Category Archives: Travel

Mano del Desierto

Antofagasta Adventures

Where ever we go we seem to find or make an adventure out of it.  Although we only spent a little time in this city, we had a lot of crazy Antofagasta Adventures.  Whether it be exploring, working on a project, or searching for a connector.

Local sculpture between the water and city

Local sculpture between the water and city

EXPLORING:

Matt and I had not explored the southern portion of Antofagasta.  So, we set out on a bright, sunny day, turned right and kept walking.  We passed several pop up tiendas with locals selling their wares, a new Jumbo grocery market and an Easy hardware store.

Pop up Tiendas

Pop up Tiendas

We finally made it to Balneario Municipal Antofagasta which is “the” beach for locals.  They have a giant slide, a floating islands in the center of the bay, free showers and several eateries.  They even had a sectioned off area for kids to play in the water.  It was a protected bay with about 2′ of water.

Beach: Balneario Municipal Antofagasta

Beach: Balneario Municipal Antofagasta

We walked a little further and realized we were almost to the end of town.  So, we doubled back, stopped in for a cold beverage and hit the Jumbo and Easy stores.

As you know, there is a never ending project list on a boat (as on a house).  After we were rested and finished exploring Antofagasta, we checked a few boat projects and pre-departure preparations off our list.

Mano  del Desierto – Hand in the Desert

Several tour companies highlighted tourist spots in and around Antofagasta.  One of those spots is a giant hand in the desert.  What, you ask?  We had to see it.  We rented a car and drove 45 minutes into the Atacama Desert.  You certainly can’t miss it because it is huge.

Mano del Desierto

Mano del Desierto

The Mano del Desierto sculpture was constructed by the Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal at an altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level. Its exaggerated size is said to emphasize human vulnerability and helplessness.  The work has a base of iron and concrete, and stands 11 metres (36 ft) tall.

Mano del Desierto

Mano del Desierto

Matt thought it would be fun to try to take the rental car (a Chevrolet Sail) up the mountain.  Unfortunately, it only made it half way before we rolled it back down.  We did manage to hike to the top, which was hard with the altitude.

Matt trying to drive the rental car up the hill

Matt trying to drive the rental car up the hill

Cerro El Ancla (Anchor Hill)

We stare at this upside down anchor every day.  We gauge where we need to go and where we’ve been using the anchor as a mark.  The “Cerro El Ancla” anchor symbol, installed since the beginning of the city of Antofagasta, has become one of the emblems of the city

The origins of the anchor lie in the foundation of the city itself. In the founding charter of La Chimba, it was ordered to mark with an anchor the most visible point of the hill adjacent to the nascent population. In 1868 , Jorge Hicks ordered an employee named Clavería to paint an anchor, as a reference sign for the ships that sailed San Jorge Bay to Antofagasta.  Claveria misread instructions Hicks, thus finally painted an inverted anchor.

It is no easy thing to get to the ancla.  First, you have to walk / hike to the top of the city to get to the base of the hill.  Then you hit the dirt roads.  In the first picture, the flag indicates where the anchor is located.  The second photo is a shot 1/2 way up the hill.  The center is a shot from the base of the hill.

Trails to Cerro El Ancla

Trails to Cerro El Ancla

At the base of the hill is the monument to the upside down anchor (top left).  Me sitting on the anchor, resting and admiring the view (top right) Photo with the arrow shows you where Sugar Shack is located.  And if you zoom in on the bottom right you can see me still sitting on the anchor as Matt walks around and to the top.

Cerro El Ancla

Cerro El Ancla

Chile at 9p at night

The Hunt for Necessities

It is summertime here in Chile.  Which is strange as it is chilly to me, in Chile!  The sunrises before 0700 and sets after 1900 which makes for a long day of light.  As much as we wanted to, we could not sleep in.  We had a lot to discover and some necessities to find.

This photo was taken at sunset, just before 9:00pm.

Chile at 9p at night

Chile at 9p at night

First things first, we had to get Ron and Sally on a flight to Santiago where they could catch their connecting flights.  With no wifi we had to resort to using GoogleFi to book the flights.  After some trial and tribulations, we got them confirmed.

Our next goal was to walk around town in search of necessities: local sim cards, laundry service, port captain, bank-ATM, and markets.

Theo, from the marina, gave us the lay of the land and some directions.  We walked around a little on New Years Day, but everything was closed.  However, it was bustling with activity today.

The Necessities:

First order of business – find the port captain.  We had a “general” idea of where the port captain office was located, but we got a little turned around.  We finally stumbling upon their building after asking a few people.  Everyone was super nice and very efficient.  Luckily, we stopped at an ATM earlier to get pesos (local currency is about 650 pesos to $1).  We were able to pay 5600 pesos (or about $8.00) and were on our way within 20 minutes.  Easy peasy.

We stopped at Boraton Columbiano for some brunch.  Matt ordered a traditional Chilean chicken lunch which came with soup, rice, beans, salad, and a ¼ chicken. Poor thing struggled to eat it all.  The rest of us ordered a super yummy ham and cheese empenada.

Right down the road was an Entel office which was or is the best data provider in town.  We bought a sim card, topped it up and went on our way.  A little giddy at being “wired” again.

We found one of the local fresh fish and veggie markets, right next to the marina.  It was a little different than other fish markets in that they had little eateries along with the fisherman vendors.  So, the smells did not make it a pleasant place to eat.  They had lots of unrecognizable fish and some we knew.  Lots of clams, squid, and red fish.  Check out the huge partial fish in the middle photo.

Fresh Meat Market Antofagasta

Fresh Meat Market Antofagasta

The lavandaria evaded us.  We asked several people who seemed to think they knew where one was, but we couldn’t find it.

SEA WOLVES – LOBOS

The lobos, or sea wolves of Chile are absolutely enormous.  It just cracks me up watching them swim, waddle, and jump up on the docks.  And they have this massive head of hair.  They really look like the mastiff of the sea.  They are well over 300-400lbs a piece and bark like they are in pain.

Los Lobos or Sea Wolves

Los Lobos or Sea Wolves

The next day we said “goodbye” to Ron and Sally.  They had to catch a flight to Santiago where they were each getting on connecting flights.  Ron was going to see a car rally in Peru and Sally was going to house sit for a friend in California.  Sure, was awesome to have their help on the passage, thanx guys!

Ron and Sally

Ron and Sally

The main square in town has a beautiful church and tower proudly flying the Chilean flag.

Antofagasta Town Square

Antofagasta Town Square

Diving Kicker Rock

DIVE TOUR: KICKER ROCK

We wanted to dive once before we left the Galapagos. So, we reserved a dive tour off of Kicker rock. Our friend Emily, at Islanders Galapagos organized a fun filled day for us. We hopped in a small boat with about 8 other guests and made our way to Tortuga Beach.

We passed by Kicker Rock on the way to Tortuga Beach and got a great photo op.

Kicker Rock in all her Glory

Kicker Rock in all her Glory

Tobago Beach Lava Hike:

We had a wet landing at Tortuga Beach and went exploring around the lava formations. They jutted up all around us creating pits, gauges, water holes, and towers.  Pockets of water, green plants and cactus poking out of holes and breathtaking views all around.

Lava Formations at Tortgua Beach

Lava Formations at Tortgua Beach

There were several goat skulls. Our guide pointed out that they are aggressive and unwanted creatures that were destroying the natural habitat.  Eating precious turtle and bird eggs and destroying vegetation.  They are not indigenous to the Galapagos.

After a nice fish lunch, we were given our dive instructions. Only Matt, Ron, and I were diving. Everyone else went on a snorkel adventure. I hate to admit it, but I was nervous. Yes, I have well over 100 dives under my belt, but this was with strange gear, new BCD (back inflatable) and full 7mil wetsuit. I had never been diving with a wetsuit and weights. I was unsure of leveling out my buoyancy. It took a village to get me into my wetsuit – and provided a bit of entertainment.  I was laughing and a bit humiliated, not in pain – despite the photo below.

Squeezing into my wetsuit was entertaining for all

Squeezing into my wetsuit was entertaining for all

We jumped in the water which was a brisk 22 Celsius (warm in their standards, freezing for me). Took awhile to get used to the BCD, suit and weights, but we descended to 90’ fairly rapidly. The current was a bit of a bitch to get used to, but we saw some amazing sea life! We swam above several white tip and Galapagos sharks which was a first and a bit intimidating.

UNDER WATER WORLD:

Diving Kicker Rock - descending to 90'

Diving Kicker Rock – descending to 90′

Santiago, our dive guide captured this beautiful manta ray, eel, fish, and starfish.  Not the best photos, but you get the gist.  Clarity was only marginal.

Kicker Rock Underwater Creatures

Kicker Rock Underwater Creatures

The second dive, on the other side of Kicker Rock, produced a huge school Galapagos sharks, a hammerhead shark, lots of sea tortoises, and some beautiful schools of fish.

Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks

We did see one hammerhead but were not able to get a clear photo of him.  He was there and then he wasn’t.

Kicker rock Fish

Kicker rock Fish

Cerro Brujo Beach Stroll:

We joined the snorkelers back on-board for some hot tea and snacks. On the way back, we stopped by Cerro Brujo to get the iconic view of Kicker Rock through the rock formation. We also enjoyed a beautiful stroll down Cerro Brujo beach (witch’s hill).

Cerro Brujo Beach Walk

Cerro Brujo Beach Walk

Matt and a Sea Wolf Practicing Yoga

Matt and a Sea Wolf Practicing Yoga

PASSAGE PREPARATIONS

Before we leave for our 1800nm passage, we needed to provision and fuel up. Luckily, we still had a lot of frozen food and a few pre-cooked meals from Costa Rica.

Fueling in the Galapagos only takes place in San Cristobal and is done with jerry cans. First, you need to tell your agent 3 days in advance when you want to fuel and how much fuel you need. We needed 150 gallons of diesel, which came in (9) sixteen gallon jerry cans, plus one can of gasoline.

On our delivery day, a panga pulled up with one driver. This should be interesting as each jerry can weighed about 130lbs a piece. After we secured the panga to Sugar Shack, the driver attempted to transfer one can off the back of his boat to our sugar scoop. Let’s just say it came on-board, but it wasn’t pretty.

The rest of the cans were hoisted using a spinnaker line off the side of the boat. Much easier and more efficient process.

We were uncertain as to the quality of the fuel, so we filtered it using our baja filter. To bad our fuel filter wasn’t working properly.  We will have to fix it for next time.  It just took a little ingenuity.

Five hours later, all filled up, we returned the jerry cans and considered it a successful day.

Refueling in Galapagos

Refueling in Galapagos