Puerto Madryn (are you Talacre in disguise??)

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February 22nd 2013
Published: June 26th 2017
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Port Stanley to Puerto Madryn

The health restrictions and precautions remain in place. The Captain says that there is now only a trickle of new reported cases. He thanked everyone for stepping up to the mark and especially the crew for their tireless work in ensuring we keep on top of the problem. The Health inspectors boarded at both Stanley and Ushuaia and gave credit for the precautions we are taking and for this reason allowed the ship to dock and passengers to disembark. There have been times when the Port Authorities have refused ships to berth due to the number of reported cases. I understand that only 2%!o(MISSING)f passengers/crew have to be infected for an epidemic to be declared. On this trip, 2%!o(MISSING)f passengers works out at about 52.

The crew may be going all out on a limb to sanitise the lounges and eating areas but they seem to forget of one of the most obvious places that need constant sanitisation...the bathrooms!! Roisin entered one of the bathrooms adjacent to Horizon Court and immediately came back out.

'Those toilets are filthy. And I don't mean dusty!! I'm talking residue…if you know what I mean!!!' she said

Roisin immediately reported the problem to the nearest waiter. The waiter then went off to the nearest supervisor and did some pointing whilst explaining the issue. He then went to the nearest telephone to report to whoever is in charge of latrines.

As we passed the supervisor, I overheard him say ‘Send in the hit squad' although I could have misheard. He may have said (more appropriately) ‘send in the sh*t squad!!'

Gobby' as we have nicknamed our neighbour, for her loud voice and seamless friends she seems to invite back for chats, has been quiet for the past few days. Today we learned why. She has been in sickbay for the last 24 hours on a drip and then quarantined due to the infection she must have had. This afternoon she seemed to be bragging to her friends as if this was some badge of honour! Our cabin steward has been sick these past few days. Now I know where she must have contracted it!!

By the way, we never heard anything more about the medical emergency I reported earlier in this blog. I asked around but nobody seems to know about it and if they do, are not saying anything!!!

It was the 2nd and final formal evening and once again we met up with Alan and Ronda for a catch up over the past few days.

Alan had overhead 2 old ladies talking about the tours they had recently been on. One of them was disappointed that the train ride to the end of the world in Ushuaia only went in one direction??!! Also the scenery wasn't as spectacular as she had imagined. What did she imagine the scenery to be like? A CGI of Alice in Wonderland?? A backdrop painted by Salvador Dali??

This lady also went to the same penguin colony as us and was disappointed she didn't see all the penguin's marching in a straight line!! Again, too much watching cartoons such as Happy Feet or March of the Penguins (where the penguins didn't actually march!!) It's a wonder she didn't expect the penguins to put on a variety show!! She was probably getting confused with the set of greeting cards by Hallmark that have penguins sitting on icebergs holding fishing rods whilst others are ice skating with their little ice skates whilst yet others are in the water complete with a rubber ring around their midriff so as not to drown because they have not yet learned how to swim!! I'm sorry but these people should learn to differentiate between fact and fantasy before they are released in to the community!!

So on to Puerto Madryn; a strange name for a South America town. What you may find even stranger is that some of the streets are named Aaron Jenkins, Davies and Jones.

Fleeing the economic devastation of England's Industrial Revolution, Welsh settlers migrated to Argentina in search of cheap land. One group of settlers sailed for Patagonia, founding the small city of Puerto Madryn in 1865. 150 Welsh immigrants who came in the clipper Mimosa named the natural port Porth Madryn in honour of Sir Love Jones-Parry, whose estate in Wales was named "Madryn" and was the leader of this specific expedition. Life in Patagonia, however, was not easy. There were lonely prairies, brutally cold winters, and unrelenting winds. It sound like how I used to spend my summer holidays as child in a caravan in Talacre, North Wales!!!

I originally read that the ship docks about 4 miles from the centre and as this is an undesirable part of town, a taxi is recommended. This article must have been written by the Taxi Drivers' union!! Speaking to several people who have done this trip before, they advised us that the ship docks pretty much oin the centre of town.

Jolanda, our 89 year old star of trivia suggested we find the tourist information office 3 blocks after the port entrance, from there we can take a free shuttle to a museum near where the first settlers arrived 148 years ago.

I haven't mentioned much about the weather since the first few entries to this blog. That's because it's been on the decline ever since we left Valparaiso. As we kept being told, this is an expedition not a cruise so if it is weather you are after, try the Canary Islands or the Med!! We thought that once we left the Falkland Islands and started to head North, the weather would improve. Today started fine but by the time we had left the ship (about 10am), the skies had started to cloud over.

The Star Princess was berthed alongside the smaller Crystal Seretnity at the end of a very long pier. A shuttle bus ran to the pier gate but we decided to walk the ¼ mile or so to the main road.

The guide book states that Punto Madryn is only of ‘moderate interest' (isn't that estate agent/real estate jargon for boring??!!) It is, however, the jumping off point for two of the most spectacular wildlife settings in the worls: Punta Tomba and Peninsula Valdes; both over 100km away and both take about 2 ½ hours to get there. A mooch around the town it was, then!!!

At the pier gate we were accosted by the usual 20 or so taxi drivers vying for our custom. After pushing through and saying a polite ‘No, thank you' we are then accosted by the 21st taxi driver several yards further on. What I don't understand is this taxi driver will have seen us push our way through the initial ‘gauntlet' so why does he then approach us and say ‘Taxi, sir??' Does he think in the 3 miliseconds it has taken us to reach him that we may have changed our mind??!!

‘Er, yes! Well come to think about it, yes, we do want a taxi. Why didn't we think of that before. A taxi is a spiffing idea. Take us to your penguins!!!'

We found the Information Tourist Office and confirmded that a free shuttle does indeed run every 20 minutes.

It wasn't long before several more tourists started to queue. One elderly couple even asked us what we were queuing for!! I was tempted tro say ‘We're not!' and walk away just to gauge the reaction of the others but instead explained about the free shuttle. Needless to say, mention the word ‘free' and people suddenly want a piece!!!

The shuttle took us to what is known as the Eco Centre. This is about 3km from the centre of Puerto Madryn on a small peninsula. The Eco centre is only a few hundred yards from a statue known as El Indio This has been erected near the site of the first Welsh landing and given by the Welsh to honour the natives who helped them settle in Patagonia after the first arrivals. Relationships between the Welsh and the natives were very cordial, much better than between the natives and Spanish settlers. This is probably because the Spanish only had raping the land of all its gold and silver reserves foremost in mind (Argentina translates as ‘Land of Silver') while all the Welsh wanted to do was to sing ‘Men of Harlech'!!!

In the 10 minutes the shuttle had taken to arrive at the Eco Centre, the heavens had opened and we were just happy to get inside. The plan was to wait until the rain subsided and then we could visit El Indio.

The Eco Centre explained the story of marine wildlife in the Patagonia region and the conservation programme to preserve all species. The most interesting exhibit was a short tunnel with hundreds of thick cords hanging from the ceiling to the ground. As whales have no teeth, all food flows through a series of filters made from keretin. These cords represented such filters.

And the rain persisted down! There was no let up. To walk to the El Indio monumernt would be pretty uncomfortable. We all agreed to take the next shuttle back to town. The weather had beaten us. It was just like Talacre, just how I remembered it!!

We headed back to the ship. It was about 1:15pm. If the rain had subsided by 3pm, we were going to step back off the ship for a final wander. However, 3pm came and went. It had been a miserable day (weather wise). Just like Talacre, just how I remembered it!!

Yeserday evening, Roisin and I tried our luck at the ‘Golden Oldies' name that song. We intended to keep a pretty low profile as music is not really our strength. We met John and Marina who normally don't attend the evening trivia. We ended up with a credible 28½ out of 40 (because Roisin put the Archers who sang ‘Sugar, Sugar' instead of the Archies). We were sat next to the team that actually won with a score of 39/40. They got booed!! We got booed a few days ago when we won the afternoon trivia. It seems to be when lots of team play, not just the regulars. I was laughing and joking above the jeers, shouting to the winning team ‘Now see how you like it!!'

It suddenly dawned on me that the crowd weren't booing them…they were booing us!! The bastards had thought we had won!!! We're getting booed now even when we do crap!! This has never happened before.

John and Marina, the other 2 members of our quiz team, appeared on the front of todays Princess Patter. They are this voyages most travelled passengers. They have sailed 1,593 days with Princess. Considering they only started when they both retired 15 years ago, that's quite an achievement. Once the mob had dispersed and got to crawl back in to their holes, I questioned the most travelled passenger status with John and he gave me the following reply: ‘We travel no more or no less than the average English person who does a world cruise each year. 120 days, sometimes less, sometimes more!!!' I would like to meet these average English people who have both the funds and wherwithall to make a round the world crusie each year. I must be mixing with some pretty below average types!!!

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23rd February 2013

R you both look fab. Roisin I love your top xx
25th February 2013

Ok... so now the competition is on? How many days can Chris and Roisin travel in a year. I bet you can win! Or....?
25th February 2013

Ha! ha! It's certainly not going to be the equivalent of your average person's annual 'around the world' cruise!!!

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