A Travellerspoint blog


Land of lakes

semi-overcast 68 °F


Snow-capped mountains, raging rapids, waterfalls, a huge lake, and a volcano – all part of Chile’s southern Lake District - and all filled with tourists from the huge cruise ships calling at Puerto Montt. We also saw alpacas (the colored ones) and llamas (the white ones) and lots of Chilean handicrafts.

Now we are packing for our return. We leave the ship in the early morning of February 15 and will be back in Hartford in the evening of the nineteenth, spending the intervening days with friends in Florida.

Posted by HopeEakins 04:34 Archived in Chile Comments (0)


Crossing the Andes Mountains

all seasons in one day 65 °F
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It was early on a cold wet and windy morning when we arrived at Puerto Chacabuco, on the coast of northwestern Patagonia and tendered in from the ship to board our tour bus. Our journey eastward followed the swift-flowing green waters of Rio Simpson through a steep rocky gorge, not that we could see much of that gorge because of damp rising from sodden passengers inside the bus condensing on the inside of the windows and the rain splashing on the outside made viewing anything very difficult. Up and up we travelled until suddenly we passed through a tunnel near the top of a mountain and emerged on the other side of the Andes with sunshine and blue sky. Below us in the lush green valley lay Coyhaiqué, the principal town of the Chilean province of Ayens.

The dramatic contrast in weather was repeated on the journey back to the ship. However, less rain on the western side of the Andes gave us the chance to appreciate the beauty of the Rio Simpson gorge including the cascading waters of Virgin Falls.

Photos courtesy of Doug Kline, our head usher in the ship’s worshipping community. Actually he’s the only usher, but he’s a great photographer, he shares, and our phones were out of juice.

Posted by HopeEakins 02:22 Archived in Chile Comments (0)


The End of the World

sunny 70 °F
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Well, we’ve come out of the bottom of the world to go to the end of the world, and that’s fine with us. On this remarkable journey we have avoided the weather around us and gained two days! First we avoided storms in the Falkland Islands and went straight to the Antarctic Peninsula – one extra day there. Then because our passage back northward was so smooth, we arrived at Ushuaia, Argentine on Saturday night instead of Sunday noon. Ushuaia calls itself the “End of the World” and indeed it is the southernmost city in the world. It is at the bottom of Tierra del Fuego, itself an island at the bottom of South America, and it lies between the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel. Enough geography! Perhaps we are focused on where we are because we wind our way through channels that go every which way and even the Andes Mountains switch from north/south to east/west here.

Once we docked we boarded a smart catamaran and sailed through the Beagle Channel by rocky islands and an iconic lighthouse and rocky islets filled with wildlife. We saw sea lions and fur seals, blue-eyed cormorants and skua, petrels and a very playful humpback whale. We saw snow-capped mountains, lakes (Esmerelda Lake is sparkling green), waterfalls, bogs and beaches, and we breathed incredibly crisp fresh air.

Next we hiked through the beautiful beautiful Tierra del Fuego National Park, filled with tiny flowers on the plants hardy enough to grow here. Then we boarded the Tren del Fin del Mundo, End of the World Train, originally built to transport timber for a penal colony established here at the end of the 19th century. As the train wove through forests and lakes, we saw large families camping and children swimming. The water temperature was in the 60’s! Apparently the folks here at the end of the world are astounded at the weather this summer – it has never been so hot – and so they have lugged everything that looks like a tent and gone to enjoy the outside.

Once back at the ship, we held our last worship service, and we were indeed blessed. The congregation has almost doubled, and they pray and sing with joy. Our soloist sang a moving Welsh hymn, Calon Lan, and our pianist played a lovely prelude. The lector read beautifully, and our usher managed to get people to share their bulletins after we ran out. Our faithful Altar Guild tidied up after the service and left the candles and altar cloth and Christus Redemptor stacked up awaiting removal. We caught our breath when we saw this sign that our ministry had ended here - and then gave thanks that we had the privilege of serving here at all.

Posted by HopeEakins 07:41 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)


Journeying by Faith

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Aboard the Silver Whisper February 9, 2020 at 5:30 am


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray. O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 121

I lift my eyes up to the hills
from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the Lord
the maker of heaven and earth
He will not let your heart be moved
and he who watches over you will never sleep
The Lord himself watches over you;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
it is he who shall keep you safe.
The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in,
from this time forth forevermore.

A Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Therefore from one person ... descendants were born, ‘as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.’ (11-1, 8-10, 12)

A Reflection The Reverend William J. Eakins

We have just returned from an adventure that took us to a strange and wonderful land that many of us had never seen before. We followed in the footsteps of intrepid explorers like Amundsen and Scott who risked their lives to trek the frozen landscape of Antarctica to be the first to set foot on the South Pole. And on our journeying to and from the Seventh Continent we have sailed across the Drake Passage, the famously turbulent waters between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. These waters recall the pioneering circumnavigations of Magellan and Drake, waters dared by whalers on their way to and from hunting expeditions and by clipper ships carrying the fortune hunters of the California Gold Rush.

What motivated those intrepid adventurers of old? Why didn’t they just stay home enjoying the safety and security of the places they were born? What has motivated us to undertake our journey? Why were we not content to stay home? Staying home might have been safer than going on an expedition, albeit a luxury expedition to the Antarctic. And yet we went anyway. Why?

Perhaps it was because we, like other adventurers before us, trusted that the risks of leaving home, the familiar and the known, are surpassed by the joys and satisfactions of discovering and exploring new and different places. Furthermore, we trust that although our travels might occasionally cause us some discomfort, it is a price worth paying and that in the end we are going to be safe and we are going to be happy we made the journey.

I suggest that the way we think about travel says a great deal about our attitude toward life. We can regard life as an intriguing adventure that will lead us into the discovery of new and uncharted territory or we can regard life’s unknowns and uncertainties as a fearsome threat.

If we see life as full of threats, we will want to play it safe, look out for Number One and protect ourselves as much as possible from life’s risks and dangers. What makes the difference between seeing life as a threat and seeing life as an adventure is faith. Self-confidence and self-reliance are important; they can only take us so far; they may not stand up to the disappointments and disasters that will come our way. Faith, enduring faith, is putting our trust not in ourselves but in God.

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” says the Scripture text we have heard just now. God promised our spiritual ancestor Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. Believing that promise, Abraham set out from his homeland and began a journey into the unknown not knowing where God would lead him.

We who are Abraham’s spiritual heirs have also received God’s promise, the Gospel promise that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. The outstretched arms of Christ on the cross speak to us of the breadth and depth of God’s love, and the empty tomb of Easter assures us that God’s love cannot be defeated. That Good News is our anchor in the storms of life and gives us the courage and strength to see life as an exciting adventure into the future God has in store for us. Who knows what might lie ahead?

Faith in God’s promises has inspired believers
to stand up to tyrants
to speak truth to power
to challenge old preconceptions of race, gender, right and wrong
to reform governments and systems of justice
to undertake ministries to feed the poor and care for outcasts
to establish missions, schools, colleges, and universities
to deal with addiction and depression
to cope bravely with debilitating illness
to trust that there is life after divorce
to find solace at the deathbeds of loved ones
to give sacrificially to make the world a better place.

So I leave you with a prayer that has been attributed to Sir Francis Drake after whom the sea we have recently crossed is named:

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
when we have arrived safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas
where storms will show us your mastery,
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

To that prayer of faith, let us say. Amen.

Solo: Calon Lan Rhiannon Herridge

Nid wy'n gofyn bywyd moethus,
Aur y byd na'i berlau mân:
Gofyn wyf am galon hapus,
Calon onest, calon lân.
Calon lân yn llawn daioni,
Tecach yw na'r lili dlos:
Dim ond calon lân all ganu
Canu'r dydd a chanu'r nos.
Pe dymunwn olud bydol,
Hedyn buan ganddo sydd;
Golud calon lân, rinweddol,
Yn dwyn bythol elw fydd.
Hwyr a bore fy nymuniad
Gwyd i'r nef ar adain cân
Ar i Dduw, er mwyn fy Ngheidwad,
Roddi i mi galon lân.

I seek not life's ease and pleasures,
Earthly riches, pearls nor gold;
Give to me a heart made happy,
Clean and honest to unfold.
A clean heart o'erflow'd with goodness,
Fairer than the lily white;
A clean heart forever singing,
Singing through the day and night.
If I cherish earthly treasures,
Swift they flee and all is vain;
A clean heart enriched with virtues,
Brings to me eternal gain.
Morn and evening my petition,
Wings its flight to heaven in song;
In the name of my Redeemer,
Make my heart clean, pure and strong.

The Prayers

Let us lift our prayers for ourselves, for those we love, and for the world about us to God, the maker of heaven and earth.

For the leaders of every nation, that they may seek the wisdom that comes from you.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For this fragile planet, our island home, that we may treasure its beauty and preserve its resources for generations to come.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For courage and hope to meet life’s challenges.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who are sick in body and in spirit and those we now name ..... Heal and sustain them.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who have died and those who mourn ..... Hold them in your loving care.
Lord, hear our prayer.
O Lord our God, accept the fervent prayers of your people; look with compassion upon us and all who turn to you for help; for you are gracious, O lover of souls, and to you we give glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come;
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all
evermore. Amen.


Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins, The Reverend William J. Eakins
Pianist: Lech Wos
Soloist: Rhionnan Herridge
Lector: Susan Lawrence
Altar Guild: Jane Kline
Head Usher: Douglas Kline

Posted by HopeEakins 13:46 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)



sunny 30 °F


We have sailed from the Antarctic Peninsula to the South Shetland Islands and are now on one of the South Shetland Islands called Half Moon. And we are basking in the sun! Really. The water is cold and ice and snow predominate, but the sun warms us under our parkas. Ah, good old summertime on the Seventh Continent.

There’s a sail away party on deck as we leave for Ushuaia, Argentina, and the predictions are that we will sail across another Drake’s Lake and arrive back in South America mid-day Sunday.

The photos need no commentary, save
1. to point out that this is a NEW kind of penguin, the chinstrap variety, and everyone is very excited about that, and
2. to identify the last shot as the view outside our cabin door. See the smooth bay!

Posted by HopeEakins 05:32 Archived in Antarctica Comments (1)


Penguins in the morning, penguins at night

semi-overcast 20 °F
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Antarctica is a desert. The annual precipitation (both snow and ice) is 0.4 inches inland and slightly more on the Peninsula where we are anchored. Ice and snow cover the land because they fell millions of years ago and it is too cold for them to melt. BUT ... last night it snowed and the pool deck was white! Today it is very cold and drizzling a bit, and we are drifting near the Chilean base Gonzalez Videla. A mammoth mountain towers over us, and we aren’t walking around on the ship’s decks.

We are once again wearing many layers and waddling like the penguins we visit. The colony at this place is filled with Gentoo penguins, and they are not very attractive. This is molting season (remember, it’s SUMMER here) and the molting folks stand around shivering and the ground is littered with feathers. The feathers are smeared with excrement because there is no rain to wash it away so it just accumulates. It smells – a LOT. The penguin chicks are small; the adults are large and come in two shapes. The fat ones have gone into the sea to eat food for their young; after they regurgitate it they get back to normal size.

The human residents of the Chilean base were very glad to see us. They don’t get many visitors! They had a (very) little shop from which we sent a post card and a base station where we had our photo taken. Fourteen men live there and do some scientific research; they noted that there is one captain and one remote control for the television.

After seeing the sites we waddled back to the zodiac and were passed down from one guide to the next so we wouldn’t slip into the sea; once back, we were passed up from one crew member to another and then hosed off and sent to walk through some chemical solution (biosecurity). The last photos: our good friends Doug and Jane Kline returning to the ship and one of our waiters serving us hot chocolate after we were back onboard.

Tonight is formal night aboard the Whisper, so the men get to dress up like penguins.

Posted by HopeEakins 10:48 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)


The Seventh Continent

sunny 30 °F
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We know the drill now. We arose early, ate breakfast while looking out at frozen landscape, dressed in our layers, and went down to board our zodiac. We are in the strangely named Paradise Bay, and the landscape is different today ... craggier mountains, a low cloud cover, ice floating all around us, and baby, it’s cold outside.

Today we didn’t make a wet landing but toured the area in our little boats. The first surprise happened right away; we sailed around the ship to a stationary zodiac – to which we latched on and were offered hot chocolate with Kahlua or Bailey’s . Well. After a sip (or two) we sailed to a floe on which basked a crab-eating seal with a beautiful coat and a sweet dog-like face. We watched Gentoo penguins play and petrels swoop, and we looked at a lot of ice. The photos don’t capture the colors of the ice. Actually ice is blue, intense gorgeous blue, and when it captures ice bubbles, the air makes it look white. We were offered a chance to fish a chunk of ice from the sea and take it back, rinse the salt off and have it in a drink. Apparently, the bubbles inside it were formed maybe ten thousand years ago and have been under ice pressure ever since, so when the ice melts in your drink the ancient air pops out and crackles. We didn’t do it because it meant taking off our gloves. Wusses.

The white hulled ship pictured here is the Silver Whisper as we sailed away from it. The black hulled ship is another member of the fleet, the Silver Cloud. The Cloud is an exploration vessel also in Paradise Bay, and the two ships sailed (very slowly) side by side while passengers and crew waved and shouted. On each vessel a crew member flourished a four foot cardboard hand on a stick. It really was amazing to see this apparition in the most remote place we have ever been.

Posted by HopeEakins 11:06 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)



sunny 30 °F

large_IMG_0493.jpglarge_IMG_0494.jpglarge_IMG_0506.jpglarge_IMG_0516.jpglarge_IMG_0507.jpglarge_IMG_0501.jpgIt is summer here in Antarctica: the days are 21 hours long. Last night we didn’t close the curtains all the way so about four o’clock this morning we awoke when brilliant light flooded our suite. Sun streamed across the ice and the reflection from the snow made everything shine and twinkle. After days of sailing through grey waters, we see 6000 foot tall mountains, icebergs that have calved pierced by turquoise spaces and crevasses. There is pink ice, blue ice, cream ice, brown ice, and every shade of white ice. There are snow tracks where melting snow has made patterns like someone has combed the mountainsides, and there are tracks that penguins make going back and forth to the water. There are no roads, no cars, no buildings, no wires, no people. Just snow and rocks and thousands of Gentoo penguins. And some humpback whales, blowing and playing shipside.

The Drake Passage was indeed Drake’s Lake. We sailed through easily, down Gerlache Passage to Danco Island where we stopped. We are not at anchor, we are drifting; whatever that distinction is, we aren’t moving.

So we started preparing for our expedition. Here are the layers: underwear, silk long underwear, synthetic long underwear, waterproof pants, socks, boots, then a hooded many-layered parka (red so they can always find us) which can be detached into three parkas and has zip pockets inside and outside, in the sleeves and in the lining. Then undergloves and overgloves and a scarf and hat (we left the neck gaiters behind). We were barely able to move but managed to waddle (a little like the penguins) down to deck three where we joined many other guests in red parkas. Some of them had fur hats. We were all very very hot.

Next into the zodiacs. Teams of two grabbed our wrists and moved us from one team to another across the loading platforms into our little boat. Once in, we sat and scootched ourselves along the side – and then we were off across the waters. How astounding, how fortunate we are, how amazing this is, what a privilege; how awesome, how mighty the snow and ice covered mountains, how many many many penguins. The rookery could be heard and smelled before we went ashore, thousands of them chattering raucously. The little guys leave the rookery, in pairs and trios and often alone, and they waddle to the water, hopping over rocks. They are pretty skinny until they emerge from the sea fat and tubby. What they are doing is stuffing themselves on krill and carrying it back to regurgitate and feed their young.

Then back into the zodiacs. The return is a little harder because you walk through the water on slippery rocks and then heave (maybe some people moved gracefully but Hope heaved) yourself across the boat for the trip back to the mother ship. And then you climb up a ladder and walk through some chemical to kill whatever you have stepped in. (One thing we stepped in was salp, a tiny chordate that is jellied and transparent – and looks like nothing we have ever seen before.) And then we rejoiced that we were on Silversea. The crew had prepared chairs for us; they took off our boots and gave us slippers. Then they cleaned the crannies on the boots and our butlers returned them to our suites.

Your heading here...

Posted by HopeEakins 13:31 Archived in Antarctica Comments (1)

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