Monday, January 9, 2012

Happiness is...the adventure of a lifetime (part 1)

Sorry, about the weird formatting. These refused to load at the end! I'll fix them all when I get home and add links to important things as well...but here's the beginning at least!
Valpariaso, Chile

Pechuae Falls

The Darwin Channel
Hello from South America! I’d hoped to give you a great play by play of my journey but the internet connection is horribly slow on ship and horribly expensive. So, hopefully I’ll still get a photo or two to accompany the posts but you may have to wait until I get back. We’ll see how things go this first time around.

I did want to give you some brief notes on what I’ve been up to so far though. First and foremost I’ve been trying to catch up on my sleep. A couple of days of long travel sans bed (I have never been able to sleep on planes) and multiple time zones and crazy schedules have taken their toll. So, hopefully all of this is coherent! Thursday, though, was our first tour day after meeting up with the tour group. We spent part of the morning on the bus driving through Santiago, Chile seeing the sights there; we rode a funicular to a spectacular overlook, visited the Presidential Palace and Constitution Square and the beautiful cathedral of our Lady of Calaman. (*Disclaimer: hopefully everything is spelled and labeled right. I tried to read signs as often as possible but sometimes I’m going solely on the pronunciations of our tour guides and my Spanish is uber rusty!) Finally we checked into our hotel and went to bed early to prepare for our early morning departure the next day.

Friday we ventured to the coast to the charming city of Valparaiso. It crawls up the hillsides filling every available inch of space and following zero building codes, buildings up and on top of each other and around each other in various precarious positions similar to, though not as picturesque as, many of the coastlines in Greece. (A scary place to be during one of the many earthquakes that occur in the region!) Nearby is the resort town of Vina del Mar where we spent some time walking up and down the boardwalk and eating some delicious ice cream before being ushered back to Valparaiso to board the ship. Our evening was spent eating (I’ve vowed not to step foot on any of the ship’s elevators in order to keep myself from gaining a million pounds!), and enjoying the first of many shows before hitting the sack for some much needed sleep!

Saturday we spent the day at sea doing some more eating (of course), listening to a fascinating lecture about Sir Francis Drake by our guest speaker, S. Michael Wilcox, eating some more, watching the sea float by, reading, napping, eating, being entertained by our personal Elvis impersonator, eating and hmmm, eating! (I’m trying not to get used to the glories of eating two or more desserts with every meal, but it’s not working very well.)

Sunday we docked early in the morning and took tender boats over to Puerto Montt, Chile just in time for the rain shower. We drove along the Pan American Highway through the Lakes Region past the Osorno Volcano (which we couldn’t see through all the clouds) stopping at Petrohue Waterfalls. The falls themselves aren’t overly spectacular, only about a 10 foot drop or so but the water contains silica which forms crystals that reflect the light in such a way that they are a gorgeous Caribbean turquoise. We didn’t have much time to enjoy them, however, as we were too busy being blown away and drenched-and trying to protect the cameras from the onslaught, sorry about the pictures. Not the best of weather. Our next stop at the small Bavarian flavored village of Frutillar was better though and we wandered around some lovely gardens eating apfel strudel while admiring the vast shores of Lake Llanquihue and basking in the sun peeking out from behind the clouds.

This morning (Monday) we sailed through the Darwin Channel accompanied by high winds and waves, low clouds and scattered rain. I was doing laps around the promenade deck and could pick up a pretty decent pace until rounding the one end and walking straight into the wind. It whistled and howled like a banshee and made it almost impossible to walk, I think I burned more calories in that 50 meter stretch than the whole rest of the lap combined (especially when you consider that on the next turn you were traveling with the wind and being pushed along at practically a run.) At the moment the swells are vigorous but the skies are mostly clear. Let’s hope that keeps up because if the glaciers are covered in clouds I’ll most definitely cry.

Okay, that’s all you get for now. If all goes well you’ll have a few pictures here of some of the things I’ve mentioned above. If there are no pictures you’ll know the internet was being fussy and you’ll just have to wait until later. The next installment should include some info on the glaciers, Cape Horn and the Strait of Magellan. Until then…

Presidential Palace in Santiago

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