February 7, 2023
We had a sea day yesterday and Chef Farid did a cooking demonstration. First he introduced his team of senior chefs and his pastry chef, Sheila. There are 67 chefs on board and 15 of them are the pastry chefs. Of course the kitchen is a 24 hour a day operation. The pastry chefs are hard at work at 2 AM making the breakfast croissants and other assorted baked goods.
The demo was veal medallions, mushrooms ragout, sautéed apple flambé. Farid stressed that the recipe is adaptable to use any fruit and any meat or fish too. Sheila worked side by side and she made alfajores (classic Argentinian sandwich cookies) which are delicious, I had one after dinner the night before without knowing what it was.
There is no tasting of the food since Covid, but they make the dishes in the dining room and the terrace café so you can order them if you wish.
We had a nice cocktail hour with a Georgetown colleague, Bill, who is on the trip with his husband Bob and some of their friends, Kendall and Joseph, followed by dinner with them. Nice evening. And Jeri Sager did her second show of Broadway songs. She’s great.
Today’s tour was called Petroglyphs and Vineyards in the Limari Valley. Here are some photos of the city of Coquimbo and a couple of boats in the harbor.
Our tour guide was Jorge. We traveled through the city and south on the Pan-American highway, at first along the coast and then through more of the desert but then into the valley. The highway is the longest in the world, it goes from Alaska to the bottom of South America. Jorge, of course, gave us lots of information about the area. On the map, Easter Island is just west of Coquimbo and we are nearing the center of the long country of Chile. In the desert, they boast of the clearest sky in the world and there are massive telescopes in northern Chile. Mining is a main industry, mostly for copper and iron.
There are 24 kinds of cactus and we sure saw a lot of them on our trip. Cactus grows only 1 inch a year so most of these plants have been here for decades.
The desert area gets only an average of 5 rainy days per year, last year they had 2, and it can sometimes go years without any rain at all.
Our destination was the Enchantment Valley where we walked for about an hour and observed the petroglyphs which date back thousands of years. No one really knows what the holes in the rocks mean, but in some cases, they appear in a formation like the constellations. Some think they were formed by grinding something like herbs. Here are some of the petroglyphs and the rocks.
And here are some of us and friends Ellen and Charlie.
After the visit, we drove to the Tololo Winery, which was just started in 2018. Here we had a tour of their operation as well as a wine tasting. They described using some of the byproducts of producing wine to make bread! Who knew. We didn’t get to taste that though. Other byproducts are used to feed livestock. The wines were just OK, we didn’t buy any. They also produce the liquor Pisco which is popular for Pisco sours and the mango aperitifs we had in restaurants. It is very strong… we didn’t buy that either!
Jorge let everyone rest on the way back to the ship – this was another long drive out of the city. The ship is leaving early (3 instead of 4 PM) on our way to San Antonio port where we will do a tour to Santiago and the passengers who just did this one segment of the world cruise will leave and 200 new passengers will join for at least the next segment. It is a good day to be away from the ship!
We spotted these birds on the top of the tugboat as we were leaving the port.
Tonight, since so many will be packing, they are showing the movie “Elvis” in the lounge. I have already seen it but for me it is all about the popcorn. We only get it when they do a movie, so sometimes I buy some in port and keep it in my room.
So interesting, with so much history with us knowing so little of this part of the world.