The bus to Valparaisa took a little over two hours to get us to the coast. As we descended into the valley below we could see the distant seaport village hanging on steep walls facing the ocean. This is where Pablo Neruda lived and wrote some of his Pulitzer Prize winning poetry. We settled into a nice Bed and Breakfast for $6.00 or $7.00 a night with breakfast included. The room had an open balcony with sunshine pouring in across the beds and the people were very pleasant and helpful.
After settling in for a while we headed up to see Pablo’s home. We wandered for quite a while up and down the steep sided walls that the city was built on before we finally decided to get someone to take us to the top of the mountain. The view was spectacular from that height. All around the city they have what appear to be ski gondolas on a slant that take you up the steep hillside for about a quarter . . . sure beats walking up and down the hillside searching for something miles away.
Chile is the land of wonderful wines, most of them you can get for $2.50 to $4.00 a bottle in the restaurant and much cheaper in the local store. We found a little hole-in-the-wall family style restaurant where the locals were hanging out enjoying their camaraderie and drinks. We ordered Carne with salad and got a huge sirloin steak with a wonderful salad arrangement, some traditional bread and salsa which comes with every meal; we still haven’t quite figured out what we are supposed to put the salsa on.
We boarded the Norwegian Dream abound 4 PM on Sunday and departed amidst the colorful fishing and lobster boats that abound in the harbor. Many years ago in the 1800’s during the height of the whaling industry a boat called the Essex was rammed and sunk by a great Sperm whale. The men then began an odyssey that would be read all over the world. This was the basis for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. What Melville failed to include was one of the most harrowing survival stories of all times where these whale men resorted to cannibalism to survive and eventually sailed over 4000 miles back to the town of Valparaiso.
As we began sail we were beginning to wonder if we might also end up as a wreck attempting to find our way back to Valparaiso. The enormous sea swells picked up from a storm that had been blowing down around the horn with 100 mile an hour winds and 60 ft seas. Though we were far from that actual storm we were tossed all day and night by the huge swells that created a 30 to 40 ft drop and rise in the bow of the boat... were we had unfortunately been assigned our berth. I found myself lifted nearly out of my bed as the bow would drop into a trough and the wave would thunder against the bow.
Life on the boat consists of many activities to keep your mind off of being seasick. Certainly the food is one of the highlights but there are also numerous showtime activities with dancers and singers from all over the world and of course those wonderful shore excursions. In the small town of Puerto Montt we climbed into 4 Wheel Drive vehicles to ascend high into the Andes to a lodge on the edge of a lake. This region of the world gets over 15 ft of rain! a year. No wonder the trees get so big. The picture of the tree trunk you see James inside of is 3800 years old. We hiked through mud bogs over suspension bridges and through streams as we observed trees thousands of years old from the Sequoia family. When we returned to the lodge we had a wonderful meal awaiting us of lamb cooked over an open fire and a fine bottle of Chilean wine. Then back to the boat, bouncing down the mountainside worse than when we drove up.