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…
There are moments in life when a sensation is felt that remains with you forever. I experienced such a moment atop the Cerro de Monserrate, the mountain overlooking the city center. The air was crisp as the sun was bidding us farewell, welcoming the city lights below, soon to be joined by a sky of stars. The melodies of Enya sounded from the church where complete serenity was found.
Arriving in Bogota left me breathless, literally. Bogota is located 2600 meters above sea level, bordered by the mountain peaks of Mt Monserrate and Mt Guadalupe. I did not know what to expect in this city that sounds of salsa and tastes of coffee, home to several close friends, one of whom joined me on this chapter of my journey, my dear Dave! He placed us safely in the north of the city, near the eateries and nightlife of parque 93. But it was not until I ventured to the center of the city, the old world sector of La Candelaria that I fell in love with Bogota. The streets are cobbled and the buildings are filled with color and charm. This is where most of the political buildings are located, providing perhaps a false sense of safety amidst the many armed guards. Here too are the museums, namely the Museo del Oro (gold museum) which was most impressive, revealing more than 34,000 gold pieces from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia. One of the richest art collections of South America is found at the Donacion Botero, housing the works of Fernando Botero, the most prominent artist of this vibrant land.