TRAVEL TALES

Young Chang

Two Newport Beach friends cruised down and around South America,

hitting big cities as well as tiny towns. During their 34 days aboard the

Ryndam, a 720-foot long, 102-foot wide ship, they even experienced a

storm that they considered a close second to the one in the film "The

Perfect Storm."

But Julie Wildermuth and Sally Talla found their trip exciting -- even

the rocky parts.

"It was my first time in South America, and it was just so different,"

said Wildermuth, a retired second-grade teacher in the Newport Mesa

Unified School District. "It was a great learning experience."

Her friend Talla, also a retired second-grade teacher, said her

favorite part of the trip was rounding Cape Horn and passing through the

Panama Canal. The swells were about 45 feet high at Cape Horn, while

strong winds blasted against the Ryndam.

"The Panama Canal was a very wonderful experience," she said. "Just to

see how much time it takes off of shipping to go through the Atlantic and

Pacific Oceans."

The Newport Beach residents left for their trip in mid-March. They

arrived at Rio de Janeiro and traveled by water from there. Their course

ran through Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, around the Falkland Islands, up

the coast through Chile, Peru, Ecuador, through the Panama Canal, past

the San Buenas Islands, up the Grand Cayman Islands and then to Fort

Lauderdale.

"Ushuaia reminded you of Alaska," Wildermuth said. "It's barren, a

take-off from Antarctica practically."

Other sites that left an impression included the glaciers and fjords

through the Beagle Channel, the hills of Valparaiso and a city named Chan

Chan just outside of Peru, known also as the largest adobe city in the

world.

"There are beautiful carvings in the walls," Wildermuth said.

"Dolphins, turtles. We saw the tomb there where they buried the kings."

After passing through the Panama Canal, which took eight hours, the

two friends stopped by San Blas Island, the only place in the world that

makes Mola shirts, they said.

"They're very small hand-stitched decorations on shirts," Wildermuth

said. "And of course we had to buy some."

Included in their 20,000 miles of seafaring was a stop at the town of

Hell. The travelers laugh remembering how everyone bought stamps "from

hell."

Talla adds that the food was "absolutely out of sight."

"It was fantastic," she said. "There were days when you would walk

into a dining room and there would be a huge mound of Alaskan King crab

piles or huge mounds of shrimp."

Luckily, Talla and Wildermuth were able to keep all their food down

while on the ship.

"We were well-prepared with medicine," Wildermuth said.* Have you, or

someone you know, gone on an interesting vacation recently? Tell us your

adventures. Drop us a line to Travel Tales, 330 W. Bay St., Costa Mesa,

CA 92627; e-mail young.chang@latimes.com; or fax to (949) 646-4170.

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