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On October 19, 2011, Dr. Sedeno took a Holland American 18-day South America cultural cruise in the ms Veendam, departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and arriving in Valparaiso, Chile

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On October 19, 2011, Dr. Sedeno took a Holland American 18-day South America cultural cruise in the ms Veendam, departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and arriving in Valparaiso, Chile.

The ship passed within sight of the entire northeast coast of Cuba, which for Dr. Sedeno was an emotional experience seeing his native country coastline. Heading south, the ship passed between the Eastern tip of Cuba and western tip of Haiti heading South in the Caribbean Sea toward the first port of call at Santa Marta, Colombia.

Santa Marta is the capital of Magdalena state. The Spaniards founded this city in 1525. The cathedral built four years later by the Dominicans, was named the Church of Santa Ana. Close by, tucked into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is Tyrona National Park. A wildlife refuge and Ecohab preservation of the Tyrona’s native culture.

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From here, a half-day cruise to San Blas Islands, Panama home of the Kuna Indians. The Kuna are famous for their bright molas, a colorful textile art form made with the techniques of appliqué and reverse appliqué. Mola panels are used to make the blouses of the Kuna women's national dress, which is worn daily by many Kuna women. Mola means "clothing" in the Kuna language.

The following day, the ms Veendam arrived at Colon, Panama on the Caribbean side, passed thru the first locks (Gatun Locks) and for 10-hours transited the Panama Canal ending at Fuerte Amador in Panama City on the Pacific side if the canal. After a shore excursion of Old Panama City, ms Veendam headed south skirting the western coast of South America.

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The first port of call in South America was Manta, Ecuador. At this port, Dr. Sedeno disembarks and takes a short flight to Quito, Ecuador for a two-day shore excursion.

Quito, formally San Francisco de Quito, is the capital city of Ecuador, and at an elevation of 9,350 feet, it is the highest capital city in the world housing the administrative, legislative and judicial functions. With a local guide, Dr. Sedeno visits several important cultural and historic sites in Quito. Such as Independence Square, where the Carondelet Palace (seat of Government) is located, as well as the Jesuit Church of “La Compania de Jesus”. The Church of La Compania began construction in 1605; it took 160 years to be built. By 1765, the work was completed with the construction of the facade. This was done by local natives (Inca descendents) who carefully shaped the Baroque style in one of the most complete examples of this art in the Americas.

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Sixteen miles north of Quito lies the Equator. A monument and museum marking its location is known locally as “La Mitad del Mundo” (“the middle of the World) to avoid confusion as the word Ecuador is Spanish for equator. At this site, Dr. Sedeno had the experience in standing in the North and South Hemisphere at the same time.

Quito along with Krakow, Poland were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites, declared by UNESCO in 1978.

Five road hours away from Quito, Dr. Sedeno visits the Otavalo Valley located in northern Ecuador. This area is known for its natural beauty and a very famous indigenous market where local handmade crafts and artwork are produced.

From Quito, Dr. Sedeno takes a short flight to the port of Guayaquil, Ecuador where ms Veendam will continue on its cruise.

In Part 2, Dr. Sedeno will describe his visit to Peru and Chile.