Buenos Aires was disappointing. Our guided tour took us through the colorful La Boca market district, home of the Juniors soccer team. We passed monuments along the way and went through a mansion that became a tenement and now museum through the years. In the underground space beneath, we enjoyed empanadas and wine In what was once a sewer tunnel leading to the sea. We also stopped at the church, Metropolitan Cathedral of Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936, who was born there and served the Catholic community. I will have to settle for Coca-Cola Light or Zero rather than Diet Coke. However, I’m assured of a steady diet of Argentine Cabernets and Malbecs. 

The seaside capital city of Uruguay, Montevideo was much more interesting than downtown Buenos Aires, with lots of trees, stone architecture, and the Carnaval Museum, a tribute to the 40-day festival celebrated annually starting every February. We watched a stage performance representative of this event by costumed vocalists, and of course went by their soccer stadium, home of the “Blue Skies,” fierce rivals of the neighboring Juniors. They call it football, but in our game the foot is sparingly used. This is as far south of the equator as I’ve ever been (-34), and the first time in South America. Before this trip, it was Bora Bora (-16.5) that was my Southernmost point of travel. Valdez, Alaska is my Northernmost (+61) stop.

It’s a rainy Wednesday, after thunderstorms last night, so the slippery Promenade Deck that circles The Jupiter was closed. I’m still restricted from using a treadmill, so I walked the hallways and stairways. I’ve overdone indulged on food and wine, so sleep has been sketchy. Stomach and shoulder aches have me tossing and turning all night. I could drink less, but only time will heal the wounds. 

Two days at sea will deliver us to Rio, with the Christ the Redeemer statue to greet us. I’m in the bar area drinking decaf coffee, the warmth of the cup in my hands the main appeal. I’m curious about the local coffee alternative, yerba mate, made from the leaves of an evergreen tree grown in Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay. It apparently has a bitterness that takes some getting used to but has the buzz-effect of caffeine and other stimulants.

It’s the “Good Ship Lollypop.” We’ve dined lavishly each night at Manfredi’s, The Restaurant, and Chef’s Table. The World Café, a giant buffet, serves every other culinary need – ice cream, cookies, even sushi. Despite the daily walks, I’ll easily add another five pounds to my already flabby frame. It will be at least another month before I can get in the gym. Before turning in on Night #3, there was a Welcome session, with crew introductions and champaign toasts. 

The girls are playing bridge, while I stroll the halls or sit in the lobby listening to “Thunderhead,” my latest book on tape borrowed digitally from the library. At bedtime, I’m reading “First Lie Wins.” With little else to do on Sea Day #4, I did three walks totaling over 4 miles, paid some bills, and got some limited sun on our deck. Tonight will include another steak dinner in The Restaurant and more wine guzzling. 

Day #5 on water started with an attempted walk on the Promenade Deck that surrounds the ship, but wind and sea spray quickly interrupted. I finished my 2-mile jaunt indoors and attended a lecture on Plate Tectonics, explaining the shift of the once enjoined continents of Africa, Europe, and America. I then came back to the room to recharge for a second walk, and a boring lecture on Brazilian history. Dinner was in The Restaurant, while bedtime came early, as the boat approached Rio. 

Another upset stomach had me up and down most of the night. I pulled the drapes back several times in the dark hoping to catch a glimpse of shoreline. My wife woke me up in the midst of a dream, excited to see Christ the Redeemer before it once again ducked behind the clouds. It would be the last we would see of it as rain continued throughout the day. We donned cheap pink ponchos and toured the mosaic patterned streets of downtown Rio. Our guide spoke irritatingly rapidly to the point that I turned her off. The ornate, gold-trimmed Opera House and World-renowned Library were the highlights. The tour bus then drove us to the The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, a modern pyramid structure based on Mayan architectural style. Four rectilinear stained glass windows  soar from floor to ceiling. On the way back to the ship we passed by the famous Copacabana Beach shrouded in fog. Guitar music by Paolo by the pool, then dinner at the Chef’s Table, and a dance party to conclude the day. 

A full week at sea and this was the most uneventful day of all. The weather was clear, and it grew too hot to sit out on the deck. I attended an afternoon lecture about the planets, after several miles of walking the hallways. Dinner was at The Restaurant, concluding with chocolate lava cake. 

Three lectures, more walking, and a cheesesteak by the pool were the highlights of Day #8. “Finding ET” and “Whale/Dolphin/Porpoise Watching” were the educational subjects, along with a Port Talk about tomorrow’s Recife excursion. The good news is that I can’t get an accurate scale reading as the boat bobs along, although I can feel the weight gain of too much ice cream, cookies, and cake. Dinner, a bone-in filet, was at Manfredi’s, followed by Southern Cross star gazing, and the uninspiring vocals of Camila Andrade.

Continued …