Saturday, March 22, 2014

La Serena/Coquimbo, Chile – March 21, 2014

We dock early and today our cabin faces out to the water so we can’t see too much and we are missing the music and dancers that those on the Starboard side are enjoying. 
Our meeting time with our group is 8:45 and I grabbed an egg sandwich from International Café (which has been very good – no more issues with over heating).

Today’s tour is to the Petroglyphs and Limar/Valley and Vineyard, visit to Winery and Lunch.  We booked this tour quite a long time ago thru Southtours and the actual tour is with Turismo Nuevo Mundo  So save some money and see if you can book directly with the tour provider. 

First I should note that Coquimbo/La Serena is not know to have cruise ships arrive here.  They only get a few a year so tour operations here are available but not normally designed for cruise ships.  This is our second time here and both times we found it hard to coordinate tours.

Two years ago our friends did this tour and we knew we had to do it this time. 

We are a group of 8 and we are lead to a lovely bus that enabled all of us to have our own seats and spread out.  Our guide was welcoming –  Jorge Rojas – and right away started with a lovely narrative of the area and of Chile. 

This area is stunning, we drive along and see small communities and Jorge explains the agriculture and what is being grown here and about harvesting.  He explains the difference between growing grapes for Pisco and for wine, the fruits and vegetables and planting schedule.  He points out the topography and the climate changes in the valleys.  Some areas around here have lots of fog that settles into the valley which assist with the grape growing.  The issues with water retention and irrigation.

We arrive in the Enchantment Valley which is of great archaeological importance.  This open air museum of scientific and cultural interst.  From the El Molle people to the  Diaguita Culture tribe and other groups of hunters inhabited this valley from around 2,000 BC until around 600 AD. The first natives travelled with their animals from Argentina or the Chilean Mountain range to the sea and stopped in the Enchanted Valley to do religious ceremonies and other activities. There are numerous petroglyphs depicting bodies with antennae, crowns, sun symbols and snake and fish like shapes which are deeply engraved in the rocks. 

There are numerous drawings of human beings and other figures done in a natural paint. 

Rocks in the ground have this cup like shapes formed into them.  They are not sure what they were used for, perhaps cooking but when the cups fill with water and the Summer Solstice arrive the reflection in them at night lines up perfectly with the stars above!

Since we are a small group with can really take some time to travel to many of the petrographs and listen to Jorge explained each one. 

The huge rocks just sitting on ledges amazes me, and apparently after many earthquakes they have not budged.
Back in our bus we travel to a small village and to a lovely restaurant where we are served a very good meal including Pisco Sours and Wine.

Our last stop is the Tabali Winery where Vivian Mosnaim the Sommelier shows us around and explains the wine making procedure.  But what I really enjoyed was how this winery has set up an underground display of the day in the life of the original people the Diaguita Culture.  I really enjoyed this part of the tour and Vivian explained it very well.  There is a lovely boardroom here too with casks of wine…. What a place to hold a party I think.

We then get a chance to taste a Sauvignon Blanc and a Shryah…. We also had the opportunity to buy some wines and we were so happy to see they make a Late Harvest wine so we bought a bottle of it and three others. 

What I truly loved about this winery is how they made it to embrace the beauty of the area, the building is all outdoors and even the roof is like a wave to represent the wind.  Everything is natural and embraces sustainability and gives thanks to the earth.  Their wines are made with grapes produced in this valley and legend says that the wine captures this mystic characteristics in its wines.

Living the Dream

Back on the bus for the 1.5 hour drive back to the port.  Chilean music is playing in the bus and as I glace out the window I smile and say to Bernie this country is a country I would like to come back and visit more thoroughly. 

Note if you are not on a tour here you can wander around Coquimbo there are some craft stalls within walking distance and a huge fish market too.  But I highly recommend you take the shuttle or a taxi to La Serena (refer to my blog about our last visit for more details on La Serena – click here).

We are back on board and we check in with Johan and make plans to meet up with him for dinner tonight at Sabatinis. 
The movie Jobs is being shown in the cabin and I really want to watch it, we still have lots of time so I curl up in bad and enjoy along with a couple of glasses of wine as I watch out as the ship pulls away and we say goodbye to Chile.

We meet up with Delip, Laura and Johan in Adagio for drinks, oh my after the two I had and the wine early I better pace myself.
Johan, Bernie and I head over to Sabatinis.  What a beautiful place to enjoy a meal and so nice to spend time with Johan again.  We missed him so and he is very special to us.  

Bernie brought a bottle of his favorite champagne to toast our reunion, then we enjoyed a bottle of red wine (sorry I don’t recall which one).  For our meal I had the calamari, salad and then a serving of pasta (which I only ate half of to save room), and my entrée was the chicken dish.  I really enjoyed it all and loved the polenta that was served with the chicken.  We are too full to have dessert.

After dinner we all head down to Club Fusion and have a good laugh and a little dancing.

We see Lisa Ball and Bernie gives her a big hug as her husband got off in Valparaiso to go and work on the Regal for a bit for it’s set up.  We all have a good laugh for a while and then we all say good night.  Bernie is asleep before his head hits the pillow.

Thank goodness tonight we gain an hour, still three more hours to gain.

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