Saturday, 27 February 2010

Through the sunny channels

We missed our first breakfast onboard, not waking up until I heard a muffled voice over the intercom, announcing that breakfast service ended at nine, and would people please remember to return their dishes and trays to the kitchen staff.

We woke up alone, as I had "solved" our little shared cabin disappointment the night before by asking the staff politely if we could move to one of the many empty rooms. At first they were hesitant, first asking the jefe, and then the capitan, but it is one of the triumphs of my poor Spanish skills that I managed to not only make myself understood, but convince them too. They just laughed when I, at one point, asked if a small tip might help. When I tried afterwards to tip the jefe anyway, he laughed again, refusing. I guess the money goes in the envelope on the last day, then.

We were very happy to have our own room.

As we sleepily looked out our little window, we could see land a mere stones throw away. After getting up, we discovered a similar view on the other side: we had entered the channels.

The weather was perfect, sunny and warm, so we spent most of the day on deck, taking some pictures and watching the land drift by. Well, actually Ewelina spent most of the day, I got bored of constant beauty and went to write code on my laptop... some of the time anyway.

The channels were very narrow at some points, bringing land close enough on either side for us to make out some details in the dense forest. The area looks wild, uninhabited - the only signs we saw of humans were other boats and a salmon farm with a crazy house built on the water instead of on a nearby island. Perhaps the land is protected?

That afternoon a meeting was called in the ship's pub: a major earthquake had occured in Chile, about 90 km off the coast from Concepcion: they said it was about 9 on the Richter-scale, at the epicenter. It hit the most densely popolated part of Chile the hardest, including Santiago. Some lives were lost, lots of property damaged, Australia and Japan were expecting a tsunami and apparently Castro, where we were less than a week ago, was evacuated for the same reason. Nothing like Haiti, from the sounds of it, but a big deal all the same.

(The nerd in me was, somewhat perversely, fascinated to see that the news printout posted in the mess-hall quoted Twitter users as a news source in a multiple places.)

It was weird to think how in the last couple of months we have been trailed by disaster while we blithely enjoy our sunny, incident-free holiday. Mud-slides in Machu Picchu last month, a tourist died of fumes climbing some nearby volcano (I thought it was the same one, but Ewelina just corrected me) only days after our aborted climb and now this... We decided to, if possible, send word home from Puerto Eden to reassure people we are fine and happy as usual.

Dinner on our second night was, as predicted by our guide-book, spaghetti bolognaise. Tasty! That evening and during the night is when we ventured out into the open Pacific and had some actual waves: for this only part of the journey where sea-sickness was a possibility, they fed us food that looks the same coming up as it did going down. Ha ha!

Neither of us got sea-sick, but we did have a nice nap before going back outside to gaze at the stars and have the deck all to ourselves for a bit. We both liked the waves and the gentle rocking of the boat, at last it felt like we were at sea.

We were glad we were in the channels when the tsunami (if there was one) passed by though, we don't know what those look like at sea and would rather read about it on Wikipedia than experience one first-hand.

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The past!