A Travellerspoint blog



The End of the World

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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)


Wales in Argentina

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We feel like we are very far away! We are sailing down the east coast of Argentina and have arrived at Puerto Madryn, Argentina, on the Patagonian coast in the state of Chubut. It looks like Patagonia. The eye sweeps across flat and dusty pampas with occasional guanaco (like llamas) and rhea (like ostriches) in the scrublands.

As we drove two hours westward on narrow and straight and bumpy roads, it was hard to believe that we would see anything larger than a bush, but we did. Somehow there is a river in Chubut and near the river is the Narlu Artisanal Fruit Farm. Our eyes bugged. Never would we have imagined anything green growing in this desolate land; never would we have imagined flowers managing to send roots into stone hard clay. But there at Narlu, a series of irrigation canals brings enough water so that an elderly man named Charlie can farm many acres with beautiful cherry trees and berries and lavender and hazelnuts and walnuts. Charlie walked us through his fields where we picked strawberries and raspberries that were the sweetest ever. The roses were the reddest ever too. Really. Charlie also has a guesthouse with bathrooms and a little shop that sells his produce and gavd us tastes of jams and nuts and juice and Welsh wedding cake.

Welsh? Yes, this region is filled with so many Welsh families that Welsh is an official language of Argentina! The immigration began in 1865 when a clipper ship brought 150 folks to Puerto Madryn, a harbor safe from the high land rents and harsh working conditions at home. The Welsh lived in caves near the coast but there was no fresh water, so they moved inland and dug the irrigation ditches still in use.

We moved inland and visited the Old Chapel and New Chapel, two iterations of the Nonconforming Church of Wales. Interesting lighting! Weekly worship in Spanish is led by an ordained minister, but all Welsh worship is led by lay people since they have not had a Welsh speaking pastor in twenty years. One of the enthusiastic members spoke to us from the Old Chapel pulpit and then from the New Chapel pulpit. (They don’t look much different.) We got some idea about the beliefs and practices at the Chapel when we heard of this year’s conflict when St. David’s Day fell on a Sunday. Usually, there are festive teas and celebrations on David’s Day, but not this year because “you have to keep the Lord’s Day holy.” They celebrated the feast a day early instead.

Next we moved quickly through an historical museum in a former train station; documents were in Welsh, as was the butter squeezer pictured. Then we drove to Dolavon for lunch in a former grain mill. The homemade pasta was absolutely atrocious, its texture being like toothpaste and the “meat sauce” being hunks of tough gristly beef. The wine was good.

In a burst of odd excursion planning, we were next off to a Welsh tearoom in Trelew, where we had our tea and many many cakes and scones and sandwiches. At the end, a Welsh choir sang hymns in Welsh and Spanish. Ah yes, we remembered that we were actually in Argentina.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:51 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)


San Isidro

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Our last foray into the wonders of Buenos Aires was a visit to San Isidro. This suburb is about 20 miles north of the city, and is lovely. Apparently it burgeoned in the late 19th century when yellow fever devastated Buenos Aires and those who could moved out of the crowded city. After the excitement and density of BA, the simplicity and charm of San Isidro is restful. The center is an historic area with cobbled streets and old single-story houses. Traffic slows down because the cobbles (having arrived as ship’s ballast) keep the roads rutted enough to stress the benefits of slowing down. We visited a lovely colonial house now used as a local library and were awed by the fountain and tiles in its entry and the garden overlooking the river.

At the neo-gothic San Isidro Cathedral we were surprised both by its grandeur and its simplicity. Jesus hangs alone without any golden cherubs flying around him; his outstretched arms seem a sure declaration that he has come for us.

After a visit to the Fruit Market (amazing) we took a boat trip through the Tigre Delta islands of the Río de la Plata (called the River Plate by guides for Americans). The lagoons and channels surround hundreds of houses, social clubs, and resorts, many of which are lovely. There is no transportation throughout the delta save for boats, so there are school bus boats (21 schools), supermarket boats (that bring bottled water, small appliances, meat and milk), an ambulance boat, etc. People sit on their docks and chat and call to each other and wave to us, but travel from one place to another must be by water – you can’t walk or drive. There is no fresh water except for the collected rain, so all drinking water must be brought by boat.

Finally, we had a late lunch and strolled by shops. One of them had a doll house with an internal elevator!

Posted by HopeEakins 11:35 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)



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Exhausted or at least bushed after our long days trip through the city, we were off to a Tango Show. Now tangoing is much more complicated than we thought. There is tango dancing, tango lessons (a sort of social phenomenon where the same folks take lessons and practice with each other in a sort of club like arrangement), and tango shows. The women fling their legs back and forth only at the shows (it is considered rude to the other dancers if they are not executing a professional stage act).

So off we went at 8 pm (night life in BA really happens in the night) to Rojo Tango in a small sort of bar theatre in a lovely hotel. Drinks first, then dinner (beef!) at 9 pm, and the show at 10. The band played; the dancers wove their way around the bar to the stage and both kept it up until 11:45. There were no intermissions, no breaks between acts, no pauses. The music and dancing were good, but you can likely tell from Bill’s body language that there was more energy on the stage than off it.

We returned to the ship tomorrow.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:29 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)


Exploring the Paris of South America

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Oh, we have fallen in love with Buenos Aires. The avenues are broad and often lined with stunning tipas, a kind of rosewood tree with tiny leaves and remarkable trunk structures. These trees are coming into flower, so a haze of yellow is starting to cover them. Also along the ways are coral trees covered with velvety red clusters of the national flower of Argentina.large_IMG_0321.jpg497e3190-4144-11ea-baeb-3b2863abbaf1.jpg

The city is filled with parks and park systems; our guide Alejandro said that 30% of its area is official parks. Add that to the squares and monuments and road landscaping and you’ve got a green city that smells good. The rose garden is a little bigger (!) than Elizabeth Park at home. A mammoth metal sculpture, Floralis generica, opens and closes according to the sun. large_floralis_generica_buenos_aires-1024x683.jpg
And for reasons unknown, there is absolutely NO trash. Apparently Argentinians are born knowing about waste receptacles. Furthermore, the graffiti is energetic and looks like art, not like the signature of hoodlums as in Rio. large_IMG_0325.jpg

There is a considerable focus on health and well-being. In the parks, little yellow buildings serve as wellness centers. Staffed by a doctor and a nurse, people can get simple lab work done, get weighed, get first aid, get referred. All is free. Also free are public education, health care, and orange bicycles, many being ridden all around us.

People do die here, and some are buried in an incredible cemetery. Recoleta is in the center of the city and has 4600 mausolea, some filled with fresh flowers, some covered with cobwebs, some being refurbished by the city. IMG_3387.jpg

The Water Palace knocks your eyes out; once the actual water pumping station, it now serves as the administrative center for the water department as well as a museum. But wow, it looks like a palace. And the new pumping station itself looks better than any other municipal installation I have seen – we thought it was the Cathedral.

The upscale residential neighborhoods are stunning; even the shantytowns are charming. The Ateneo bookshop looks like an opera house. At the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar (no, we don’t know what this dedication means), Jesus sits puzzled and weeping, and we can’t figure this out either.IMG_3399.jpgIMG_0345.jpg

Alejandro brought us (B&H + Doug and Jane Kline) to a bar called Atlantico for lunch: leek empanadas, grilled cheese (just cheese in a little pan), bread, fried capers, and pickled onions and peppers. IMG_0347.jpglarge_IMG_0348.jpg

We are very happy cruisers.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:03 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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