Wed, Feb 25th – Arica, Chile
From the Navigator
During the night we will be sailing mostly on a northerly course and in the morning we will approach Arica on an easterly course. After picking up the pilot we will dock shortly after. Tonight once the pilot is onboard we will be letting go our lines and maneuver the ship from the dock. Shortly thereafter we will disembark the local pilot and commence our voyage towards Callao, Peru.
This morning we were accompanied by hundreds of sea birds, both outside and inside the jetty. Our docking place seemed to be “their” place for social gathering. Pictured here are two of those beautiful species. We have been so blessed with smooth seas on this voyage, we keep wondering if the “Gundersen Luck” will ever run out – just two nights and one days sailing and our dream voyage will come to an end. We are so sad to be leaving this wonderful ship, its Captain, Staff, and crew. Our Cruise Specialists Hosts Hank and Lucia Barnhoorn have also made this a very special time, we feel that we have known them a lot longer than 26 days. We have made memories that will never fade.
Since Arica is our final port in Chile, we were required to relinquish our “Chilean Agricultural Declaration Sworn Statement”. Chile depends on her export shipments of agricultural products to keep her economy viable, therefore does not want to have to deal with the introduction of foreign fruit pests. This done we proceeded to the “free” shuttle to the main exit gate. The cruise industry in this part of the world apparently does not warrant the building of expensive cruise passenger terminals as they need the $$ and dock space for cargo terminals. By providing the free shuttles, they bypass this expense altogether. I think that was a wise decision by these port authorities.
As we exited the port gate, we immediately had to navigate through a crowd of passengers and private taxi/tour operators. As we stood off to the side to take stock of our situation, we were approached by a Chilean gentlemen asking us what we wanted to do this day – in broken English/mostly Spanish. Since Barbara is the better linguist in our family, I let her negotiate the deal. Her main desire was to visit the Mueso (Museum) de San Miguel, some thirty minutes outside the city. Her research indicated that there were the mummified remains there some fifteen hundred years old. In no time she and I were in a fairly nice taxi with Juan and his driver friend Paulito speeding toward our destination. I must say it was a bit disconcerting to be doing this, but we had been assured that this would be okay. Juan seemed pleased that we were anxious to use as much Spanish as possible in our communications, so we struggled through – with his wonderful help. Along the way we pulled off the road to take pictures of the Geoglyphs on the hillside. These artifacts are maintained by students from the local university each summer. Juan explained that they were probably used by the ancients as “highway” signs to direct them to the sea when they came down the valley from the Andes. When we arrived at the Mueso, Juan helped us negotiate the entrance and then he and Paulito hung around until we were finished. It was an interesting collection of artifacts and very well presented, and despite the above 80 degree heat, quite cool inside. In fact at no time during our stay did I ever feel “over heated”. We did take a number of pictures, but I would rather not share them here. Barbara will have an album full when we return.
When we left the Museo, we told Juan that we would like to be dropped off at Poblado Artesenal (another craft village) on the east side of town and we would like to have lunch at El Tambo Restaurant, on the Poblado property. Although he insisted that he knew of a better restaurant, which overlooked the water, (probably owned by a relative) we insisted on our choice, which was really no problem. After we said our goodbyes we entered the village and found that we had an hour to wait until the lunch hour started (1PM). This gave me some people watching time and of course for Barbara – shopping! Our dinner was a grand affair; wine for Barbara, Crystal beer for me, a plate of patats fita, a plate of tomatoe, and the special of the house El Lomo Tambo, consisting of a large tender beef steak (Lomo) covered with a soup like sauce of corn peas, and slices of chorizo. Before our meal arrived we were served a basket of sopapillas with a dish of salsa. Everything was a la carte so Barbara (who wasn’t hungry) was able to sampled each plate. The cost for the meal came to $16. When we finished eating we asked our waiter (totally in Spanish) what bus we could catch to take us to the Cathedral, or could we walk the distance. Fortunately he opposed that idea and told us a taxi would only cost two dollars US. So we agreed and he called for a cab – probably a relative, and in no time we were speeding toward the Plaza near the cathedral.
We have come to love the Chilean City Parks and Plazas. This is the living room/backyard of the citizens living in the cities, clean, well maintained, and safe. In the center courtyard were several craft stands – again – where Barbara’s mission was to spread the remainder of our Chilean Pesos amongst the merchants. Which, after touring the Cathedral and Customs House, she succeeded – almost – after we returned to the ship she found 11,000 pesos (about $2) in her pocket! While she was shopping I contented myself with the grand show – people watching, while trying to determine where the sound of snorting pigs was coming from. Looking up at the tops of the palm trees, there it was – Shags (seabirds) nesting and the sound was made as they challenged interlopers to their space. I watched as one of the pair of nesting birds scooted out to the end of a frond/branch and proceeded to rip off thin strips and gingerly side step back to the mate, where it was accepted and carefully put in place.
Reluctantly we crossed the road to the entrance to the port and as we had noticed earlier, the vehicles in Chile stop for pedestrians in crosswalks! As we approached the entrance, there was our new friend, Juan. He was just as friendly at the end of the day as he was in the beginning. He epitomized the friendliness of everyone we came in contact with.
An invigorating thing about these coastal cities is the air, so sweet and unpolluted, even on the city streets. Arica is affectionately known as the city of eternal spring. What a great place to live. Oh, how we love Chile.
After returning to our ship, because by now we had claimed the Prinsendam as our own, we had dinner and waited for the sail-away. Our departure was delayed for about a half an hour because of a medical emergency earlier in the day and the captain waited for that person to return from the local hospital. While we waited we were entertained by the local avian population as they prepared to settle in for the evening. We were still waiting when it came time for the captain’s farewell party for those guests departing in Lima. We were disappointed in not getting to greet the captain as he was still on the bridge insuring that his ship safely sailed out of the harbor, our disappointment soon turned into big smiles as the captain made his appearance. He made sure to visit every guest and chat for a while. I have never sailed with such a personable man. He is loved by crew and guests alike. As the sun dipped into the waters of the pacific we waited for a “green flash” that never came, so we hoisted one last toast to this grand old lady.
Tomorrow is our last day at sea, and then it’s two days in the port of Callao, Peru and on that second day we ready ourselves for that long “red-eye” flight home.
My final report will come after we get home on Sunday. Thanks for coming along, we wish you all could have shared this experience in person ….. JWC
One thought on “Our Antarctic/South American Adventure – Part XXIII”
Thanks, so much, Jack and Barbara for sharing your latest Great Adventure with us. The vicarious thrill was stunning! Your return to Antarctica was absolutely awe-inspiring.
Of course, now you KNOW I, too, must go to Antarctica! It’s definitely going to happen in a few years!
Have a safe trip home.
Your Shipmate from the 2007 Asia/Pacific Grand Voyage