Adventures in South America- BLOG #12
Warm greetings from the Northern Hemisphere once again! After sailing for about a month and half, we have finally come to the end of our journey around South America and are preparing to head back to Southampton. I’m a little sad to be leaving to be honest, exploring this new continent has felt like exploring an entirely different planet! Exotic foods, cultures, environments and plants I’ve never seen before in every port has made it an exciting month. I thought I’d dedicate this blog to some of my favorite tours and stories from my time spent on the west coast of South America.
Since “the injury,” I find myself staying honest with how my arms and body feel and how they respond to pressure not only with instruments but every day things as well such as doors, lifting, etc. In a lot of ways that same awareness and honesty has leaked into other areas of my life and has made me want to be healthier and treat my body the right way, as it’s the only one I have! I’ve grown a lot since the start of the contract, but I personally think those two weeks changed everything, and I’ve been emerging as a completely different person since. I’ve been trying to find a nice balance between my personal “work” routine and socializing, and always trying to be friendly and meet more people around the ship. My end goals are still the same, I still want to push myself to improve the best I can, but I also want to enjoy my time spent with the people here. Successful race car driving (drivers in general) say the easy secret and advice to those younger is to focus on the road, not the wall, and I try to treat my personal goals with the same light, it’s important to me to keep my long term goals in focus.
Starting with Peurto Montt, I once again found myself replacing the top location I want to return to! (It keeps happening!) For those curious my top locations I want to return to one day in travel (longer than half a day!) include: Southern Chile (for more hiking), Brazil, the Canary Islands and Amsterdam/Rotterdam, in that order. I’m sure there are many countries that I’d be interested in returning to, but I’m not always able to end up with the tour that takes me to the stuff I want to see (like Machu Picchu, Peru!). I’ve made a goal to save some money and spend a couple weeks in some different location during my future breaks.
The tour I ended up escorting took us into Alerce Andino National Park, where lush forests, lakes and volcanoes lie. We got lucky, apparently this area is known to have daily, heavy rainfall, and the day we arrived we had nothing but clear skies and warm sun, perfect hiking weather. I especially enjoyed this particular tour because it consisted of two tour guides, one would hang in the back and make up for the tail end of the group while the other led or stuck with the majority of the group. The tour guide up front was only 3-4 years older than me, and kept showing me cool stuff off the trails such as fallen trees and other various hidden areas while the passengers stuck to the path.
For me, this tour has been my favorite of the contract, the feeling of being lost in a tropical rainforest with sights I’ve never seen before made me very happy, it seems like a great place to come backpacking someday.
In Arica, Chile, I was able to see some interesting history of the Atacama Desert. This included my first time ever seeing mummies, that I learned were most likely cannibalized before preparation (creepy), as well as various tools, weapons and art that was found in the area. These are considered some of the oldest relics known to man and offers a glimpse of what daily life appeared to be at that time. Eventually we made our way out into the vast open desert (like Utah again) where we saw petroglyphs and recently constructed sculptures. The tour offered various fruits and vegetables as a treat to the tour, and I had to keep asking what the different fruits were as I had never seen them before! To be honest, I’ve had countless new things on this contract alone that I hardly remember all of them, I think I had papaya, passionfruit, dragon fruit and something else I forgot the name of. All yummy!
I forgot to mention earlier, but since arriving in South America, I’ve never seen so many stray dogs in my life! Makes the movie “Up” much more relatable cause they’re everywhere! They’re big, but not aggressive, and they generally keep to themselves. Seeing all the dogs though makes me want to raise one of my own in the future, I think once I’m finished up with working on ships I’ll get one.
In Manta Ecuador, me and a couple of friends went to a nearby environment park (hoping to see a monkey), for some rainforest hiking and exploring. The humidity plus the sunlight made it a very sweaty experience. I had a space cadet moment where I brought my camera and heavy tripod along with me only to find out I forgot to put the battery in the camera! *facepalm* Truthfully, I’m surprised something like that hasn’t happened earlier! But for the day my phone camera was good enough. (no monkey, regardless). There was an interesting moment where a hummingbird smacked straight into a window near some hammocks we were hanging out in, the guy working there was able to bring him back to health (I seriously thought it died) and the bird became very social with us before it decided to fly away which I thought was pretty awesome!
I had a valuable reminder that day, that when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Also, Spanish is becoming more and more of a valuable skill I wish I had. When making taxi arrangements, I completely misheard the guy say “sixteen” dollars for all of us (including waiting at the park) when he meant “sixty”! It’s sounded so similar with the accent! Trying to communicate in the different cultures has proven to be a difficult part of exploring places on my own. Still, in the end, it turned out to be a great, unforgettable day.
I hopped on a “crew tour” in Belize, the company puts together a tour every now and then that are for crew only, and we pay a slightly discounted price to what it would normally be otherwise. Since it happened to be Cave Tubing, I was unable to get many pictures, but I heavily enjoyed the tour overall! Fun way to do stuff with the crew as a lot of the entertainment team went as well.
Back in North America, I was able to see some Mayan ruins in Costa Maya Mexico. The port itself is one of those that was built specifically for cruise ships, recently as well, which makes it a commercialized area. On the tour while hiking I finally saw my first monkey of the contract! Unlike a couple of others in the area (they were just chilling in the trees) this little guy started showing off, swinging and jumping to trees with insane ease, I saw him swing on a branch with its tail which I thought was a unique skill! Managed to shoot an action shot as he jumped right above me! Slightly blurry, but a cool shot.
You may have saw I started using the hashtag #ConesRuiningPhotos, and if you were curious, a “cone” is another word for a passenger, many times crewmembers feel they have to weave in and out between the customers, either to get to work, or to get to the port (don’t forget we have less time), it’s a funny way of saying we’re always in a hurry and the passengers are in vacation mode! Unfortunately, when tour escorting, it’s almost a guarantee I’ll be doing them with 30-50 passengers, which makes taking serene pictures a difficult task. I personally like having photographs with no humans in it (except the ones I want in there 😉), and usually I either try to get ahead, or stay behind the group, but sometimes someone getting in your picture is unavoidable! These two in particular make me laugh, one is pretty hidden, the other I had no idea someone was walking right in! Can you spot them?
As my adventures from South America come to close, it’s crazy to think about how much has changed in my life such a short amount of time. A bit cliche, but I feel I’ve emerged an entirely different person in a way I never thought would happen. Somewhere in the past month I also decided now’s the time to grow my hair out (sorry family 😊), as I may never have an opportunity where my employer doesn’t mind. There's only way to find out how awesome I look with a ponytail! As for South America, I hope to one day return and explore this awesome continent when I have more time but already I miss the feeling of exploring something new. Looking forward, I have the Canary Islands, Italy and Norway to look forward to and I can’t wait to see what adventures they’ll hold!
That’ll be all for this blog, I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures in South America, it's definitely a place I plant to return to. I've got something a little different planned for my next blog, stay tuned! Be sure to check out the Gallery for more pictures! Thanks to you who are reading! Please give it a thumbs up, or share with anyone you’d think would find it interesting! If you’d like to ask me anything feel free to do so in the “Contact Me” box that should be in the bottom right of the screen.