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Fab South America Travel

    Fab South America Travel

    Iorana Rapa Nui – A Lifelong Dream

    Location: Easter Island

    A Lifelong Dream

    Everything about Rapa Nui was stunning, but like most visitors I had my favorites. And like most visitors my two favorite sites were the Ranu Raraku quarry site and the Ahu Tongariki.   Upon laying your eyes on these two sites for the first time you conjure a list of adjectives; breathtaking, fascinating, interesting, surprising, remarkable. At one point I had to just stop and breathe deep – and remind myself how

    The Quarry Site

    The Quarry Site

    remarkable it all was, and how remarkable it was that I was standing there.

    A lifelong dream – It did not disappoint.

    In all the years I had seen pictures of Easter Island, it was the photos of the scattered moai of the Ranu Raraku quarry that struck me most. I honestly didn’t understand the significance of the quarry site until I was standing there. Up until that point I thought the moai I had seen photos of were placed at this site for a reason. Not the case.

    All the moai at this site, nearly 400 statues, were in some stage of carving. It was the moai factory and it’s clearly evident there was significant work going on in the “tuff” – the volcanic stone found on this IMG_8557mountain. Today as we stand among the discarded statues in various stages of completeness the question that goes through your mind is why? What happened for the moai carving at the quarry to end so abruptly? Why are these hundreds of unfinished statues here? Where were they meant to eventually go? Including the largest moai to be carved out of this mountain, the 69 foot tall giant that sits abandoned in his bed of stone.

    A lifelong dream – So many new questions.

    Walking among the stone statues you see the carved faces standing at different angles. Some were already on the move. Others toppled face down. Others still attached to the mountain, never given the opportunityfor the carver to finish the job. Fascinating.

    The largest moai ever found - 69 feet

    The largest moai ever found – 69 feet

    Archeologists believe all tribes shared this quarry and that each moai could take up to 2 years to carve. A master carver would work with a crew, perhaps family members of the person the moai was memorializing.

    Each statue was carved face up, with the carver doing the facial features of the moai before finally chipping it away and releasing it from the mountain. The moai would then be slid down the mountain before being lowered over a ledge and tilted up right. At this point final details on the back of the moai would be completed before the statue would begin the “walk” to its final destination. If the moai toppled, either in the quarry or along the route, the “mana” would be released and it would be abandoned – the family would need to begin the process all

    Seeing the quarry as you approach from the road

    Seeing the quarry as you approach from the road

    over.

     

    One of the most interesting facts we learned from our host and guide Paul (http://www.tekarera.com/accommo.htm) was that these statues, which seem to just be heads, all have full bodies under ground. Over the hundreds of years the moai have stood at attention waiting patiently, the soil has eroded and moved and covered their lower bodies, nearly up to their necks. Archaeologists think it is better to keep them buried to preserve them longer from the harsh elements of the island.

    Walking near the highest point of the quarry you survey the scene below; scattered moais all about; the ocean in the near distance; and then you see it – Ahu Tongariki and your breath catches. From on top the quarry, Ahu

    The view of Tongariki from high up on the quarry site

    The view of Tongariki from high up on the quarry site

    Tongariki looks like chess pieces for a giant’s chess game, in the valley below.

    A lifelong dream – A surreal image.

    Ahu Tongariki is the largest ahu that has been restored on the island, and also one of the most recent, being completed in 1996. The massiveness of this site is mind-boggling. Clearly a powerful family history is represented in these 15 restored moai and the surrounding unrestored statues, petroglyphs and site. Ahu Tongariki is the largest ceremonial altar anywhere in Polynesia.

    A lifelong dream – We visited this site three different times during our time on Rapa Nui.

    It’s unknown when the moai of Ahu Tongariki were first toppled, but it is known that a massive 9.5

    The entrance to Tongariki

    The entrance to Tongariki

    earthquake in 1960 in Chile resulted in a tsunami wave as high as 11 meters that engulfed this side of the island and carried the moai that were laying face down, even further inland. When restoration began in 1992 (incredibly funded by the Japanese government and a private Japanese businessman but conducted by the University of Chile and Archaeologist Claudio Cristino) the moai were in bad shape.

    Today, looking at this beautiful exhibit of historic significance nestled in this incredibly gorgeous setting; it’s hard to imagine what it must have looked like back then. The 2 million dollar restoration has created one of the most iconic sites I have ever seen.

    During our week on Easter Island watching the sunrise at Tongariki was a highlight. Well worth the vacation alarm clock. A once in a lifetime view.

    Sunrise at Tongariki

    Sunrise at Tongariki

     

    A lifelong dream – Everyone should try to see it.

    I know not everyone has the means or even the desire to travel to Easter Island. But if you do I recommend staying at least five days. We were there six days and wished we had a couple more days to do more hiking. You want to see the sites on “island time”, and slow down and enjoy the laid back Rapanui lifestyle. I can’t imagine visiting for only 6 hours as part of a cruise ship – it just would not be worth it. Stay for a week, visit our friend Paul at Tekarera Hotel, and slow down to Rapa Nui pace.

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    Having fun with our favorite moai

    A lifelong dream.

     

     

     

    Fab South America Travel

    Iorana Rapa Nui – Making a friend named “Girl”

    Location: Easter Island

    The Dogs of Chile and Easter Island

     

    We noticed it right away.  Dogs everywhere.  Roaming freely: un-collared, unleashed, and uncontrolled.

     

    When we asked about the dogs we were told the following story;

    Girl hiking with us

    Girl hiking with us

     

    A decade or so ago a Chilean grad student was doing a study on rabies.  But the dogs he was studying kept being put down by the city he was in.  Turns out this young man’s father was some kind of Government official.  The father pushed through a law that said throughout the country of Chile no municipality could control the dog population.  And therefore, today, all over Chile there are thousands and thousands of dogs.

     

    On Easter Island the dogs roam.  They never seemed aggressive, except when they bark at the horses, which also rove freely.  And the cows, which wander somewhat freely.  The horses seem wild, but they really aren’t.  They have just been left to ramble. Some people capture and brand them, but then still let them  journey freely to wherever the grass grows greenest.  The cows are raised to be used ceremonially, but are not used for milk or cheese because of the lack of refrigeration on the island.  They are also not used for beef, despite the fact

    Girl with me in the cave

    Girl with me in the cave

    the island suffers from lack of food production.  They are only slaughtered to use at funerals or weddings or other celebrations.

     

    All these animals roam the island and live together with the people on the land.

     

    We had a very personal encounter with one dog during our visit to Easter Island.  Near the end of our visit we spent an entire day hiking along the coast.  We ended up hiking about ten miles that day.  It was a hot and dusty hike.

     

    About a quarter of a mile into our hike a small yellow dog ran at full speed past us to some horses that were grazing up ahead.   She started barking and harassing the horses.

    Girl relaxing with my husband in the shade

    Girl relaxing with my husband in the shade

     

    Then, she began to follow us.  For miles and miles she ran ahead of us, tongue lolling.  She would stop and look back to make sure we were still coming and then she would continue to run ahead, barking at horses whenever she came upon them.

     

    This continued, until she was tired.  She began just trotting along right next to us, as if she was ours and had always been a part of our family.  We walked and walked for miles and she stayed with us.  We named her “Girl” and gave her some water and a bite of our sandwich.  When we crawled through a cave she crawled with us.  When I spoke to her she listened.  When we sat in the shade to read our books she laid down next to me (and also tried to climb into my lap).  That “Girl” was mine, and I was hers.

     

    All the way back I worried how we would get rid of her.  Our host Paul at Tekarera Hotel had warned us not

    Girl sitting with me while I read

    Girl sitting with me while I read

    to bring dogs home (as other tourists had done). As we neared the town we started to point and tell her to go home.  She stayed back and then followed us at a distance.  We kept telling her “No.  Go Home.”

     

    Eventually, she gave us one long last mournful look and trotted off.  I was sad.  I think she was too.

     

    Off to home?  Or off to find another gullible tourist to claim for the day?  I don’t know, but she was a wonderful companion and tour guide.

     

    Thanks for the memories Girl. IMG_2128

    Fab South America Travel

    Iorana Rapa Nui – Sunrise, Sunset

    Location: Easter Island

    Sunrise. Sunset

     

    I know I have mentioned this before, but let me say it again.  Life should include a few more sunrises.

    Sunrise on Wollochet Bay

    Sunrise on Wollochet Bay

     

    It seems to me most people make an effort to witness a beautiful sunset as often as possible.  However, a beautiful

    Sunrise Tanzania 2009

    Sunrise Tanzania 2009

    sunrise is often missed.  Mornings can be rushed, or we are still asleep.

     

    Sunrise does not get the respect it deserves.

    Sunrise at Tongariki, Rapa Nui 2015

    Sunrise at Tongariki, Rapa Nui 2015

     

    Give me a sunrise and I am inspired and motivated with promise.  Give me a sunrise and I am energized and renewed with vigor.  Give me a sunrise and I am excited and fulfilled with awe.  A new day; a new beginning; a new start.

     

    Peru 369

    Sunrise Machu Picchu 2010

    I love a good sunset, but give me a sunrise and break the day open with all that promises the future.  Fresh.  Novel.  Renewed.

     

    Welcome this day and all it holds.

     

    Go.  Be.  Fabulous.

    Sunrise Death Valley 2013

    Sunrise Death Valley 2013

    Fab South America Travel

    Iorana Rapa Nui – Seeing is Believing

    Location: Easter Island

    Seeing is Believing

     

    IMG_1869

    The Tahai site

    There are numerous theories. Some hotly debated; others proven wrong. Still others, developing. Will we ever really know for sure how those ancient people managed it? How in the world did they move the giant statues (moai) of Easter Island 15 miles or more and what happened to the ancient people and their society?

     

    I have spent the last week on this surprisingly beautiful island and I have been inspired and informed. What a most remarkable place it is. I feel so blessed to have been witness to it; knowing how few people will ever stand among the stone statues. To have been one is a true blessing.

     

    By luck or fate, I know not which, we booked a hotel owned by an American man who has spent most of his life studying and restoring and developing his own theories of Rapa Nui and the statues. Paul Pownall (http://www.tekarera.com/tour.htm) imparted to us a wealth of information that our curious minds devoured and had us asking for more. Paul’s unique perspective on the culture, the history and the current Rapa Nui was a perfect mix of information, facts, stories and myths – as well as first hand knowledge.

     

    This is the first in a series of blogs I will post regarding our amazing time on Rapa Nui – Isla de Pascua – Easter Island. (Watch for more blogs in the days and weeks ahead as I catch up, including blogs on the moai quarry, the Birdman, hiking, caving, dogs, sunrise and of course, food).

     

    Our host Paul first came to Easter Island in 1968 at the age of 16 to spend six months with William Mulloy – one of a handful of archeologists whose work over decades on the island made an important impact.

     

    The first site we visited in our tours with Paul (we toured with Paul and also stayed at his hotel, Tekarera, http://www.tekarera.com/tour.htm) was the Tahai site. A stone’s throw from our hotel, this restored site is the closest to the town of Hanga Roa. During our week on the island we walked to town every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and always on the path right through Tahai. What a view to enjoy.

     

    IMG_1865

    The original eyes would have been coral, but these are cement replacements

    This restored moai (see photo) with the replica eyes is one that is often photographed and seen around the world. It is one of three ahu platforms at this early Rapanui village that was restored by Mulloy and his team, included our friend Paul. We learned from Paul that Tahai is a wonderful example of how the Rapanui lived in communities and families on such sites. Within the Tahai village are ruins of sleeping quarters known as “boat houses” because of their canoe shape, chicken houses, as well as other “replica” structures built recently.

     

    As the first stop in our tour, the restored moai are of course the biggest attraction as you marvel at the size of them and wonder how did they get there? Only secondary are you aware of the importance of the ahu, the raised platform on which the moai rest.

     

    IMG_1916

    Our guide and host Paul talking about the history and restoration of Tahai

    The ahu serve as an important burial ground where bones were buried after cremation. Many of the raised platform ahu are built on top of older ahu and the majority still contains remains of ancestors of the Rapanui people. The island is dotted with ahu everywhere, many without Moai, and after a few days on the island you begin to easily pick out the ahu distinctly as they are different than other random piles of rocks or lava flows once you know what you are looking for.

     

    The current most accepted theory on the how the moai were moved into place on the ahu – sometimes traveling 15 miles or more from the quarry on the other side of the island, is that they walked.

     

    The walking theory holds merit over rolling or sliding or dragging because of the condition of the moai that safely made the journey as well as the numerous deserted moai that fell from the walking position and were left behind. The walking theory uses an analogy of moving a large piece of furniture in your home and how you tilt and turn and “walk” the piece upright using many different methods depending on the terrain you need to cover.

     

    IMG_1919

    Mulloy’s Memorial

    An accepted theory is the statues were carved as a memorial to chiefs and important people on the island. The leaders possessed powerful “mana” and their descendants placed the moai always facing inward (many people believe the statures face the ocean as protectors but this is incorrect) to watch over the people with their powerful mana life force. The walking theory promotes the important Rapanui belief that ‘mana” (a life spirit) was in each moai. If the moai toppled along the route from the quarry the mana was released and the moai no longer was good.  A moai’s mana is particularly important for afterlife as the moai watched over the people and protected them.

     

    The Tahai site is a wonderful way to begin any visit to Rapa Nui and we were blessed (with pure coincidence) to choose a wonderful hotel so near to the site. We visited Tahai every day of our time on Easter Island. The Tahai village site also has a small memorial where Mulloy’s ashes are buried and he is remembered fondly for his contribution to the study and restoration of the moai and ahu of the island.

     

    IMG_1917

    The older and smaller and rounder head found in the ocean

    One additional item I found interesting at the Tahai sight was this smaller round head (see photo), which is very different in style and facial features than the standing restored moai. This head was pulled out of the water behind the large ahu and is thought to be significantly older than the others; supporting the theory that over the hundreds of years that the Rapanui culture was carving and transporting the stone moai the style changed and the skill-level developed.

     

    As I will be writing several more blogs, hopefully more in-depth, about our adventures on Easter Island I thought I should give a quick history of the island and some significant events as they are known. These facts I have lifted from the book “A Companion to Easter Island” by James Grant Peterkin.

     

    • 3 million to 750,000 years ago – the island was formed by three separate volcanic eruptions giving the island its distinctive triangular shape
    • 10,000 years ago – the last volcanic eruption – long before human inhabitants
    • 700AD – first Polynesian settlers arrived from islands of a distance of at least 2000 miles
    • 1000-1600 AD – carving of the stones began as ancestor worship. The mana of the human spirit was believed to be able to influence the outcome of events long after a person’s body left the living.
    • 1722 – while searching for Terra Australis under the flag of the Dutch West Indies Company, Jacob Roggeveen stumbled on the island on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1722. The visit of the first white explorer resulted in skirmishes that killed 12 natives and thus began a demise in the cultural history of the people
    • 1770 Spanish Explorer Felipe Gonzalez laid claim to the island for Spain but never returned to collect
    • 1774 Captain James Cook and the HMS Resolution carrying a very sick and starving crew and Captain visited the island but stayed only briefly not finding fresh water or supplies they so desperately needed
    • 1770-1838 the visit of the three previously mentioned ships began what some historians believe was the demise of the culture and tribal warfare that resulted in the moai being toppled to release the mana. However other theories, including our friend Paul’s, believe the moai were toppled as a result of earthquakes and tsunamis during this period.
    • 1838 – the final year in which outside visitors recorded seeing statues standing
    • 1862 – Peruvian ships began capturing Rapanui natives and enslaving them to work in agricultural fields in Peru. Some 1500 slaves were taken
    • 1877 – the population of Easter Island had dropped due to slave raids and small pox from a one time high of 12,000 to only 111 people. Near extinction
    • 1883 – Easter Island annexed by Chile
    • 1903-1953 – the William Balfour Company leased the island from Chile for sheep farming and actually corralled the natives and forced them to work in the sheep farming trade.
    • 1914 – Katherine Routledge and the Mana Expedition began the first archaeological survey of the island
    • 1935 – Father Sebastian Englert arrived on the island and would spend the next 34 years as a missionary priest there. He is fondly remembered even today.
    • 1953 – After WWII the Chilean Navy occupied the island
    • 1955 – Thor Heyerdahl began his archaeological expedition on the island working to prove his pre-conceived theories, some of which he proved but many he did not. Mulloy was on this team with Heyerdahl
    • 1955-1978 – Mulloy did extensive work and research and restoration on many sites on the island
    • 1956 – Heyerdahl raised the first moai back into place at Anakena
    • 1965 – the Rapanui began a new era with the election of a mayor and in 1966 were granted full Chilean citizenship
    • 1967 – the first LAN fight landed on Easter Island opening up a new world with all the good and bad that comes with it.

     

     

    If you have been to Easter Island or know additional details I encourage you to weigh in, as I am no IMG_2051historian or archeologist, rather just a curious traveler with a desire to share my experiences. I will be posting more in the days ahead.

     

    Until then, Iorana and Mauru – uru.

     

     

     

     

     

    Fab South America Travel

    Mucho Gusto Chile! Wild Whitewater Memories Made!

    Location: Chle

    We’ve been traveling in South America for 17 days now and have seen some

    awesome and beautiful, incredible and historical sites in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.

     

    FullSizeRender copy

    Me back right side on one of the first rapids

    But yesterday was by far our favorite day so far as we rafted the whitewater of the gorgeous Rio Petrohue outside of Puerto Vasa in central Chile.

     

    If you follow my blog closely, you are aware of the overriding theme of adventure; particularly my desire in My Fabulous Fifties to never be afraid to try things. Yesterday was a demonstration of that.

     

    From Puerto Mont we traveled by van about an hour to the lakeside town of Puerto Varas, a beautiful town settled in 1854 by German immigrants on the shores of the huge (338 square miles) Lake Llanquihue. Though the day was overcast it was warmish and comfortable.

     

    I have river-rafted before, but it’s been about 15 years. I was younger and thinner and, well, younger. Yesterday in the van on the way to the river trip I said to my husband, “I don’t plan on getting wet”. He smiled at me. He knew. The river had its own plans.

     

    FullSizeRender

    In the washing machine

    Our guides were fantastic, funny and well informed (www.kokayak.cl). We dressed in skin tight and less than flattering wet-suites. As I pulled on my neoprene garment that presented me as a large black and red sausage I took note of the other guests in our group. My husband and I were definitely the oldest (important note for future reference), with another couple from England closely behind us in age. There was a single woman, from the U.S., probably in her mid-forties and a bit larger than I am, and then the rest of the group of 16 was made up by twenty and thirty-something’s from China, Germany, France, and various other countries.

     

    After a brief safety instruction we settled into our two rafts along the beautiful river that flows out of a high lake in the Andes behind the active volcano of Mount Osorno (a perfect Mount Fuji looking cone) and the dormant Mount Tronador at more than 11,000 feet it resembled Mount Rainier and is a hikers paradise. The terrain of the area is covered in black volcanic ash and the river is lined with a variety of deciduous trees ranging from bamboo to beech as well as gigantic gunera. Stunning.

     

    We maneuvered the raft out into the river and within the first three minutes we were completely soaked from the first set of rapids. Exciting and exhilarating and as I said, the river had other ideas about my staying dry. It wasn’t cold, thanks to the sausage suit, and we were all laughing and trying to catch our breath after the first rapid.

     

    I was stationed in the back of the boat and on the second set of rapids I popped off my seat and went flying into the woman in front of me, but managed to stay in the boat. As we maneuvered through the river it became easier to read the rapids and be more prepared for what was coming. At a couple of really mean looking areas of whitewater our guide had us all get down on the floor of the boat and hang on – and luckily for that, as we were completely engulfed in the washing machine of the river. We came up sputtering and laughing and disoriented; but still in the raft.

     

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    Still smiling!

    We slowed and pulled the rafts into a calm area and we all got out and hiked up to a rocky outcropping, where the guides announced we were going to all jump off the cliff and into the river one by one so they could take our photo. Guests younger and fitter than I declined. Not me. Fabulously Fifty-Five went flying off the cliff in her red and black sausage suite, hitting the water with a big splash and a big smile. Fabulous.

     

    Back in the boat, switching positions, we flowed down the river. We continued to be beat-up by the rapids, but always coming out soaked and happy. In the calmer spots our guide gave us some history and talked about the geography, flora and fauna. He talked about Chile, the food, the wine and much more. It was wonderful.

     

    Approaching the final set of smaller rapids he announced that anyone who wanted to jump over board and ride the rapids feet first down in the water was welcome to do it here. Everyone looked around at each other – who would volunteer? Guess who?

     

    Myself and my husband and two of the twenty-somethings jumped in and were swept up in the whirlpool. Perhaps because I have a high body fat content (nice way of saying it) I was quickly carried off ahead of the others. I was pounded in the face over and over by the rapids and had a moment of panic, as I was unable to get a breath between poundings.

     

    It was over quickly and I hadn’t even had a chance to see what any of the other guests had done as I was swept down stream. Next thing I knew I was the only one left in the water and the raft was heading to pick me up. My darling husband somehow hoisted me up and into the raft where I lay panting and gasping. I announced to everyone in the boat “I sure hope someone got a picture because that was never going to happen again.” Everyone laughed at my expense and it was fabulous.

     

    These are the experiences that make life memorable. Those who didn’t get out of the boat to ride the rapids will have the memory of watching me do it. But I will have the experience of it. Worth a thousand times more.

     

    Put me in the middle of the action until they cart me away. Let me set an example. Let me never be afraid to look silly, have fun, and come up sputtering on the other side. There is no other way to live in My Fabulous Fifties.

     

    Go. Be. Fabulous.

     

     

    Fab South America Travel

    Mucho Gusto Chile! And a Happy Birthday Too!

    Location: Chilean Fjords

    Today is my birthday. Happy Birthday to me. I am 55 today. The Big Five Five. Double Nickels. Yep, half way through those Fabulous Fifties!!!

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    I am spending my fifty-fifth birthday cruising through the Magellan Straight and Chilean Fjords in southern Chile. I’m pretty sure this will be a birthday I won’t soon forget. It got me thinking this morning about passing this day on the calendar fifty-five times. I don’t remember them all, but I remember many, many of those birthdays:

     

    1964 – I remember turning four. J.P. Patches (the local morning T.V. clown) said my name on TV and told me to look under my bed for a present. It was an accordion. Magical.

     

    1966 – I remember turning six. We had just moved into a new town. Scary.

     

    1970 – I remember my tenth birthday party -I even remember my cake. Pink Champagne. Delicious.

     

    1972 – I had a slumber party on my 12th birthday. Exhausting.

     

    1975 – I remember my 15th birthday. I was a cheerleader and we had a basketball game the night of my birthday. Everyone sang to me. Embarrasing.

     

    1976 – the first birthday I spent with the man (boy) who would later become my husband. Romantic.

     

    1977 – my 17th birthday started with my high school girl friends getting me out of bed at 5am to go to breakfast before school. Awesome.

     

    1981 – My 21st birthday. I spent it at “The Coug” the infamous tavern at the college I went to. Painful.

     

    1983 – I turned 23 and celebrated my first birthday as a married woman. I remember I received a watch as a gift from my husband.

     

    1987 – My first birthday as a Mom. Beautiful.

     

    1990 – My husband gave me a 30th birthday party and he used the Christmas lights to put a giant 30 on the roof of the house. Hilarious.

     

    1991 – I turned 31 just nine days after my second son was born. That same week Desert Storm began.

     

    2000 – I turned forty and celebrated with a huge party at our local watering hole the Tides Tavern (noteworthy, I can’t remember any birthdays between 1991 and 2000 while I had little kids at home!) Memorable.

     

    2010 – We returned to that same watering hole to celebrate the BIG 5-0! Empowering.1655890_10205969880354400_1491400087939693806_n

     

    There are many other fabulous memories, but the point of this telling is how important our memories and our history is, and yet, looking forward has much greater value. Today as I spend this day in the beautiful and surprising country of Chile I think about the adventures ahead for me. I never have allowed myself, nor do I intend to now, to think, feel or behave “old”. Old is not a destiny. Living is.

     

    Life worth living – fifty-five and beyond. Fifty-five and alive.

     

    Let’s be fabulously alive in 2015 together. Thank you for your continued support of www.gigharbor-washington.com.

     

    Go. Be. Fabulous!

    Fab South America Travel

    Mucho Gusto! Celebrity Cruises!

    The Heart of the Operation

     

    I took a tour of the kitchen “galley” of the cruise ship. I’ve done this on ships before and always found it absolutely fascinating. And this tour was no different.

     

    On board are 2500 guests from countries around the globe. The ship is also home to crew made up of 34 10930891_10205958414947772_3361456255640622194_nnationalities. It’s a little world all its own. Feeding all of these people, accommodating all of their cultural, religious and health restrictions, while providing delicious and varied dining options is a gigantic undertaking; one that is done with near perfection each and every minute of each and every day, serving approximately 13,000 meals a day.

     

    You have to admit that is impressive. On a seven-day cruise (ours is 14 days) the ship uses –

    • 1500 lbs. of tenderloin
    • 1800 lbs. of whole chicken
    • 1400 lbs. of chicken breast
    • 2700 lbs. of rack of lambs
    • 1200 lbs. of pork loin
    • 700 lbs. of salmon
    • 350 lbs. of tuna
    • 2100 liters heavy cream
    • 3500 dozen fresh eggs
    • 2400 lbs. butter
    • 7000 lbs. potatoes
    • 2100 lbs. onions
    • 1500 lbs. carrots
    • 6300 lbs. romaine
    • 1200 lbs. cookies
    • 450 gallons ice cream
    • 5000 lbs. fresh fruit

     

     

    After taking seven cruises I still believe the food we had on our very first cruise was the best; as was the 10898120_10205958413307731_2750569794050592604_nservice. My husband thinks this is because it was all new and fresh to my naïve eyes. Exciting and new (as they would say on the Love Boat). There might be some truth to that. But I also think as the ships have gotten larger and as cruise ship companies are competing for customers and dollars the effort it takes to provide that same level of care as we had 23 years ago when we took our first cruise is nearly impossible. That is not to say our food or service is not good – because it is – everywhere on the ship but most especially in the dining room.

     

    Taking the tour of the kitchen helps me appreciate even more the “machine” of the cruise ship galley. The bakery is a 24-hour operation. Any bread you are served is never more than 2 hours old. They hand form 8000 breadsticks a day.

     

    There is one person in charge of all ice cream, gelato and sherbet on board. It is all handmade daily. One person’s entire job is to make ice cream all day. Fresh made with fresh produce and ingredients.

     

    There are two chefs in charge of all soups. Soups are made fresh each day, approximately 6 different fresh made soups each day. I have had several soups on board including a spectacular French Onion Soup, Mushroom Soup today for lunch, and last night a Lobster Bisque that took 17 hours to prepare start to finish.

     

    There is an “Executive Chef” overseeing all operations but there are many department chefs as well. There is one chef who is responsible for all the crew dining (the crew have three separate dining areas to choose from), there is one chef who is responsible for the main dining room while another one is responsible for all the “specialty” restaurants. There is one chef in charge of the buffet café while another one is responsible for the “healthy” spa options. There is a chef in charge of all pastries.

     

    Onboard are trained sushi chefs, kosher chefs and chefs whose main job is to make sauces. There are salad chefs, and a chef who makes all garnishes. There are staff whose job it is to fillet the fish in the fish room while other staff are busy managing the pantry and stores.

     

    All proteins come from the United States and need to meet US Health regulations. That means that even though this cruise left from Argentina, there is no Argentine beef on board. Of some disappointment to me was the fact I learned that all the salmon was farm-raised (except the lox which is from Norway). Farm raised salmon to a girl from the great Pacific Northwest is like bland mush -never graces our tables at 10929128_10205958411827694_6484465128682161826_nhome, and I don’t intend to eat it on the ship either. I have had fish twice however, a Branzino Sea Bass and Dover Sole. Both were very good.

     

    I also went to a special presentation where the fish chef demonstrated how to make both the Branzino and the Sole. That was fun to watch and interesting too. I learned all the chefs on board only use Kosher salt in their cooking.

     

    The abundance of fresh produce is remarkable and on a 14-day cruise fresh produce is brought on board three times. They did admit that sometimes in South America they have trouble finding all of the required ingredients they need to follow the Celebrity-wide menu (all ships are serving the same menu), but for the most part they can get anything they wish. My husband and I ordered a kale salad the other night, and the “kale” looked suspiciously like romaine lettuce. It was romaine lettuce. Maybe kale isn’t available in South America? I need to ask this question.

     

    On the tour they talked about their efforts to not waste food, but all the same they are not able to donate unused food due to US Health regulations. On board is a recycling system for all food waste. After four hours on the buffet most food is recycled.

     

    All and all the entire operation is fascinating and I really loved seeing the spectacularly spotless kitchens and crew hard at work. They do an exceptional job and I appreciate it. Several times a day.

     

    Now I’d like a tour of behind the scenes of where they store the wine and alcohol!

     

    Bon App10933814_10205958410107651_2156261537630018030_netit!