Coquimbo, Chile

SUNNY! 73
I wish I could say that the jazz concert with Bob Wilbur was really great. I wish I could say anything about anything after 10:30 last night. I simply fell asleep.

Last night at dinner, the speakers came on with the phrase “code blue”. Some time ago, Michael and I were on a cruise watching a performance when a voice interrupted with “bright star in the photo gallery”. Wow, I want to see that, I thought, but figured I didn’t have time to get my camera and photograph the star, as bright as it might be. Thankfully, I didn’t ask the ship’s photographer what it looked like. “Bright star” as “code blue” means emergency medical problem. I found today that another of the journalists had fainted. The Dr. checked him out, and could find nothing wrong. He is up and about today, but his wife is not at ease.

We are pretty far up the coast, and yet, here in Coquimbo, rocky islands off shore house colonies of penguins and flocks of flamingos soar above the mountain lakes. Tied to the harbor of Coquimbo is the resort town of La Serena, with lovely beaches, lined, of course, with condos. Nearby is the Elqui Valley with such clear air astronomers from around the world come to look through the telescopes of the many observatories. Condo residents keep there shades pulled.

When we arrived, five Chilean men and women were playing folk songs on the pier; a traditionally dressed couple danced to the music. Welcomes like this make the port seem friendlier than having to negotiate literally hundreds of freight containers in order to see the surroundings. Right next to the port entrance a ton of marisco cafes, and loads of vendors selling clothing, toys, and artifacts, were packed with locals.

I took a ½ hour shuttle ride into La Serena. We were dropped of at the Plaza de Armas. It seems almost every town in Chile has a Plaza de Armas, except, as noted, Valparaiso.

I walked the square and a few city blocks, finally finding a place to change my Argentinean bills back to US currency, important, because in Lima I’ve been asked to pay my prearranged taxi and my hotel in US cash. Now, if I could get rid of the coins. There was not much to attract me in La Serena, and after an hour I headed back home.

I am perhaps remiss in not calling attention to all the activities on board Seven Seas Mariner. There are lectures, discussions, the popular team trivia, crafts, and a large library of books and DVDs. Night is either a production show or a featured performer. Yes, there’s Karaoke. The ship even turned the Horizon lounge into a British pub and an old time music hall, with dancers, singers, and lots of beer. Various afternoons and evenings a big screen “Popcorn” movie is featured in the Constellation Theater.

Last night four Peruvian musicians showed up in the Compass Rose dining room. They were in native costume with humongous headdresses, and played their drums and flutes for a bit to entertain us. Tonight they’ll be playing music from the Andes in the early evening and again later tonight. Bob Wilbur will not join them.

We leave for Pisco in about 15 minutes, and will have two days at sea. Oops, Cruise Director Barry just made an announcement that a local band will be playing on the port side of the ship as we sail away. My suite is on the port side. There is no band there, and if it shows up, it will be swimming. But then Barry is British, and they drive on the left.

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