. . . so the captain decided to continue north and spend the day in the Archipielago de Chiloe. On the way, we have a medical emergency and a helicopter flies to meet the ship, at sea. Thank God the heart attack victim is OK so we can relax a bit and witness the swift efficiency of an evacuation from the aft of the vessel while the helicopter hovers above and the patient is lynched aboard on a stretcher.
A more festive New Year”s Eve follows.
Come morning, with the cold and wet of the south are well behind us, I’m up bright and early to take the first tender ashore to get some exercise, walking around the township of Castro. Tall trees are dotted across expanses of green sloping down to the water where I imagine the floating cones might contain nets for fish farms – the beautiful landscape could be “Tuscany by the sea”.
Alas! It’s New Year’s Day, and the only movement at all is the occasional stray dog and one policeman wondering what I’m up to with my camera. I have the town to myself with plenty of time to ‘smell the roses’ – literally – so many bushes with huge heads of bloom in one variety of pink in the Public Square and front gardens.
The century-old Franciscan church is sheeted with corrugated iron with cream paint peeling to reveal what were once colours of violet and salmon. I can’t view what colours might still be inside.
As I head back down the hill to the harbour, the town is still as silent as a ghost town at ten in the morning, except for the tweeting of birds that I can’t see, and a blaring radio from a solitary passing car.
Waiting on the ramp for the tender to the ship, a bird with a huge wingspan glides above me hiding the sun for a second. I want to imagine it is an albatross as it’s the closest I’ve come to a big bird since joining the cruise.