Antarctic Cruise – Day 4

Patagonia Sign

Punta Arenas, Chile

Thank the stars, the sea calmed down early evening. The swells subsided, the patch kicked in and I began to feel better. I even got a good night’s sleep.

In the morning we were in Punta Arenas in Chile. It’s famous for being a port where excursions to Antarctica depart from. It’s also a place I’ve been to before, as I came south through Chilean Patagonia. On that trip we passed through quickly, seeing a couple of sights before flying back to Santiago.

The city has changed a bit since my previous visit and I got to see more of it. Sue and I took an impromptu city tour to see the highlights.

First stop, a sign facing the harbor that every tourist must photograph. From there, a museum featuring full size replicas of three ships famous in this area: Magellan’s ship, the Beagle on which Darwin explored, and the Ancud, a freighter responsible for bringing supplies to the area in the late 1800s.

Compared to the behemoth ship on which I’m cruising, these ships looked like miniatures. During their time they were considered enormous and had the most advanced technology. Looking at them, I can easily imagine what tough voyages they had.

Next, we went to the cemetery, which I clearly recalled from my earlier trip here. It’s huge, filled with ornate mausoleums and some incredible cypress trees.

A quick stop at the high point in the city for a scenic view, then to the central Plaza. There, a statue celebrates the original inhabitants of the area, who were wiped out entirely by the European settlers and a prisoner who led a rebellion.

We learned snippets of the area’s history, much of it truly unsavory. Europeans recognized the potential of the area, but because of the weather no one wanted to settle here. So, government officials sent prisoners and bribed (and probably lied to) Russians, Germans and others promising them free land. I’ll wager a lot they didn’t tell them about the weather.

Today, in the height of summer, it was 45 degrees, overcast and windy. It was considered a beautiful day by the locals.