The people of Chile could not have been more genuine or more welcoming. Interaction with the locals is always much more rewarding than visiting a museum or seeing costumed people dance for the tourists.
Shopping in Arica, Chile
Again on this cruise stop we did not go on a ship organized tour. We instead did a little shopping in the town of Arica for some necessities, flip-flops and most importantly, a colorful plastic plate. Having such a specific list can be a fun outing when exploring a new town. This gives us a chance to practice our Spanish, generally with mixed results.
It may not sound like a big deal to most, but we left without packing our coveted turquoise colored plastic plate. Traveling with this plate is very important to us. It is the first thing we unpack upon arrival at each rental. We both agree on its placement at each apartment. This plate is where we place our keys, coins, tickets, passports, wallets and all items from our pockets. Being creatures of habit, we have been lost without it on this trip. The plate provides us with some degree of organization.
It seemed Arica would be a good place to look for a cheap replacement plastic plate. Perusing our third store we found a plate we felt would work. We had previously been told US currency was readily accepted in Chile, so we had not visited an ATM for this short stopover. After waiting in the checkout line we were surprised to learn only Chilean Pesos were accepted as payment. I offered more than their asking price equivalent in US money, but still the answer was no. Obviously this caused a hold up in the line. Everyone behind us could understand what was being said better than we could. So off we went, without our plastic plate.
After hopefully visiting several more stores, we found no replacement. Upon exiting our last retail store we were greeted by a Chilean couple who obviously had been behind us in the checkout line where we tried to buy our plate. They had overheard our discussion and seen the commotion we caused in the store. They had kindly purchased the plate for us and then searched us out to give it to us. What a nice personal welcome to Chile! We immediately liked Chile and felt welcomed.
A little later while I was engrossed taking photos of the umbrellas, a lady came up to Gayle and said “Welcome to our country.” Another nice gesture of the Chilean friendliness. Later, we realized Gayle was wearing a cap which said “Romania” and the lady probably thought that was her nationality. Regardless, the locals certainly seemed friendly.
The Local Fish Market in Coquimbo
For this traveler who was raised in the mountains of New Mexico, a fish market is always an unusual and fun place to explore. In Italy, many vendors would not allow me to photograph them or their fish. Here in Chile the vendors, upon seeing my camera, would call me over and proudly pose with their fish. What a friendly difference.
Since we left port in Miami in early December, I have eaten fish every day and often twice a day. Generally it is not at all certain what kind of fish I ordered. Translation of these names and dishes is never very clear. We have learned that spicy dishes are not easily found in Peru or Chile. Same was true in Europe.
Home of the Big Dogs
My wife pointed out this humorous scene to me. Dogs begging at a hot dog store.
It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas
Why so Many Crutches?
The surprising number of people using crutches in foreign countries first became apparent to me while waiting for a bus years ago in Portugal. I began counting them and during the ten or so minute wait, I counted a dozen people using crutches. Here in South America we have seen the same situation. On this market corner, three people using crutches were visible without me moving. What is the deal with the proliferation of crutches? My guess is that maybe we fix the underlying problem in the US and in these other countries you simply get a pair of crutches.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ship
Returning to the ship there were at least five groups of what seemed to be high school aged people who were enjoying taking turns dancing for the tourists. These were the most wild costumes. From a photographer’s viewpoint, I should have learned by now that to photograph action the shutter speed should be increased to 500th of a second or so. Most of my photos were blurred, taken at 125th of a second.