Cruising the Latin Tapestry

Circumnavigating South America with W.E Welbourne

By Danielle Aihini
Cruising the Latin Tapestry

An Epic of His Travels

W.E Welbourne, author of Cruising the Latin Tapestry, embarked on a five month journey  circumnavigating South America, along with his partner Avril.

The epic of his travels tells the story of leaving Australia on December 30, 2012 to join the MV Voyager in Montego Bay, Jamaica on January 4, 2013. The circumnavigation took about three months before returning to Jamiaca on April 8. They crossed the Atlantic and arrived in England on April 30 spending a month in London, Paris, and northern France. The story concludes the night before the MV Voyager docked at Portsmouth, England where the cruise had started five months prior.

Welbourne taught at various schools in Rabaul until 1970. After completing an Arts Degree at Queensland University in 1971, he returned to Port Moresby and became Secretary to a Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters. In 1975, the traveler returned to Australia and now resides in Victoria.

Topping the list

Welbourne traveled the seven cruise segments with relish. A few of his favorite spots include tropical Rio de Janeiro, which he says is “on par with Cape Town as the most beautiful city in the world,” traveling up the Amazon River to the inland city of Manaus, where the opera house is a testament to the city’s wealth, and the islands of the Atlantic, breathtaking Bermuda in particular.

“Without a doubt I would visit Rio de Janeiro again. People are in for a treat with next year’s Olympic Games there. I would fly to stay at the Iguassu Falls for a few days, and then fly down to Buenos Aires for a taste of Latin culture. My next choice would be an extended stay at the Galapagos Islands on a yacht,” said Welbourne.

Excerpt from Cruising the Latin Tapestry

Day 66

Tuesday March 5, 2013

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“The magic of Rio has remand within me ever since Tony and I visited here in 2005. It is such a beautiful and vibrant place. At daybreak our ship is about to enter one of the finest harbors in the world. We see the unmistakable Sugar Loaf Mountain standing sentinel at the harbour entrance and the famous statue of Christ looming high on Corcovado peak behind it.

The city is simply the most breathtaking in the world. With its white sandy beaches fringed with palms and a temperature that rarely dips below 20 C, visitors cannot fail to be spellbound by this extraordinary place. Sunshine and samba are a way of life to the Cariocas. All day and night the pervasive Carnival atmosphere prevails in the lively bars and on the beaches of tho marvellous city. Rio’s cultural diversity combined with its 400 year history is contrasted by its modern, cosmopolitan flavour. Rio de Janeiro literally means January River. The name was bestowed on it by its European discoverers in 1502. They mistook Guanabara Bay for a river.

The first attempts by the Portuguese to settle Brazil were in 1533, mainly in response to the French muscling in on the brasilwood trade. Colonists were sent from Portugal with plants and animals to establish 15 colonies. Many of these failed over the ensuing years, unable to resist attacks by Indians or French pirates. Finally in 1549, King Joao III decided to centralize authority under a military governor. The first holder, Tome de Sousa, founded Salvador as the capital of a unified Brazil, a position the city held for the next 214 years. Europe’s sweet tooth had brought incredible wealth to the northeast. However, a vast deposit of gold was discovered in Minas Gerais in 1693 and in the wake of a dramatic rush to the region, the economic and political centre gravitated southwards.

Throughout the 18th century, gold was channelled down to Rio de Janeiro which consolidated its position as Brazil’s premier city by becoming the capital in 1763, a position it held until 1960. Starting in 1956 Brazil decided to construct a new capital entirely from scratch on a remote inland site. Four years later Brasilia became the new capital. From Rio much of the gold found its way to England in exchange for manufactured goods and in this manner Brazil played a significant part in kick-starting the Industrial Revolution.

Today we plan to see the two famous landmarks, the statue of Christ on Corcovado and Sugar Loaf. Our guide is Jerry [Gerardo] who is a lean jovial Italian. Jerry points out various landmarks as we drive through the city to the south side. A two kilometer road has been cut through a hill to allow easier access between North and South. Rio is huge with 7 million inhabitants. It has a safe metro system and a network of 850 bus routes connecting the city which extends 75 km from north to south and 25 km from east to west. We see new road construction being carried out in preparation for next year’s World Cup Football and the Olympics in 2016. The new Pope will visit here on July 23. Rio is work in progress with a mere 4.5% unemployment, the lowest in Brazil.”

About the Author 

W.E WelbourneBill Welbourne lives on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Teaching at schools in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea during the 1960’s, he played a key role as CEO to that country’s Independence, 1975. From 1976 he taught at Brisbane Boys’ College for 22 years. He has a BA (economics) from the Queensland University. A champion athlete, he represented PNG in two South Pacific Games. He was 400 m hurdles champion of NSW, 1962 and World Masters Games Champion, Brisbane 1995. He is a consummate traveller, visiting all corners of his own country as well as every continent. He has decided to put pen to paper in this his first book.

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