Sunday, March 27, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011 – Coquimbo – La Serena, Chile – Partly Cloudy - 72F

Distance traveled from Valparaiso, Chile: 205 Nautical Miles

No comment on getting any sleep.

Approaching Coquimbo (Small)

Approaching Coquimbo, Chile

We are on tour today: “Coquimbo and La Serena City Tour” at 9:45 AM so we have to be in the Celebrity Theater an hour and half early at 8:15 AM. 

Our bus is pretty nice (no AC) with comfortable seats and clean windows. 

Ellen in Bus 14 (Small)

Ellen in Bus 14 getting ready to go

The tour guide is Hanna and she appears to an atypical Chilean (red hair, green eyes, and a non-Hispanic accent).  As we soon found out – based on her last name (about 12 letters ending in “skaya”), she is actually from Belarus.  Her English is very good and she has picked up enough training to be a pretty good tour guide.

Our tour starts with a drive to Coquimbo, the port city.

Plaza de Armas Coquimbo (Small)

Plaza de Armas,Coquimbo, Chile

One of the sites was a soccer stadium built for the Women’s World Cup. 

Women's World Cup Stadium Coquimbo (Small)

On a nearby hill is the Islamic Center.  This structure, built in 2001, is not a mosque (no minaret) is actually a cultural and educational center (below).

Islamic Center - 2001 - Coquimbo (Small)

The ride to La Serena took about 40 minutes.  La Serena is on the other side of the bay (opposite to where the Infinity was docked). 

La Serena (Small)

La Serena

La Serena is the second oldest city in Chile (next to Santiago) and was founded in 1544.  The city was destroyed by the local Indians and re-established in 1549 by Captain Francisco de Aguirre.  Today, La Serena is a fast growing city of 200,000.

The first stop was the La Serena Archeological Museum.  All of the notations describing the artifacts were in Spanish, making it difficult to understand what we were looking at.

La Serena Arch Museum (Small)

Ellen at the Archeological Museum

The museum was quite interesting – with mummies, artifacts, and statuary.  One of the residents of the museum is a well preserved mummy from around 1000 AD.

Mummy c. 1000 AD (Small)

The mummy was interesting but the highlight for me was an actually statue from Chile’s Easter Island – Rapa Nui.  The statue looks small in the photo but it weights over two tons and is about 10 feet high.

Easter Island Statue - Moai (Small)

After a little free time at the Museum, the group walked over to the La Recova Shopping Center.  The collection of vendors sold varied items – clothes, jewelry, and papaya.

La Recova Shopping Center (Small)

La Recova Shopping Center

At Recova (Small)

Meeting up at La Recova

La Serena Papaya stand (Small)

Papaya everywhere

 Fountain La Recova (Small)

Fountain at La Recova

Our next stop is the Plaza de Armas of La Serena, the site of re-establishment of La Serena in 1549.  The center of the Plaza contains a large and interesting fountain.

Plaza de Armas La Serena (Small)

From Plaza de Armas the bus takes us to the University of La Serena for a photo stop from the University Terrace.

   View from U La Serena (Small)  At U La Serena (Small)

Top: View from U of La Serena (the Infinity is visible docked at Coquimbo); Bottom:  Meeting up at the University for a picture.

Aguirre and Italian Statues (Small)  \

On our way to the La Serena Lighthouse (El Faro), we cross back over Avenida Aguirre, where a statue of the National Hero is found at the entrance (above).  The while statues lining both sides of the parkway are gifts from the Italian government for taking in Italian immigrants.

The Faro is an example of Colonial Architecture but is non-functional.

La Serena Faro (Small)

It sits along Avenida De Mar, which winds around the entire bay and is solid beach,  There are few people at the beach since school is back in session.  The view from the beach at the Faro are terrific (see the Infinity across the bay).

View from Faro2 (Small)

You don’t usually find cannons at a lighthouse but this one had one and it was a big one.

Cannon at Faro (Small) 

The final stop of the day was Horseshoe Bay, a sub bay of the large bay containing both Coquimbo and La Serena.  Horseshoe Bay is a popular tourist resort, with condos and hotels.  There are a series of statues dedicated to the English immigrants who settled here.

 Hombre Inglais Horseshoe Bay1 (Small) 

Hombre Ingles Statue at Horseshoe Bay

Our lookout provided great shots of this very scenic bay.

Horseshoe Bay1 (Small) Horseshoe Bay2 (Small)

The picture below shows and iron mining facility right on the bay (Chile is rich in mineral resources especially copper).

Horseshoe Bay3 (Small)

The lookout also had a series of exercise machines for those who like to workout in front of a water vista.  

Horseshoe Bay exercise eqpt (Small)

The tour returned at about 2:30 PM so I had a little time to rest before my talk at 4:30 PM.  “The CSI Phenomenon” is scheduled in the Celebrity Theater.  I arrive at the theater at about 4 PM to set up and make sure that everything works.  Set up takes less than five minutes so I spend the rest of the time talking to people in the audience (about 20 at this point).

At show time, the audience numbered 150 folks.  As will be the case on this cruise, Alejandro will introduce me (and the other speakers).  I am much more comfortable in the smaller venues and I didn’t feel I really got into the rhythm of the talk.  The talk finished on time and the audience was interactive.  The audience consisted mostly of fans of all of the mentioned shows.

Formal night tonight so we are having dinner in the Ocean View Cafe.

The show tonight is “iBroadway”, a computer themed salute to Broadway Musicals.  While the computer angle might not have worked all that well, the singers and dancers were phenomenal – again the best troupe we have yet seen on a ship.  They seem to be getting better and better on the bigger ships.

Hoping for a better night sleep.

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