11 October 2008 – day 9 - Saturday

Today was pretty uneventful. We basically drove from the hotel back into Torres del Paine park.

Our first stop was the visitor's center where we got our passports stamped to prove we had been there.

Then we went back across that rickety wooden bridge again and back along the route we took yesterday. Wispy clouds embraced the mountains, making the whole scene look like some fake Hollywood backdrop painting.

We parked the bus, got out, and walked down a former horse trail until we got to a beautiful lake.

There were a lot of white calcium carbonate rocks nearby.

Some of the hills were dotted with what looked like strange orange boulders. In fact, these were rugged bushes that had small orange flowers.

The lake water was icy cold because it was runoff water from the nearby glacier. Nonetheless, some of the people in our group took off their shoes and socks and waded into the frigid water. Both Nelson and Julio did it, I suppose, to prove they were “Macho” or something.

After our walk, we went back to the bus and the bus drove back to Puerto Notales. On the way, we saw all kinds of wildlife. We saw the coots and black-necked swans.

We also saw a rare bird Julio called a Spectacled duck.

We saw more of those guanacos, which are like little alpacas. One guanaco couple was getting romantic. They were kissing, rubbing necks and such. It was fun to watch. (It is Spring here after all).

Curiously, the South American Spring has not affected my hormones and increased my libido like Spring does back home.

At one point, we found a dead jackrabbit that was being eaten by an eagle and a caracara.

When the bus got too close, they flew to a nearby fence and posed for us, waiting for us to leave.

We also saw some rheas.

And of course, there are always sheep. The new-born lambs are cute because their coats haven't had time to get dirty so they are bright white.

When we reached town, we had an hour to kill. I tried again to find a decent T-shirt, but I still didn't find one I liked.

So we went to an Internet cafe and checked Kathy's email. After that, the bus took us to our boat and we embarked. We are setting sail on the Skorpios III, which will spend the next five days navigating through the Chileans Fjords. So far the weather has been cold and crappy, with a little bit of rain, but at least it held off until we were out of the national park.

Nelson had set our expectations low; he tried to tell us the Skorpios III was a small ship, nothing like a cruise ship. Nonetheless, the ship is a heck of a lot bigger than I imagined from his descriptions. The ship can hold like 90 passengers or something, although they deliberately under-book it so it's not crowded. It's a very nice ship.

Our cabin is bigger than some of the hotel rooms we've had. Our cabin's bathroom is likely the biggest bathroom we've had so far! And it's a completely open bar; I can't imagine how they can afford to do that.

After we set sail, we went to the non-smoking bar to visit with the group and chill. After a while, I noticed that music was playing lightly in the background and it sounded familiar. Then I was able to place it: It was the “My Soul Will Go On” from the movie Titanic! I kid you not; that's what was playing on the overhead speakers.

Lovely, I thought. This does not bode well. That's just the thing to instill confidence in passengers who are starting on a cruise toward glaciers and their inevitable fields of ice bergs! I joked about it to Kathy.

Nervously, I waited for the dread song to be over and the next song to begin. Well, you're going to find this hard to believe, but the very next song they played was “There's Got To Be A Morning After” which was the main theme song from the original 1970's movie “The Poseidon Adventure,” which is another movie about a sinking ship! Is this somebody's idea of a bad joke? Surely this isn't happening! I ordered a Pisco Sour from the open bar and drank it down. Then I went up to the bridge to make sure the captain was driving the ship as carefully as possible.

Oh my God where is he?