When Lambs Cry
Trip Start Dec 17, 2010
19Trip End Jan 08, 2011
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So this morning we gathered once again in the Ocean Bar where Russ had organized that we would be met by someone who was not the cruise director but looks like the cruise director (meaning tall and blonde) and who would escort us to a tender so we wouldn’t have to wait
We actually got in a little early to Chacabuco, and this time I really was ready for all types of weather. I dug my white jeans out of the laundry hamper, put on a short-sleeved tee shirt, and put a long-sleeved shirt and windbreaker in the tote. I decided while descending the stairs to get on the tender that it was pretty “chilly” (ha!) and damp, so I put on the long-sleeves and was pretty comfortable. That worked well for most of the day.
We were met by our guide after a considerable walk, and we loaded onto two small buses this time, a yellow one and a blue one. On my bus were Evelyn and Rod, Russ and Ev, Lee Ann and Bill, Nancy and Jeff, and a few other people I don’t really know.
There is nothing to see in Chacabuco.
We had been warned, I suppose, that Chacabuco does not yet have the “infrastructure” in place at this time, but they are trying to attract more tourism. They really tried. We drove around and stopped to look at rapids, water falls, religious iconography like a shrine to St. Sebastian, apparently the patron saint of drivers (and passengers, we were assured), a rather gaudy shrine to “la Virgin de las cascadas” (the Virgin of the falls), which, if you ask me, kind of desecrated the beauty of the falls themselves. But of course you didn’t ask me; nobody did.
The reality is that the sheer beauty of Patagonia is enough of a draw, but I guess it isn’t lucrative, so they are trying to come up with more “attractions” to justify and extend the tours
The culmination of the tour was a lunch at a real family farm, a very remote place with lots of dogs, cows, and some adorable alpacas. It was delightful, actually. They had obviously built this quinto to host these lunches, and we had all chosen before hand if we were going to have the lamb or the empanadas. I chose the lamb, and we had a discussion on the bus about it. Nancy had decided in New Zealand that she just couldn’t eat lamb anymore after seeing them romp across the meadows. So though she was not a vegetarian, she had chosen the vegetarian option (a third option, since lamb was also in the empanadas). I tried to convince her that eating lamb was a good idea, even told her they were really vicious animals and that they would willingly eat us first if they had the chance, but she wasn’t buying it.
They gave us little badges related to what we had ordered. We carnivores got a cute little cartoon sheep, which did not help my case; Nancy’s vegetables were giddy in a skillet. I made the argument that it was presumptuous to think that sheep were superior to the vegetables, pointing out that in the pictures it was the vegetables who seemed to be enjoying their lives more.
So they met us at the place with pisco sours, a local drink that is reportedly pretty potent. I drank mine—it tastes kind of like a margarita. Nancy was at another table, but she brought her drink over and told me I could have it, that she didn’t like it. I said that was probably because it was made out of the tears of lambs.
People think I’m crazy, but I got two pisco sours. I guess you could call me a visionary.
Do not drink two pisco sours. Especially if you haven’t eaten since an early breakfast and if you are going to follow them up with some Chilean red wine. I’m just sayin’. I did not embarrass myself, but there was talk at one point of teaching the Chilean dancers, who were doing a traditional cuerca (imitating a rooster “courting” a coy hen), the American folk tradition of the chicken dance.
Anyway, the lamb was very tender, served with some potatoes and corn and a salad with lettuce and radishes, all grown by the abuela who was very proud of her greenhouse, as she should be.
While they took the splayed lambs off the fire to go slice them up for our lunch, a young couple dressed in costumes did several dances. They were very earnest, if a little unseasoned, which made it even more charming. The music was playing from a laptop computer, and at one point the young man, in a poncho and rather frightening spurs as well as a huge hat, stopped dancing and went over to adjust the volume.
We had our lunch, warmed by the fireplace and the booze and the really warm welcome from this family, who I think were surprised that we were interested in their farm and their folk traditions. And it wasn’t done in an artificial, touristy way, with us Americans watching the “quaint” primitives with their curious customs. It was real on both sides, I think.
Besides, some of us are Canadians.
By the time we left it was really starting to cloud up and even I was getting cold. We were also starting to worry about getting back to the ship in time.
Cruise Lines have this understanding with passengers. If you are on one of their excursions and something happens to delay your arrival, they will hold the ship and wait for you. If you have gone rogue, though, and you aren’t back in time, they will leave you high and dry (dry if it’s not raining, that is, which it was by this time).
We were, of course, on independent tours. So that 5:30 departure time was getting too close for comfort for most of us. We had asked about shopping opportunities earlier, and our guide, Carla, said we would do that at the end. But it was a little after 4, and we had to get back to the pier, stand in line for the tenders, then ride to the ship. So we informed her that we would prefer to go straight to the ship.
Don’t worry, be happy, blah blah blah.
Two people wanted to shop. So we had to stop at a place, which had a row of little shops that maybe one person at a time could fit into (one American, two Canadians, four Chileans). By the time we got there only one shop was still open. We were given ten minutes to shop. I have some Chilean pesos I need to get rid of, but I cannot shop in ten minutes, and I’m worried about missing the boat (I’m really, really looking forward to our upcoming two sea days).
So I stayed on the bus and called everyone else traitors—because they all got off. They were back very soon, though, because the shop was so tiny, and it was starting to rain. And it was cold.
So the two shoppers came out happy with ONE PAIR OF FIVE-DOLLAR EARRINGS, and we haul ASS to get to the pier.
We stood in line forever to get on the tender. It was raining, and the wind was brutal. I dug out my windbreaker, but I could easily have used my parka at this time.
We were on the last tender. As I was still walking down the hallway to my cabin, the captain came on the speaker and said we were now departing.
The entertainment tonight is a juggler. I am going to eat in the Italian restaurant (which I’ve not tried), and read my book or watch a stupid movie. My room is not as hot (as we head south), but it's still pretty stuffy.