Tag Archives: Mexico

9 December 2019 to 4 January 2020:
Valparaiso, Chile to Los Angeles:
Crossing the Equator on America’s West Coast

By Corey Sandler

We flew south all through the night from New York to Santiago, Chile. We left the wintry East Coast of the United States and landed in summery South America.

Viking’s Viking Sun will spend the next 28 days heading northwest and then north, calling at ports in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and then San Diego and Los Angeles in the United States.

This is just one month in a record-setting eight-month-long World Cruise. We will cross the Equator as we sail along the appropriately named nation of Ecuador. In fact, across the eight months of this cruise, this ship will cross the Equator four times heading south then north then south then north again. A hearty few dozen guests will be aboard for the entire journey, while others will partake of various segments.

I’ll be posting photos and comments here throughout this cruise. I hope you’ll join me here.

9-10 December: Valparaiso, Chile

Viking Sun at the dock, seen from Valparaiso’s Sotomayor Square. The central statue commemorates what Chile considers its greatest military achievement, the War of the Pacific, the defeat of Peru and Bolivia in the Atacama Desert east of 1879-1883. Peru lost its southernmost territory to Chile…and with that came massive deposits of copper that today is part of the backbone of modern Chile. Bolivia, which allied with the losing side, lost its only outlet to the sea. The war is long over, but the three countries remain somewhat short of cordial in relations, or at least in their view of history.
The famed Floral Clock of Viña del Mar is currently a clock with no hands in the midst of Chile’s season of social and political protests, mostly in the big cities of Santiago and Valparaiso. The mostly young protestors object to economic conditions that tilt in favor of the very rich, alleged corruption that favors officials in the government, and other problems in a country with a still-fragile democracy.
A tough way to earn a living: street buskers juggle, dance, and perform acrobatics at intersections.
At the eclectic Fonck Museum in Valparaiso stands one of only three Easter Island moai located away from the remote island. Easter Island is today part of Chile, although it is about 2,000 miles or 3,000 kilometers to the west in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.

11 December 2019: Coquimbo (La Serena), Chile

As is typical for coastal towns in this part of the world, dawn arrived gray and cool. By midday, it brightened just a bit, and then–almost as if controlled by a clock–the sun broke through at 2pm. By 6 tonight, we can expect warmth and a rising wind.

Except for the occasional semi-tropical storm, local weathermen don’t have an awful lot more to talk about.

Viking Sun at the dock in Coquimbo, Chile

I went with guests on a trip up the coast to the market town of La Serena, perusing barrels of olives. This is somewhat close to a Mediterranean climate; Chilean wine is better known that their olives, but both grow up in the hills. A local favorite is aceitunas sin amargo, large black olives said to be without amargo or bitterness.

A vendor at the market in La Serena
The hilltop Cruz del Tercer Milenio (The Cross of the Third Millennium), with an observation platform up high, reflects the predominantly Roman Catholic background of Chileans. It stands 83 meters or 273 feet tall, which allows the Chileans to claim the highest cross of South America. (In case you were wondering, Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Hill in Rio de Janeiro stands only 30 meters or 99 feet tall. And in any case, it’s a statue, not a cross.)
At the other side of the bay, seen to the right in this photo, is a handsome mosque constructed by the Kingdom of Morocco as a cultural offering; there is only a very small Islamic population here. The minaret is modeled on the famed Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco
The afternoon sun fills the Explorers Lounge aboard ship in Coquimbo

All content copyright 2019-2020, Corey Sandler. To obtain a copy of any photo, please contact me.

The content of this blog is entirely mine, and is not endorsed or approved by any cruise line or other entity.

13 December 2019: Iquique, Chile

It’s hard to have more contrast in one day than we did today, and that’s an extraordinary thing. 

We arrived early this morning at the port of Iquique in Chile, an uncommon sight in this place. They receive only about eight cruise ships a year here. 

And then I went with a group of guests from sea level– because that is where oceangoing ships generally sail– up into the altiplano, the high desert. About two hours drive brought us into the Atacama Desert and the spectacular Huasco Salt Flats.

The flats are at about 3,830 meters above the sea,  or about 12,565 feet.

We had a bright sun and tolerable temperatures and pink flamingoes and llamas and alpaca. Oh, and I took some pictures….

The altiplano is home to some of Chile’s abundant mineral wealth. It all began with saltpeter a century ago, used at first for gunpowder and then as a fertilizer. 

Today,  copper is king,  along with valuable metals and minerals including molybdenum and lithium. That last substance is an essential component of batteries for things like cellphones and tablets.

Our trip back to the port in the afternoon was delayed because of a convoy of some of the largest machines on land: mining excavators, gigantic dump trucks, and support equipment. 

They would make great beach toys. 

Here’s some of what we saw today:

The Dragon sand dune reaches to the edge of the growing city of Iquique
The little town of Pozo Almonte sits at the foot of the altiplano, its history bound up in mining in the hills
A monument to the men of Pozo Almonte who went to the mines…
And the women…
The Huasco Salt Flats, at 3,800 meters or 12,500 feet above sea level. The surrounding mountains reach thousands of feet higher, some capped with snow
The rumble of thunder in a place that receives very little rain
The copper mines built the roads into the hills, and regularly shut them down to move equipment

2 January 2019:
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico:
Arcs of Sand

By Corey Sandler

Cabo San Lucas, the Cape of Saint Luke, Cabo San Lucas is at the bottom of the peninsula of Baja California, lower California in Mexico.

We arrived this morning and put down our anchor just offshore of the famous arches, Los Arcos. here are some photographs from today:

All photos copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

At the far northern end of the peninsula is Tijuana, and beyond that is San Diego, where we are scheduled to call Friday.

It was a relatively prosperous fishing and agricultural port for the first few centuries of its existence.

And then in 1973, the Transpeninsular Highway (Mexico Route 1) was completed, linking Cabo to Tijuana and from there to that big country to the north, the United States.

With the road and an airport, Cabo became an accessible destination.

It is now home to about 81,000 people, most of whom work in the tourism industry: hotels, restaurants, shops, tour guides.

It is a beautiful bay, with lovely beaches and lots and lots of tourists…and fishermen angling to catch dollars and euros and pounds from the pockets of visitors.

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

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 December 2018:
Puerto Chiapas, Mexico:
The Birthplace of Time

By Corey Sandler

Mexico’s ancient culture reaches back thousands of years.

And there are hundreds of cruise ships heading north or south along the coast each year, looking for places to stop. More and more each year.

And so we have new ports in an old country:

Two small, old ports called Puerto Madero and Puerto de San Benito were redeveloped as a commercial harbor in the 1970s and renamed Puerto Chiapas. And a cruise terminal came along 15 years ago.

And so we are here. There is not much of a settlement at the port, but it does serve as the gateway to the ancient Olmec city of Tapachula, dating from about 1500 BCE. It was at its height from about 600 BCE until 100 of the modern era.

And about 45 minutes from our ship is the archeological site of Izapa.

The ancient peoples of Mesoamerica—centered in and around this area—developed an elaborate time-reckoning system composed of both a 260-day sacred almanac and a 365-day secular calendar.

They came upon that 365-day year perhaps 1800 years before the solar calendar was supposedly “invented” in Europe.

Izapa is along the Izapa River near the base of the Tacaná volcano, the fourth largest mountain in Mexico.

Here is how it looked today:

Izapa certainly is not as well known as places like Chichen-Itza or Tikal in Guatemala (two great Mayan sites). It does not have the monumental pyramids and temples of those sites which were developed later. But in some ways Izapa is richer and more significant.

The site contains many carved Stelae or posts, most of them from the Mayans who succeeded the Olmecs.

We also paid a call at the town of Tuxtla Chico near Izapa.

And there we were serenaded by a marimba band and given a demonstration of the opening of cacao pods, their roasting, and their conversion into the makings of that essential of life, chocolate.

We are headed out to sea now and for the next two days will be proceeding north up the coast of Mexico to Cabo San Lucas. We will celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day aboard ship, and wish all a healthy and happy New Year.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

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

21 January 2016
Costa Maya, Mexico

‍By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Costa Maya is a genuine fake.

And I mean that in a nice way. There is no historic town at the end of the modern pier that extends out from the almost featureless landscape.  Instead,  what we have here is a manufactured village of shops,  bars,  and other lures for tourist dollars,  pesos, euros, and pounds.

The genuine part is architecture and music and art that evoke some of the rich history of the Mayans and other peoples who once populated the region of Quintana Roo.

BLOG Costa Maya Mexico 21Jan2016_DSC3665

BLOG Costa Maya Mexico 21Jan2016_DSC3690

This is the deep south of Mexico, close to the border with Belize to its south.

Costa Maya is a relatively new way to gain access to the Caribbean coast of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

This is an area that is well-populated by the ghosts of great Mayan cities, at least two dozen of them and probably many, many more.

The port of Costa Maya is a tourism version of “If You Build it, They Will Come.”

Until 15 years ago, the only way to get to the shore in this region was over a long and rough road from places far away and not all that attractive.

But then in 2001, private investors and the Mexican government created a pier near the town of Mahahual.

The pier, which is now visited by dozens of cruise ships each year, gives access to some interesting, lesser-known Mayan ruins in the area, as well as fostering all manner of modern tourist-oriented attractions, shops, bars, and restaurants.

BLOG Costa Maya Mexico 21Jan2016_DSC3674

BLOG Costa Maya Mexico 21Jan2016_DSC3667

Costa Maya is essentially fenced off from the real world of Mexico, with its own infrastructure and housing for employees. You can, though, take a shore excursion to nearby destinations or hire a car.

There may be many, many more ancient cities in the wilderness of Mexico and in Central America: Mayan, Aztec, Olmec, among them.

All through this part of the world, population has come to center around big cities, some of them huge, like Mexico City and Guatemala City. Out in the country, nature has retaken much of the land.

BLOG Costa Maya Mexico 21Jan2016_DSC3688

BLOG Costa Maya Mexico 21Jan2016_DSC3691

BLOG Costa Maya Mexico 21Jan2016_DSC3692

Explorers in modern times have found many great cities, mostly by accident.

In recent times, though, satellites have mapped much of the surface of the planet. And some of these satellites include scientific instruments that measure the temperature of the earth below.

Soil and vegetation retains heat. Buried stones and cities are much cooler. The satellites hint at the prospect of many, many sites yet to be explored.

Costa Maya is the closest port of access to Mayan ruins in the Yucatan including Chacchoben.

They are each interesting, but they are smaller and substantially less excavated than the better known pyramids of Tulum and Coba to the north, or Chichen Itza and Uxmal in Yucatan, which are three to four hours away on somewhat sketchy roads.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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 January 2016
Cozumel, Mexico

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

The island of Cozumel is located in the Caribbean Sea along the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

Mexico’s largest Caribbean island sits about 12 miles or 19 kilometers off the mainland; ferry service zips back and forth to Playa del Carmen.

Cozumel has a back story as a former Mayan outpost and a place of religious pilgrimage for women, and it includes several sites and structures from the ancients.

Between Mayan times and 30 or 40 years ago, it was a backwater dependent upon fishing.

Today it exists almost entirely as a destination aimed at fishing dollars, euros, pounds, and pesos out of the pockets of tourists: about two million per year.

The cruise port at San Miguel is quite busy as well. During high season, which runs from November to April, there are usually 20 to 30 ships in port per week, more than a few of them party boats on 4- or 5-day party cruises from Miami and New Orleans. You can spot their guests easily: they are wobbling even before they make it to the margarita bars along the malecon.

Tourism, diving and charter fishing comprise the majority of the island’s economy. There are more than 300 restaurants on the island and many hotels.

And there are beaches all around, some of them quite crowded and some nearly empty if you go out of your way to find them.

We spent the morning walking along the malecon,  the seaside promenade. You have to look very carefully to spot vestiges of old Cozumel, sandwiched in between Senor Frog’s and Hooters and Diamonds International.

And we had to politely resist the near constant pitches of taxi drivers and vendors every few yards.  We escaped with our wallets intact,  and some colorful pictures of an island in the sun.

BLOG Cozumel Mexico 20Jan2016_DSC3633

The lovely Silver Wind,  nestled alongside another cruise ship at Cozumel, like a guppy in the shade of a whale. And our neighbor here is merely a large ship, not a megaship. 

BLOG Cozumel Mexico 20Jan2016_DSC3662

BLOG Cozumel Mexico 20Jan2016_DSC3643

BLOG Cozumel Mexico 20Jan2016_DSC3634

BLOG Cozumel Mexico 20Jan2016_DSC3644

Vestiges of old Cozumel,  more or less in plain sight amongst modern tourist attractions. 

BLOG Cozumel Mexico 20Jan2016_DSC3647

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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

Hudson Book Cover

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

29 APRIL 2015
 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: Land’s End

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Cabo San Lucas is at the bottom of the peninsula of Baja California, lower California in Mexico dangling off the bottom of Alta California, the state of California in the United States.

Cabo San Lucas: Saint Luke’s Cape.

It was given that name by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese who served with the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés before taking his own expeditions on behalf of the Spanish crown.

From about the mid-16th to the mid-18th centuries, the harbor at Cabo was a regular hiding place for English pirates and privateers who would venture out to attack Manila Galleons, the Spanish vessels hauling treasure from China, Japan, and the Philippines back to Mexico for transshipment up and over the mountains to the Gulf of Mexico and from there eventually to Spain.

Once the piracy business came to an end, Cabo was not all that valuable. It was difficult to get to overland, and there was little fresh water available.

But Cabo came back to life at the end of the 19th century when the locals found an industry exporting the bark of the palo blanco­ tree, a form of Acacia. The “white stick” was an ingredient for the tanning of leather.

From pirates to tree bark, next came tuna: lots of the large fish just offshore.

A CABO SAN LUCAS ALBUM

BLOG Cabo San Lucas 29April2015-1131

BLOG Cabo San Lucas 29April2015-1146

BLOG Cabo San Lucas 29April2015-1135

CABO Sandler-1

CABO Sandler-2

CABO Sandler-3

CABO Sandler-4

Today, we are the big fish: Cabo is one of the most successful resorts of Mexico, a truly beautiful place with all sorts of sports. Fishing, swimming, parasailing, shopping.

ONSTAGE ABOARD SILVER SHADOW

Sailing from Acapulco to Cabo San Lucas,  we were honored to be joined by George Sakellario,  one of the world’s great guitar masters.

We have known George for years, always looking forward to meeting like ships in the night somewhere in  the world.

BLOG George Sakellariou 28April2015-1086-2

All photos copyright 2015 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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 APRIL 2015
 Acapulco, Mexico: Conquistadors, Pirates, and Elvis

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Spanish Conquistadores used the region in and around Acapulco and Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo as a point of departure to explore the Pacific coast, as well as a port in 1527 for the first ships to sail to the Philippines.

With the disappearance of the native population, fields and forests were worked by Spaniards.

This was different from much of Latin America where the Spaniards established colonies of local labor and sometimes slave labor.

As important Spanish assets, the Mexican ports also drew the attention of the pirate and privateer Francis Drake, as well as Henry Morgan and Thomas Cavendish.

For more than 256 years, the annual trade known as the Manila-Acapulco Galleon or the Nao de Chine took place.

Key to the Manila Galleons was the discovery of the northern Pacific tradewinds which allowed ships to sail back to Acapulco from Asia.

Traders in Acapulco bargained for spices, silks, porcelain, ivory, and lacquerware. After the fair, much of the treasure would be carried up and over the Cordillera to Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico.

ACAPULCO’S HANDSOME CATHEDRAL

BLOG Acapulco Mexico 27April2015-1100139

BLOG Acapulco Mexico 27April2015-1100138

BLOG Acapulco Mexico 27April2015-1100141

FUERTE SAN DIEGO

ACAPULCO Sandler-2    ACAPULCO Sandler-1

Some of the treasures of Asia brought to Acapulco, and the Fort built to fend off pirates

The five-pointed stone Fuerte de San Diego was completed in 1617. Some old guns are still in place.

After the end of the Manila Galleon, Acapulco fell into decline.

Like Panama, it recovered during the California Gold Rush that began in 1849. Many ships stopped on their way to California or on their return trip to Panama for the land crossing there.

More than a few passengers were so taken by the natural beauty of Acapulco that they decided to settle there.

ACAPULCO Sandler-3

A peek through a window at an old hotel in Acapulco

And then in 1920, England’s Prince of Wales—the future King Edward VIII—helped launch Acapulco as an international tourist destination.

Then came the celebrities: John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier honeymooned here in 1953. Elizabeth Taylor chose Acapulco for one of her weddings, to Mike Todd in 1957.

Brigitte Bardot posed on the beach. Frank Sinatra was a regular, and even sung about it in one of his signature songs, “Come Fly With Me.”

Since 1934, Las Clavadistas de La Quebrada have lured tourists. The cliff divers work their way out onto ledges in the rock, make the sign of the cross with great drama, and jump into the quebrada or ravine below.

This is a situation where what looks quite dangerous actually is dangerous.

ACAPULCO Sandler-4     ACAPULCO Sandler-5

Las Clavadistas de La Quebrada. At right, a diver plunges toward the sea below

Speaking of danger, the king himself, Elvis Presley, starred in “Fun in Acapulco” with costar Ursula Andress in 1963. In that film he played a former circus worker who—because of a woman—gets trapped into a dare to dive at La Quebrada.

Elvis did not visit Acapulco for the movie, which was shot almost entirely in Hollywood. And he certainly did not jump off the cliff.

All photos copyright 2015 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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