invasive species

Galapagos Islands...like no place else on Earth.

Galapagos Islands...like no place else on Earth.

by Betsy Herbert

My flight into Mariscal Sucre Airport, just outside of Quito, Ecuador, was the scariest of my year-long journey around the world. As the flight from Buenos Aires approached Quito, nestled at 8,200 feet in the Andes, I had a birdseye view of the city. The buildings of Quito snake up the sides of the huge mountains and around the lips of canyons that wind between them.

The airport runway sits atop a long narrow ridge top, edged on either side by steep canyons. As we approached the landing strip, the winds were blowing fiercely, buffeting our plane from side to side. Just 5 - 10 feet above the runway, the plane was wobbling so much that the pilot suddenly nosed it up, goosed it, and, and as we all hung on to our seats, he urged the plane slowly upward in preparation for another landing attempt. During the 10 - 15 minutes we circled the airport, as the heavy winds continued, I popped a Lorazepam, which I kept on hand just for such occasions.

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Easter Island's ancient history: Exploring the mysteries

Easter Island's ancient history: Exploring the mysteries

by Betsy Herbert

I've always been fascinated by the mysteries of Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui), which lies in the Pacific Ocean 2,400 miles west of Chile's mainland. One of the most remote populated islands in the world, Easter Island's nearest inhabited island, Pitcairn, lies 1,289 miles to its east.

Some of the remaining questions about Easter Island's ancient past include: How did people first get here? Why and how did they build the enormous stone figures that Easter Island is famous for, how did the island become a wasteland, and why did the population of Easter Island crash between 1500 and 1700 CE?

Easter Island, a province of Chile, is now relatively easy to visit. My flight from Tahiti took five hours. Easter Island was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Most of the island now lies within the Rapa Nui National Park, and there are plenty of accommodations in the main city of Hanga Roa.

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New Zealand: A bump in the road in a sojourner's dreamscape

New Zealand: A bump in the road in a sojourner's dreamscape

by Betsy Herbert

When I first arrived in New Zealand, I had just broken off a romance with a man whom I had hoped to travel with here. I had discovered--by sleuthing on his Facebook page--an irrefutable trail of deceit that left me no alternative but to end the relationship.

So, here I was on my own in New Zealand, reeling from a disheartening betrayal. But, as I’ve said in previous blogs, life goes on while you’re traveling. . . and this was just a bump in the road.

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Thailand is for glitz: Temples, teak, elephants and ladyboys

Thailand is for glitz: Temples, teak, elephants and ladyboys

by Betsy Herbert

Just three hours after my flight left the New Delhi airport at 10 a.m. October 26 bound for Bangkok, the magnitude 7.5 Hindu Kush earthquake struck South Asia. Though the earthquake’s epicenter was in Afghanistan, there were hundreds of casualties in Pakistan and the tremors in New Delhi sent thousands of panicked people into the streets. I didn't learn of the earthquake until just after I arrived in Bangkok.

I had a few days to kill in Bangkok before meeting up with my next tour group, Intrepid Travel’s “30-day Indochina Loop,” which included Thailand, and later Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

I quickly learned that the Thais really know how to put on a show. Glitz is everywhere. . . in the ornate temples, the golden Buddhas, the orchestrated elephant performances, and the brash "Ladyboy" shows.

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