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Published: February 6th 2010
Coquimbo and Valparaiso, Chile
Let me be the first to tell you that there is nothing in Coquimbo, Chile. If you ever have a chance to come here but can’t make it for some reason, don’t fret about it. The port is the only thing that keeps this town alive. We had a tour to some wineries out of town, but it was canceled. The other tours were not so hot, so we stayed aboard. Bruce ventured into the downtown, but said there was nothing to see, so I didn’t even venture forth. The best thing is the weather that continues to be mild and mostly sunny so far.
We sailed from Coquimbo in the late afternoon for Valparaiso, a more vibrant town with suburbs claiming beautiful beaches and hillside views of the Pacific. This port was, at one time, the busiest in the world because ships stopped here before and after rounding Cape Horn. Then, they built the Panama Canal, and things changed as ships no longer had to go around South America to get to the other side. It is still a viable and busy port, however.
This is also one of the “legs” of the
trip where we drop off and take on passengers. We gained some 60 new people, but only lost fewer than ten including one in an ambulance. The Prinsendam just completed adding several new cabins on the eighth deck aft. I mean just completed! They were working on them since we left Ft. Lauderdale, and were adding furniture as people were coming aboard. We haven’t heard any reaction to them yet.
Our tour included a winery visit and a stop at a Chilean ranch for a horse show, dancing girls, and lunch. The winery had a beautiful setting in the hills outside of the city. The grapes were abundant and the whole area was lush and green. We went through the process with a guide, from the pressing of the grape to the oak barrel. The wine, however, was not to our taste. Again, it was quite sweet. The chardonnay was better than the pinot noir, but again, we didn’t buy any.
We were greeted at the next stop by a man who looked like Loren Greene, or at least a stereotypical owner of a large ranch. He welcomed us and told us how scarce water was, and that
A view from the winery
beautiful location for a winery.
we should drink the wine or soft drinks and not the water. Dancers and musicians began performing, and then a gaucho rode up while our host explained the outfits they wore, and the saddle, etc. on the horse. Chilean rodeo horses are smaller than American horses, and they are gorgeous animals. They cost around $150,000 each and are extremely well cared for. We sat on hay bales in a semi circle and watched several riders put the horses through their paces - going sideways, stopping short, “skidding” to a stop, and pinning a calf to the wall. His twelve year old daughter rode impressively as dad bragged that “here, folks, is a future rodeo queen!”
After the show we were treated to a great lunch (with more wine) including some really good fruit - watermelon and strawberries. Of course, on the way out we had to stop at the gift shop where we could buy saddles, spurs, and all sorts of horse related things including the gaucho straw hat. By this time we were all ready for a nap. The ride back was very quiet.
When we approached the city of Valparaiso, we went down the hillside into
Vino (with a tilde) del Mar, a suburb with newer high rises and lovely houses overlooking the ocean. This was a very nice way to end a delightful day at a Chilean ranch.
Our sail away was impressive as we left the steep rocky hills with their precarious houses perched along the sides. We were heading almost straight away from the city, and our view kept getting smaller as we sailed away. Why not spend two days in Valparaiso and skip Coquimbo altogether? Good question.
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