Cathedrals

When we arrive in a new place we always try to visit the cathedral.  We love the serenity, the architecture, and the chance to truly see the people… not just the ones who are putting on a show for the tourists.  I’m happy to share more photos with you from our recent travels in South America, and tell you a little bit about our days in these wonderful places.

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We loved our cab driver in Montecristi, Ecuador.  We kept him the whole day, and he took us to fascinating places around Manta.  This was his church where he was baptized, and since this was my first day of easing my way back into speaking some Spanish, I was delighted to be having that conversation with him and actually understanding it!  We ate pickled mango on the streets, and bought Panama hats.

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The beautiful cathedral in Guayaquil, Ecuador.  We had no idea it would be so magnificent.   The cathedral is always on the end of the town plaza, so always a great place to start.  This plaza was literally filled with iguanas.  We had a wonderful time mingling with the people.  This was early into the journey, so we were soaking up the language, the music… delighted to be back in South America.

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Trujillo was our first stop in Peru.  We slipped right inside this beautiful yellow building where the voices of  Il Divo singing Ave Maria were quietly reverberating off these old walls.  That’s spine tingling.  We spent the rest of our time enjoying the fruit and meat markets.  That’s another absolute favorite for us.  In fact, I’ll probably need to share a food post in a few days!

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It was good to step back onto the beautiful streets of Lima, Peru.  This cathedral is not the main one by any means.  Just another one.  We marvel at the architecture.  It was on this day we walked to the artisans’ mercado and found my new mochilas.  The first time we visited this mercado fifteen years ago, a guard was standing at the entrance with a machine gun.  Oh  my!  Thankfully times have changed.  It was a wonderful Sunday and we loved being in the parks with all the people who were out enjoying the day with their children.

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What a fascinating day in Pisco and Paracas, Peru.  I told our driver I wanted to see the church in Pisco, and he “warned” me that it was new.  Sadly, an earthquake destroyed the old one in 2007.  The building to the left is all that remains of the original, and that was just a side building.  The main cathedral had collapsed.  This led to wonderful conversations with our driver, and as we toured the Paracas park he showed us more damage done by that massive quake.  This is a land of severe landscapes.  We were right along the Atacama Desert.  Amazing.

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Mollendo, Peru.  We had to ride a bus for several miles to get from the ship to this town.  Cruise ships don’t stop there.  We actually were in a port for tankers.  This was a good day in a little town that had no idea what to think of all the American and European tourists roaming its streets.  The cathedral was very quaint and quiet.

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Arriving in Antofagasta, Chile, was a breath of fresh air, heading further south and leaving the desert behind.  I was heavy hearted as I stepped into this grand cathedral.  I’d read sad news from home, and I sat down in this quiet place to pray for my friends.  And I thought of all the thousands of people down through the centuries who had sat in that very spot praying for their loved ones.  What a world!  I was humbled to be in this gorgeous city, realizing I’d never even heard of it.

The Plaza de Armas of Antofagasta was so incredibly beautiful.  Bougainvillea everywhere in this city.  And we were everywhere… a bustling department store to buy something for our camera, the artisans’ mercado, the meat market, the fish market, the beautiful cemetery.  Now – the fish market in Antofagasta!!  That’s a site to behold.  Loved it!

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It seems music is always in the air.  Certainly the case here in Coquimbo and La Serena, Chile.  All the plazas were filled with musicians.  Ancient church buildings everywhere.  We rode the local bus between these two towns, and that’s always such  a treat.  For a few pesos amounting to about a dollar, you can have the most delightful experience.  We rode along with a family on their way to the circus – which was taking place alongside the fish market right where our wonderful boat was docked.

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Valparaiso, Chile.  When we took our first cruise in South America a couple of years ago, this was our starting place.  It was a comedy of errors trying to get to that ship, which began with our plane being literally frozen solid to the tarmac in Lubbock.  What a treat to have a relaxing and beautiful day to make up for the last time we were here, frantically trying to catch a boat!  We loved riding the funicular, and I think I’ll write about that another day.  After all, I bought coffee cups that day at the top of that ride, so they deserve their own little piece.

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We say we had three vacations in one.  All that I’ve written to this point was vacation number one.  Getting to the island of Chiloe seemed to be the start of a whole new adventure.  (But don’t worry… you’re almost to the end of today’s post!)  Chiloe was so unique.  It’s just dreamy to travel like this.  You wake up not knowing what to expect, then take off on your treasure hunt.  Our taxi driver had his beautiful and petite 13 year old daughter with him for the day.  It’s summer break all over South America.  She was thrilled we were from the United States, and she studies English in school.  But she was so shy, she just couldn’t bring herself to speak English with us.  Until we dropped her off at their home in the afternoon and she said perfectly, “Goodbye.  It was very nice to meet you.”

Anyway, the vacation took on a new flavor here.  The architecture changed, the climate changed, the accents changed.  There are 16 wooden church buildings on this large island, built in the 17th and 18th centuries.  This one had renovations going on, and I asked our driver if they would hold services there once the work was complete.  He seemed surprised at my question and told me there were always services, every Sunday.

When we stepped inside this one in Castro on Chiloe, we were awestruck.  Isn’t it just amazing!

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Fast forward a couple of weeks and you find us at the end of “vacation number two”… The Falkland Islands.   All the photos from that portion of the journey will show up in other posts since the Beagle Channel, Drake Passage and Antarctica have no cathedrals.  Heading back north after that spectacular experience landed us at Port Stanley in the Falklands.  We did see penguins.  We didn’t see Prince William.  Here I am standing in blue whale jawbones outside the old Anglican Cathedral.  What a British day.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina, the end of our Grand Voyage, but the beginning of vacation number three… a perfect weekend in the Paris of South America, staying with friends.  I’ll save it for another post on another day.  (The architecture there is splendid, as you can see from this photo.)

Oh my!  I’ve truly gone on and on.  If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post you are a trooper.  Thanks for sharing the journey!

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10 Responses to “Cathedrals”

  1. Pam says:

    Wow! What beautiful pictures – I can’t even imagine seeing those ‘in real life’!! I imagine being in that cathedral and hearing Il Divo singing Ave Maria would have brought tears to my eyes…beautiful! Never apologize for the length of your posts, Sandy…They’re like a good book that you don’t want to end! Thank you for sharing! Can’t wait for more!

  2. Janet says:

    Wow…Amazing. Glad you shared!

  3. Lawanda Calton says:

    I am getting my Il Divo music going right now! What exciting sights and sounds you have experienced. And the people you have exchanged voices, hearts and smiles with!

  4. Robin Green says:

    Fascinating pictures, Sandy. I have never seen a cathedral with wooden ceilings like the one in Castro on Chiloe. Your post gave me so many questions I’d love to ask and hear stories about. The huge differences in culture from place to place must have been interesting.

  5. Sandy says:

    Glad you’re enjoying the journey. I’ve have a perfect Saturday morning putting together another post… this time using our food photos for my inspiration. Oh my! What a grand time. I’m so grateful to have had such a special month!

  6. Marcea Clive says:

    I still can’t even imagine. What beautiful old churches and cathedrals……….Love your stories.

  7. Nico says:

    I got the chills just hearing ABOUT the opportunity to listen to the Ava in a real Cathedral. When my mom would sing it, I would get teary. Love the pictures and your commentary, Sandy. The cathedrals seemed breath-taking! Magnífico!

  8. Kim says:

    What beautiful architecture! Gorgeous photo’s!! It all sounds so fantastic!

  9. Cheryl says:

    Amazing as always. I want to go to South America with you. I’m afraid I would be too timid to discover all that you do. Thanks, as always for sharing.

  10. Kay Jeffries says:

    the pictures of the cathedrals are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!

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