketing Ecuador to Europe and the UK. Select Latin America was one of the first companies to offer tours to all parts of this small but diverse country from the headwaters of the Amazon to whale-watching in the Pacific. For a first visit to Latin America we highly recommend Ecuador.

Orchids of Ecuador

One of the lesser known facts about Ecuador is the abundance of orchids, over 4000 species, mainly found in the cloud forests either side of the Andes. The Ecuadorian stand at the trade show highlighted this with an award-winning display of orchids and also roses (which are a big industry there). The country is also renowned for its gourmet chocolate and I was delighted to watch a display of making a fruit and nut brittle and taste some of the World’s best chocolate…

Chocolate making display Ecuador stand #WTM14 1

Chocolate making display Ecuador stand #WTM14

The Galapagos Affair – Satan Came to Eden

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Most of the visitors who have the good fortune to visit the ‘enchanted islands’ of the Galapagos archipelago know precious little about the human history. I have taken tour groups there over the years and many of them believed that the only inhabitants were reptiles, birds and a few sea lions. Those that did their reading knew about Darwin and his short, but hugely significant visit on the Beagle, some knew perhaps about the pirates and the whalers – but few knew of the true pioneers – the first settlers who eked out a living on these inhospitable arid volcanic shores. Not to mention brutal penal colonies which are all Ecuador thought that the islands were good for until the late 20th century.

I arrived in 1978, when tourism was just taking off. In those days the boats were Spartan affairs, our yacht had no fridge and a shower was a shared trickle of rusty brackish water. It took 5 hours to get there in a propeller aircraft from Ecuador. (Today it is only an hour and a half in one of several daily jets). The yachts now rival those found in many sophisticated marinas and hotels are springing up on all of the four inhabited islands.

One of the non-wildlife visits we did was to a place called Black Beach on the island of Floreana, here was a tiny naval base and a handful of settlers and farmers. One of these was a little old lady called Mrs Wittmer who ran a basic guest house and restaurant. She had been there since the early 1930’s and must have been in her 70’s when I knew her. She certainly had a lot of stories to tell, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she gave us her home-made orange wine and cookies; she was the first woman to give birth on Floreana, her now grown-up son was captain of one of the first tour boats; but only the brave would mention the Baroness and the scandalous events of half a century earlier… I don’t want to spoil the story told in the film – but as they say: truth is stranger than fiction – no Agatha Christie novel could compete with this tale.

Imagine a desert island; put ashore 3 disparate families each with their own stubborn ideas of what island life should amount to and add a generous dose of ego-mania and the result is an unhappy end, as sexual intrigue, jealousy and unsolved murder take place, with the mysterious disappearances of the aforementioned Baroness. Less ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ and more ‘Lord of the Flies’ for adults. Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden opens 25th July in UK cinemas, with myself introducing the film and partaking in a Q & A session afterwards. There will be other UK screenings and a DVD/Blue-Ray out in September.

Sixe Paredes Futurismo Ancestral: An Offering To Peru

Futurismo Ancestral photo © David Horwell

Futurismo Ancestral photo © David Horwell

From today a magical exhibition of Peru will be exhibited at Somerset House. Inside this historic venue alongside London’s river Thames I was transported by the spirits of the Andes and Nazca desert. In an extraordinary show Futurismo Ancestral, the Spanish street artist Sixe Paredes has blended elements of Pre-Colombian culture with modern elements. At first I was disappointed with the first room which has a few large abstract tapestries and weavings, but on entering into the bowels of Somerset house through a series of trapezoidal arches one enters an underworld like no other art gallery. In these cave-like passages replete with drainage pipes and doors leading to who-knows where. In what is called the ‘Deadhouse’ I  arrived at colourful modern versions of Quipus the ancient Peruvian counting strings that glowed in the dark chambers. My favourite was the multi-coloured knitted masks, these reminded me of the festival of Paucartambo which is held every July in a remote Andean village; I had once visited this festival as a young backpacker. It was Sixte’s travels too that inspired him. Undoubtedly the almost fluorescent colours of the patterned tapestries will stick in the mind. In the subterranean vaults there are carefully lit modern versions of ceramics that held ancestral importance as vessels for ‘chicha’ the sacred drink of the Incas. There are daily events including Peruvian music, food, performance and film. Paredes had a team of other artists and volunteers helping him build this unique show. If you miss this but would like to visit Peru for yourself please contact us. Click HERE for more information on this exhibition.

WHO WAS PABLO NERUDA?

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Pablo Neruda was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile, the son of a railway worker and a teacher. The poet, whose real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, grew up in Temuco. From the age of thirteen he contributed to newspapers. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal Selva Austral under the pen name of Pablo Neruda. Some of the poems he wrote at that time are found in his first published book:  Crepusculario (1923). The following year saw the publication of Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada, one of his best-known and most translated works. Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago. Between 1927 and 1935, he was given honorary consulships, which took him around the world. Neruda was appointed consul in Paris in 1939, and then posted to Mexico, where he rewrote his Canto General de Chile, transforming it into an epic poem about the whole South American continent. In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile and he was elected senator of the Republic in 1945, also joining the Communist Party of Chile. Due to his protests against President González Videla’s repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he hid in a basement for two years escaping to Europe in 1949, returning home in 1952. Years later, Neruda was a close advisor to Chile’s socialist President Salvador Allende.  Neruda was ill at the time of the Chilean coup d’état led by Augusto Pinochet. On 23 September 1973, Neruda died of heart failure. Neruda’s death was announced around the world. Pinochet denied permission to make Neruda’s funeral a public event. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and paraded in the streets.

Easter Island aficionado David meets Dr Jago Cooper

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Easter Island aficionado David meets Dr Jago Cooper of the British Museum*, whose documentary on Easter Island recently screened on BBC4. David was there 27 years ago (with a previous BBC ‘Horizon’ film crew). In those days the theory was that the islanders, known as Rapanui, were the cause of their own demise by cutting down the trees and using up all resources. Cooper’s film shows that this is unfair and that the islanders were living in harmony with the environment and it was the contact with outsiders that brought disease, slavery and unsuitable farming that did for the island. Whatever the history a visit to the island is an unforgettable trip and should be high on anyones ‘Bucket list’. * At the Latin American Travel Association’s annual  event at the House of Lords. Photo courtesy Adrian Pope.

Discover Brazilian Cuisine

Alex Atala, the owner and chef of the São Paulo restaurant D.O.M has for the last few years been at the forefront of a resurgence in Brazilian cuisine. His fusion of traditional Brazilian fare with European culinary techniques to create a fine dining experience has earned his restaurant the coveted title of ‘Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In South America’ as well as 4th best in the world by the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

His new book D.O.M.: Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients is no ordinary cookbook. An exclusive insight into the world of this extraordinary chef, his relationship with the unique ingredients of his native Brazil and his commitment to sourcing sustainable produce that directly benefits local farmers. Taking over 5 years to complete and showcasing over 60 recipes, the book is not only well written, but also visually stunning accompanied by photography from the world famous food photographer Sérgio Coimbra.

An exhibition of his work is currently being displayed at the Coningsby Art Gallery until the 13th December and entry is free. Copies of his book are available for purchase at the gallery or on the Phaidon website.

To start your own gastronomic adventure in Brazil please contact us.

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.

David meets TV Presenter Nick Baker

TV Presenter Nick Baker

For 12 years we have been exhibiting at the Bird-watcher’s Glastonbury, the British Birdfair held at Rutland Water reserve. This year was bigger and better than ever due to the 25th Anniversary year. The Birdfair helps raise money to support BirdLife International’s Flyways Programme, but this year focussed specifically on the Americas. We helped raise funds to support conservation efforts to protect birds which breed in the prairies and other grasslands in North America but winter south in the pampas grasslands of South America. Birdfair encompasses the whole spectrum of the birdwatching industry whilst at the same time supporting global bird conservation. There are hundreds of stands selling the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts from scopes to sculptures, binoculars to bird food, eGuides to eco-holidays. After I gave a lecture on the Galapagos Islands, I took a moment to chat with the TV presenter Nick Baker, who became well known on BBC’s The Really Wild Show, more recently he appears on BBC Autumnwatch and Springwatch and presented the popular long running Weird Creatures series (C5 / Animal Planet). His enthusiasm for bugs and larger creatures is infectious. I was pleased to hear of his support of the Seahorse Trust.

 

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