CELEBRATION TIME IS OVER, AND I AM (MOSTLY) BACK HOME AND BACK ON THE AIR

It’s not easy coming home after nearly 6 weeks away and after being heavily indulged in a series of luxury hotels and a 15 day 5* cruise from Buenos Aires in Argentina round Cape Horn to Valparaiso in Chile.

Buenos Aires is a sparkling city, somewhat on the shabby-chic side of grandeur as they are still in economic turmoil. On arrival from London, after a 14 hour flight, we walked from our Hotel Sofitel in Arroyo to the Plaza de Mayo, at the heart of the city (politically as well as location). During the military oppression of the 1970s and early 1980s over 30,000 people disappeared, and since 1977, mothers wearing white headscarves (Madres de Plaza de Mayo) parade for half an hour every Thursday in silence around the square to ask for the return of their abducted children.

We were there over the weekend, where the outdoor cafes and busking young and beautiful tango dancers gave it an air of joy and festivity rather than reminding one their recent hardships and the crime wave that is engulfing this jewel of a city.

Café Plaza de Mayo

Tango dancers

Hotel Security

Buenos Aires architecture

One of the highlights was the Buenos Aires cemetery which is actually a sizeable suburb of ornate above-ground family crypts and mausoleums, including the Duarte family crypt where Evita Peron is now buried, after 20 years of her body first making burial trips to Italy and then Spain … sounds almost like the script for a new wave zombie movie so popular these days.

Duarte family crypt

Evita plaque

 

Our ship, the Seabourn Sojourn, home for 15 days was like being cocooned in a 5 star floating hotel suite with Michelin rated restaurants, with just 400 passengers and as many crew. The staff were faultless (with a sense of humour), and I still carry with pride the 3 kgs that I gained … it was worth every bite and sip.

Gangplank

Ship

The Argentinians, generally friendly and welcoming (we travelled on NZ passports), are not good natured about the English Falkland (Malvinas) islands and we were delayed 8 hours leaving Buenos Aires as they tried to convince the Seabourn Captain and Company to forego our visit there. Victoria and I stood on our balcony waving to the fleet of Argentinian tugs that accompanied us out of the harbour, and only later found out that they were not actually waving back, but were shaking their fists at us in anger.

Fate/Karma played a hand in our visit to the Falkland capitol, Port Stanley, as a 10 metre swell on arrival meant that the tenders could not be launched, so we had to gaze at this tiny hamlet from quite some distance, though I am still not sure how the Argentinians managed to whip up the waves to such an extent that we couldn’t disembark. The previous cruise 2 weeks earlier had managed to land passengers but then couldn’t get them back to the boat till the next day, so they had spent a night in the Port Stanley church, no doubt praying for better weather.

Rounding Cape Horn island was pretty spectacular with 12 meter waves, which made it a bit rough to move outside, but calm enough to have an elegant dinner to celebrate our best man’s 31st wedding anniversary.

Cape Horn Island

The cruise up the Beagle Passage and Straits of Magellan was calmer and broken by visits to numerous glaciers (in glacier Alley) and the towns of Peuto Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco, Castro and Puerto Montt, all on the Chilean side, as the Argentinians had forbidden our entry to Ushuaia because of our planned, though aborted, visit to the Falklands.

The people in Chile were delightful, if somewhat impoverished outside of Santiago, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome. The highlight was a visit to a family farm, which a small group of us had organised independently of the cruise, where the family welcomed us onto their property and home overrun with dogs, cats, llamas, alpacas, chickens and children, and then fed us and entertained us with a Chilean mating ritual dance representing the courting of a rooster and hen. As we were accompanied by a gay couple of guys from San Francisco, we wondered if there was also a version of the dance for 2 roosters.

Chilean dancers

We finished the cruise in Valparaiso (Santiago’s port) and after a short visit, it was back to Buenos Aires for a few nights and then on to London and then Bristol for a traditional English Xmas with friends.

Xmas pudding

Now we back home to a cold and wet winter and where my reality includes mucking out stables and hen houses …. It was definitely more elegant on the cruise.

Back_down_to_earth

At least I still have my weekly Monday morning blog posts (restarting next week) to help me escape reality.

I hope you have all had a wonderful start to the year and hope that the fates treat you kindly in 2013.

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2 Responses to CELEBRATION TIME IS OVER, AND I AM (MOSTLY) BACK HOME AND BACK ON THE AIR

  1. Nancy Taipale says:

    Les, Happy new Year! We saw your ship in one of the ports (Chacabuco? Puerto Montt?) as we were on Oceania from Rio to Santiago at the same time! Thoroughly enjoyed the entire adventure! Thanks for sharing yours…..

    • leshayman says:

      Hi Nancy … like ships that passed in the night 🙂
      We had a spectacular time and met some wonderful people … I am sure that your trip would have been the same. Regards, Les

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