Adios Santiago

For our last night in Santiago we were taken to a club called Los Buenos Muchachos, which was quite a contrast to the previous evening. This one was to feature a dinner and a dance show by local performers celebrating Chilean folk music, or something like that. We, and hundreds of others, were seated in long rows,perpendicular to the side of the stage:

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Not only did this lend to a poor view of the stage (they had TV screens set up if you couldn’t see directly), but we were also packed in like leftist prisoners.

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And, these were very narrow tables also, so dining space was at a premium. Once again the dark Alan cloud started forming. But, the wine started flowing, the food started being served and pretty soon things began to look up. I should point out that a few in our party had been on this cruise before and liked it so much they were doing it again. One of those ladies spread the word to be sure to check out the bathrooms in this place. Well, it wasn’t long before that was more than just a novel idea so some of the guys and myself ventured down the hall. This is what we found:

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Soon some ladies took a similar path with my camera and came back with this:

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Before long many of us in the group were up there with them. If at our age you are going to get up and dance there is no better time or place than to be among people you will never see again. It turned out that we had much more fun than we expected. Chalk up another one to Alan!

Now it was time to leave Santiago and we left with a very positive impression indeed. I could think of far worse places to be in January. If the price was right and the timing worked out we would gladly go back and really get to know the place. It was a very friendly city and very much up and coming. I would be remiss however, if I didn’t comment on one thing:

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Why the whole town doesn’t burn down is beyond me. Chile’, like almost all the countries we visit, operates on 220 volts AC. Somehow the idea of stringing high voltage lines and taking drops off them to individual homes and businesses has proven elusive. Instead, it’s like each house is connected to its own power generator and wires are strung for miles. I asked our guide about it. He said they are trying to upgrade things and even run power lines underground. However, given the number of earthquakes (lots!) they have around here, that solution appears to be problematic. Since Chile is one of the world’s leading producers of copper, I guess they figure, what the hell? I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

So, now it was off to Valparaiso to meet the ship. It was a roughly 2 hour trip by bus and we had plenty of time to kill since we couldn’t even begin boarding till 5. Between Santiago and Valparaiso you cross over two river valleys. Things start like this:

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Pretty much like a desert, complete with cactus. But the valleys have been irrigated using a very complicated system. The result is citrus and olive trees as well as an occasional winery.

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About half way we stopped at a quaint little tourist place for empanadas, a meat pie that is quite tasty.

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The flowers were spectacular!

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Soon we arrived on the coast, however we did not head straight for Valparaiso. Instead we visited the beach resort of Vina del Mar.

Here are a couple young Chileans enjoying their summer home on the coast!
Here are a couple young Chileans enjoying their summer home on the coast!

Like most coastal resorts, there’s some money here:

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Eventually, we came across this guy:

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Easter Island is part of Chile, and, naturally somebody decided they had to move some of the moai statues onto the mainland. So far they’ve moved three, Here, obviously, is one of them.

Eventually our travels finally took us to Valparaiso, and what a city it is!

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Before the Panama Canal, this was one of the busiest sea ports in South America. After the canal, though, it fell on hard times. Now it is starting to experience a resurgence as prosperity returns to this part of the world. It has been called the “San Francisco of South America” mostly by people who have never been to San Francisco. While it is hilly, that’s pretty much where the comparison ends. One guy we talked to in Santiago said he would much rather live here and what we have read suggests there is a lot going on and many cool places. We would have no more idea about that than you since our tour did not bring us even close to any of that. We’ll take their word for it.

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One thing that was not totally surprising, Valparaiso is home the the Chilean National Congress. Why? When the city was still experiencing hard times Pinochet built a congress building here and moved the whole bunch of them out of Santiago, the capital. Now they have to drive 2 hours one way every day to do their jobs. It may be great to be king, but it’s even better to be a dictator!

Soon we were at the port, much like the other ports we call on. Incredibly busy!

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At last it was time to board the ship! It took no time at all to feel right at home!

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Soon we were sailing off into the sunset, bound for Antarctica!

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