A bit of a hokey cokey
The sign on our bed when we got in last evening from our long drive home was a bit of a kick in the teeth. I mean, I’m sure Chile took a perfectly well reasoned decision to combine the difference in time due to their time zone with daylight saving (or something), but for those of us arriving from Peru and needing to put our clocks forward two hours, it was cruel. Rosemarie had already altered the clock in our room, so although I thought I switched the light off at 10.45pm, the clock advised 10 to 1 in the morning.
Our reward came at breakfast though.
Sitting at our preferred table out on deck, the couple at the next table spotted a spout of water some way off and as they tipped us the wink, several more spouts appeared around us. Whales! Once we’d tuned into what to look for and where, they were coming thick and fast. Though we didn’t see any fins or means of identifying them, it was fun to think that we were surrounded by such beautiful creatures.
We came back to our room and stepping out onto the verandah to see if there were any water spouts nearby, I was greeted by a pod of dolphins, leaping alongside us. What a great way to begin the day!
We spent an hour or so listening to a Smithsonian lecturer and film critic which was just about interesting enough to keep me awake, but it was a struggle!
What we were really looking forward to was our trip ashore this afternoon to a UNESCO site at Humberstone, a former nitrate refinery town (now deserted) and to see the Pintados Geoglyphs. We stood and watched as the tender vessels were prepared, commenting as we did that our fears were unfounded. The heavy swell has continued this morning and the ship is rolling quite hard from side to side. That, coupled with our late departure from Matarani last night made us wonder if we might lose this port of call. But all systems were go it seemed!
The sun was shining, the air was warm and we were in an optimistic frame of mind.
We went to exchange our tickets for boarding cards and waited with our group on the deck to board the tender. Boarding was slow because of the ship’s movement and so patience was needed.
We heard a loud scraping. Oooer. The seamen were finding it tricky to keep the tender close to the platform at the bottom of the steps and now and again, the platform would be under water – or worse, the side of the tender would catch under the platform and get stuck. Boarding was called to a halt whilst some means of stabilising the transfer could be worked out.
In the meantime we chatted to those around us and I had an interesting conversation with our young, Venezuelan Second Officer about bringing the ship into dock yesterday afternoon. One good thing about travelling like this: We know we are in safe and very capable hands and no risks will be taken.
Eventually, boarding recommenced and one by one, we were helped by safety officers down the steps and onto the tender. It wasn’t easy. Sometimes, there’d be a wait of five minutes or so whilst everything was lined up and back in place and as I stepped from platform to tender, I had strong supporting hands on both sides and someone waiting to help me once on board too. We watched as another twenty or so boarded and it was declared we were ready to go.
A lovely warm breeze was blowing and we were soon over and approaching the harbour.
Once there, some careful manouevring was needed.
But we were there. We were off on our adventure.
Hah! Once we’d run the gamut of the welcome party that is! I especially liked the wording on the young naval officer’s cap “Armada de Chile”.
We found our coach #3 and were about to step on board when there was a call.
The Captain had made a decision to withdraw the port.
Now, these things happen. We’ve sailed right past ports of call before and missed out on several places as a result of inclement weather, security risks or other factors beyond our control. It’s a risk we take and though disappointing, there’s nothing we can do. Sadly, instead of boarding the bus, it was time to return to the tender.
We caught a glimpse of the replica Esmeralda though, if not much else but the smiles of the sweet, but disappointed, tour guides who were waiting to take us off on our adventure.
Returning to the tender, there was plenty of chatter, preparing the stories to tell back home. I suspect the Captain feared the situation becoming worse, given that many of our tours were likely to return at dusk or later. Managing to transfer elderly and some infirm guests in difficult circumstances was most probably just too much of a risk to take.
So, back we went to the ship.
Escorted at all times by the Chilean ?Coastguard?
Thankfully, those strong supporting hands were there to help us all back onto the jetty and up the steps to the ship again. We’ve had longer tours ashore, that’s for sure. We’ve had smoother rides. But this one will remain in the memory, I’m certain.
Shame about Humberstone and the geoglyphs though, eh? We might have to come back