National Geographic

Samoa by Emily Kaplan

We were greeted at the airport with leis and by a group of performers…it really got you in the mood of the island. Then once we arrived at the hotel there was another group performing their traditional dance…it was pretty cool…and at the same time really humid :o) It was very nice to have 3 hours to just relax and have time to take in the beautiful scenery. That evening we had dinner and with some more Samoa entertainment. Since we were here for less than 24 hours…the photos are just quick shots taken around the hotel and a few at dinner. Next stop Australia and the Daintree Rain Forest.

Easter Island by Emily Kaplan

Before we landed our pilot did a fly by so we could get a great view of the island. We were greeted with leis and taken to our first Moai site. The hotel I stayed in was like staying with long time family friends…a great place but sadly no view of the water…instead I could see the plane on the runway as I walked to the main house. The flora was beautiful! If you’re a horse lover you would be in heaven on Easter Island…they say there are about 4000 horses roaming around. You would see them everywhere…on your way to breakfast, in town and hanging out at the airport. One of our hikes led us right by a big group of them…a really great view of them by the ocean. You wouldn’t believe the color of the ocean down here…pretty much the same colors of an Aqua Fina bottle…but stronger…and truly spectacular!

We visited several Moai sites and on the last night our photographer, Bob Krist, took us to one of the sites for some night photography. The weather and skies were perfect. The funny thing about going out to this site was there was a guy there who had read an article Bob had written about painting the statues with light on Easter Island and was there following it to like a great recipe. We got some nice twilight photos of the Maoi statues. What a great night!

The next morning we got up early…which isn’t anything new on this trip…and headed out for one last great view of the island. I’m so glad this place made the cut…if you every visit Chili…you should definitely take a fews days to explore Easter Island!

Peru by Emily Kaplan

First stop...Lima, Peru...llama or alpaca?

We arrived in the early evening and headed directly to a museum for a quick little tour and a wonderful first dinner. People were still getting to know each other, but I think it was my Peruvian dance moves demonstration that set the tone for the rest of the trip. Someone said afterwards that Dancing with the Stars had called for me. This is a great group…even if at times I feel like I have crashed a retirement camp :o)

The next morning we had breakfast at after breakfast we boarded a bus and headed back to the airport for a short flight to Cusco. On the way there I learned that after the discos closes around 5am the thing to do is to head to a restaurant for some chicken soup…apparently this helps them find their way home…no Taco Bell or I-Hop for these Peruvians. One woman thought they were very religious because they were walking the streets all dressed up on Sunday morning…when actually they had just left the clubs.

There are also a lot of casinos in Lima…the translation for slot machine in Peru is coin swallower…man they got that right. So we make it to the airport and are heading through their tight security…nothing gets my them…not even a machine gun…if I knew how to post a photo from my iPhone I’d show you the photo of the big clear box of weapons they have collected from passengers…ok…the gun may have been a fake…but it was pretty funny since they had us worried about even bringing a pencil on board.

We arrive in Cusco really early and head straight to a ruin site (sounds like sexy woman) that overlooks the city. There were several Peruvians selling their crafts and dressed up for photos…this was the first time I have ever tipped someone for a photograph…really takes away from the candidness of it all when they're expecting to be paid for each photo. The city itself was nice…I wish we would have had more time to explore the streets of Cusco, but since I really enjoyed visiting Machu Picchu I might have another chance someday. We stayed at an old Monastery…the food here was incredibly good…especially the alpaca...yes alpaca.

On the second day we took a 3 hour train ride down to Machu Picchu. Not knowing what I was getting myself into I decided to hike the Sun Gate trail with a couple of friends from the trip…we had spectacular views and luckily missing the rain. Hopefully you will get somewhat of an idea from the photos…I’ll have to point out which mountain it was that we climbed. Next stop Easter Island.