Unfortunately, we left behind the adapter cable that links Doug's camera to my computer. So there won't be any pictures until we get home or unless we can find an adapter in Lima or some other big city that has computer stores.
Also the WiFi on this fancy dancey boat (as Doug calls it) is flakey so we can't send or receive efficiently. Of course that may be because we are at sea today and tomorrow. Anyway we'll do our best to keep you informed of where we are and what we are doing!
First, our plane landed in Santiago but we didn't get to spend any time there. The shuttle took up directly from the airport to the ship.
Secondly, about Chile. It leads latin american nations in competitiveness, human development and income per capita, among other positive rankings. It's population is about 18 million. Chile's national flag is very similar to that of Texas. You'll see it in the photos. Chile is also famous for the legends of buried treasure! All along it's very long coast (3700 miles), there are stories of the Spanish conquerors burying the treasure they plundered from the Incas in the 1500's. People are still digging today. Hopefully with the permission of the government. There are also stories about pirates so you can take a tour of the bay in a pirate ship.
The weather is overcast but not cold, 58-60 degrees F. The seas are calm (meaning the Pacific Ocean).
Our first stop is Coquimbo. It is a port city, commune and capital of the Elqui Province located on the Pan-America Highway that goes all the way through Chile.
Here's some facts:
It's an industrial and shipping center. It was a gold and copper mining town around 1840 when many Europeans settled here, mainly English. It is still important for copper mining. Wine is produced here and fruit is exported.
The Commune spans an area around the harbor, 552 square miles. A commune is the smallest administrative district in Chile (nothing more exciting).
The average temperature in the city is around 57 degrees F.
Average rainfall is low.
USA presence: McDonald's, Papa John's, Chuck E. Cheese; no Starbuck's!
Soccer Team: Players are mainly from Argentina. Our guide said the Chilean people don't like to get up so early.
Shops: This is Sunday so most are closed. But local markets for food and crafts are open. Items for sale are pottery, papaya products, semi-precious stones and alpaca wool handicrafts.
Lots of graffiti everywhere. Ruins your appreciation of the town. Stray dogs. Bars on windows. Gated communities and gated homes with barbed wire. Cars are fairly new and cared for.
Beautiful plants: jacaranda, hibiscus, lantana, tulip trees, palms, cactus, pines (I think Norfolk pine). The season is summer but it doesn't seem very summery compared to what we're used to. Not very lush nor green. Ah, maybe that's because there's not much rain!
There is a lot of construction going on so they are able to make improvements. Coquimbo and La Serena experienced a horrendous earthquake and resulting tsunami (tidal wave) in 2015 that tore apart it's beach front and most of the homes and shops located there. They are still recovering.
There are lots of tourists around. The locals came out in the afternoon, going to the mall which was surprisingly open!
We took a bus to see the highlights of the two towns located closely together.
We saw the soccer stadium. It is one of the main architectural landmarks of the city and one of the 30 most important works built in Chile in the last 50 years. Its deck is inspired by the sails of the ships that arrived in the sixteenth century. It has a capacity for almost 20,000 spectators, hosting the U-20 Women's World Cup.
We passed through the English Quarter. The large houses, colorful murals and sculptures express the British legacy of the 19th century.
We stopped at the Coquimbo Fort and lighthouse. The location offers a wide panoramic view of the southern entrance of the bay of Coquimbo. Its Armstrong cannon accounts for the city's defense during the Pacific War in 1879. The lighthouse was built just for show or as our guide said, for decoration. It was never used as a lighthouse.
There is/was a mosque here. But there are few Muslim families so it is used as a Moroccan cultural center. The only one in Latin America. Its mission is to promote Arab-Islamic culture.
The Cross of the Third Millennium can be seen from every point in the city and around the bay. It's building commemorated 2000 years of Christianity. It is 305 feet high, making it the largest in South America. The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janerio, Brazil is only 98 feet high. It seems taller because it's standing on a hill that is 2300 feet high overlooking the city of Rio.
We stopped at the La Serena University for another panoramic view. This time of the two cities and the bay.
And the photos of all this are magnificent. Just wait till you see them!