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GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR


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We cruised miles into the Guayas River Delta and then took a bus another half hour into Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and principal seaport. We received a four-legged welcome in Parque Bolivar. Iguanas are quite comfortable here, freely roaming about and hanging out in the trees.

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Across the street from the park is La Catedral - beautiful inside and out, and apparently free of Iguanas despite the open doors!

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Some of the beautiful historic buildings have survived the pirates, fires and earthquakes of the past.

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The Malecon El Salado was opened in 2001 as the city reclaimed the waterfront, providing a safe, beautiful place for citizens and tourists alike.

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Guess what's playing at the Imax?

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Walking home from school - giggling and flirting - a worldwide phenomenon

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The colorful houses are in Barrio Las Penas, home to many artists.

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There is a strong tradition of taking pride in and taking care of - shoes.

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A policeman's band played near La Rotonda, the monument honoring a meeting here in 1822 of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin as they discussed strategies to liberate South America from Spain.

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Contemplation.

Posted by Swenigale 14:11 Archived in Ecuador

SALAVERRY, PERU

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A Peruvian dog seems to be guarding the Temple of the Moon, built by the Mochica civilization 2000 years ago.

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This is the Mochica’s god of the mountains.

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This site was just discovered in the 1980’s, so much more excavation needs to be done, if funding can be found. Mochicas built temples on top of temples in perhaps 8 to 11 layers. It is estimated that 50 million adobe bricks may have been used in the construction.

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Looking from the Temple of the Moon to the Temple of the Sun (which is comparable in size to the pyramids in Saqqara Egypt) you can see the remains of the ancient city.

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Hästa gets a close-up look at mud bricks.

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The magnificent façade at the entrance of the Temple of the Moon has been almost fully excavated.

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We left the Mochica excavations, traveling through a poor area of present day Peru and on to the scene of our next history lesson – the pre-Incan Chimu Nation’s capital city, Chan Chan.

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The world’s largest “mud city”, Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America, built by the Chimu people around 850 AD. Here I stand, helping to guard the king’s high place.

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Pelicans in poses and the X-shapes of fish nets decorate the sacred rooms in a palace where tribute offerings were brought.

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The Chimu nation was overthrown by the Incas in 1470 AD, but it was once home to perhaps 100,000 people – Oh, one got away!

Posted by Swenigale 14:11 Archived in Peru

CALLAO, PERU - DAY 1 AND 2


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The seaport for Lima, Peru is the city of Callao. We were docked here for three days. Having this dredger working beside our ship the whole time gave rise to lots of speculation - mostly nervous laughter along the lines of "I hope we don't get stuck in the mud. Ha ha ha".

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We can show you the video, too!

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Really!

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On the first day we took advantage of pier-side shopping. Nothing made in China here!

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On Saturday we took the ship's shuttle bus for the 40 minute drive into Lima. Had a double-take moment with this billboard!

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We were told that safety and security have improved greatly since the days of Shining Path terrorism of the 80's and 90's. However, bars and fences and walls are still used everywhere.

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Silver, worked in delicate filigree, to make a - tank!

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More shopping in Lima - lovely products all made of Llama wool.

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We weren't the only ones shopping!

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Sea smoke (or fog) is a daily event along the coast in Lima. There is extremely high humidity and virtually no rainfall. We were told that there are lovely views to the sea when the fog clears.

Posted by Swenigale 12:46 Archived in Peru

LIMA, PERU

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Our guided tour into Lima started in the foggy harbor, but we found clear weather as we arrived in the city. We were able to get a glimpse into the Spanish past in the beautiful old buildings.

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- in this case, now used as apartments.

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Plaza Mayor was designated by Francisco Pizarro as his original center of government.

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The San Francisco Monastery with its beautiful sculptures was a short walk away

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This is Love Park, where each Valentine's Day a contest is held for the longest kiss. The record? Three hours and fifty minutes!

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Today was Sunday and the worship service would be held later on the ship, at 5:15. What a nice coincidence that the day we visited Love Park we would be hearing a reading from 1st Corinthians 13 - St. Paul's explanation of the importance of love.

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And of course, just to make the visit complete, a bride and groom were also in the park.

Posted by Swenigale 14:21 Archived in Peru

GEN. SAN MARTIN / PISCO, PERU - Part 1


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The 2nd segment of the "World Cruise" had started in Lima. Our port today, General San Martin, was a real eye-opener! I had no idea that the western coast of Peru is one of the driest deserts on earth!

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Crystal Serenity cozies up to a scrap iron ship, also registered in Nassau.

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We boarded an open-air motor boat that would take us through this bay where General San Martin landed with his troops, eventually marching into Lima and declaring independence from Spain in 1821. This petroglyph, of indeterminate age, is a mystery from the distant past carved into a desert hillside just at the entrance to the bay.

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Our destination was a 3 island archipelago, a wildlife refuge. We motored under hundreds of Peruvian Boobies, plummeting into the water as they dove for food.

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The Humboldt Current flows north along the coast, bringing cool, nutrient-rich water. These these islands provide nesting places and havens for 150 species of marine birds -

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- and Sea Lions.

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Humboldt penguins observe the noisy goings-on of the sea lions, the males roaring territorial claims and the pups squealing.

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Every rocky beach was covered with sea lions, the males fighting for their bit of sand and the pups and females all jumbled together.

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This experience was spectacular - and an absolute highlight of our cruise thus far! Stay tuned for more pictures from this amazing experience!

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Posted by Swenigale 18:41 Archived in Peru

GEN. SAN MARTIN / PISCO, PERU - Part 2


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Pictures from our visit to the Nature Sanctuary have spilled onto a second page.

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This Peruvian Vulture found a rare empty piece of rock.

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Guano is collected and exported because it is such a good fertilizer.

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The downy feathers of young birds are still clinging to these juvenile Boobies (which are a form of Gannett).

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Sea Lions are a lazy lot. They don't even need to eat every day - unlike cruise ship travelers!

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These Cormorants are the most productive guano producers.

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Even Pelicans can be beautiful.

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The salt piles onshore are waiting to be shipped to Canada and other places with icy roads.

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As we prepared to set sail the scrap metal ship started to unload into the waiting trucks. We sailed in the evening, starting the 1000 plus mile journey (which takes two days at sea) to our next port of call.

Posted by Swenigale 09:46 Archived in Peru

COQUIMBO, CHILE


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Our stop in Coquimbo (the name means a place of "calm waters") was the first of our five stops in Chile. The Millennium Cross now towers over a town that was a favorite place of pirates and privateers.

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We were greeted with music and dancing.

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The commercial port exports fish and produce instead of the gold and copper from its early days.

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We drove to La Serena, a neighboring city.

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The Archaeological Museum in La Serena.

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Along with the collection of Chili's pre-colonial artifacts is an original Moai from Easter Island.

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La Recova Market.

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La Serena University.

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Vultures perch atop an abandoned prison -.

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- and perhaps this direction sign is not a bad idea!.

Posted by Swenigale 15:11 Archived in Chile

VALPARAISO, CHILE Part 1


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We arrived in Valparaiso at 7am, before the sun rose. Lights are scattered over the 45 hills of the city.

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It is summer here and school vacation. These small boats take families on harbor tours - there are navy ships, cargo ships and us to see.

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The oldest of the fifteen ascensores, which travel between the upper and lower town

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The unique houses and winding two-way streets (they are ALL two way) made for great pictures.

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Two faces of Valparaiso

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Posted by Swenigale 16:16 Archived in Chile

VALPARISO, CHILE Part 2


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Chile was settled by several countries. German Lutherans established a congregation and built a church in Valparaiso in 1897.

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Our pictures of the jumble of houses, street art and laundry could fill an album!

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Vina del Mar is a nearby, more upscale town: "the garden city".

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The two mile beach in Vina del Mar is a vacation attraction in the area.

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Ash Wednesday and Lent are approaching quickly.

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Could these be the dog days of summer in Chile?

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The citizens of Vina del Mar most certainly "let sleeping dogs lie"!

Posted by Swenigale 10:11 Archived in Chile

PUERTO MONTT, CHILE


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We have had amazing weather so far, but today there was wind and rain. We traveled inland to the town of Frutillar. German settlers in this area arrived in 1853, leaving an obvious imprint.

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Where else can you get German Kuchen along with Chilean Empanadas?

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The village is on the shore of Lake Llanquihue, the 3rd largest lake in South America. German immigration was initiated by the president of Chile at the time, Manuel Montt. Ed is standing here in the German heritage museum - aptly placed.

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The lake is known for its clear blue water reflecting majestic snow-mantled volcanoes - we'll take their word for it.

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The Lutheran church in Frutillar (the village name means "the place where little berries grow")

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For a town of 5,000, their new concert hall (seating 1,500) is a gem, The immigrant German population brought with them their love of music. It continues in the community and is now expressed in this gorgeous venue which attracts international artists.

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Change the scene - back in the port area near our ship in Puerto Montt we wandered down to the Craft Market and Fishing Village. The sun peeked out for a bit. This journey down the almost 3000 mile long Chilean coast continues to be an amazing experience. The climate and geographical differences have been eye opening, to say the least.

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Posted by Swenigale 17:31 Archived in Chile

CHACABUCO, CHILE


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Yesterday in Puerto Montt we had entered the northern part of Patagonia in Chile. Today, in Chacabuco, where the Andes meet the Pacific, we are miles from civilization.

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We sailed through the Aisen Fjord to its head where the village of 1200 people is situated. The following pictures are from a driving tour to see more of the beautiful scenery in the Simpson valley.

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Andrea, our guide, is a newly married young woman from Romania. Her Chilean husband works here in Salmon aquaculture.

Posted by Swenigale 12:26 Archived in Chile

SENO EYRE FJORD, CHILE

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We have left Chile's Lake District, where most of the country's 55 active volcanoes are located, and we have cruised through the Seno Eyre Fjord. Looking ahead, through the mist and rain, we are hoping for some good weather to view the Pio XI Glacier of Southern Patagonia.

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Later in the morning the weather cleared and the scenery seemed even more beautiful! I hope these few pictures are worth a thousand words- we have been educated extensively and well about glaciers by an onboard Naturalist lecturer, all of which I would love to share- maybe another time!

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The ship's crew took a small boat closer to the Glacier and brought back some glacial ice - who knows how long ago it was formed?

Posted by Swenigale 07:56 Archived in Chile

SKUA GLACIER, CHILE


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Captain Okland has piloted us through calm waters, rough seas, and jagged cliffs and always on schedule. Today was a great day - no sun, but the rain stayed away.

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This is the Skua Glacier which is part of the Amalia Ice Field, part of the O'Higgins Ice Cap.

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Steaming hot, hot chocolate - with or without rum - ahhh -

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Today there are lots of "bergy bits" (say that with an English accent, and you'll sound like our guest wildlife expert).

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In a rare moment - the ship's photographers happened to be together and guest cameras were pointed at them, turning the tables.

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Because of all the bergy bits (some of which can be rather large) it was too dangerous for the ship to get very close to the glacier today.

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This glacier is receding, whereas the glacier we saw yesterday, Pio XI is advancing.

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The 15 per cent of an iceberg that is above water deceives as to the real size and shape of the ice below.

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Staying on schedule, we sailed away before 9:30am - on our way to Punta Arenas where a few guests will actually be flying to the Antarctic for a 12 hour visit!

Posted by Swenigale 03:36 Archived in Chile

PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE


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Our final stop in Chile is in the town Punta Arenas on the shores of the Strait of Magellan, population 100,000, with plenty of interesting history and architecture. Also, it is fairly close to a colony of Otway Penguins - hmm. Let me see - old buildings or penguins - what to choose for today's post? The animals win! From the town center we drove for an hour through the windswept and barren countryside - with only a few observers as we passed by.

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Off we go,

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And there they are!

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Penguin burrows and nests are far from the beach and they require the parents to take quite a walk to the grocery store.

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Hmm - did he just return from a World Cruise?

Posted by Swenigale 08:31 Archived in Chile

BEAGLE CHANNEL AND CAPE HORN, CHILE


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We are navigating through the islands and passages at the “Bottom of the World”!

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We sailed through the Beagle Channel, named for Charles Darwin’s ship the Beagle, with more chances to see glaciers and glimpses of snowy mountain peaks.

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You can tune a guitar – but can you tuna fish? Today was Sunday and our protestant worship service on the Serenity was most likely the Southernmost worship service in the world today!

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Exploring in 1520, Ferdinand Magellan gave names to much of this area. We have been warned a few times that we could be in for some rough weather.

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The weather is very changeable, but the blue sky broke through with a promise.

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Penguins lined a bit of shore.

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Sea birds cover a partly submerged rock – if they could tell stories, perhaps we would know what happened here!

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We toast you (and our good weather fortune) from Cape Horn with mugs of Glühwein! We had great weather in a place that “averages 200 days of gale and 130 days of cloudy skies, and for the rest of the year the wind is strong and the sea is rough”. Awesome!

Posted by Swenigale 03:51 Archived in Chile

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