Thursday, April 3, 2014

Travel – Callao, (Lima), Peru March 25, 2014

Callao, population 600,000, is the port for the city of Lima, Peru, but the two cities have merged and the area is now basically one huge metropolis of 9 million inhabitants. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Lima the country’s huge capital and the largest city of Peru. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area.

Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de los Reyes. Pizarro was the conquistador that defeated the forces of the Inca Empire and delivered South America into the hands of Spain. It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today, around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area.

We are still working through tour illnesses, but John felt strong enough to venture out today. We have a day long bus trip scheduled for Lima, visiting the Cathedral, the exterior of the Government Palace, on the site of Pizarro’s own house, the town hall, the Plaza de Armas, the Torre Tagle Palace and the Gold Museum. We are to eat lunch and do some shopping. Sounds right up my alley. Photo ops and shopping, alright!

Lima is a very large city as I mentioned earlier and there is lots of traffic. I had fun taking pictures out the bus window. When you spend as much time on a bus as we have you start looking for the differences in a city from your bus seat. It is an interesting perspective. I've included a few of my choice pictures just for giggles. 


The things people put on their trucks and carry around in the truck beds are fascinating. Carrying and delivery devices differ as well.

Plazas and churches are viewed, a few blocks walk to another church, all the while being followed by children and young women dressed in Peruvian native dress trying to sell us Chickletts gum. We all have to be careful to be sure our wallets and purses are safe. This is a sad affair, but then again, it reflects the state of affairs. Many peasants seeking work have flooded into the city from the interior for decades, but there is not enough work to go around. People have become creative with their endeavors.

We visit the Gold museum which is a big vault like building with a very large, privately held Columbian and Inca gold artifacts collection, along with many historic small arms. It is overwhelming to me, as there are too many items in a small, dank, dark and moldy space. There are beautiful pieces, but I choked up viewing them and went up for some fresh hot air. It is getting warmer as we go toward the equator.

Two best parts of the day…lunch is a fabulous buffet of traditional Peruvian foods, and everyone filled our plates. A Pisco Sour came along with the meal of course. I think it is the best tour meal I have ever had.

The second best part is the shopping. We stop at an Indian market. There are all types of items for sale here. I am able to find baby alpaca wool in a number of colors and am thrilled with the find. John also points out some lace weight baby alpaca wool on a spool so we purchase that too. What a great shopping trip.

Finally, we drive along the shore of Peru’s flower district resort area along the beach. People are surfing, parasailing, sitting out on the grass and just enjoying the beautiful day. We have had just a taste of Peru; I’d like more. The food was great, the shopping was great and I’d love to get to know the people and the culture better. This place should be on the “need to come back to” list.

For now it is back to the boat and back into recovery mode.  I think today took a little more energy than we had to give.  Good thing we have a day a sea tomorrow for recovery.

The adventure continues....Bye for now!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Travel - Pisco (San Martin), Peru, March 24, 2014

Pisco and the surrounding area are significant in Peruvian history as the birthplace of Peru's struggle for independence. Pisco is also a gateway to the ruins of Machu Picchu, and one can also enjoy the mysterious lines or shapes referred to as the Nazca Lines. These are very large figures formed on the earth that you can only see from the air. The area is normally visited because of the concentration of marine animals and birds at the Paracas National Reservation, or the Peruvian Galapagos. 

The city was very near the epicenter of the devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake which struck south central Peru on Wednesday August 15, 2007. Eighty percent of the city was destroyed, including the central San Clemente Cathedral of Pisco. As many as 100 deaths were reported within the cathedral. The church in Plaza de Armas was also destroyed during the earthquake while a service was in session killing nearly 150 people. Today, the city is still recovering from the damage done during the earthquake. 

This is an interesting stop for many reasons. First off, we discovered why the trip to Santiago was so hard on us. John has come down with a bad cold and has decided to stay on board today. This means that I’m on my own. I have a tour scheduled, so I’m up, dressed, fed and ready to go see the Inca ruins early this morning. I meet the tour in the Princess theater like usual, without my buddy (sad face)! We climb on the bus and drive through San Martin and out into the country side. 

It was obvious from the very beginning that this port town has seen tragedy. There are piles of rubble and rock everywhere. 

There are small streets lined with one story block houses with small pencil thick rebar extending from the roof corners. The boxes are all painted in different colors, or just left a plain primer white. Everything looks like it has been built within the last five years. As we drive out of town there are acres of rock clumps where small houses used to stand. 


I am amazed, based on the damage that was done to this town, that it has as many people left; so many died during the earthquake of 2007. Why would someone choose to stay? By the devastation, it would appear that many people lost multiple loved ones. 

Looking at their rebuilding techniques, I’m not sure they have learned their lesson. It looks like many are planning on building a second story right on top of those little boxes that only have a wall with rebar strong enough to hold the single story. I’m afraid they are building for another tragic event. I've seen this similar practice in earthquake prone zones as we have traveled all over South American. 

Local Taxi....I don't think I'd fit!

The bus continues along a very arid valley and dry river bed, and we start to climb in elevation heading for the hills. Our destination is Tambo Colorado, which is an Incan fortress of adobe and stone built in 1440 as a site for sun worshipping, studying astronomy and agriculture. The complex includes a temple, food silo, a high priest’s chambers, a sacrificial alter and soldier barracks. It is amazing that the Incas painted these 

structures red and mustard yellow and some of that color is still visible today. It is a warm day with blue skies, and if you closed your eyes you can envision an Inca Priest standing at the altar. The view is amazing. It overlooks the fertile river valley. Obviously there is water somewhere. Again, pictures say it all. 

Priest Alter

I am now beginning to understand the annihilation of the Incas and the Aztecs by the diseases that the Spaniards and other Europeans brought to the New World. They lived a wholesome life with little interaction with any other tribes. Then came the outsiders with all their foreign bugs. 

Currently, I am watching a semi-closed system systematically infecting its inhabitants with various strains of flu, cold bugs and bacteria moving rampantly through the ship population. First there was a bout of Norovirus. We killed that forth with as the Captain would say. (He is from the UK.) 

We brought on some new people in Rio and in Santiago. OH…new bugs arrived and old bugs now run rampant. When we sit in various peaceful places on the ship, there is constant coughing. It is almost unbearable. Eventually, John and I both caved in and visited the ship’s doctor. No one on board wants to do this. It is very expensive, which is why the bugs run rampant. 

The doctor’s office is a scary place. The worst of the worst come here. You have to hold your breath for fear of catching something else besides what you already arrived with. I think my blood pressure went up 50 points just sitting next to the lady with the cough from hell. Well, as it turned out, both John and I have strep throat and John has a cough I've never heard from him before. Yesterday, the passengers on the ship got a coughing etiquette lecture from the captain over the PA system. 

Hopefully, all the passengers will survive until Los Angeles. Thank God, we have a doctor on board with antibiotics. The Incas and Aztecs were quite advanced for their time. You can see it in their architecture, art, chemistry and agriculture. Unfortunately they lived before the invention of penicillin and that was their demise. What will be ours? Maybe over use of penicillin. It is getting a work out on this ship. 

One more highlight!!! >>>> We also stopped at a cotton ranch and weaving shop. We got to see weavers at work and had a chance to purchase their wares… (Of course). The weaving was the most interesting to me. I loved taking pictures of the weavers at work. Such beautiful products were for sale, I could have taken one of each. I guess my pictures will have to do. The fields of cotton went for miles in the valley, and the fiber is milled on the ranch. This was a very special treat. I did get to purchase some wool and a ball of cotton yarn there. YEA!!!! 

 Yes, we are sick, but still having an interesting time!! Stay tuned. Hope the internet will connect. That is my primary frustration. Bye for now!

Happy Carol!

Travel – Coquimbo (La Serina), Chile

Chile’s second oldest city, La Serena is doubly blessed with some beautiful architecture and a long golden shoreline, making it a kind of thinking-person's beach resort. The city absorbs hoards of Chilean holidaymakers in January and February, though it is fairly peaceful outside the summer rush. Sauntering through downtown La Serena reveals dignified stone churches, tree-shaded avenues and some pretty plazas. Some of the city's architecture is from the colonial era. 

La Serena also has numerous attractions in the surrounding countryside, with pretty villages and Pisco vineyards aplenty, as well as international astronomical observatories to the north above the Atacama Desert that take advantage of the region's exceptional atmospheric conditions and clear skies.

This description above is from tour books and internet research and are primarily about La Serina. Off in the distance I’m sure that the descriptions are more or less true, but the ship docks in Coquimbo. Coquimbo can be 
described in the most opposite of terms.

I have seen many shanty towns, down to those with dirt floors and tar paper walls. Usually those are sparsely distributed in jungle areas and not in congested areas. Some of the places in Southeast Asia are rustic primarily because of the climate, but some of Coquimbo housing could be blown away in a medium wind storm. 

 I’m not sure what they do during storms. I can only assume that this part of the port is protected from the worst of the sea’s wrath. My pictures again will give you the rest of the story.

 Noteworthy is the church at the top of the hill in Coquimbo. The mountain will come down and the church will still be there. The church was reportedly designed by Eifel of Eifel Tower fame. You can see from the pictures the resemblance.

After a grueling day’s tour in Santiago, John and I decide to forgo a trip to La Serena and stay on the ship. I know…we are wimps! The highlights of the city are the buildings dating back to its Colonial heritage. The ship has tours outside the city to the Pisco Distillery. The grapes of the Elqui Valley are used to produce Pisco. It is a type of brandy distilled from grapes. Pisco is the main ingredient in a Pisco Sour. It is 3 parts Pisco brandy, 1 part lemon juice with a dash of egg white (if you are brave enough) or float Quattro on the top. One drink is great, two drinks are very pleasant and three drinks will put you out for the duration of the day. We have tasted them all the way up the coast of Chile. They are very nice indeed.

I believe that I've seen this kind of brandy in the wineries in Woodinville.  Now I know what to do with it.  YUMMMM!

More exploring to do...Bye for now!