In Patagonia

On Thursday evening, January 26, we left Castro & sailed south toward our next stop, Puerto Chacabuco in Patagonia.  This area is just stunning.  During dinner we watched a glorious sunset, which turned the top part of the mountain range that was along the channel a beautiful pink .  Because we were at dinner we didn’t get a picture of the range, but here are a couple of shots of mountains in that range.  They really do not do justice to the sunset colors.

21 Mountain near Isla Chiloe, from dining room in evening 22 Mountain near Isla Chiloe, from dining room in evening

Friday morning, January 27, found us in the harbor of Puerto Chacabuco.  The weather was quite ugly, so rainy & cloudy you couldn’t see much.  We had to go ashore via tender boats & for awhile the water was so choppy they wouldn’t let us board the boats.  Happily, the weather in this area can change extremely quickly and for most of the day it turned out to be beautiful & sunny.  Here are two views of Puerto Chacabuco from the ship, one in the morning & the second in the evening.  Quite a difference.

03 Morning view from cabin

88 Evening view from our window on Prinsendam

Puerto Chacabuco was built in 1995; it is just a port & there is no town.  The port here used to be at a town called Puerto Aisen.  However in the late 1980’s & early 1990’s there was a long series of forest fires causing erosion from the mountains that filled the river with silt, making the river un-navigable.  So they built this new port at Puerto Chacabuco, but the nearest town is still Puerto Aisen.  Here are a few views of the area around Puerto Chacabuco.

02 Morning view from cabin in Puerto Chacbuco

84 Prinsendam in harbor from Puerto Chacabuco 89 Evening view of mountains from Prinsendam

We took a privately arranged tour of the area that took us first to Puerto Aisen.  The guide said no one knows the origin of the name but one theory is that when the first settlers came this was the limit of the local ice sheet, so they called it “ice’s end” or Aisen.  Sounds dubious to us, particularly since that phrase sounds suspiciously like English.  Anyway, it’s a small frontier town on a river nestled among large snow-capped mountains.  The weather really changed during just the 20 minutes or so that we were there; I have included at the end of this sequence two pictures of the same mountaintop from the Plaza de Armas taken about 3 minutes apart.

04 Puerto Aisen 05 Neighborhood in Puerto Aisen

10 Chilean national tree 08 Mary reading inscription in Plaza de Armas, Puerto Aisen

 11 Puerto Aisen church from Plaza de Armas 09 Plaza de Armas in Puerto Aisen

16 Mountain top, puerto Aisen 19 Mountain top from Puerto Aisen

Next we saw a two level waterfall called Cascada de la Virgen, named after the shrine next to it of (what else?) the Virgen de la Cascada.  After that we went to a nature preserve including part of the Rio Simpson, a lovely river among the mountains popular with fly fishermen.  Among other things, we saw there some wild fuschia & a giant relative of the rhubarb which is eaten by the local folks, but we didn’t see any of the condors that live there.

20 La Cascada de la Virgen 22 Virgen de la Cascada

32 Rio Simpson

 27 Mary with giant rhubarb 30 Wild Fuschia

25 River stones near Cascada 34 Rick at Rio Simpson

We had lunch at a “campo” or country house in a place called Pangal.  This is not a tourist place but a family who are friends of the guide.  They grow most of their own food; there is a greenhouse for growing salad greens, and they have llamas, sheep & geese (at least that is all we saw).  Lunch was served in their “quincho,” a wooden barbecue house designed for parties & celebrations.  Because the van could not cross the suspension bridge on the way to the campo we had to walk about a half mile, across the bridge (which is solid, but does sway a little) and through some beautiful mountain scenery.

37 Mary crossing bridge at Pangal 91 River from bridge in Pangal

92 Rick at bridge at Pangal  41 House in Pangal

76 Mountain view on walk back from campo

93 Greenhouse at campo in Pangal 72 Llama at Pangal

43 Geese at Pangal campo 50 Ram with grandaughter at Pangal

73 Llama 48 Llama (or perhaps not) at Pangal

74 Llama

In the quincho was a huge fireplace in which a whole lamb was roasting on a spit.  We were told that it had been cooking for about 4 hours.  We were given a pisco sour & Chilean wine to drink and were served the lamb as “asado al palo,” along with salad & potato & fried bread called sopas.  It was all delicious.

51 Lamb on spit at  Pangal quincha (out-bldg for parties & celebrations) 53 Turning the lamb on spit

During the meal we were entertained by a young couple doing local folk dances (one of the dances was called a “cueca”).  The gaucho appeared to have a roving eye.

56 Folk dancers at Pangal54 Folk dancers  doing Cueca at Pangal 68 Folk dancers at Pangal 66 Folk dancers at Pangal 61 Folk dancers at Pangal70 Folk dancer eyeing Mary

Outside was this little ram making a lot of noise & looking like he really wanted to go inside the quincho.  I tried to tell him that it wasn’t pretty for lambs in there but he didn’t seem to believe me.

75 Ram at Pangal 52 Grandaughters

After that we went back to the ship, making one more pass through this beautiful territory.  As usual there was a towel animal to cap off the evening (you wouldn’t want to miss one of those, right?).

78 Mountain view with yellow field 80 Mountain view from bus

81 Mountain view from bus 90 Elephant towel animal

Friday night was very rough. The captain came on the speaker around 8:00 to tell us that they were changing course because of bad weather & we would be going out into the ocean at midnight, where we would stay most of Saturday and then go back into the fjords Saturday evening.  He told us to prepare for bad weather and to secure everything in our cabins “unless you want to see your Ming vase rolling around the deck on your verandah.”  We don’t have a verandah in our cabin (or a Ming vase, for that matter) but we did secure everything in our cabin, putting things in drawers & cabinets.  During the night the ship was going up & down quite emphatically; in the middle of the night I was awakened when our bathroom sliding door suddenly slammed shut on its own initiative (Mary, amazingly, slept right through that).  The next morning the captain told us we were experiencing 15 foot waves & gale-force winds.  It surely felt like it; you couldn’t walk in a straight line around the ship, but were constantly weaving back & forth like a drunk.  First the floor would be inclined to the left, so you would lean in that direction to maintain your balance, but suddenly the floor would be inclined to the right instead, so you would stagger to the left while trying to regain your equilibrium by leaning to the right, but just when you thought you had succeeded the floor would suddenly be inclined to the left again & the cycle would repeat.  I told Mary we were getting good exercise out of it since you had to walk twice as far to get anywhere on the ship with the constant zig-zagging.  I took a couple of pictures of the waves, but because of the height from which they were taken they do not begin to convey what it really looked like.

02 Sea in turmoil 03 Fifteen meter swells

We did go back inside the fjords around 7:00 & it was much calmer.  We could see impressive mountains along the side of the channel but it was too misty to get a decent picture.  When on a long voyage like this, away from the normal rhythms of city life, it is easy to lose track of the days.  So on Prinsendam they change the floor mats in the elevators every day as a reminder (remember, there are lots of older folks on this cruise, so memories are probably generally less than stellar).  And, of course, another towel animal.

01 Elevator floor mat 05 towel bunny

From this point on for the next couple of weeks internet access, and therefore blog postings, will probably be pretty spotty.  We have ‘”scenic cruising” on Sunday, we are in Punta Arenas on Monday (where I hope to post this blog entry), then Ushuaia, Argentina, on Tuesday (where I may have another blog post),. After that are 5 days of cruising through Antarctica where we will most likely be incommunicado.  We are supposed to be in Stanley, Falkland Islands on Monday, Feb. 6 (although we are told that weather prevents going ashore there about half the time), then two more days at sea until we reach Buenos Aires on Feb. 9.  After that communications should be better & you will hear from us more often.

4 responses

  1. Barbara Bader

    Did ya’ll get seasick?
    How close do you get to Antarctica? close enough to take a step or 2?

    January 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    • Neither of us has been seasick yet, although Mary has taken dramamine a few times as a precaution. The barf bags were out at the elevators for a couple of days, but I don’t know if any were used. Tonight we go around Cape Horn & through the Drake Passage to Antarctica, so there could be some rough water there, although the Captain says we will avoid the big storm headed that way right now.

      There is a treaty that forbids ships with more than 100 passengers from landing in Antarctica, so we will only be cruising by it. We should be able to get fairly close to some of the islands and shores, but it all depends on weather and ice conditions, which are not easy to predict; safety first. Several people from the US base at Peterman island in Antarctica are supposed to come out to the ship in zodiac boats & spend a few days with us, but again it all depends on conditions. About 40 of our passengers took an optional plane flight to Antarctica yesterday, & they got to land & stand on the ice. But it was about $3500 for a one day round trip, & we thought that was too much just to stand on some ice. We will be happy viewing it from the relative comfort of the ship, I think.

      February 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm

  2. Laura G

    waiting for next installment. meanwhile, it all reminds me a bit of 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea — though, of course, you don’t have anyone pursuing you.

    January 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm

  3. Cecile Deaton

    It looks like you are both enjoying the cruise. I apologize for not commenting sooner, I actually forgot about your blog and I was waiting for Mary to send a general email about what she was doing. Dah!

    I especially enjoyed the panama canal–seeing it from the opposite direction from our cruise thu it. Loved the panama hats.

    I like the idea of having the day of the week printed on the elevator rugs. Maybe I should do that here at home-on the rug at the door–we don’t have an elevator. Since retirement I sometimes forget what day of the week it is.

    and take more pictures of libraries. I know Mary goes to every one she can find.


    February 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

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