South America

26 March 2021

Day 11: Tuesday January 15th. Latitude: 8,2,52S; Longitude: 34,52,4W.
Recife is the fifth-largest urban area in Brazil, with 4,054,866 inhabitants. It is the second largest urban area of the North/North-East Regions, also the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco in the north-east corner of South America. We had arrived around 6.30am local time, 9.30am London time. I was up early, so I watched and took some photos, it was fascinating to see. I had not planned any official shore excursions and anyway they were all full. So I stayed on board, watching events in and around the ship. These included some crew members swinging out the lifeboats, checking and testing systems. In the meantime, local dancers and a small band entertained the many passengers who were going ashore and walking the short distance to the string of coaches lined up, all ready to take them on a range of tours! Temperatures soon rose and just after lunch it was 28C, or 82F! It felt even hotter on the top sun deck… That night I attended a party on the aft area of deck 9, it didn’t start until 9.30pm. There was music, dancing, bright lights, the lot! After breakfast the following day I attended what was now our regular ‘singles get-together’ and ended up giving an impromptu training session on the use of the iPad and a Canon camera. I had not seen that particular model of camera before, but I soon worked out the controls. I also attended an official luncheon at mid-day given by the Captain and crew – I met new people. However, it meant that I could not possibly manage another main meal in the evening, so I cancelled that and went to the cafeteria on Deck 9 instead. It also meant I missed choir practice… I returned to my cabin and fell asleep! Not surprising though, as it really was getting hot now. Busy day tomorrow, too.

Image of bus queue
The bus queue, Recife, Brazil.

Day 13. Thursday January 17th. Latitude: 12,58,7S; Longitude: 38,30,43W.
Our next port of call was Salvador, Brazil. Even at 7.30am it was already around 79F, 26C. After breakfast I went ashore for an hour or so. It just happened to be a bank holiday there, with a street carnival going on. So many people, so much noise! I walked around, took photos, watched life in the place and returned to the ship for lunch and a chance to cool down. My arms caught some sunburn, but not too much. As rather expected, the following day it was still very warm – but humidity levels were also up. I believe that the cricket practice on the top deck was rained off! Now we had 7/8ths cloud cover, wind northerly force 5, temperature still 79F or 26C. Our clocks went forward one hour at mid-day too – yes, I did say forward! It was because some countries do not alter their clocks between summer and winter times. So I was almost late for choir practice! I had been watching the news and could see that back home there was snow and ice to contend with – I’m sorry, but you will understand if I say that I was happy to be where I was just then…

Day 15. Saturday January 19th. Latitude: 22,51,13S; Longitude: 43,13,44W.
Our next stop was Rio de Janeiro and there was a view I really wanted to capture if I possibly could. As it was, I woke just before 7.00am local time, 9.00am UK time, to watch as the ship was sailing in. I saw a truly amazing sunrise and I managed to get quite a few decent photos. But it became a bit cloudy, so from the ship there was no clear view of either Sugarloaf Mountain or the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer. I took a stroll along the upper deck around 10.30am and I could feel the sun burning my neck! I had been warned to make sure I put on sun-screen and wear my hat in the afternoon, I also had two bottles of water to take with me. We were not allowed to go ashore with food items such as sandwiches, fruit etc, but just bottled water and a sealed packet of biscuits were fine. I’d had my lunch beforehand anyway! I was booked on a coach tour in the afternoon that included a visit to the local Cathedral and then to Sugarloaf, which was brilliant. I took the cable-car ride up the Sugarloaf Mountain and was able to capture the view that to me was amazing and at the same time was so memorable, as it featured in the James Bond film ‘Moonraker’. Sadly the clouds were still heavy over the statue of the Redeemer, but we saw it for a brief instant whilst travelling back to the ship. I learned later that the fellow travellers who went specifically to see the Redeemer found it was shrouded in mist all the time they were there! It was dark by the time we were leaving Rio and there was a thunderstorm in the distance. I couldn’t see the statue, but I could make out the floodlit shape of a cross. That was an amazing sight. After a busy time in Rio, the next day I took it fairly easy. The sea was such a glorious shade of blue, we’d had rain showers so the air was fresh. I did my walking exercise for the day. Starting from aft starboard, up to the bow, along the port side of the deck back to the stern was a third of a mile. As some of you know, I have to regulate the exercise I do but I am also a fan of Formula One (F1) motor racing, so I treated the walk around the deck like a racing circuit on a practice day. I did an ‘out lap’ and two, timed ‘racing’ laps, all walking but at different speeds. After that was a ‘slow down’ lap, and finally an ‘in’ lap!!! The connection to F1 made it a bit of fun for me, but in fact this was the proper way to exercise my heart, as I had been warned not to over-exercise it and also not to simply stop – I must start, gradually build up speed, then gradually slow down again. Gentle, regular walking.

Image of view from Sugarloaf Mountain
The famous view from Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro

Day 18. Tuesday January 22nd. Latitude: 34,54,6S; Longitude: 50,25,36W.
A couple of days later we arrived in Montevideo harbour and were here for two days. I was booked on the ‘Steam Train’ excursion. Any excuse to ride on a train! Having learned my lesson from a previous excursion, I ignored the advice given in the daily newspaper and was ready to board the bus earlier than recommended. It was the right move as everyone else had done the same! The tour was a good one, starting off by visiting the local cathedral. I was surprised to find we were allowed to take photographs inside! After that it was back onto the coach and on to the train station. We arrived in good time, but then had to wait, first for the train to arrive and then for all the ‘passengers’ to take photos and then get on board. This was a steam train but oil-fired, not coal-fired. In addition, there were quite a few tours from our ship that included the train ride, so we had to wait for everyone to arrive and be settled. The journey went through various areas of Montevideo, finally stopping at a place called Penarol. I walked to a point in front of the train to take photographs, and found the weeds growing there had small, ball-shaped seeds that had very short, sharp spines that clung to my socks, even to my trainers! Removing them wasn’t easy, but I did eventually get rid of them all. After the two busy days in Montevideo it was time for a couple of days taking things a bit steady before we reached the Falkland Islands. Already the weather was changing, it was becoming cooler and the winds a little fresher! Just a walk around the deck now required a light jumper or thin coat and I knew we would have to see what things were like as we continued south. It was becoming distinctly cooler, whilst the sea was nothing like as calm as it had been. Officially, the sea state was moderate to rough, the swell was short and moderate and to take a phrase from the UK shipping forecast, we had ‘precipitation in sight’! The sun was shining on us though – well, at times, anyway. In addition, some of the upper, more open deck areas had been closed off for our safety, which I can really understand and appreciate as it was quite windy. It made me smile when one Australian pointed out that we were already further south than any part of his country!

Day 22. Saturday January 26th. Latitude: 51,38,12S; Longitude: 57,38,18W
We were due to visit the Falkland Islands, but sadly the wind conditions prevented all shore leave. Arcadia was too big to dock directly into Port Stanley, so going ashore had to be by tender, except it was unsafe to transport passengers that way in such windy weather. Our original itinerary had included a number of trips including Rockhopper penguins, a tour of Port Stanley and several other sights. But with force 8 winds and rough seas, the captain had no alternative but to cancel our visit. I had an idea it might be rougher yet as we approached Cape Horn! Still, it did give us an opportunity to take photographs as we passed by the various islands. As I was watching, a number of birds took off. I’m not allowed to say how many, but I counted them all out, and I counted them all back in again! So we carried on and despite travelling south again it warmed up slightly, the skies cleared and the sea was much calmer. In the distance we saw a yacht and we were advised by the bridge that this yachtsman was sailing around the world. He had apparently encountered some rough weather on his travels! At a coffee morning I met and chatted to a lady who also used to work for BT, as I had done. It was entertaining, because soon we were swapping memories in jargon that others at our table simply could not understand! We would reach Cape Horn soon and having looked at a map of the area I noticed that not too far from Ushuaia there is a place called Puerto Williams!

Temperatures were dropping again, which was appropriate as we were nearing Chile…

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