Last night, Imam made me an Elephant out of the towels. He didn’t look in character with my bears, stingray and penguin but he was different.
Today is February the 12th. It is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, and also of Charles Darwin, in whose tracks we are following on this cruise. Darwin and Lincoln not only share the same day but also the same year as their birth.
We are currently in the Chilean fjords on a heading of 344 degrees NNW and at Latitude 52 24.06” S and a Longitude of 073 40.75” W. From the plot on the map we are approaching Isla Esperanza (Island of Hope) on the starboard in a very narrow channel. We are spending two days at sea cruising the fjords before stopping in Puerto Montt.
I am going to try to make two posts today: 1) will deal with Punta Arenas itself, which was anti-climatic after Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel, and 2) our visit to the Otway Sound Penguin Rookery (Magellanic Penguin variety). Those penguins and there antics probably deserve more than one post. We’ll see.
Punta Arenas or Sandy Point in English is the largest most southernmost city in Chile and could be said in the world by population since it has more people than Ushuaia. It is in Punta Arenas where the people going on the excursion to Antarctica will leave by plane and land at a Chilean Air Force Base. There they transfer to an ex-Soviet icebreaker and do about 3 hours of cruising then back on the plane for Punta Arenas and the ship. My Dad says they are being charged $3,999 for this excursion, when you can use the same airline and get a five-day cruise of Antarctica for $5,900. So, he has decided that when I am 12, we will come back just to explore Antarctica.
We grabbed a taxi on the pier (the pier is way outside of town) and drove into the main square (Plaza Munoz Gamero) with a beautiful central monument to Hernando de Magallanes (Magellan as we know him), the first sailor to circumnavigate the world. We came up the Estrecho de Magallanes (Straits of Magellan) to Punta Arenas. From the Plaza we went directly west, across the street, to the Cathedral where we said our daily prayers for everyone but especially our men and women who serve our country. We then went to the Magallenes Regional Museum, which is housed, in the old Braun-Menendez Mansion designed by the French architect Antoine Beaulier. It has a great collection of not only the period furniture and home wares that came with the house but also items from the full history of Patagonia, including bows and arrows and Spanish muskets (Blunderbusses).
Further down Ave. Pedro Montt, was the Chilean Naval Museum. My friend Grace and her family were also there. The museum had displays of torpedo, mines, machine guns and diving suits. There was rooms set up to resemble the bridge (where I took my place at the helm), weather room, communications/radio room and officers mess. My Dad showed Grace and I how to use the telegraph key to tap out our names in Morse code.
We met some people from Georgia who were going on a National Geographic cruise to Antarctica and they told us about a little bistro down the street that had great food. It was called La Marmita and the food was really good. My Dad had the best Ceviche he says he ever had, a soup based on a Chiloe recipe. Chiloe is a very special island in the fjords before you get to Puerto Montt with its very own distinct culture and history.
Then he had ravioli stuffed with carrots and ginger and an herby tomato sauce. My Mom also had he ceviche and special pasta with salad. I shared my Dad’s lunch.
There was a little park across the street and it had seesaws which we took turns bouncing me up and down. My Mom got a great picture of one of the workers taking a siesta in his wheelbarrow.
This is Frederick and I found Punta Arenas interesting but not as much fun as the Penguin trip, which I will tell about next.
To Mrs. Fazarri and my classmates, Adios con dios and hasta lluego. I miss you all.