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Archive for December, 2017

We arrived at the port of Valparasio and city of Santiago after being on the ship for twenty-four days. We would fly home that evening but first we had a ten hour shore excursion ending at the airport. We will do city tours of both cities with an included lunch between the two towns.

A few facts about this area…
Chile is 3500 miles long (so if you turned it sideways it would be 500 miles longer than the U.S. However it is only 100 miles wide. The geography is very diverse with a large desert in the north and glaciers in the south. Mountains run through the center of the country and it is very beautiful. Economically 35% of the world’s copper comes from here.

The cities were founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia. Actually Valparasio was founded in 1536 but did not become a permanent settlement until 1541. For the most part since there were no cities and no gold the Spanish were not too interested in this area. However de Valdivia saw the agricultural richness of the land and decided to conquer the area.

Wars with the natives and natural disasters like earthquakes and floods did not stop the people from rebuilding. Although aware of its past, Santiago has grown into a modern, industrialized city. Pinochet was a military dictator who took over from 1972-1989.

He seized power from the democratically elected Allende and preceded to torture and murder Chili citizens. Finally he went to England for back surgery and was forced out of office. They wanted to try him for human rights violations but the trials were continued until he finally died of a heart attack in 2006.

Originally the country was a colony of Spain but they became independent in 1818. However the Catholic Church and the state ruled together until 1925 when they finally separated their powers. Today there is a Congress and civil liberties have been restored. The country is considered a Republic and an elected president is only allowed to serve one four year term.

Santiago is in a bowl shaped valley 75 miles east of Valparasio in the shadow of the Andes. The population is 6.3 million while the port of Valparasio has only 876,000 people.

The Plaza de Armas is the heart of Santiago where bullfights use to be played. It is also the home of the Metropolitan Cathedral which was built between 1748-1800. The church actually sits on the site of 5 previous churches all destroyed by earthquakes.

Our tour guide’s name was Max and it was a nice day for a long bus ride. He took us through Valparasio which is a port city mixed with both old and new sections. There were a couple of very old buildings downtown that could not be saved after the earthquakes so they kept the façade and built a brand new building inside each one.

Since the city is built into 42 hills they also have what they call funiculars. It is a track that goes one block straight up a hill with a cable car you ride to get to the top of the hill. They are all over the city and pretty interesting to see.

Then we traveled through the upscale seaside area of the city on our way inland to the wine country. We had a two hour lunch, including alcohol. I kept drinking water in anticipation of our long flight home but my brother had the alcohol.

After lunch we had an hour and a half drive through the Coastal Mountain Range to Santiago. It was a beautiful drive but was a little hazy due to the contained fires just south of Santiago. My brother slept through the drive.

After our tour of Santiago we were dropped at the airport at 7:00p.m. We had a 10:30pm flight. My brother still did not drink water but had two cans of soda before the flight instead. You can probably guess I am a big proponent of drinking lots of water, especially before international flights.  Naturally he coughed all night long, waking me up constantly.

Our plane flew into Dallas at 5:15 a.m. We had a connecting flight to Phoenix in two hours and finally on to Yuma. I knew we might have trouble getting to the gate on time in a big airport like Dallas so I ordered a wheel chair.

My brother was skeptical and antsy but the thing about a wheelchair is they notified your next flight you are in transit so they will hold the plane a couple of minutes if necessary.

Being in the wheelchair we went right to the head of the two custom areas we needed to go through and then right to the head of security (when you go through customs you are outside the airport and must do security again).

After that we changed to golf carts. It took 3 different carts to get us to our gate and we only had ten minutes before boarding when we arrived. Without the wheelchair we would not have made it.

Phoenix is a big airport but easy to navigate; so no wheelchair was needed there. We walked as fast as we could and made it to our Yuma gate with three minutes to board! However our luggage did not make it.

American flies four times a day between Yuma and Phoenix. When we got to Yuma we had no bags but when I checked they had already been scanned for the next flight. So we took our carry-ons home and an hour and a half later we were back at the airport getting our regular suitcases.

Ray’s coughing thing turned into a bad bronchial infection and several days and a doctor visit later he still was not well. He had finally switched from soda to tea and he finally drank a bottle of water!!!!!

Our South Seas adventure was now officially over. We would always have great memories of our trip and hopefully I can get back to Australia sometime to see more of that wonderful country.

***Note***  I am having a special book sale.  If you go to my website (www.kileenprather.com) you can preview the first few chapters of each book.  I am selling the books for $10.00 apiece and if you buy three or more, shipping is free.  For more information email me at:  kileenp@gmail.com.

 

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We have been at sea for several days so everyone is looking forward to our next Port of Call– Papeete, Tahiti.  We didn’t dock until noon which was unusual.   There are 250,000 people who live on this French island which is 28 miles long.  The amazing fact is half of them are under the age of 30!  Papeete where we dock is a large city of 125,000 population.

Tahiti resembles the number 8 and was created by two volcanoes erupting.  The only problem was we were landing on a Sunday and not much would be opened but we were all anxious to put our feet on terra firma.  However this was not to be.

The day turned into a BUMMER!!!!!!!! There was a lot of rain the day before and the island was in emergency mode.  They would not allow the passengers or crew off the ship because roads were flooded and washed out and rivers overflowing throughout the island.  Naturally all shore excursions were cancelled.

The next port is Easter Island and we will land there in a week. That means we will be at sea for 10 days before touching land again.

Lots of things happened by not being able to get off the ship.  We had to dock to get supplies which they did allow but the new set of performers was not able to fly in.  That meant no new acts except the singers and dancers until we get to Chile where we get off.

It was an eerie afternoon.  People hung over the railings looking at the ground and the town knowing they could not leave the ship.  They put an extra movie on in the theater called Central Intelligence with the Rock that I had not seen.  It was entertaining.

The problem was there were not a lot of activities going on around the ship because we were scheduled to be on the island until midnight.  Because of this things were very slow.  Usually there is a lot of music playing in the different venues but when you are on shore the musicians are given time off as well as all the shop workers.

We did have a show with some Tahitian dancers—the government allowed them to come on board for the show– and that was neat because it was the real thing.

After we departed, life continued on board with the usual activities.  The singers and dancers put on a show every other night.  They were really working hard.  Then the crew musicians took turns entertaining us in the evening.  Some of them were good and some not so good.  Several nights people walked out.

I decided to buy internet minutes since we would not be on land for ten days before the next port.  And it was doubtful there would be internet on Easter Island.  We also learned we might not be able to get off there.  Since we had to tender on Easter Island if the waves were too rough, there would be no way to dock.  However the captain assured us he would do everything in his power to dock since we had been on the ship so long.

We moved our clocks up again as we continued our journey. And then again the following night. We were now in U.S. Mountain time.

We could not stop but everyone was up at  7:30 a.m one morning.  We were cruising around Pitcairn Island, made famous from The Mutiny On The Bounty.

Because of the steep cliffs there is no way to land.  They actually have a supply boat that comes every three months and they have to take a longboat out to the supply ship just to get their goods.

The area the supply boat sails to is called Bounty Bay and Adams Town is the capital.  That seems weird to say because the island is only 2 miles by 1 mile and there are only 50 people who live there—all descendants of the original Mutiny crew.

They have one paved road.  This island is considered the half way point between Australia and South America.  We were actually 3,000 miles from Chile (where we get off) and 3,000 miles to New Zealand.
We will sail around the island from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. with narration going on so here’s a little history.

The island was first recorded as seen in 1767 and was named after a fifteen year old boy who spotted it first.  The word was passed on to Captain Cook but even though he looked, he never found it mainly because his reading was off by 180 degrees.  That is what made it the perfect destination for the Bounty crew who needed to hide after the mutiny.

The mutiny happened in April 1789.  Captain Bligh was put in a twenty-four foot boat with eighteen others and miraculously they made it to safety 3600 miles later.  Then the mutiny crew went back to Tahiti.

Sixteen mutineers stayed in Tahiti and were eventually found by the British and taken back to England and hung.  Meanwhile Fletcher Christian kidnapped 11 women and 7 men—all Tahitian– and took them with him.  It took 2 months to find the island using the information Captain Cook had recorded since his charts were wrong to begin with.

Once they arrived there were a few battles between the Polynesian men and the sailors, especially due to drunkenness and the fact Christian would not allow the Polynesian men to have sex with the women.
Three years after landing Christian was one of the first of the sailors killed.  He was working in his garden and a Polynesian man came up and shot him.  His last words were “Oh dear” and today there is a cafe on the island called “Oh dear.”

We moved clocks up another hour.  We are now on Eastern time. I had trouble getting to sleep that night and the next day several other people complained about it, too.  We had moved up an hour in time for the last four days in a row.

This is our last sea day before Easter Island.  And in one week, next Friday, we will be departing this ship.  There was a lecture on Easter Island.  When we arrive there we will be 2300 miles from Chile’s coast and 2,500 miles from Tahiti.

As I mentioned previously, some of the passengers were worried because the currents and waves in this area can be bad and only half the time can a ship stop at this island.  The waves have to be calm enough for the tenders to get to shore.  Easter Island is an awesome experience but at this point in time everyone was more concerned with wanting to walk on land.

Luckily we were able to get off the ship.  I am not going into anything about Easter Island here because I did a previous post you can read on Word Press.

After Easter Island it was back to sea days, but only four before we landed in Valparaiso, Chile.  There was a lot going on that day including a talk on Chile. This was another formal dress night with lobster on the menu.  Then the captain had a party in the atrium area for the whole ship with free drinks.

That evening the singers and dancers were back with a show called “Soul Time.”  The first ten days of the cruise the singers and dancers only had two performances.  But as I mentioned, since we left Tahiti with no new entertainers, the dancers have been putting on a show every other day.  And the orchestra has been doing something every night.  These people have really gone above and beyond due to the circumstances.

We turned our clocks up another hour that night.  Now we are past
Eastern time.

Our last night my brother and I went to a good-bye party the captain gave for the ninety-seven of us leaving in Valparasio.  He mentioned that when we docked the next day we will have traveled over 8,000 miles on the ocean, although it is 6,000 as the crow flies from Sydney.  Actually it is 500 miles less for us since we did not start in Melbourne.

Oh, no!  We moved our clocks up another hour that night.  At least that is the end of it.  But we now have to go back 5 hours since we are flying back to Arizona.  I know my body will be screwed up time wise when we het home.

Next up: Our cruise ends

***Note***  I am having a special book sale.  If you go to my website (www.kileenprather.com) you can preview the first few chapters of each book.  I am selling the books for $10.00 apiece and if you buy three or more, shipping is free.  For more information email me at:  kileenp@gmail.com.

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