Posts Tagged 'adventure travel'

Remembering Valentines & Romance in Kathmandu

“Do what you love and love will follow,” my mother told me.

So I took off alone around the world to walk, hike, climb, cycle and kayak my way through six continents and more than 70 countries around the world.   Along the way I never celebrated Valentine’s Day.

I was sitting on a low sofa in the lobby of the Kathmandu Guesthouse having just returned from the trails of Annapurna. I hadn’t washed my hair in ten days; the last thing on my mind was romance.

Then, I saw his legs: long, lean and muscular. I heard he was leaving the next morning for a month’s trek to Mt. Everest. Our paths crossed for one moment. Long enough to light a spark.

I continued my travels for another year (alone). And, within days of my return to San Francisco, we met again at a mutual friend’s party. Romance, then marriage.

It was meant to be.

 

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The Insanity of Learning to Surf at my Age – On the North Shore of Oahu

Learning to Surf on the North Shore of Oahu

I can remember exactly the first time I felt I had to surf….against all expectations, as I am uncomfortable in the ocean when my feet don’t touch a sandy bottom. Surf movies were projected onto the walls of the hip restaurant where we celebrated my daughter’s birthday.  Watching surf movies is like seeing poetry come to life.

The scene of a young woman on her board, freely gliding atop a wave 10 times her size seduced me, even though I knew that as with skiing, surfing is best learned when you’re young and flexible in body and mind.

The image of me on the surf board became another “must do” on my bucket list of adventures. I wondered if it was crazy to try to surf in my 50’s.

Recently, when planning a family vacation to Hawaii, I saw a promotional photo of a girl on a surf board outside the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu. That’s it, I thought. I’ll book the surf lessons for myself and my two college-age daughters. My husband was less enthusiastic, but I had to give it a shot, and with my daughters urging me on, maybe I’d have the courage to try. We grabbed our suitcases and good books and took off for Turtle Bay, a non-stop flight from San Francisco and then only an hour drive from the Honolulu Airport.

The north shore boasts big waves, large enough to drown you or throw you up on the rocks and crush you. It’s a Mecca for the world’s top surfers and competitions. All my life I’ve sat on the shore watching the surfers and finally said to myself, “I have to get out there and confront my fear of the ocean. I’ll never have better company than my athletic daughters and I may not have the opportunity to take lessons at a surf school as renowned as Hans Hedemann’s at the Turtle Bay Resort. “Go for it,” I remember my mom telling me so many times.

Surf lessons with my daughters

We were given thin wet suits and long boards and instructions on the sand, and then into the breakers we paddled. Our buff teacher Tom floated at the crest of the waves near us and called me to paddle over and get ready. Bobbing up and down, he watched and waited for the perfect wave for me, then with a push, a spin and a yelp, I paddled out of the wave. On my belly, counting to three, following his instructions, I tried to stand up, wobbled and crashed.  “The wipe-outs are part of the fun,” I remember Tom saying.  Tumbling downward into the pit of the wave, I felt the whole power of the ocean above me. There was no time to be scared. Suddenly a force pulled me by my ankle up to the surface. There was no time to wonder if it was a supernatural power helping me out. With a snap, tug and a pull from the surfboard strap I was propelled upward.

Sputtering and dazed, I surfaced and looked out to the wave line where I saw my daughters smiling with thumbs up. “OK, time to try again,” I thought.

Then they took their turns and gracefully stood up, balanced and rode their waves. We were all hooping and yelling encouragement to each other.

I paddled back out to the instructor, feeling my strength and pumping up my courage. What did I do wrong? Tom said, “Let go of it. Don’t count or think, just feel the wave.” He pushed me off for the second try and started paddling into the rushing wave. I had the sensation I was dancing and that I’d been on that wave all my life. I stood up and rode it in. It was pure euphoria.  For the rest of the day I managed to ride every wave, something I never thought I would be allowed to do. The ocean touched me on the nose and said, “That was for you.”  For a few seconds I was one with the wave.

Learning to surf is one of the harder things I’ve done in my life, but it’s also immensely gratifying. It requires both great focus and tremendous effort to paddle out and get on the wave. You need to be highly observant to understand what’s happening around you, while simultaneously letting everything go and allowing your instincts to guide you. If you’re not 100-percent present, you might get unlucky and get hurt.

Out there bobbing in the waves of the North Shore of Oahu, I had to deal with the ocean, the fear, the survival and the challenge – all alone. You truly are on your own.

After the surf lessons I was sore for days and I stayed close to the pool, the Jacuzzi, and the sand beach at Turtle Bay Resort. But I knew something had changed in me—the way I feel about myself. I did it — I surfed –even at my age.

National Geographic Radio, Hear the inside story about Rapa Nui – Easter Island

My interview with Boyd Matson, National Geographic Radio, XM Radio, NPR will be aired the first two weekends in February, depending upon your location.  The Easter Island Program will also be streamed on the National Geographic Website:

and by Feb. 20th, the program will be available on itunes.

The question I’m asked the most is:

Where is Easter Island

In the middle of nowhere, no really, it’s roughly equal distance from Tahiti and Peru and Chile, at 29′ South latitude. That means 2,400 miles from land, in the southern and eastern most area of what’s considered Polynesia.

It’s a long way!

How do you get there?

My trip took 12 hours; an hour to Los Angeles, then 8 hours from LAX to Lima, Peru on LAN.

American, Alaska, Qantas, JAL, Cathy Pacific, British Airways and LAN are all part of the OneWorld Alliance, so pool your miles and upgrade to Business for a lie-down bed and great meals and wine.

Then I had a good night’s sleep in lovely hotel, Libertador (a well known, upscale brand in Peru), and then a full day tour of Lima.

What to do during a lay-over in Lima?

Again, friends asked me if Lima is safe for tourists. That depends upon where you go and how savvy you are. I recommend you hire a guide for the day.  Mountain Lodges of Peru has day guides, and Roberto, our charming, well-educated guide  was excellent.  He showed us all the highlights — Plaza San Martin, San Isidro, Miraflores, Museo Larco — and he saved us time, and ensured our safety. (By the way, Mountain Lodges of Peru’s website is awesome. You’ll want to spend more time in Peru after perusing the site).

 

Thanks to LAN Airlines for sponsoring my visit.

 

 

Shorter flights from Peru to Easter Island

How remote is it? Close enough for a several day “add-on” to a trip to Peru

Easter Island, known as Rapa Nui (pronounced Rapa New-ee) is known as of the most remote inhabited island in the world, and a five-star world heritage site.

New direct LAN flights from Peru just made the trip easier and shorter. It’s only a 4 ½ hour flight from Lima. That’s shorter than the flights from the West Coast to Hawaii.

Yes, the flight from LAX to Lima is 8 hours, but if you’re in South America already, a three night side-trip is easier than ever.

The other gateway city is Santiago, Chile, but the new direct flights from Lima cut off several hours.

And if you fly in Business Class you’ll get a flat sleeper chair. Use your One World miles for an upgrade and enjoy the extensive wine list (for an airplane), rack of lamb or salmon.

Where in the world is Easter Island? A Speck in the Pacific Ocean

The coast of Chile and Peru is 2,400 miles and a 5-6 hour flight away and just about as far from Tahiti in the other direction. The nearest inhabited island is Pitcairn, 1,200 miles to the west.(of HMS Bounty and Mutiny fame).

Native Eastern Islanders or Rapa Nuians, called their home the Navel of the World. When you fly for 5-6 hours across the Pacific Ocean at 27′ South Latitude that’s how it feels.

Easter Island is one of the world’s most famous, yet least visited World Heritage Sites.


About Marybeth Bond

Marybeth Bond is the nation’s preeminent expert on women travel. She is the award-winning
author-editor of 11 books.

Marybeth has hiked, cycled, climbed, dived and kayaked her way through more than seventy countries around the world.

She was a featured guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Marybeth has appeared on CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, National Public Radio and National Geographic Weekend.

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