Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Easter Island - Rapa Nui

Easter Island (or Rapa Nui) lies in the Pacific Ocean, nearly 3700 km. to the west of the Chilean coast. This is the most famous and mysterious of Chilean islands. Geographically and culturally belongs not to America, but to Polynesia. This is the most remote island on the planet, because the nearest inhabited place is situated in 2500 km. from him.

Easter Island or Rapa Nui, as the locals call it - is of volcanic origin. The origins of the ancient culture of Rapa Nui is still unknown to science, and a number of existing versions and suppositions can not give answers to all the riddles posed by the world of Easter Island. The main mystery of the island - is the origin of the giant stone moai statues, standing with the back to the sea in different places of Rapa Nui. You can visit volcanoes, is a cult centers of the ancient inhabitants of the island, to see their petroglyphs and other traces of a vanished culture. The entire population of Easter Island lives in the village of Hanga Roa. On the island there are hotels and all tourist amenities. Beautiful subtropical climate and beautiful beaches with warm ocean are available all year-round. The island is accessible only by planes of Chilean airline Lanchile, several times a week, doing the the flights from Santiago.

Places visited by the tourists:
Ahu Vinapu - the church in which sculptures resemble stonework of the Incas - proofs that the first inhabitants of the island were people from South America.

Rano Kau - Volcano - one of most interesting sight on Easter Island.

Orongo city - home in the city, made of stone lighthouses, were restored, and the rock that surrounds the city, remained intact. Pictures of people-birds are cut out (Tangata Manu, Tha Manu Tara, Makemake).

Ahu Tahai - fortress, restored in the late 60's by the American archaeologist William Mullou. This temple is 7 th century is the oldest architectural structure on the island, which represents 3 different types of gravestones (ahu): Ahu Ko Te Riky (a huge statue (moai) weighing 20 tons with a symbolic stone on his head, 690 AD ), Ahu Vai Uki (group of 5 statues) and Ahu Tahai.

Rano Raraku - a quarry, in which all the statues (moai) carved out of soft tufa of the volcano. The height of many sculptures up to 6 m and they weigh several tons. Deceased family members are usually laid in a crypt under the statue.

Ahu Akahanga - a plate, which is a long stone pillar with 4 fallen statues, a place which according to legend is the grave of one of the first king of the island Hoto Matua. Ahu Tongariki - the largest gravestone ever built on the island, was destroyed by the tsunami in 1960, then re-restored and now all 15 statues are standing together in a row.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Nazca Lines

Nazca Desert - is a desert plateau on the southern coast of Peru. Nazca received worldwide fame due to an ancient Indian culture, which flourished in 3 - 8 century BC. It were they who created the famous
Nazca lines-drawings, which are visible even from space.

Nazca were farmers and were treated with fertile plains along the Pacific coast of Peru. They left no evidence of their writing system: all the known facts about them have been obtained by studying the burial places of the Nazca and found objects.

Civilization of the ancient Nazca Indians got its name from the river in a valley which had been discovered monuments of this culture - the mysterious giant drawings. These pictures are mainly located on the cliffs along the Rio Grande and its tributaries, in the extremely arid zone between the valleys of Ica and Nazca.

Who and what created these images still remains a mystery. The world's largest product of graphic art encompasses an area of ​​520 sq. km. Open to the world they were in 1941 when they went to study American archaeologist Dr Paul Kosok from Long Island University. These lines, drawn in red rock desert, represent more than 100 known plants, animals and simple geometric shapes, as well as a scattering of obscure, not related to each other straight lines.

All figures in the desert were performed by one and the same way: the surface layer of reddish rock continuous line scratched before lying beneath a pale yellow rock. Apparently, this was done manually. The lines are so straight that there is an assumption that the staves were used to draw them. Still remains a mystery how a painter could so accurately adhere to plan and achieve the effect of straight line at such large distances.

According to one theory is that all these shapes and lines represent "the largest astronomy world book." These images show the location of stars and constellations at different times of the year used by ancient Nazca to determine the exact time of plowing, sowing and other important "phases" of the agricultural cycle. On another, more modern version, is that some of the mysterious lines can actually point to the underground water sources. The ancient inhabitants of Nazca, perhaps, have noted the location of their distribution system of water supplies, because during the drought they were more reliable sources of potable and irrigation water than the rivers.

How to see the Nazca drawings?
To do this, go to the provincial Peruvian town located about 450 km south of Lima. Here, from the airport every 5-10 minutes rises a little four-seater plane, at an altitude of several hundred meters to make a half-circled figures.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Titicaca Lake

Titicaca Lake - a lake in the mountains of the Andes, located on the border between Peru and Bolivia, the Altiplano plateau. This is the largest lake in South America and the world's highest navigable lake.

25 rivers flow into the lake which are flowing down from the glaciers surrounding the Altiplano and follows the river Desaguadero. Water salinity is about 1 ‰, so Titicaca is a freshwater lake.

Titicaca Lake is the largest alpine lake in the world, it 'climbed' to a height of 3,812 meters. Alpine basin is formed as a result of ancient tectonic events, it is assumed that the lake was part of a larger body of water, sea or ocean.

There are different opinion on how to translate the name of the lake. "Titicaca Lake" is translated from the Aymara means "sacred stone". Another legend says that Lake Titicaca - is a "stone cougar", if you look at him with a bird's-eye view, you can see the outlines of this animal, surrounded by mountains. The second translation is "tin box". This justifies the name of a specific color of the water in the pond.

Tourists familiar with Lake Titicaca in Puno start - a city founded in 1668 near the mine, where silver was mined. Beside the lake, and tourists interested in the islands, which are naturally swim on the lake with all its population. A total of 32 natural lake of the island. 6 of them became a shelter for foreign tourists, they are called - "the island hotels". This Estebes, Amangani, Taquile, Soto - in the Peruvian part of the lake and Sun and Moon Islands are in the territory of Bolivia.

In addition to these "settled" Islands in the Bay of Puno there are also 44 floating islands - artificial one. They are collectively known as "Uros" - on behalf of their inhabitants - the Indians, numbering about 1200 people.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rio's Dark Side - 'Favelas'...Favelas history...

Brazilians are convinced that Rio de Janeiro - is the most beautiful city in the world. This city, lying between the ocean and mountains, really, one can enjoy any time of day and weather conditions ... Along the beaches are lined up fashionable districts, smaller houses climb up the green hillsides ... If watched nearly these houses do not produce such an idyllic impression - it turns out, these are not cozy villas how it seem from a distance, but are the usual slums built from what "God has gave". Such districts surround most major cities in Brazil. Here they are called favelas.

Favela history

A favela is the Brazilian name for what's often called a shanty town or slum.

The illegal settlements emerged in the late 1800s when dispossessed former slaves and soldiers gathered together as socio-economic outcasts. Favelas grew more rapidly in the 1950s when swarms of Brazilians swapped urban for rural in pursuit of work.

The critically-acclaimed 2002 film City of God about life in a 1970s favela showed a lawless underworld, where bullets made the law. At the last count Rio has 513 favelas and, with the exception of occasional heavily armed raids targeting drug lords, the police stay well clear.

The notorious neighbourhoods are often positioned on the hills in the centre of Rio, on what would otherwise be prime real estate. It's a small poetic justice that the city's poorest citizens have millionaire views.

The labyrinthine streets are narrow and dark, with electrical cables and graffiti everywhere. It smells bad and there is no mistaking the water running in the gutters is sewage.
The word "Favela" is, apparently, from the Portuguese "favo" - "honeycomb". And indeed, this assemblage of clinging little houses resembles a beehive. Its inhabitants mainly work as porters, taxi drivers, waiters in traditional neighborhoods of Rio ... However, street criminals in the city are also mostly people of the favelas. At the same time, the favelas live their own no-prying eyes life. The appearance of strangers, especially fair-skinned, is not welcome.