Ali and Jeff Carithers

Joined November 2014
  • Day26

    Punta Arenas, Chile

    January 29, 2018 in Chile ⋅ 🌬 14 °C

    There has been a gap in our blog postings because Ali, the chief blog writer, had a bit of an upper respiratory infection and GI problem. This is a serious issue aboard this ship as they quarantine the afflicted individual to the room, wipe down every surface, change all linens daily, and the butler showers you with food, treats, beverages, crudite' and lots of sympathetic attention.

    Meanwhile, Nancy and I (Jim was sick too) went on an excursion from the port city of Punta Arenas, Chile in the Strait of Magellan to the Torres del Paine National Park and saw the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen in our lives, feeling guilty the whole time that our partners were not with us. The stunning views included towering mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, glacial rivers, blue AND green lakes, and gorgeous topography with several hundred guanacos (a wild, larger version of the llama) scattered about. Nancy and I discussed downplaying our experience, but I ended up telling Ali that I will take her back there for a separate trip in the future.
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  • Day22

    Puerto Chacabuco, Chile

    January 25, 2018 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We are visiting a port that lies within the Chilean fjords. It is an almost dream-like area that surrounds us-snow-capped mountains, gorgeous lush green hillsides, the bluest skies and cerulean waters. It is a knock-out 360 degree view. One can’t help but think that maybe this would be a place to spend the winter-a cozy little cabin where you could drop a kayak into the glassy waters every day and commune with this particular kind of nature. This little dream was dancing in our heads for a couple of days, after all, it’s s perfect climate.
    After we walked into this sleepy little village that had the friendliest dogs, a local man, who spoke perfect English, was waiting to help us onto the tender back to the ship. He said, “wow, you are really lucky to be here on such a nice day, you know, it rains 300 days a year here”. And poof, that nice little daydream went right out of our heads.
    We are thoroughly enjoying this part of the trip. The beauty of the surroundings here are simply incredible and it made it easy for us to exercise on the outdoor track this morning. The cool, crisp air should be with us for several more days as we prepare to round the tip of the continent through the Straights of Magellan.
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  • Day21

    Castro, Chile

    January 24, 2018 in Chile ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    After a rockin’ and rollin’ passage yesterday, we arrived in Chile’s Lake District and the town of Castro. It is a pleasant town with lots new and old architecture. There are quite a few fish farms in this area. All in all, it was a beautiful day to walk around the city, eat fresh seafood and get ready to head for the Chilean fjords. Hope the water is a little calmer-it’s hard to hold onto my glass of Prosecco!Read more

  • Day19

    Valparaiso, Chile

    January 22, 2018 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Wow. This was a handful. Valparaiso was a plethora of color, mouth-watering food smells, graffiti, noise, litter (no, garbage), the most beautiful fruits and vegetables I’ve ever seen, cold mornings, hot afternoons, dogs (everywhere) and a feeling of a place that has multiple layers of life.
    It has been the home of many artists, poets and writers. It is clearly a place that promotes free expression. There is graffiti everywhere that intermittently transitions to beautiful, colorful murals. There are mosaics imbedded in the thousands of stairs that climb from the waterfront up into the neighborhoods that are filled with candy-colored houses. Walking along, you find many artistic expressions that are totally made of recycled or found objects.
    It is a city that has had it’s share of problems. It is in the earthquake zone, which is evident in some of the older, very elegant buildings that now sport crumbling facades. They also suffered some difficult economic times when the Panama Canal opened and they no longer enjoyed the commerce that being a major port for ships coming around Cape Horn brought.
    Valparaiso is also quite near the Casablanca Valley which is one of Chile’s main wine-producing regions.
    We had the opportunity to visit a couple of wineries and do some wine-tasting. One of the wineries said they produced 1,000,000 bottles a year, yet they are considered a boutique winery. The climate here is somewhere between that of California and France which makes it an ideal place for growing grapes.
    Jeff and I also sampled some very typical Chilean foods. Empanadas with shrimp and cheese, a pie that had beef, chicken, black olives, raisins and a cornbread topping, and something called a “completo”. A completo is a hot dog (?) on a bun that has fresh tomatoes, sauerkraut, mayonnaise and avocado. McDonalds came to Valparaiso, but only lasted a year before moving out. Turns out the people liked both the taste and the price of their completo better.
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  • Day15

    Chilean highlands

    January 18, 2018 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    It took a little convincing from Jeff, but we took an excursion into the Chilean Highlands yesterday. My hesitation came from the fact that it was a 3 hour ride each way to an elevation of 12,000 feet. Now come on, we’ve all seen those pictures of buses dropping off roads in South America, but I must admit that it was a pretty decent road. That certainly did not take away from the drama of the incredible landscape.
    This area of Chile is just south of the border from Peru and the Bolivian border is just to the east - Chile is skinny like a chili pepper! This region has a population density of 1 person per 30 square kilometers and that includes the city of Arica which is 160,000. In other words, it is pretty desolate. By the way, the second largest town is population 1,000. It is also the second driest populated place on earth at 1/2 millimeter of rain per year-that isn’t even what we would call a trace!
    In 1868, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck the area killing 70,000 people. Between the earthquake and the ensuing 2 tsunami waves (the second one was 90’ high), the city was literally reduced to rubble, the waves then washing everything away, including any remaining foundations.
    We saw some fabulous geoglyths that are about 170’ tall and we’re done between 100BC and 1500AD. There is very little know about why they were done, but they have found around 17,000 of them throughout this region.
    As we were driving into the Andes mountains on a 2 lane road, passing other vehicles in our bus, our guide mentioned that they experience earthquakes here about once per week! It took everything I had not to ask if the last one was yesterday or a week ago.
    We drove through an incredibly dry valley that was followed by a more lush area that looked up at 2 snow-capped dormant Taapaca volcanoes. The town of Putre, founded in 1580, lies in a shallow valley at about here at 12,000’ of elevation. There’s not too much air to breathe here!
    We had a wonderful lunch at the Canta Verde which served Pebre which is the Chilean version of what we would call Pico de Gallo. Jeff enjoyed it more than everyone else and they brought him an additional plate of it! They use it as a condiment for soups, meat and bread. Also, I was searching for a bathroom and was excited to recall my high school Spanish class to say “Donde esta el bano?” What a thrill - I was speaking fluent Spanish!
    We have 2 sea days before arriving in Valparaiso, Chile for some Chilean wine-tasting. Our captain has informed us that the waves are building and there will be some “pitching and groaning” tomorrow. Never a dull moment!
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