Arriving On Easter Island

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Arriving On Easter Island (Isla de Pascua)

“The farther you go, however, the harder it is to return. The world has many edges, and it’s easy to fall off.” Anderson Cooper

The idea of a bucket list is weird. The thought that there is a set number of activities that you have to do in the world to die happy is depressing.  Life changes and things happen and your goals and desires change with that. I love lists. I make them all the time. They are more travel goals than bucket lists. The thing about these lists is to never finish them and always add new ideas.

The plane landed at another place on my list that I can check off – Easter Island. It is one of the most remote places in the world and has all those statues. We have flown six hours from Santiago to get here. You can only fly from Santiago or Tahiti on Latam Airlines to get there.

When you land on Easter Island you’ll notice that the runway appears to be really huge, because it’s really huge.  Back when NASA was working out the flight plans for the space shuttle in the 1980s, Easter Island aligned perfectly with one of the designated landing spots and the US government made a deal with the government of Chile to upgrade and extend the runway on Easter Island in exchange for possibly letting the space shuttle land there in case of an emergency.  Although never needed by NASA the runway expansion helped Easter Island greatly, as this meant larger planes could ferry tourists and supplies to the island.

In 2007 the Explora all-inclusive hotel opened on Easter Island. The hotel has expansive windows and outdoor areas to see the beautiful views on the south side of the island. The air smells so good. It feels like pollution has not yet come to this remote part of the world.

We arrive at lunchtime and a woman starts talking to us. I travel alone often and I’m always in awe of people who can do that. We are a little surprised but chat a bit with her about the island.

After lunch, we are taken on our first tour of the Moai with two couples from Missouri. Meeting Americans abroad is tricky in Trump’s America. We are sure they are Trump supporters and to them we must be California liberals. We know they own guns. In our minds this means that they must like racist, narcissistic bullies. Someone asks me what I do? I say that I  write a travel blog. Another one snaps, ”I don’t want to be in your blog.” I want to answer that I’m way too self-centered to write about you. This isn’t starting well.

We make a decision to not talk about politics and not be those judgmental California liberals that we were about to become. Those people turn out to be nice and interesting. I don’t know who they voted for but they aren’t thrilled with what is happening in the country now either. They became the people who experienced Easter Island at the same time in the same way that we did. They will always be part of our amazing memories here. The woman who snapped at me wasn’t feeling well and we were tired from jet lag and the long plane rides. The lesson for me is don’t judge people on your worst traveling day.

It is the tours to the Moai and surrounding areas and especially the staff and tour guides that really make this place so wonderful.

They are young, passionate, fun, very knowledgeable with great communication skills and a lot of information.

We spend most of our time with Bruno and Ika. Bruno is Chilean and had worked at Explora in the Atacama desert.

Ika is Rapa Nui and from the island. It is interesting to get their different take on the Moia stories.

Paulina the hostess is always around making sure that everything is going smoothly with kindness and humor.

Francisco the manager is always visible and asking about your day. I have amazing massages with Moea at the end of hiking days.  The girl who runs the gift shop makes a pharmacy run for me.

The friendliness and kindness of Explora is catching. We are having lunch a few days later. A couple sits down next to us. ” So did you just get here? Where are you from?” I ask.

I will always have a bucket list of places but it is the people you meet who live and work in these places and the encounters with other travelers that shapes your travel experience.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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How I Learned To Play The Piano #metoo

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“There are about forty cats and dogs on my property.  One cat can open doors. All those animals see us going in and out of doors every day but only one animal learned how to do it. He jumps up on the door handle and it pushes down. The door opens. He walks through.  If I didn’t see one cat open doors, I would never know that a cat could do that.”    Al Wei Wei“

When I was ten years old I was molested by my piano teacher. I did not know how to handle it or how to stop it. I knew that I did not want to talk about it to anyone. In my ten-year old wisdom, I decided that I could handle it for five months until the end of year concert at Carnegie Hall. Everyone knew that I wanted to play there. I would “choose” in the summer to stop taking piano lessons. If I quit before, there would be too many questions. Eighty per cent of childhood sexual abuse happens from family members or someone you know. It is usually not done in a scary way.

I remember this day. After the concert I thought – I did it.  This is finally over and no one knows anything. My mother walked into the bedroom and said, “Everyone was so good at the recital. Next year I will start your brother and sister with piano lessons.” I blurted out, ”But you will go with them. You shouldn’t let them go alone.” My mother thought that was a weird response. I wouldn’t explain and she wouldn’t stop asking. Several hours later, I put my face under the covers and told her.

Everything happened really fast after that. My father went to his house to kill him and my mother took me to the police station. That was so much worse than being molested. I remember lying on a cold metal table having my first physical exam with a lot of people and police in the room. I was staring at the ceiling with the exposed light bulb and ugly green paint, pretending to crawl out of my skin and be anywhere else.

My father had walked into a large family dinner with his accusation and the piano teacher sued us for slander. My parents counter sued. Now the story that I did not want to tell even once, got repeated many, many times to lawyers. This was not going away so quickly.  If you were wondering why women don’t talk, telling was definitely much worse than not telling.

The lawsuit kept getting postponed. The story was repeated and practiced every time we got a new court date. I kept thinking that if I had not told, it would have been buried in the dark somewhere and not following me around for years. A kid can only carry so much before it starts to unravel. I was lucky in the way that my family stood behind me and never doubted me for a second  – even though the neighborhood turned against me for a while.  He was the best piano teacher the area. I wasn’t the only one it happened to. I could see it in the eyes of kids who had heard the story. I have found that victims can recognize each other. But no one else was talking-especially after they saw the reactions. Predators pick their victims carefully. I had taken piano lessons for two and a half years before it happened. They know who lacks confidence and who won’t tell. The people who it didn’t happen to never understand that.

I was fourteen years old when I finally went to court. He was found guilty and his punishment was that he had to stop giving piano lessons. Sexual abuse was not even a category for children until 1984. He was eighty years old and died a year later.

I was not the same person I was before. I had learned at ten years old that anything can happen when you are in a room alone with a man.The dark side had taught me the signs to watch out for.

Men seem to be much more shocked than women about all these current sexual accusations. It is called living in the world while female. Every woman I know has sexual harassment stories.  I have these stories but I have learned not to be the victim ever again.

As a child, you feel that the best way to survive something is to do nothing. As a woman up until now, it has been the same. Telling your stories, makes you a survivor and not a victim. It makes others feels that they aren’t alone. But the scars never go away.

When I had kids I wanted to be a stay at home mom because I had a working one at a time when mother’s didn’t work. It was also because I knew the world could be unsafe for children and I wanted to protect them. I sat in every private dance lesson with my daughter. I had them take self-defense classes and put them in programs like kid power. I forced myself to give my children piano lessons. i interviewed many teachers.  I rented a piano and stuck it in my open dining room (where it did not fit). I could see it from any angle in the house. Once a week, I relived the story with every wrong note. Luckily they gave it up after ten months.

I never listened to classical music. I never played it for my children. I thought  that I did not like it but I had forgotten until now that he used to listen to it. The music made me feel invisible. Your mind sometimes puts memories that are too hard into your unconscious to protect you.  I listen to it now. Eleven years ago I got a dog who loved classical music. I downloaded music for him to stay alone and realized how beautiful it was. I have recently added some piano concertos. I am ready to let it go. It wasn’t my fault. I was ten years old.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Ten Things That I Have Learned From Uber Drivers

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“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.” Vernon Howard

Millions of people use Uber all over the world to get a ride. But what about the people who drive for Uber? I always want to know what else they do, where they are from and why they have a job where they make their own hours. I don’t need to travel all the time to explore the world. Sometimes the world comes to pick me up at the click of a button.

There are many good Armenian authors besides William Saroyan that I have to read.

You can only work for Homeland Security for twenty years and then you must retire.

A few twenty somethings did not vote in this election.

An Iranian American legal immigrant voted for Trump because he thought that Trump would bring more jobs. He wishes that he did not but is not ashamed to say it because he now lives in country that has Freedom Of Speech. He can say whatever he wants and not worry about it.

Vladimir Putin is probably a body double. The original is dead. The KGB in Russia had body doubles for all the dictators.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors.

It is illegal to eat mince pies in the UK on Christmas Day.

Nicaragua is the most stable country in Central America at the moment.

The Hollow Earth theory – I had to look it up.

Chile has the best economy in South America now.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 Museo de la Memoria Y Los Derechos Humanos (Museum Of Memory And Human Rights) Santiago, Chile

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Museo de la Memoria Y Los Derechos Humanos (Museum Of Memory And Human Rights),Santiago, Chile

“Dictatorships are never as strong as they think they are, and people are never as weak as they think they are. “Gene Sharp

I don’t get it. I never get things like this. Maybe I am just not that smart. From what I remember Salvador Allende was the first Communist president elected by a Democracy. The American government did not like this. They did everything in their power to get him out. It is beyond the realm of my knowledge as to why America needed to do this.

Chile started having big economic problems because of the actions by the American government.  They withdrew aid from Chile and trade was limited or refused. Chileans workers began strikes.

On September 11, 1973, an American backed coup lead by Augusto Pinochet took place. President Allende committed suicide in the presidential palace as opposed to surrendering and the seventeen year military reign of terror began under the dictatorship of August Pinochet. (poem about the memory of suffering)

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This Museum of Memory and Human Rights tells the story of the abuses and disappearances carried out during this time. It’s estimated that 40,000 people were tortured or executed during this period.

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I get the English Audio tour and walk through seventeen years of “ forced disappearance” murder and torture of anyone who was believed to be against Pinochet. Anyone includes women and children.

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I listen to Pinochet’s speech as he takes control of the country. It is oddly familiar. It sounds like Trump has been taking notes from Latin American dictators. It Is the Latin American cult of personality, rage against the elite, unbridled machismo, an acerbic disregard for the rules—coupled with an apparent willingness to break them at nearly any cost that characterizes their dictators. As we enabled Pinochet to create this reign of terror, Trump had enablers in America for his rise to power.

There are excerpts of newspaper headlines from the state-controlled media at the time, video, personal accounts, photographs and memorabilia. The museum increases cultural awareness of the thousands of residents impacted by persecutions, imprisonment and torture during Pinochet’s rule. The museum pays tribute to the thousands of lives lost between 1973 and 1990 through photographs of victims, video coverage of protesters and a host of legal documents, letters and artifacts .

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It was surprising to learn that not everyone in Chile believed that Pinochet was a dictator. In government documents and in schools, they call this era the “military government” rather than a“dictatorship”. When Pinochet died in 2006, he was not granted a state funeral (awarded to elected officials) but did have an official military funeral where 60,000 people turned out to pay their respects. The Chilean government has never come out and said that Pinochet’s government committed war crimes.  They admit that people were killed, but they don’t consider this to be more than was necessary to bring peace back to a divided country.

The glass and copper building that houses the museum was designed by acclaimed Brazilian architect Marcos Figueroa and is dedicated to all human rights abuses through out the world.

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As with all museums of horror and terror throughout the world, it is filled with the country’s teen age schoolchildren. The hope is that these frightening, chilling stories will enlighten these future adults and broaden their perspective of the world so it does not happen again. (We are unable to change the past,  It is our responsibility to learn from it)

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Fly safe,

JAZ

The Houses Of Pablo Neruda

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“Poetry came in search of me.” Pablo Neruda

The Chilean Nobel Laureate poet Pablo Neruda may be one of the greatest poets in the Spanish language. His poetry is hard to translate and there is only a small amount in English. It is difficult for me and also for many Chileans to disassociate his words from his intense political views and/or personal failings.


He wrote exquisite poems about love and human nature. Neruda has three houses—one on San Cristobal Hill in Santiago, another in Valparaiso and the third is in Isla Negra. I visited two of them. To decorate his houses he has scoured antique shops and junkyards for all kinds of objects. He has many collections. Each object reminds him of an anecdote. You can not photograph inside.

Riding the funicular to the top of Parque Metropolitano is the classic tourist activity in Santiago.

When we got to the bottom again, it deposited us a block away from La Chascona, the house the poet bought in 1951 for his then-secret lover, Matilde Urrutia.

La Chascona (the name refers to the wild tangle of Matilde’s hair, a recurring element in his poems) is a house filled with objects – not for their value or beauty, but as an expression of the person who assembled them. It was destroyed in a military coup after his death and has been rebuilt and restored. For a Communist, he is quite the shopper.


Isla Negra (Black Island) is neither black nor an island. It is an elegant beach resort forty kilometers south of Valparaíso. No one knows where the name comes from; Neruda speculates about black rocks vaguely shaped like an island which he sees from his terrace.

Thirty years ago, long before Isla Negra became fashionable, Neruda bought—with the royalties from his books—six thousand square meters of beachfront, which included a tiny stone house at the top of a steep slope.

“Then the house started growing, like the people, like the trees.” His collections of bottles, nautical things and odd objects grew as well.


l love these collections and I love this house with its magic light and expansive views.


It is at Isla Negra where Pablo Neruda and his third wife, Matilde have established their most permanent residence.


His most iconic works were written here. It is where he was happiest entertaining a constant stream of visitors with Chilean wine and food. The names of his dead friends are carved in the beam above the bar so he can always have a drink with them. There are seventeen names.

When he died, which was during the Pinochet reign of terror,  Neruda was given a pauper’s grave. Chile didn’t officially embrace its most famous writer until democracy was restored in 1990. Then he and Matilda were buried outside facing the sea according to his wishes.

“Bury me at Isla Negra, in front of the sea I know, in front of every wrinkled place, of rocks and waves that my lost eyes, will never see again.”

Fly safe,
JAZ

Things That I Have Learned In Chile

“I finally felt myself lifted definitively away on the winds of adventure toward worlds I envisaged would be stranger than they were, into situations I imagined would be much more normal than they turned out to be.”  Ernesto Che Guevara,


The most important thing that I have learned in Chile is that it is pronounced Chill Lee An which rhymes with Jillian not Chill Lay In as in Chilean sea bass. The most expensive fish in Chile is not sea bass.


Chile may derive its name from the indigenous Mapuche word chilli, which may mean “where the land ends.” The Spanish heard about “Chilli” from the Incas in Peru, who had failed to conquer the land inhabited by the Araucanians, of which the Mapuche were the most warlike group. The survivors of Diego de Almagro’s first Spanish expedition south from Peru in 1535-1537 called themselves “Men of  Chile.”


The official and unusual name for the Chilean soccer team is the “O’Higgins a Patriot of Chilean Rule.

The typical greeting is the one-cheek kiss, and it can get awkward if you go for the handshake and they go for your face.

The major religion in Chile is Roman Catholic.


This isn’t the Spanish you have been learning in class. Yes the words are more or less the same, but their vocab is a little different and some phrases have different connotations. They also speak very fast here and sometimes drop the “s”.

Chile remains the most competitive economy in Latin America, with a strong institutional set-up, low levels of corruption and an efficient government.


Chile is the longest country in the world from north to south at 2,647 miles (4,620 km) long and extends across 38 degrees of latitude. The Andes Mountain Range extends the entire length of the country north to south.


Chile is one of the few countries on earth that has a government-supported UFO research organization.

With over 100 wineries in the country, Chile is now the 5th largest exporter of wine in the world.


Chile’s national drink, Pisco, is a clear liquid similar to brandy. It is grown in Chile in the Elqui Valley and is commonly with soft drinks like Coca-Cola (Piscola) or ginger ale or vermouth. But the most common version is the Pisco sour where it is blended with lemon juice, sugar, ice, and beaten egg whites. The Peruvians made the Pisco sour famous, but the Chilean version tastes slightly different.

Even though Chile is internationally known for its succulent red wines and its devilish Pisco, Chile also has a strong and diverse beer culture! This is thanks to a strong influx of German immigrants from the late 1800s, who came to Chile to live in the South and brought their brewing traditions.

 

Chilean husbands and wives have different last names because women keep their maiden names. If they have the same last names, they are often considered brother and sister. Some of the people want to change that now.

Divorce in Chile was legalized only in 2005, and the country has one of the lowest divorce rates globally probably because it was only recently legalized.

Chile began to export salmon in 1984 and is now the world’s second largest exporter of salmon after Norway. Chile is also the largest exporter of fishmeal in the world.


Chileans are the second biggest consumers of bread in the world – just behind the Germans.


Like Peru it is not unusual to have various potatoes prepared different ways in the same meal.(papas chilotes)


Chile has the world’s largest reserves of copper—around one-quarter of the global supply—and is the number one exporter of copper in the world.


The largest recorded earthquake in the world was a magnitude 9.5 in Chile on May 22, 1960 .

In August 2010, the collapse of the San Jose mine in Chile caused the trapping of 33 miners 2000 feet below ground. The world watched as rigorous, safety-conscious efforts were made to successfully retrieve the affected miners. A small borehole was drilled by rescuers to provide food, liquids, lights, and send notes to and from the mine. All of the trapped miners were successfully rescued after almost 70 days. A few months before another Chilean  mine collapsed on the workers without the same success.

Since 1967, it is mandatory to hang the Chilean flag in a proper condition from every public building. Failure to abide by the regulation can lead to fines of up to 40,000 pesos. The colors and symbols on the Chilean flag stand for: white – the snow of the Andes Mountains; blue – the sky and the Pacific Ocean; the star – guidance and progress; red – the blood spilled in the fight for independence.

Fly safe,

JAZ