My passions in life include my faith in God, my family, American history, and a good road trip.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Trip to the End of the World: Part 1

Getting to the Ship
 
Friday, January 29, 2016
To Los Angeles and then on to South America 
Our adventure began around 4:00 this morning. I had set alarms to go off at 4:30 and again at 4:35, in case I somehow didn’t hear the first one. I didn’t need either because I awoke just after 4:00 all on my own. And Claudia sometime before that!
Delbert and Mary Lou Strasser drove us to the airport. We were there by 6:00 to check in for our 8:30 Delta flight to Los Angeles and to check in with the Fun for Less Tours representative. We made our way through the security check and were easily at our gate well before boarding time, where we be­gan visiting with fellow Fun for Less travelers. We saw a mission­ary I had served with in Brazil more than 45 years ago. He and his wife were on their way to a mission in Lisbon.
Our flight to Los Angeles was uneventful, which we always want air travel to be. We arrived at LAX at 9:35, secured our bags from the claim area, walked with them in company with Glen Rawson and his wife Debbie over to the interna­tional ter­minal to check in for our 12:50 LAN flight to Lima and then on to Santiago. We landed in Lima two meals later after what seemed to be forever at 11:30 p.m. Peru time (or 7:30 p.m. Utah time) and sat on the tarmac as Friday became Sat­urday.
Today was the first we had ever met the Rawsons. We knew who Glen was because he hosts the BYUtv series, History of the Saints, and hosted an earlier KJAZZ series, The Joseph Smith Papers. They, along with Michael Wilcox, are our tour leaders.

Saturday, January 30
In Santiago, Chile

After an inflight breakfast we landed in Santiago, just as dawn was creeping over the Andes Mountains. This is the furthest south either of us has ever been, and we will be heading much further south before this trip is over.
Santiago is the capital and largest city of Chile. It is located in the country’s central valley about 1,700 feet above sea level and 60 miles from the Chilean coast. The city was founded in 1541. The presi­dential and judicial functions are head­quartered in Santiago, but the Chilean congress actual­ly meets in Val­paraiso on the coast. The 2002 census listed the popu­lation of the Santiago metro­politan area at 5,428,590, which represented 36 percent of the entire country.
We made our way through im­migration, collected our luggage, and went through an agricultural inspec­tion. Claudia had to chuck two apples we had not yet eaten, but cheese sticks and nuts were okay to bring into the country.
We boarded busses to tour the city of Santiago while our luggage boarded a truck to be hauled to our hotel. We were supposed to be on the yellow bus, evidenced by the yellow yarn tied to our luggage handles, but it filled up with blues because their blue bus was miss­ing in action, so we had to ride on the red bus. The bus took us to various historic, architecturally unique, or otherwise prominent gov­ernment and civic buildings and churches, including the presidential palace in downtown Santiago. Also some beautiful parks. A native tour guide on the bus told us about the various things we were see­ing. She took us to the temple com­plex, where Church ad­ministra­tive of­fices, the Chile MTC, a meeting­house, and such are located. She also showed us a build­ing nearing completion that is supposed to be the tall­est building in South America.
We next rode a tram to the top of the tallest hill in Santiago, which offered sweeping views of the city. We did a little souvenir shopping at the little shops on top. We went next to a place that had a variety of restaurants and shops, where we ate lunch with Dean and Carol Terry from Enterprise in southern Utah. They know a couple we served with at Winter Quarters and are related to them. They very kindly insisted on paying for our lunch.
And finally, most of us bone tired, we were taken to the Hyatt Hotel to spend the night. There are 117 of us or thereabouts on this Fun for Less Tours trip.
Today—which really started early yesterday morn­ing—has been the long­est day.

Sunday, January 31
In Chile at Santiago, Viña del Mar, and Valparaiso

Last night at 9:00 p.m. (which would have been 5:00 p.m. in Utah), after a shower, I went to bed. Claudia had already fallen asleep. From the time my head hit the pillow until our alarm sounded at 6:00 this morn­ing, I was not conscious of a thing and felt totally re­freshed from the long day that was Friday and Sat­ur­day.
We had to have our luggage outside our door at 6:30. We ate at the breakfast buffet on the main level of the hotel beginning at 7:00. It would be our last meal before boarding the ship. By 7:30 we returned to our room to get our final things, checked out, and this morning were able to get on the yellow bus.
The bus took us the 75 miles from Santiago to the sea over three mountain ranges, through two tunnels, through some beautiful agricultural valleys, and final­ly to Viña del Mar and Val­paraiso, where we boarded the Holland America ship, the Zaandam. We spent a con­siderable bit of time touring through Val­paraiso and got off the bus at the museum that displays one of the large stone heads from Easter Island. Val­paraiso is the administrative capital for Easter Island, even though it is 3,000-some miles dis­tant in the Pacific Ocean, a five-hour flight from the main­land. The Chilean national congress also sits in Valparaiso.
At 1:00 our busses dropped us off at the ship, and by 2:00 we were finally aboard. We have an interior stateroom on the starboard side of the main level (deck 2) of the ship, number 2523. We went im­medi­ately to the Lido deck (deck 8), where we ate a light lunch at a small salad buffet. We explored the ship a little before returning to our cabin. Our lug­gage was there by then, and we unpacked. At 4:00 we partici­pated in a man­datory evacua­tion drill. We are as­signed to lifeboat 3. We hope we never have to use it.
Our assigned dinner table is in the Rotterdam Res­taurant on deck 5 at 5:45 each evening. We are at a table for four people right next to a window. Our assigned dinner companions are Otto and Janice Edwards from near Indiana­polis, Indiana. From the way our dinner conversation played out, we assume they are not members of the Church.

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