This is a first ocean cruise for both of us, so why not jump in and book almost a full month as our initial experience?
I have my fingers crossed that the combination of calm Pacific waters, my transdermal Scopamine patch (did you know they should never be worn more than 6 days in a row?) and the back-up anti-nauseant that my family doctor prescribed will combine to ward off the motion sickness that plagues me on smaller boats, airplanes, and even bumpy bus rides. The last 10 minutes of our 9-1/2 hour flight from Dallas to Santiago had my stomach heaving, so I’m a wee bit worried for sure.
After 9 hours in the air, we landed in Santiago and made our way through customs to be greeted by a phalanx of Viking greeters, as pre-arranged with the tour . There have been weeks and weeks of political protests in Chile, and we’ve been watching both the Canadian and U.S. travel advisories since October, dreading the possibility that Viking would decide it was unsafe to begin our journey here, but we flew from Tucson via Dallas Fort Worth on December 8th as planned. Nonetheless, we expect tighter than usual security measures at both the airport and the cruise-ship port. I wish I’d been more diligent about learning some basic Spanish, but there are no delays at all.
It turns out that almost 600 of us (the ship only holds 942) have arrived within minutes of each other, to be directed through security and baggage check and then onto about a dozen tour buses. As we drive the 90 minutes from the airport to the port itself, there are no signs of unrest along our route, just beautiful views of the Andes, the Casa Blanca vineyards, and walnut orchards.
Soon enough we are back in a built-up area. Almost half of Chile’s 18 million people live the the urban areas of Santiago and Valparaiso. The cities are crowded, with a mix of old and new architecture that makes them not particularly pretty. It’s hard to tell whether the urban areas are poor, or just old. There is a lot of graffiti, much of it protesting the police violence that occurred during this fall’s demonstrations. There is also more barbed wire than we are used to seeing, beside the railway tracks and around storage yards belonging to businesses. On three sides around the port, the homes terraced on the steep hills are a riot of colour, stacked like wrapped boxes that could tumble at any time…
…but at night their lights transform the city. As if by magic, it glows.
We’re exhausted, but we take a moment to stand on our balcony and take it all in. Just breathing in the warm air in this port city outside Chile’s capital, Santiago, makes me feel romantic. I am beyond excited to begin this 27 day adventure with the man I love more than anything at my side.
Sonnet Ix: There Where The Waves Shatter – Poem by Pablo Neruda
There where the waves shatter on the restless rocks
the clear light bursts and enacts its rose,
and the sea-circle shrinks to a cluster of buds,
to one drop of blue salt, falling.
O bright magnolia bursting in the foam,
magnetic transient whose death blooms
and vanishes–being, nothingness–forever:
broken salt, dazzling lurch of the sea.
You and I, Love, together we ratify the silence,
while the sea destroys its perpetual statues,
collapses its towers of wild speed and whiteness:
because in the weavings of those invisible fabrics,
galloping water, incessant sand,
we make the only permanent tenderness.