Today I experienced the feeling of flight, 12,000 feet above the snow-capped Southern Alps of New Zealand. My first sky-dive! I can barely describe the sensation of sitting aboard a plane, strapped to a complete stranger who I put my full faith and trust in, peering out the window at the most magestic views, knowing that in moments I will be floating above such splendor. This is perhaps the most stimulating 45 seconds of a high that is difficult to put into words. I lost my breath as we so casually fell out of the plane into the inviting sky. The parachute all too quickly opened as I floated back to earth, ending the physical sensation while the soul continued to soar. This feeling I will keep with me for the length of this journey…and yes, I am addicted to this high and desire to jump again! For the moment I will remain safely on ground.
Queenstown is a place where dreams are born. Every morning I wake up to views of ‘The Remarkables’, the mountains overlooking Lake Wakatipu. The scenes look much like a painting, with hues of grays and blues that appear to be created from a well mixed palette. I can sit and gaze for hours with the many thoughts that have taken residence in my head, as the clouds pass by the mountains reminding me that I am still in fact on this earth. One afternoon we rode in the gondola to the top of the mountain and zipped around the crisp air in a luge. What an adrenaline filled joy ride! This is indeed one of the most spectacular places on this earth that I have had the privilege to acquaint myself with.
We arrived in Auckland after several long flights with a stopover in LA where my most kind friend Monica collected us. Following a little shopping spree for items we thought we could not live without (small guilty pleasures!) We flew off again. Thank you Monica!
Auckland is a small city filled with a calm energy, and the most delightful Kiwis! Our time there was brief, one evening I ventured to Viaduct Harbour, a scenic part of town filled with fine eateries and pubs, as well as views of the sunset. One afternoon was spent on Waiheke Island, the island of wine. I tasted several Pinot Noirs, the specialty of the region. On another note of hedonism, I indulged in the best homemade chocolate in a trendy part of town called Parnell. This of course is all part of my savouring of the local tastes! Here too is where I experienced my first encounter with a casino at the Sky Tower. How deprived I have been all these years! I could barely pull myself away from those sneaky machines which seemed to entice me with several wins prior to ridding me of any ‘spare change’ in my pockets. What (innocent) fun!
Tomorrow begins a long journey as we bid farewell to one continent and g’day to another. In three days time we will feel the air of New Zealand followed by Australia. How strange and wonderful is the sensation of travel! I dearly value this time inbetween. Time to sit and reflect upon that which has been seen and felt. The fortuitous experiences that have settled into memories. This cherished time is often spent high above the space where these memories were created. Sitting aboard a plane, a temporary vessel where time seems to stand still. It is within this moments that I bask in the anticipation of what is to come in the chapters ahead, as I smile in fond recollection at the pages that have already been written.
I was not sure what to expect arriving in Santiago, Chile, other than great wine. It is a rather non-descript city. A safe and comfortable place to live and work where you can enjoy a good quality of life. There is a European flair here, particularly in my favorite bohemian neighborhood, Bellavista, with many outdoor cafes and galleries. That is where we found the home of Pablo Naruda, as well as beautiful murals exhibiting his likeness and poetry. He was quite a witty man and had a most particular design sensibility. His home was created to feel as though you are on a boat, crooked floors, low ceilings, circular windows…ironically, he was afraid of the sea.
I am certain that Machu Picchu will become the eighth wonder of the world, this lost Incan city, where women were valued on intellect and often held as high (if not higher) a court than men. What wise people! With lungs filled with awe I entered this world, and mine no longer seemed to exist. The air was crisp as a light rain fell. Clouds formed a delicate halo over the mountain peaks. I tried to imagine the lives lived so many years ago. I felt great peace amidst this Incan land, a city where now only the Alpacas found shelter. Cuzco itself is a glorious city, the oldest inhabited city of the continent, very much alive with locals and visitors alike. I was taken with its charm and beauty, though it is driven highly by tourism and aggressive street vendors. We toured many of the ruins of this Incan city and dined in a traditional Peruvian eatery where ceviche was our appetizer and Andean music and dancers our entree. What a pleasure it is to indulge in the local tastes and sounds!
During our two days in Lima we stayed in Miraflores, an elegant part of the city not far from the beach. Plaza de Armas, in the heart of central Lima, was a beautiful central square exhibiting a royal fountain. It was Cuzco however, that left the grandest impression. As I journey to Santiago, my thoughts remain with the Incas…