31 October 2017:
Valparaiso, Chile:
A Steep Climb to Paradise

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Valparaiso gets it name from Old Spanish, the Valley of Paradise.

It would be easy to make a weak joke about Paradise Lost, or Paradise in Shambles…because the city of today is not exactly how many would describe a perfect, idyllic place.

But Valparaiso does have its charms, not the least of which is an exuberant embrace of color and art and resilience.

Valparaiso. All photos by Corey Sandler

The city is built into something on the order of 42 distinct hills, most of them rising very steeply from the waterfront.

Today Valparaiso celebrates its history of diversity, its colorful buildings, and the many murals created by graffiti artists on the streets, alleys, and stairways.

It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, for slightly unusual reasons, its “improvised urban design and unique architecture.”

And before that, in 1996, the World Monuments Fund, a non-government non-profit, declared Valparaíso’s unusual system of funicular lifts one of the world’s 100 most endangered historical treasures, in the company of Venice, the Nineveh and Nimrud Palaces of Iraq, and the Taj Mahal.

One of them is a steam-powered elevator to paradise.

Today I went with a group of guests on a trip up into the hills to visit the beautiful El Cuadro vineyard and winery.

On our way there, we passed by the Fonck Museum in Vina del Mar and paid homage to a Moai, one of the great stone figures from Easter Island, part of Chile 1,200 miles to the west.

EL CUADRO WINERY

For those guests leaving us here in Valparaiso, safe travels until we meet again. Arrivederci.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

30 October 2017:
Coquimbo, Chile:
Quiet and Serene

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’ve arrived at the waist of Chile, the slimmest part of the long and narrow nation.

The name Coquimbo comes from a Diaguita word meaning ‘place of calm waters’.

And when the naturalist Charles Darwin arrived in 1835, after his visit to Tierra del Fuego and just before his historic visit to the Galapago Islands, he wrote that the small town was “remarkable for nothing but its extreme quietness.”

Therefore it makes perfect sense that Coquimbo quietly merges with a neighboring city along the coast: La Serena.

Serena, as an adjective, means serene. As a noun, it refers to the soft evening dew.

Quiet, calm, and serene—with the exception of a long-ago history of pirates, and an everyday concern about an active earthquake fault.

SUNSHINE ON COQUIMBO

ABELONE AND FRESH FISH

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

28 October 2017:
Arica, Chile:
The Far North

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Over the years, I have come to realize that not every person walks about with a map of the world in their head, backed up by a collection of atlases back home. That would describe me, but I’m the first to admit that I am ever-so-slightly different from others.

SILVER MUSE IN ARICA

I don’t mind being the personal navigator for all who travel with me. I enjoy the mental gymnastics.

So, to set the stage: as we head down the coast of South America, we have now progressed from the deep south of Peru at Matarani to cross the border and arrive at the far north of Chile and the port city of Arica.

That part is fairly obvious. One complexity is that Chile also reaches to the bottom of the continent, so in a few days we will be making a left turn to the easternmost part of the country, at Tierra del Fuego, which touches the southernmost piece of Argentina.

And then after we round the bottom, our navigation will be the other way around, heading northeast to the Falkland Islands and then northward up the coast to Uruguay and back to the eastern shoulder of Argentina.

Stay with me for details…

Arica is just 11 miles or 18 kilometers south of the border with Peru, at the bend of South America’s western coast known as the Arica Elbow.

It got that way as the result of the Pacific War between Chile and the Peru/Bolivia; the Chileans won, and expanded their territory north and inland.

People settled at the Elbow is that this is where two lush valleys converge: the Azapa and Lluta.

FISHING BOATS IN ARICA HARBOR

Today I went with guests on a trip to see some of the geoglyphs of the Azapa valley, including La Tropilla, interpreted to be a depiction of a trading caravan from the Andes headed to the coast with a load of wool, potatoes, and charqui to trade. Charqui was salted and air dried meat…say the word a few times and you will see the origin of the English word jerky.

GEOGLYPHS OF THE AZAPA VALLEY

From there we proceeded to the Museum of San Miguel de Azapa which includes some of the finest artifacts of the ancient Chinchorro people. The mummies of the Chinchorro are believed to be the oldest in the world, as old as 8,000 years–the mummies of Egypt are about 3,000 years old.

MUSEUM OF SAN MIGUEL DE AZAPA

The grounds of the museum were beautifully landscaped. I’d welcome an identification of the flowers below:

The city of Arica includes some handsome colonial structures as well as two buildings designed by the engineering firm of Gustave Eiffel in Paris and shipped here for reconstruction. Here is the St. Mark’s Cathedral, made of iron:

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

27 October 2017:
Matarani, Peru:
The Deep South of Peru and La Ciudad Blanca of Arequipa

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Matarani is the deep south of Peru, a thin strip of desert with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the spine of the Andes to the east.

Peru’s second largest city (after Lima) is Arequipa, about 75 miles or 121 kilometers from Matarani, about two hours up in the foothills of the Andes,  at altitude 2,350 meters or 7,710 feet.

It’s a dramatic setting, and also about as close as many cruise passengers are likely to get to landlocked Bolivia.

And it’s not Mount Fuji in Japan, either, but it probably could pass for it in a movie background. Looming over the city is the El Misti Volcano, rising to 19,098 feet or 5,821 meters above sea level.

It is a stratovolcano, the type that is somewhat like a pressure cooker. It lets off a bit of steam every once in a while but mostly sits around in seeming quietude until it explodes violently.

And yes, it is still active, it last major eruption in 1985.

I traveled today with guests up to the base of the Andes to Arequipa, on a two-lane highway thick with trucks and buses and thin with asphalt and guardrails.

Here’s what we saw along the road:

ON THE ROAD

AREQUIPA: LA CIUDAD BLANCA

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

25 October 2017:
Pisco, Peru:
The UFO Refueling Station?

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Pisco is an island-like city in the midst of a desert-like stretch of southern Peru.

The surrounding desert was the home of the Nazca people…and, according to some, an airport for UFO landings.

And perhaps not coincidentally, it is the world headquarters for a very strong grape-based brandy.

An island in the desert with breweries for high-octane alcohol and an airport for aliens. Makes sense to me. (Just like Las Vegas…)

Speaking of booze, the firewater of this region is called Pisco, a colorless or yellowish brandy made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit.

It was developed by 16th century Spanish settlers as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was being imported from Spain.

Annual pisco production in Peru is about 10 million liters, but they don’t much drink it here.

Like the asparagus crop, though, Peru makes the product mostly for export with neighboring Chile a major consumer.

Here in Pisco, they prefer to offer visiting aliens a whiskey to refuel their spaceship.

Sadly, Pisco was all but leveled in the earthquake of 2007.

Pisco, An island in the Desert. Photos by Corey Sandler

LOS ISLAS BALLESTAS

On this visit, I went with guests on a boat trip due West offshore to the amazing Ballestas Islands, a mini-Gallapagos that is home to uncounted millions of birds, sea lions, and other creatures.

Along the way we sailed abeam of El Candellario, an ancient figure drawn into the sand and soil of the coast, a cousin to the better-known Nazca Lines inland. No one knows what the drawing means, although it almost certainly does not represent a candelabra, since the ancients had no such device. It may represent a cactus, or it may be a road sign pointing the way inland to Pisco or out to sea toward the Ballestas.

Here is some of what we saw:

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

23-24 October 2017:
Callao, Peru:
The Port of Lima

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Here’s the answer to a question for team trivia: residents of the major Peruvian port of Callao are known as chalacos.

The city was founded by the Spanish in 1537, just two years after Lima. It soon became the main port for Spanish commerce in the Pacific.

At the height of the Viceroyalty, virtually all goods produced or plundered in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina were carried over the Andes by mule to Callao.

From there the cargo was shipped to Panama. It was nearly four centuries too early for a passage through the canal, so a land route was used instead.

Cargo was carried overland across the isthmus, and then loaded onto galleons to be transported to Spain. The Spanish maintained strongholds in Cuba and in Cartagena in what is now Colombia.

Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru

A COLONIAL TOUR

Today I went with a group of guests on a tour concentrating on the Spanish  Colonial history of Lima.

Our first stop was at the amazing Casa Aliaga, a home which has been in the hands of the Aliaga family for more than 17 generations from 1535 through today. It is furnished with items including some dating back to the times of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Here’s a bit of what we saw:

CASA ALIAGA

Photos by Corey Sandler

SAN PEDRO CHURCH

Nearby was Presidential Palace of Peru, guarded by a squad of ramrod straight soldiers:

CASA SAN MARCO

And then we visited a small portion of the sprawling San Marco University, the oldest university in the Americas, dating from 1551. We were greeted by several actors in period dress, including a young woman who showed the connection between Peru and Colonial Spain and the Moorish influence in Andalusia.

And she did so in a very coy way.

THE KON TIKI CONNECTION

Norwegian explorer and author Thor Heyerdahl believed that people from South American could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

Norwegian explorer and author Thor Heyerdahl believed that people from South American could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

In 1947, it was from Callao that Norwegian explorer and author Thor Heyerdahl set sail in his balsa wood raft Kon Tiki, on a successful voyage to Polynesia to support his theaoty that people from South American could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

Today that theory is subject to some questioning, but no one questions the seamanship and bravery of Heyerdahl and his crew.

Lima, the capital and the largest city of Peru, lies about 9 miles or 15 kilometers to the south.

With a population of almost 10 million, Lima is the second-largest city in the Americas, behind São Paulo and before Mexico City.

That puts about one-third of the entire nation’s population in and around Lima, a handsome and bustling city that brings together things colonial and modern.

UP TO MACHU PICCHU

Up in the interior of Peru, along a magnificent mountain pass from the city of Cusco, lies the mystical city of Machu Picchu. You cannot sail there by cruise ship (or any other waterway).

Some of our guests headed there on an extended land excursion. Here is some of what I saw when last we made a pilgrimage there:

Machu Picchu. All photos by Corey Sandler
Machu Picchu

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

22 October 2017:
Salaverry, Peru:
A Visit to the Chimú Capital of Chan-Chan

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

In relative terms, Peru is a South American success story. Peru is classified as upper middle income by the World Bank, moving upward.

Its total GDP is somewhere around the 39th largest in the world, with a per capita GDP above $12,000.

But there is a major divide between the relative prosperity of the coast and abject poverty in the high Andes.

The economy is based mostly on exports: copper, gold, zinc, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, services, and fish meal.

Silver Muse docked at Salaverry, a small industrial port town.

There’s not a lot to recommend in Salaverry, other than a parking space for our ship.

The focus of our visit is the old Spanish Colonial city of Trujillo, about 14 kilometers or 8 miles north.

Also, the amazing ruins of the adobe cities of the Mocha and the Chimú capital city of Chan-Chan.

Today, on a pleasant early spring day in Peru, I went with guests to Chan-Chan, a huge Chimú site. We toured one of the sprawling temples and explored the artwork and architecture of a place frozen in time from about 1450.

CHAN-CHAN

Some of the internal artwork under preservation at Chan-Chan.

Watching over us, a pair of buitres, vultures whose ancestors probably were here six centuries ago.

CENSUS DAY

As it happened, today was the day of the Peruvian National Census, conducted once every 10 years. In an interesting arrangement, all citizens, residents, and tourists are required to stay in their homes or hotels between 8 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon as census workers spread out across the nation.

In a last-minute ruling, the government altered the rules slightly, allowing tourists arriving on the day of the census to come ashore and spend time (and money) in a few select places. And so we did.

At Chan-Chan, I came across a special representative of the Tourist Police, hard at work.

TRUJILLO AND SALAVERRY, PERU

Trujillo, Peru. Photo by Corey Sandler
Coastal Peru. Photo by Corey Sandler
Trujillo, Peru. Photo by Corey Sandler
Trujillo, Peru. Photo by Corey Sandler

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

20 October 2017:
Manta, Ecuador:
Take Your Hat

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Here in Ecuador (as in Equator) you need a good hat. It’s not a fashion statement; it’s an essential.

Manta, the largest seaport in Ecuador, is a bit less than one degree south of the Equator, about 65 miles or 105 kilometers below.

It is nearby the place where a famous type of millinery for men and women is made, but that article of clothing bears the name of another country. The famous Panama Hat was first made here, and exported to the workers laboring in the hot sun.

Panama Hats in Ecuador. Photo by Corey Sandler

Today they still make some very fine Panama Hats in Ecuador. But if you don’t look very closely at the label, you might find that your sombrero nuevo was hecho en China.

Though you may never have been here, chances are pretty good you’ve opened a tin of food that was packed here. This is one of the major sources of canned (and fresh) tuna.

Just ask Bumble Bee, Van Camps, and a half-dozen other major companies with canneries here. And the most valuable fresh tuna are packed in ice, loaded on jets, and shipped around the world to connoisseurs.

Tuna coming ashore in Manta. Photo by Corey Sandler
Street vendor in Manta. Photo by Corey Sandler

And although huge, goofy-looking Manta Rays are indeed found in the waters near Manta, they’re also quite common in many other places.

Manta Rays get their name from the Spanish word manta which means blanket, which is a reference to their shape.

Manta, Ecuador gets its name from the Manta tribe, a group of people that was subsumed into the oncoming Inca tide in the 15th century.

Back to hats.

I am fond of a quote from Henry David Thoreau, the champion of simplicity. He too, though, prized his hat: “Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.”

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

18 October 2017:
Transit of the Panama Canal:
Floating Across the Continental Divide

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Silver Muse arrives at the Miraflores Locks at the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, 18Oct 2017. 

Early Wednesday morning, before sunrise, Silver Muse took her place in line for a trip through one of humankind’s greatest adjustments to the face of the earth: the Panama Canal.

We arrived outside of Limon Bay in the Caribbean Sea and then moved slowly south to the Atlantic Approach of the canal.

Yes, south. Although we are moving from the east coast of the American continent to the west, at the narrow isthmus through Panama the land bends nearly 90 degrees. And so we enter from the north and exit into the Pacific Ocean sailing south.

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap (and) contributors, CC-BY-SA

That’s just one of many things around which mariners and travelers need to wrap their mind. The most astounding is the fact that our ship—for the very first time in her young career—will rise about 80 feet in three steps at the first set of locks and then descend about the same distance at the end of the day as we enter the Pacific.

Silver Muse makes her maiden transit of the Panama Canal. Photos by Corey Sandler

In between, we sailed the fresh water of Gatun Lake, created in the early 20th century by the construction of a dam across the Chagres River.

The Panama Canal itself is nearly unchanged from the way it was when it began operation in 1914. Last year, a new set of wider and longer locks were opened alongside the original ones; think of them as new entry ramps to an existing watery highway.

I have made the passage many times, and it always is a thrill to view the technology and relive the history of its construction.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

 

17 October 2017:
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica:
The Atlantic Side of the Rich Coast

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Buenos dias.

¿Cómo vas?

¿Pura vida?

Muy bien, gracias a Dios.

There’s your basic meet-and-greet for Ticos, also known as Costa Ricans.

Good day.

How are things going?

Pura vida?

Very well, thank God.

The one phrase you might not have recognized is one that pretty well sums up the Costa Rican character.

Pura vida.

Literally, it translates as pure life, except in proper Spanish that would be vida pura.

He looks cool, at least from a distance.

The Costa Rican expression is the rough equivalent of “full of life” or “real life” or “cool.” Or perhaps, hakuna matata.

It’s an all-purpose phrase, used as a greeting and a farewell. You can use it to say thanks, or to express satisfaction. It’s hard to use it wrong.

The phrase arrived in Costa Rica in 1956 in a Mexican movie. In that film, pura vida was the expression of eternal optimism by a character who can’t seem to do anything right.

Here is Costa Rica, though, they seem to be doing many, many things quite right.

It’s a special place, notably different from its neighbors in Central America in lots of good ways.

Since 1948, Costa Rica is arguably the most stable democracy in Central America and among the better-functioning longstanding governments in the world.

Nearly universal literacy, national health care, an economy that has moved on from agriculture to ecotourism.

No army, no navy, no air force. Just a civilian police force.

It helps to have some friends with benefits, including the United States, available in an emergency.

We’re coming in to the Atlantic or Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica (the Rich Coast) is one of eight countries to have ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific: Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia…and Panama.

And when we leave Puerto Limon, it is to Panama where we shall head, for our luxurious passage between the seas.

A STEAMY FIELD OF DREAMS

In a typical Major League Baseball game in the United States and Canada, an average of 100 baseballs are used.

Why so many? Some become scruffed or dirty in play, some go into the seats as foul balls, and a few make their way over the fence for a home run. The average lifespan of a baseball is just two plays.

And it is essential that—as much as possible—that all baseballs are close to identical: the same size, weight, and construction.

A Rawlings factory was established in Costa Rica in 1987, and it served as the exclusive provider of baseballs for the major leagues until 2013.

The factory is in Turrialba, east of the capital city of San Jose up in the mountains of Costa Rica and they make about 2.4 million baseballs per year, the vast majority of which are shipped to the United States.

The baseballs are mostly made by hand by three hundred qualified sewers, the best of whom can make three balls per hour. They earn less than $100 per week, making balls for athletes who earn many millions of dollars throwing, catching, or hitting.

The balls are made of horsehide or cowhide, tightly held together 108 hand stitches around a rubber wrapped cork center. Each ball, between 9 and 9¼ inches in circumference, weigh 5¼ ounces. must have 108 perfect stitches.

Despite the major production of baseballs, the sport itself is not very popular in Costa Rica. The leading sport is football, although many athletes here are very well aware of the success of players who have come from nearby Panama (Mariano Rivera), Nicaragua, Cuba, and hundreds from the Dominican Republic where the production of baseball players is a major industry.

Earlier this year, the Houston Astros signed 19-year-old pitching prospect Bryan Solano, born and raised here in Puerto Limon. He likely will have five or more years of work in the minor leagues, with hopes of someday taking the mound in a major league game.

But I could not pass up the chance to visit El Estadio de Beisbol in steamy Puerto Limon today to pay homage to a field of dreams.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

14 October 2017:
Key West, Florida:
The Sun Also Sets

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Here in the Conch Republic, not everything is normal.

Let me rephrase that. In Key West, normal is not normal.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But this is a place where you could walk down the street dressed in a scarf and a sneeze. . .

and receive compliments on the scarf.

But in a sense, Key West has more or less gotten back to its version of normal, just a month after an unwelcome visit by Hurricane Irma which came ashore 20 miles north of Key West, over the Big Pine, Summerland and Cudjoe Keys.

Key West was partially submerged, and suffered some damage but the locals have been working non-stop to restore the place to greet visitors much more appreciated: tourists. Silver Muse is among the first cruise ships to return to the town.

It was a hot and almost impossibly humid day…and this is autumn.

Here’s our ship, making her maiden call:

And I was glad to see that the street art survived, including this giant homage to a famous photo taken at the end of World War II:

This evening we set sail for two days at sea, headed for Puerto Limon, and beyond that a transit of the Panama Canal.

Key West was a regular home to Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and President Harry S Truman and other notables.

They have a New Year’s Celebration that is out of this world, but that is just one of many fantastic fantasy festivals here at the very bottom of Florida.

In Key West, you can stand at the corner of South and Whitehead Streets and take a picture of a monument that marks the southernmost point of the United States.

Well, it’s close.

Here’s the fine print: the monument is in the general vicinity of the southernmost point of the continental United States.

Whitehead Spit, just west of the monument, is the true southernmost point, but that piece of land is U.S. Navy property, not ordinarily accessible to tourists.

The actual southernmost point of the United States is not on the continent.

It is at Ka Lae, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

But wait, if we broaden our definition to include U.S. possessions, the southernmost part of the United States is tiny Rose Atoll, in American Samoa, an unincorporated territory.

Actually, there’s an even more obscure spot: the Amundsen–Scott Station at the Geographic South Pole.

You can’t get any further south than that. But since Antarctica is by treaty an international zone, it is not a part of the United States.

Not that they quibble about true facts much around here.

This is, after all, a place where every night hundreds of tourists and many locals gather at Mallory Square to watch the same thing that happened roughly 24 hours ago: the setting of the sun.

Same sun as you’ll seen everywhere else on the planet. Except here, it’s different.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

13 October 2017:
Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Musings on a Grand Voyage

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Welcome aboard for the start of the Grand Voyage of Silversea’s beautiful new flagship, Silver Muse.

We’re heading southwest from Fort Lauderdale, with a first stop at the quirky semi-independent somewhat incredible, and always enjoyable Key West, the southernmost point of the mainland of the United States. It will be our last touch of the U.S.  for more than two months.

Silver Muse

From there it will be westward to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, where we we will perform final weights and measures before Silver Muse makes her first transit of the Panama Canal, the pathway between the seas.

When we reach the Pacific, we’ll head south down the coast of South America with calls in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile on the first leg of our voyage.

Here’s our plan for the first segment of the Grand Voyage:

The second leg will go down to the bottom of the continent, with closeup encounters with the fjords and icefields of Laguna San Rafael and Garibaldi Glacier. After rounding the Strait of Magellan. we’ll start heading north with a scheduled call at the Falkland Islands on our way to Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

And the third part of the trip will take us to seven stops in Brazil, including some less-known places and one of the most famous places of the deep south, Rio de Janeiro. From there we make an arrival…and a departure…from the famous French prison island of Devil’s Island.

I hope you’ll join me here throughout.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS